Alsace is located at the eastern border of France, 275 miles from Paris and right in the heart of Europe. It is flanked on the west by the Vosges mountains, and on the east by the Rhine river and the Black Forest. Once part of the German Empire, Alsace only became French under the Louis XIV. Germany later re-annexed it twice, from 1870-1918 and from 1940-1945.
From a tourist's point of view, Alsace projects a fairy tale image of half-timbered houses adorned with flowers, gabled roofs, and chimneys - sometimes topped by stork nests. The upper Vosges, with majestic forests and peaceful lakes, presents inviting panoramas to the hiker and the intrepid mountain-bike rider.
Alsace has created one of Europe's great original dishes: choucroute. Regarded as the national dish, choucroute is fluffy sauerkraut served with smoked ham, sausages, and potatoes, enjoyed with wine or beer. The seven Alsace wines, six white and one rosé, are named after the grapes from which they are made: Gewurtztraminer, Muscat, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir, riesling, sylvaner and Tokay Pinot Gris. Marketed in the long slender bottles typical of the region, they are dry and crisp, and should be served cold.
The wine route wends its way for about 75 miles along the eastern side of the Vosges moutains. Famous among other theme-oriented itineraries in Alsace are Mountain Ridge Road, Romanesque Road, Rhine Road, and Fried Carp Road.