Route des vins, Alsace-Lorraine
Route des vins, Alsace-Lorraine Reviews
Would you like some wine with your history? May 26, 2008
Wine lovers, pay attention!
On the foothills of the Vosges mountains, in the Alsace-Lorraine region (northeast France), lies a road known as the wine route (or route des vins) that will take you from one quaint little wine village to the next, one after another, through the rolling hills of the countryside. The undulate fields go on and on. The patches of colour change every season and from a high viewing point, patterns emerge in the fields. Although this region is beautiful all year round, I would recommend a visit in summer or autumn. In summer (June-Sept) the abundant flowers and golden yellow fields are exquisite. In autumn (Sept-Nov) of course, the harvest of the grapes is the high point of the season.
The Alsace is known for its fruity dry white wine that goes together so well with asparagus and shellfish. At numerous wine houses and hotels, this greenish golden liquid velvet is for sale. Scattered throughout the region historic castles and ruins can be found. Top notch is Haut-Koenigsburg, a medieval fortress on which I’ve written a separate review (soon to be uploaded/published).
Love is a battlefield… and so is Alsace
The Alsace-Lorraine region, being on the France-German border, has been fought over for many centuries, from the Holy Roman Empire onwards. In the aftermath of WWI, the region became an important part of the Maginot Line, a front with many concrete fortifications, tank obstructions and machinegun posts. You will still find many of them in the area. In the last three centuries, control and ‘ownership’ of this region went back and forth between France and Germany, which is why there is such a strong German influence on the architecture in the region. Almost all houses are built in the typical German ‘fachwerk’ style; walls in half-timbering with stucco in between and cob and roofing in flat tiles. In accordance with the Beaux-Arts movements (early 19th century), people started to paint their houses white. In recent times, the authorities gave financial grants to the inhabitants to paint the stucco in various colours, to return the region to it’s former glory. Today, houses are still painted in many different colours, which adds to the characteristic and romantic feel of the region.
The road ahead
Villages along the wine route that are a must-see on your list are Riquewihr, Ribeauvillé and Saint-Hippolyte. Large towns (with worthwhile cathedrals) are Strasbourg (the capital of the region), Mulhouse, Colmar and Selestat. Alsace-Lorraine is a beautiful region for above-mentioned reasons as well as for the people and their food. The famous 'quiche Lorraine' has its origin here as has the Alsace sauerkraut. The wine route will take you on a voyage of historic notion combined with panoramic views and light white wines. What more can you ask for? One word of caution though, in summer it can be a bit busy on the wine route, for many people will visit and revisit the region once they've been here.
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