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Trip to Alsace-Lorraine

Flavourgirl's picture

I'm taging along with DH on a business trip in May to the Alsace-Lorraine region (My MIL, wonderful person that she is, is flying in to stay with our children).  (I'm so excited to go to France since I've never been there before; DH has spent two weeks in Marseille back in the late 80's)

We are arriving a couple days early and are going to go to Strasbourg for two days before the conference.  Is anyone familar with Strasbourg?  I've gotten the Fodor's with their recommended hotels but I was wondering if there were some personal recomendations out there.  Also, if we have an extra day at the end, depending on DH's schedule, we may spend the day in Basel Switzerland, so if anyone has any info on that, I'd appreciate it.

I'm going to start my list of things to buy.  On this trip, I'm acutally taking an empty carry-on for the wonderful things I know I will find there.  Oddly enough, my first item on my list is Ecco shoes.  I have a pair of boots made by them and they are the most comfortable things.  I saw a pair of Ecco shoes in Bonn when we were there two years ago and I didn't buy them (stupid me).  I need a really comfortable pair of walking shoes.  I also want to pick up some chocolate, salt, wine, try truffles (is there a season for these, I'll have to read up on that)...oh darn, I'm drawing a blank now!

So any suggestions on food to bring back (can I smuggle some cheese back??), things not to miss, new foods to try, etc. would be appreciated.


Tuck's picture

(post #39772, reply #1 of 12)

Wish I had a suggestion for you - I am so jealous, when we had a family tree done Alsace-Lorraine is where my ancestors came from, would love to go.

If you can't be kind, at least have the decency to be vague

MER02's picture

(post #39772, reply #2 of 12)

Flavor Girl, you are very lucky. When I was in high school, I began an exchange with a girl who lived in Strasburg. I stayed with her family and she stayed with mine. We have maintained our frienship for many years now.

Alsace is a very special region as it has gone back and forth between French and German control many times. The food, pronunciation and culture reflect German influences. One of the regional dishes for example is sausage and sourkraut.

Make sure that you visit the Cathedral in the middle of the city- it is beautiful. (Any trip to France requires a visit to the local Cathedral.)

Alsatian Rieslings are very special. Perhaps someone here is better versed at explaining the wines. My French family gave me a beautiful set of hand cut Alsatian wine glasses. They have tiny shallow bowls and green stems.

If you like wine, you might be interested in this link:

Oh and what about the beer! I toured the brewery at Kronenbourg. 1664 is a very good beer. It was a fun tour and there were free samples at the end.

Hope that helps!

PS. If you have never been to France before, make sure that you stop at a stand for Crepes (preferably chocolate and banana or lemon and sugar) and stop at an ice cream stand (actually "glace" ) and try cassis- my favorite! And when you hang out at a cafe with the beautiful people, order a kir royale.

Flavourgirl's picture

(post #39772, reply #3 of 12)

Thanks for your comments, Mer.

It sounds like you had a great experience with the exchange student program.  You are fortunate to have maintained your friendship for a long time - it is so easy to lose track of people over time.

The hotel I was considering is across from the cathedral so I'm sure we will visit it.

I'll keep my eye out for the crepe stands (they had these in Germany but I didn't try one), glace, beer, cassis, kir royale along with the Rieslings.  We plan on eating our way through our week there.  I should probably start to diet now.  Thank you for the links, I'll check them out.

MER02's picture

(post #39772, reply #4 of 12)

" I should probably start to diet now. "

If you are going to do it, do it now. Don't let that word creep into your thoughts while you are there. French food is precious.

MER02's picture

(post #39772, reply #5 of 12)

How could I forget mustard? <slap self!> This is served on everything from steak and french fries (Frites!). Yummy.


The last time I was in France, my favorite type of store was the supermarket. I had such fun going up and down the aisles picking out stuff to try. Lots of things that are perfect for carrying back to the states- candies, chocolate, wines, jams, snack foods, drink flavoring liquids which are lots of fun to bring back for parties and as gifts for friends. Amazing things...

Also, there is a discount chain (pink and white colors, anyone know the name? They have a store in NY too.) where I bought a second piece of luggage to carry all of the food and clothes that I bought. In case you need a second carry-on. I bought mine for about $15! Of course, that was two years ago. I have no idea what the exchange is now.

