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France Travel Guide

Best Places to Visit in France (3)

Burgundy, Alsace and Rhône-Alpes

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Overview of Burgundy, Alsace and the Rhône-Alpes    
 Kayserberg in the Alsace, has many delights Vacations in  Burgundy, Alsace and the Rhône-Alpes offer a chance to explore some of France's most beautiful countryside, as well as an opportunity to tour the some of the country's internationally famous wine regions. 

Alsace and the Rhône-Alpes are cultural mixing zones between France and its neighbors to the east. Both areas are scenic and overflow with key locations in the history of Europe. The influences of German, Swiss and Italian cultures adds a unique flavor to the Alsace and Rhône-Alpes regions.  The food is heavenly, the people are warm and friendly and visiting is a treat.

Burgundy, on the other hand, is quintessentially French, has always been at the heart of France's history and there is an interesting tale to be told in every village.  And even if you can't find the "local story", you will find the local wine and, chances are, it will be an excellent vintage.

You are currently reading our section on Burgundy, Alsace and the Rhône-Alpes.  We also provide two additional sections  describing more of our Best Places to Visit in France.

  1. Paris, Ile de France and Normandy
  2. The Loire Valley, Provence, Languedoc-Roussillon, the Pyrenees, and Côte d'Azur
 
Best Places to Visit in France

Section 3  (This page)
Burgundy
Alsace
Rhône-Alpes  

Section 1
Paris
Ile de France
Normandy

Section 2
Loire Valley Chateaus
Provence
Cote d'Azur
Languedoc-Roussillon
The Pyrenees



Best Places to Visit in France - Burgundy, Alsace and the Rhône-Alpes Top of Page  

Names in Teal are regions of the country.









 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

Best Places to Visit in Burgundy, France

  • Beaune

    Photograph of the Hotel Dieu's ornate roof 
    • Beaune, a charming, modestly sized county  town, is known for its wineries and the Hotel-Dieu (France's opulent and fascinating  charity hospital that had its origins in the Middle Ages).  The hospital has been preserved in a museum-like setting and displays an interesting  collection of the barbaric instruments used for surgery during Medieval times.  In addition, the hospital's  kitchen and apothecary draw the attention of many visitors.

      • The multicolored, geometric patterned roof  of the Hotel-Dieu has become better known than its hospital function.  The impressive roof is only visible from the interior courtyard and is a thing of beauty. Click the camera symbol above to see of photograph of this interesting roof.

      • Finally, the Hotel-Dieu houses the polyptych (polyptychs are hinged, paneled paintings that were used as altarpieces) of the Last Judgment by Rogier van der Weyden.  The  Last Judgment, regarded by many as one of the greatest of Gothic paintings,  is an enormous composition that includes multiple framed panels of different sizes.  The total image is beautiful and intriguing, as each panel contains imagery of great interest.

      • More information on the Hotel-Dieu can be found here. The website in is French, but Google translator can help.


  • Dijon Photograph of Jacquemart clock atop Eglise Notre-Dame in Dijon
    • Dijon, a large city, is the historic capital of the Dukes of Burgundy.  The city is favored with interesting architecture (historic townhouses and mansions) great food and fantastic wine.  
    • Focus your visit on the town's historic center.  See the Place des Ducs (Musee des Beaux Arts)  the churches Eglise Notre Dame and Eglise St. Michel. Notre Dame has a spectacular clock (the Jaquemart) featuring a man, woman and 2 children who strike the bells with hammers to ring the time.
      • The Musée des Beaux Arts is one of the oldest museums in France and draws attention because of its fine collections and the fact the building was the palace of the Dukes of Burgundy.

      • Don't forget to buy some mustard for the folks at home (it can be fairly spicy, so read the labels or ask).
        • And yes, of course, there is a Musée del la Moutarde (Museum of Mustard) at 48 quai Nicolas Rolin.

      • More information about visiting Dijon can be found at its official tourism website.

  • Vézelay 
    • Vézelay is a delightful little town gracefully draped across Burgundy's rolling hills.  Although a sleepy little village today, Vézelay's church played an important role in world history.

      • Visit the Basilica  Ste. Madeleine, the site where medieval armies gathered for two of the Crusades that were planned to liberate the "Holy Lands" and return Jerusalem to Christianity. St. Bernard of Clairvaux preached the Second Crusade from the town's slopes in 1147.

        • There is much of interest in the Basilica, but pay particular attention the symbols decorating the church's many columns. You will find signs of the zodiac and other unique symbols that appear to reflect Christianity's evolution from religions that had taken root here in earlier times.


Best Places to Visit in Alsace, France

  • Colmar Phtograph of Colmar's beautiful canal     

    • Colmar is the capital of the Rhin-Haut province and an important hub for the wine growing industry in Alsace.  A delightful stop, Colmar's scenic canal is draped with colorful houses that are picture-postcard perfect.  Good food and good times abound. 

