Alsace and Lorraine
As border regions, Alsace and Lorraine have been fought over for centuries by France and Germany, their beleaguered past recalled by many a military stronghold and cemetery.
Today the region presents a more peaceful landscape of pastel-painted
villages, fortified towns and sleepy vineyards.
At the northeast frontier of France, bordered by the Rhine, Alsace forms a fertile watershed between the mountains of the Vosges and the Black Forest of Germany.
Lorraine, with its gently rolling landscape on the other side of the mountains, is the poorer cousin but appears more overtly French in character.
Caught in the wars between France and Germany, Alsace and Lorraine have
changed nationality four times since 1871.
Centuries of strife have made border citadels of Metz, Toul and Verdun
in Lorraine, while Alsace abounds with castles, from the pastiche folly
of Haut-Koenigsbourg to Saverne's ruined fortress, built to guard a strategic pass in the Vosges.
However, the area has a strong identity of its own, taking pride in local costumes, traditions and dialects.
In Alsace, Route du Vin vineyards nudge pretty
villages in the Vosges foothills.
Strasbourg, the capital, is a cosmopolitan city with a 16th-century
centre, while Nancy, Lorraine's historical capital, represents elegant
18th-century architecture and town planning.
Much of the attraction of this region lies in its cuisine.
Lorraine offers beer and quiche lorraine. In Alsace, cosy winstubs, or wine cellars, serve sauerkraut and flowery white wines, such as Riesling or Gewürztraminer.
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