France’s Grand Est, or “Grand East”, occupies the northeastern-most reaches of the country and encapsulates the historic departments of Alsace, Champagne, and Lorraine.
Alsace stands apart from any other region of France for its unique history and character. This portion of the country, nestled between the Rhine and the Vosges mountains, has passed back and forth between Germany and France so many times in the past two centuries that it has essentially perfected its own identity, mixing the two cultures. Its brightly-painted half-timbered houses are an unmistakable identifier of the local Alsatian style, as is the unique Alsacian dialect, which closely resembles the Germanic stylings communicated in Switzerland across the border.
The capital of Alsace, Strasbourg, is perhaps the finest Euro-centric city in France’s wheelhouse. Its historic center, with its striking Gothic Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Strasbourg and animated astronomical clock – a masterpiece of Renaissance ingenuity and architecture – has become one of the most visited icons in the country.
The area is also home to the magnificent Route des Vins – or the Alsace wine road – which boasts more than 90 quaint medieval villages and multiple vineyards producing some of the world’s finest crisp white wines. Hikes up to the Fortress of Haut Königsburg, access to the 13th-century marvel, Chateau St. Ulrich, and wine tastings in the exclusive cellars of the local winemakers await any Ker & Downey traveler in Alsace.
West of Alsace rests the military battlefields and gentle rolling hills of Lorraine. Many of the quaint villages here have a fascinating history, as many stood the test of time during World War I and have an exceptional artisan heritage to impart on the discerning traveler. Such highlights as the Royal Palace of Lunéville in Nancy, owned by the Dukes of Lorraine and then the King Stanislas Leszczynski, father-in-law of King Louis XV, are unforgettable spectacles to behold.
Finally, the Grand Est concludes with its westernmost province of Champagne, a region that needs no introduction. Beginning in Reims, one will find many of the most world renowned champagne cellars hidden away beneath the city in fourth-century abbeys and chalk pits, as well as the famous Cathédrale Nortre Dame de Reims, where the Kings of France were crowned.
Nearby, the renowned champagne cellars along the Route du Champagne boast such names as Dom Perignon, Taittinger, and Moet & Chandon. Even the novice taster will appreciate seeing these exclusive cellars opened up to them. With Ker & Downey, witness how this liquid gold is grown and bottled to become the exquisite bubbly we all know and love today.
Contact your Ker & Downey specialist today to begin planning your next journey to France’s Grand Est.