On the French side of our road trip from Munich to Paris, we first spent some time in the Alsace Region of Colmar and Strasbourg in between visiting the south and north Black Forest of Germany, and we then spent some time in the Champagne Region of Reims on our way to Paris. We really enjoyed these cities, all are quite unique and picturesque and the people noticeably friendly and happy compared with their neighbours across the German border.
Colmar: I love the opening line under ‘history’ for Colmar according to Wikipedia, “Colmar was founded in the 9th century. This was the location where Charles the Fat held a diet in 884.” What a way to start a city. Through it’s subsequent history it has been occupied by France, Switzerland, Germany (1871-1918 and 1940-1945) and then France again. As a result it has quite a unique character, at least compared to other cities we have visited in France, and it has an exceptionally large and well preserved Old Town. Wikipedia also says “Colmar’s cityscape (and neighbouring Riquewihr’s) served for the design of the Japanese animated film Howl’s Moving Castle.” Here are some of our pics of the Old Town.
Colmar is also the home town of sculptor Frédéric Bartholdi, who designed the Statue of Liberty, this photo is taken at his former home.
Strasbourg: This is a much older and larger city than Colmar, just over 2,000 years old, having been formally named ‘Argentoratum’ by the Roman Empire in 12BC and still with some Roman ruins, but in the last two centuries it too changed between German and French occupation and therefore the Old Town has some similar architecture to Colmar. It has always been an important city and still is, being the official seat of the European Parliament, and, it is the first city to have had the whole city centre classified as a world heritage site by UNESCO, it’s not hard to see why.
Alsatian wine is big business in this area, it’s mostly white wine but there are also red and rosé wines, so, although not yet in the Champagne Region it was Strasbourg where we went through a winery ‘cave’ in which the oldest barrel of wine was from the 15th century. It’s the one in the cage, it amazingly survived the use of the cave for munitions storage during the war!
The Cathedral has a great Astrological clock.
On our way out of Strasbourg we found a great kids science centre called Les Vaisseau. I know we seem to visit a lot of science centres, but the kids just love them, they’re a great way to break up the historic sites and other less child friendly site seeing activities and we will keep looking for more, we are particularly looking forward to an exceptional looking science centre in Hong Kong on the way home.
Reims: This was our last stop before Paris, we had a couple of nights here to have a look around. To the kids great excitement the hotel had a nice indoor pool so some of the time was happily lost there. The rest of the time was spent on foot around the city. We are not Champagne lovers so the typical draw of the traditional Champagne Houses was a little lost on us, but we enjoyed the city nonetheless. It is quite a grand city with the feel of a small Paris.