    • The city's old town (its historic center) is where you will find the attractions that draw tourists to Colmar. 

      • Colmar's center has several interesting churches (St. Martin's (13th century) and the Dominican Church) and you can feel the tentacles of the Middle Ages on this delightful city. 

      • Visit the Unterlinden Museum, (1 rue d'Unterlindin) renowned for the Isenheim Altarpiece  by Matthis Grunewald and other interesting art from the Middle Ages.

      • The city also houses the Bartholdi Museum (30 Rue des Marchands).  The creator of the Statue of Liberty and noted sculptor was born in Colmar and his family donated most of his important works to this museum.

      • Stop at a cafe along the canal for a drink or try the Choucroute Garni (sauerkraut, sausage and pork) for a heart stopping regional taste treat.

      • Take some time to stroll the city' streets to see the historic, delightfully decorated, half-timbered buildings. Be sure to look at the second-floor facades for some striking balconies and humorous plaques/decorations that were added  to the building exteriors over the centuries.

      • Colmar's official tourist website can be found here.


  • Photograph of the main street in scenic Riquewihr The Wine Road - Kaysersberg   and Riquewihr 

    • Alsace's Wine Road, sometime called the Wine Route,  stretches between Mulhouse and Strasbourg, is approximately 100 miles in length and connects numerous enchanting villages known for wine production and sales.  The countryside in this area is beautiful and the wine towns add to the atmosphere.  Visit this tourism website for detailed information about potential towns to visit along the Wine Road

    • Kaysersberg and Riquewihr are two touristy but scenic stops along Alsace's famous Wine Road. Stop in either village for great wine, good food and a festive atmosphere.  Each city has a beautiful setting (Kayserberg has the edge here) and make nice lunch stops on the way to Strasbourg or Colmar.  Of course, the wine merchants will graciously ship your purchase back home (for a modest fee).

     


  • Strasbourg  Click for a chart of Strasbourg's annual precipitation and temperature ranges.    
    • Strasbourg is located in an area that was claimed by Germany and France during several periods of history and the city bears the imprint of both cultures.

     Strasbourg is delight any time of the year, but especially in the autumn.

  • Strasbourg offers a wealth of delights, but its Grand Isle (Grand Île) is the major attraction for most tourists.   The Grand Île, surrounded by the River Ill, is the historic center of the city and Alsace. 

  • The Grand Isle is home to the city's famous cathedral (Notre Dame de Strasbourg), which has sections dating from the 12th century.  The cathedral was once the world's tallest building and is famous for its height, Gothic design, stained glass windows and interesting  astronomical clock.  See the Cathedral's official website for more information on visiting.  If you have time, ascend the tower for a great view of the city.

  • A small section of the Grand Ile, known as Petite-France, offers canals, historic half-timbered buildings and great shopping (at high prices).  It's a great place to wander, so plan to spend some time here.

  • For more information of the many delights of Strasbourg, visit its official tourism website.

      

Best Places to Visit in Rhône-Alpes, France

  • Lyon   Click for a chart of Lyon's annual precipitation and temperature ranges.  
    • Situated near the Alps and the oldest wine growing areas of France, Lyon offers a unique culture and fine cuisine. Lyon's is a city descended from a Roman settlement and the city bears the imprint of several cultures.  Lovers of silk will find a visit to Lyon very rewarding and, perhaps, expensive. 

    The Bartholdi Fountain in Lyon (he also created the Statue of Liberty in NY.

  • Lyon has a long and interesting history that is still visible when touring the city,   As  you explore, you will notice that Lyon is filled with glorious mansions and fine architecture.  Many travelers consider it  a suitable rival to Paris. You will find a tour of the city's Old Town (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) to be well worth your time.

    • Be sure to see the  Gallo Roman Museum of Lyon Fourviere that contains unique displays from the city's Roman past.

    • The Fine Arts Museum contains numerous treasures by famous artists and is not to be missed.

    • The Historical Museum of Textiles provides details of the silk industry in Lyon, which dates from the Renaissance.

    • Lyon is, also, an antique center, so you might want to spend a little extra time here to find that "just perfect" memento of your visit to France.

    • Finally, taking a river cruise is good way to see and appreciate the beauty of Lyon's architecture and setting.  See this site for details on a popular dinner and sightseeing cruise in Lyon.

    • Click here for Lyon's official tourism website.

     

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The Chevet of Dijon's 13th century Notre-Dame Cathedral

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Street side dining in Colmar features good food and great ambiance

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Grand Isle and its Petite-Francais section  in Strasbourg are beautiful

 

The impressive front of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Strasbourg, France

 

 

 

 

 

Bonaparte Bridge and Old Town Lyon during the light festival

 

 

 
Best Places to Visit in France

Section 3  (This page)
Burgundy
Alsace
Rhône-Alpes  

Section 1
Paris
Ile de France
Normandy

Section 2
Loire Valley Chateaus
Provence
Cote d'Azur
Languedoc-Roussillon
The Pyrenees

 

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