Nestling between the Vosges and the Rhine, Alsace is a charming little region with a big reputation. At the crossroads of the Germanic and Latin worlds, it is passionate about its History, yet firmly anchored in modern Europe and open to the world.
Rated as among the most beautiful in France, the Alsatian towns and cities win the “Grand prix national de fleurissement”, “Towns in Bloom” prices every year. Through their festivals and their traditions, they have managed to preserve a strong identity based on a particular way of living.
World famous cuisine, a remarkably rich history, welcoming and friendly people: in this jewel of a region there really is something for everyone.
To discover Alsace at your own pace, you simply have let yourself be inspired: surprises await you at every turn of the page.
First of all, Mardi Gras festivals arrive in the towns and villages, some of which perpetuate the pagan rite ofthrowing flaming disks. These give way to festivities dedicated to humour, Easter traditions and the ritesof spring, which are celebrated at Obernai, for example. Easter lamb cakes fill our bakery and pastry shopwindows. The first regional festivals are held, as well as flea markets, bring and buy sales, fairs and otherthematic events... In March, you may be tempted to try a new look, with the «Mode et Tissus» (Fashion andFabrics) trade fair at Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines! In May, concerts and festivals appear, parks and gardens openfor visitors… Wissembourg and its Whitsun festivities offers concentrated traditions, Saint-John fires fill theJune skies in the Vosges valleys and Thann burns three pine trees once again.
Summer on the heights, in the valleys and foothills
Faithful to the tradition of local fêtes, «Messtis» (day of mass) are in full flow in summer. Today they takethe form of flower-decked processions and all kinds of events based on crafts, local customs and folklore:Streisselhochzeit at Seebach in July, Fiddlers’festival at Ribeauvillé at the end of summer… Others holdmedieval reconstitutions, such as those at Hohlandsbourg castle. Everywhere you can find lively events witha warm atmosphere and even the most intimate concerts and festivals provide a range of discoveries. Fromthe Vosges to the Rhine, Alsace is alive: mountain and country festivals in the Vosges valleys, fairs and winefestivals along the wine route. In the plain of Alsace, the historical centres surrounded by canals at Colmaror Strasbourg invite you to come for a stroll. Between these two towns, the sauerkraut harvest festival runsfrom August to mid-September. Regional products are unavoidable throughout the summer!
Autumn grape harvests as we move towards winter
After the harvests, there is a succession of food-related festivals. The grape harvest is celebrated in vineyardlocalities every weekend from the end of September to October! Autumn has its exchanges, flea markets andthematic fairs and with the first shivers, sauerkraut and bäckeoffe are welcome dishes. In Alsace, land, natureand culture are never far away. Many museums offer the chance for some marvellous discoveries. Nature,always beautiful in autumn, also: slabs of venison in the northern Vosges, high pastures and farm-inns inthe Southern Vosges. In former times, the feast of Saint Martin (11 November) closed the economic year.From November, there were evening celebrations bringing families and neighbours together. In Alsace, theycarved beetroots – not pumpkins! – to represent the dead. These lanterns, with the warmth and friendlinessof evening festivities, led into the pre-Christmas period…
In Alsace, Christmas preparations take place during Advent, the time of waiting for the arrival of Christ,which lasts for four Sundays. In former times this included a fasting period, but today many of the customshave been lost, diffused throughout the world! Such as the Christmas tree, authentically Alsatian, as is notedin 1521 in the Sélestat Humanist Library, or the famous Wihnachtsbredle, little Christmas biscuits which arevery ancient symbols. Christmas is more than one festival: effervescent Christmas markets, quiet moments ofspirituality during concerts or chorales, discovery of gourmet traditions… As for Saint-Nicolas, the terrifyingHans Trapp, the Alsatian PèreFouettard (Whipping father) or the Christmas fairy, alias Christkindel, FatherChristmas has somewhat taken their place. But they are still to be found here and there, at the AlsaceEcomuseum, for example. The feast of the Epiphany closes the Christmas cycle, the tree is taken down, thenativity stored, verses and songs fade into the distance...