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Exploring the Alsace Region in France: A Trip for Senior Travelers

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This recommended route begins in Basel, Switzerland, a city gracefully positioned along the Rhine River, blending medieval charm with contemporary allure. You’ll continue to the historic town of Murten, where time seems to stand still within its well-preserved medieval walls. This city, whose history is deeply rooted in Switzerland’s liberation wars, offers a fascinating tour of its impressive fortifications.

Popular itinerary to Alsace Reginon in France for Senior Travelers:

Continuing onward, you’ll see the breathtaking Doubs River, a natural wonder on the Swiss-French border. Amidst breathtaking landscapes, a majestic waterfall roars, creating a perfect backdrop for connecting with nature. Crossing into France, you’ll explore the city of Besancon, boasting a wealth of historical treasures. Its crowning glory is the UNESCO World Heritage citadel, renowned for its impressive fortifications and panoramic views.

Next, you’ll arrive in Dijon, the capital of the Burgundy region, where magnificent palaces, medieval streets, and the world-famous Dijon mustard showcase the rich culinary heritage of the area.

Continuing towards the wine regions, the next stop is the town of Beaune, famed for its vineyards and the Château de Savigny-lès-Beaune. This castle contains a unique blend of medieval architecture and an extraordinary collection of fighter planes, racing cars, and transportation vehicles—a fascinating combination of history, aviation, and viticulture.

From there, you’ll explore the cities of Nancy and Metz, boasting grand squares, royal cathedrals, and a rich fusion of French and German influences.

The route continues to the duchy of Luxembourg, a tranquil retreat with charming landscapes and enticing historical charm. The scenic Moselle River will guide you in Trier, an elegant city, and other picturesque towns lining its magical banks. Returning to France, you’ll pass through the fortress town of Phalsbourg en route to Strasbourg, with its stunning Gothic cathedral and enchanting timber-framed houses. The journey continues through Obernai, a medieval town radiating charm, and other intriguing points until you reach Colmar.

This recommended 10-day itinerary, designed for a comfortable pace suitable for senior travelers, begins and ends in Basel.

Day 1: Basel

Basel Cathedral, a masterpiece of Gothic architecture, majestically overlooks the old city and offers panoramic views of the Rhine River. Strolling through its streets, you’ll come to the Rathaus, the city hall with a façade adorned with murals and sculptures depicting the city’s history.

The Marktplatz, located in the heart of the old town, is a lively local hub with bustling markets and charming cafes set against the backdrop of historic buildings. Stroll along the Rhine promenade and enjoy a short cruise on the Rhine for a unique perspective of the city’s skyline. As evening descends, illuminated bridges cast a magical glow over the river’s waters.

Rhine river, Basel, Switzerland

Culturally, Basel boasts an abundance of art and historical museums. The Kunstmuseum Basel houses Switzerland’s oldest art collection, displaying European masterpieces from various eras. The Fondation Beyeler offers a glimpse of modern and contemporary art set against scenic landscapes, and the Tinguely Museum is captivating with the kinetic artistry of the renowned Jean Tinguely.

The Basel Historical Museum presents a varied array of artifacts and exhibitions that delve into the city’s rich history, and the Natural History Museum offers an opportunity to marvel at the wonders of the natural world. For those willing to venture a bit beyond the city center, the Vitra Design Museum showcases contemporary furniture and design pieces.

As evening falls, it’s recommended to wander through the narrow alleys of the old town in the Spalenberg area, where local artists showcase their talents in charming corners.

Spend the night in Basel.

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Day 2: From Basel through Murten, La Chaux- De-Fonds to Besançon

From Basel, head towards Murten on Roads 3, 2, and 25E, covering a distance of about 78 miles. The town of Murten, situated on the shores of beautiful Lake Murten, is a historical gem, blending well-preserved medieval architecture with natural beauty. The old town, surrounded by medieval walls, is a maze of narrow streets, charming squares, and centuries-old buildings. The historic walls are adorned with towers and gates, sites associated with Switzerland’s wars of liberation.

Murten, Switzerland

Don’t miss a visit to Murten Castle, positioned on a hill with a commanding view of the town, providing insights into the town’s history and offering panoramic views.

