After spending a few days in the Strasbourg region, one thing became abundantly clear. Throughout the history of the region, the people have alternated between German and French control, which has left the citizens feeling more independent than identifying with any particular country. When our guide drove us down the wine road through some of the smaller towns, he made the statement that he only speaks French or German when he has tourists who speak those languages, otherwise he only speaks Alsatian.
Regardless of the political and cultural conflicts that may exist, the area is truly spectacular for its history and the medieval buildings that can be found throughout the area. We only spent a day traveling through some of the smaller towns, but every moment was a glimpse into hundreds of years of history. Regardless of the actual size of the towns themselves, crowds were in abundance as locals and tourists alike traveled to enjoy the small Christmas markets that each of these locations had to offer. We were able to purchase a Christmas bread, which is a gingerbread loaf, as well as some other handmade items both for Christmas as well as just for display.
Strasbourg also has some wonderful medieval buildings, both the patchwork wooden buildings for the poor as well as the opulent mansions for the rich. There was much to love about our time in Strasbourg, France, and we will focus on those in some upcoming posts, but we thought that we would start with what struck us most about our time in the area and that is the incredible architecture and a true sense of history. It is a different feel than some of the larger, historic cities, it was all about the medieval villages, the castles, and towns surrounded by ancient fortress walls. It is certainly an area that deserves to be visited, although the intense marketing of the wine road has made it a definite tourist destination, so expect large crowds throughout the year.