MER02's picture

(post #39772, reply #6 of 12)

What about visiting Colmar? It is a lovely little town that gives you a sense of what the region used to be like. It would be a great day trip. They have a historical museum that you would enjoy. Here is a website that I found that will give you a good idea of what you will find there.

Flavourgirl's picture

(post #39772, reply #7 of 12)

Colmar is in the wine region, is it not?  The bi-annual conference DH goes to always has a "companion program" and Colmar is one of the tours.  So I will get to see it and will be able to sample the wines and I don't have to drive!  We will also be visiting the Haut-Koenigsbourg Castle. 

How could I have forgotten mustard, also??  I love perusing supermarkets in other countries (and here, too). 

Diet? Well, be careful of what I eat.  But when I'm there, the word won't enter my mind.

Edited 3/27/2002 6:09:57 PM ET by FlavourGirl

MER02's picture

(post #39772, reply #8 of 12)

Good to see that you will be visiting Colmar and the Haut-Koenigsbourg Castle. The castle is just beautiful.

Does anyone on Mac know how to show the graphics?

CookiM0nster's picture

(post #39772, reply #9 of 12)

Oh no! I just typed out a long reply, but it seems to have gotten lost in the ether. If it does eventually turn up, I'll just delete this one...

Anyway, you absolutely must see Colmar, it's a thoroughly delightful town, with an astonishngly well-preserved medieval town center dotted with food shops of all sorts, bakeries, patisseries, meat shops. You really can't go wrong. There are also a couple of Michelin starred restaurants in town if you're up for something fancy.

If you feel like a side trip to Germany I also highly recommend Freiburg. It's pretty nearby.

It was in Colmar that DH and I had one of the best dishes of my life - a green salad with foie gras, walnuts and a smattering of other things I no longer remember. I know I mentioned it on CT at the time so the full description must be in the archives somewhere. And this was in a cheap little tourist restaurant of the cathedral square.

I'm attaching a picture I took when we were there to give you a sense of the place.

P.S. Tuck, some of my ancestors came from Alsace-Lorraine too. Maybe we're distant cousins.

colmar.jpg24.21 KB
Tuck's picture

(post #39772, reply #11 of 12)

What a nice thought, after seeing the picture I want to go more than ever.  Orient Express will just have to wait.

If you can't be kind, at least have the decency to be vague

Risottogirl's picture

(post #39772, reply #10 of 12)

Alsace is one of my favorite regions of France.  Wonderful food and wines and postcard perfect villages.

In Strausbourg, there is Julien, a more modern style restaurant, kind of pricey but very good.

Don't miss Colmar - the really significant and beautiful Isenheim altarpiece (among other treasures) is at the Musee d'Unterlinden. There are many good restaurants, Au Feu Rouge comes to mind as a memorable one.

Mulhouse has a facinating automobile museum with hunsdreds of rare autos, there is also a textile museum that is pretty neat.

Our very best meal there was in Marlenheim at Le Cerf - magnifique!

Two great hotels are: Le Manoir in Barr ( and Hotel Deux Clefs in Turkheim ( Barr and Turckeim are a couple of the  quaintest villeges I have ever seen and they are both along the wine route. Recently, we almost always rent a farmhouse or an apartment when we travel to Europe, but normally the stay has to be a week  or more - check out and for lots of info on vacation rentals.

In Bergheim there is a nice "winstub" called Winstub du Sommelier. Definitely rent a car and drive along the wine route, the villages are so beautiful.

We always rent cars from Auto Europe, - they'll match anyone elses rates and we almost always end up with an unexpected upgrade.

Honestly, you'll have a hard time finding a bad meal in Alsace, ask locals  where they like to eat and stay away from anyplace has lots of signs in English.

If you like farmers markets, every small town town has them, usually on different days.  Check out Patricia Wells'  Food Lovers Guide to France - nice section on Alsace.

Also, you'll be near Baden Baden, Germany. Lovely city with a stunning casino (men need a jacket to even step inside). 

Just a few tips to get you started...

Water is a great ingredient to cook with, it has such a neutral flavor - Bobby Flay

Gretchen's picture

(post #39772, reply #12 of 12)

Eccos are just to die for!!  I bought 2 pairs 3 days before our trip to Paris last March and wore them for the next 2 weeks. Haven't stopped, as a matter of fact. Husband bought a pair of Mephistos at the same time--he is 'way beyond difficult to fit for shoes.  They have been absolutely terrific.  You might look into Mephistos in France also since they are made there--about half price at least. Eccos are made in Holland, I think.