Travel Destination: Alsace, France


In the latter half of December, I went for a solo trip to Alsace, France. For about 11 days, I visited Christmas markets in and around Colmar. I stayed in Colmar, from where it was easy to walk to the Christmas Market and in the historic part of the city. I had a studio and it was well equipped.
I rented a car for this part of my trip, and this was a big part of the joy of exploring the surroundings of Colmar: Christmas markets in small villages, vineyards everywhere, and the Vosges mountains.
What a beautiful garden indeed. Alsace, France's eastern-most region, occupying the Rhine river plain, seems to have been almost preternaturally blessed in situation and climate. The Vosges mountains shelter Alsace from moist west winds, so much that the only place drier in France is Perpignan on the Spanish border. That makes the region extraordinary for many forms of agriculture, particularly winegrowing, the generous sunlight all but guaranteeing grape ripeness every season. In fact, for centuries, Alsace represented a kind of balmy Riviera for northern and eastern Europe, whose unquenchable thirst for Alsatian wine, sent up river by the barrel, earned many a fortune.
Then I stayed for eight days in Strasbourg at Strasbourg Centre Petite-France. Practically in the historic part of this beautiful city, this hotel is basic but offers good service and a wonderful breakfast. There, I used public transport, mostly trams, even if there were restrictions sometimes because of the transportation strike.
I rarely went to restaurants and I was happy to eat mostly snacks from the Christmas markets. I was surprised to see how popular the Christmas markets are - there were lots and lots of people there.
I bought a transport pass in Strasbourg so I took trams and buses to visit different neighborhoods, and I would stop whenever I wanted. That is a good way to really explore a city, not only the tourist areas. Since Alsace is on the banks of the Rhine river, I also went for a one day visit to Freiburg and to Kehl in Germany.