In the city of La Chaux-De-Fonds, located approximately 28 miles from Murten on Road 20A, you’ll find the International Watchmaking Museum, with a fascinating display of timepieces. Continuing on, a short distance leads to the Le Doubs River, meandering through breathtaking gorges between France and Switzerland. To enhance your visit, it is recommended to reach the tourist boat dock and take a cruise that explores interesting points along the river. The “Bateaux du Saut du Doubs” offers boat tours, including the Saut du Doubs waterfall.

After the cruise, drive about 43 miles on Roads 461 and 57N towards the city of Besançon to spend the night.

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Day 3: Besançon to Chateau de Savigny-les-Beaune and on to Beaune

Today’s exploration is of Besançon, the city where Victor Hugo was born. Besançon is situated on the slopes of a hill with a view over the city and its surroundings.

Stroll through the narrow alleys of the old part of the city, discovering architectural wonders such as the Cathedral of Saint-Jean, with its astronomical clock, a 19th-century engineering marvel. Wander around charming squares like Place de la Liberté and the picturesque Quai Vauban along the Doubs River, lined with cafes and colorful buildings. Don’t miss the city’s Clock Museum, located in the magnificent Palais Granvelle, presenting a diverse collection of pocket watches and ornate timepieces.

Proceed along Roads 36A and 2D for approximately 68 miles to reach Chateau de Savigny-les-Beaune. This beloved castle presents an intriguing blend of history and unique collections, featuring a diverse array of over 5,000 items, including vintage fighter planes, motorcycles, tractors, fire trucks, and race cars.

After exploring the castle, take a short drive to the city of Beaune, renowned as the wine capital of Burgundy. Beaune is home to the famous Hôtel-Dieu des Hospices Museum, a medieval hospital transformed into a museum, distinguished by its colorful tiled roof. The museum provides insight into the history of the hospital through exhibits showcasing its rooms, medical staff, medicine storage, and equipment displays.

Beaune’s historical center is adorned with picturesque timber-framed houses and cobblestone streets, and the central square, Place Carnot, fuses history with modernity. With its prestigious vineyards producing some of the world’s finest wines, the city is a paradise for wine enthusiasts. Visit the network of wine cellars that are an integral part of the town’s heritage. These underground cellars, carved from limestone, create a unique subterranean world where the region’s premium wines age gracefully. It’s a fascinating journey into the heart of Burgundy’s winemaking tradition. The cool, dimly lit staircases showcase rows of oak barrels and countless bottles meticulously arranged, providing a glimpse into the art of Burgundy wine production.

Spend the night in Beaune.

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Day 4: From Beaune through Dijon to Nancy

Travel along Route 31A for approximately 31 miles to reach the city of Dijon. Dijon is well-known for its rich history, distinctive architecture, and its association with the mustard industry. You’ll encounter impeccably preserved medieval and Renaissance buildings, including the Burgundy Dukes’ Palace, a symbol of the city’s former grandeur that showcases a blend of Gothic and Renaissance styles. Dijon’s historic center is adorned with charming half-timbered houses, picturesque squares, and the vibrant shopping street, Rue de la Liberté.

Dijon, France

Explore the city’s globally renowned mustard industry at the Maille store, which opened its doors in 1845 and offers an extensive array of uniquely flavored mustards. For a journey into historical ambiance, consider visiting the Musée Magnin, housed in a magnificent 17th-century mansion. The museum displays an outstanding collection of fine and decorative arts and masterpieces, including paintings by renowned artists such as Ingres, Delacroix, and Géricault.

Continuing along Route 31A for about 118 miles, you will reach Nancy, renowned for its graceful architecture, UNESCO-listed squares, and vibrant cultural heritage. The highlight is Place Stanislas, an 18th-century square adorned with elaborate buildings, sculptures, and a distinctive fountain. Together with the adjacent squares, Place de la Carrière and Place d’Alliance, they create a cohesive ensemble that mirrors the city’s historical and artistic significance. The Musée des Beaux-Arts de Nancy houses an impressive art collection, from medieval works to contemporary pieces.

A visit to Nancy would not be complete without exploring the Daum Collection. Housed in the atmospheric basement of the museum, located in Place Stanislas, this remarkable collection is presented impressively.

Spend the night in Nancy.

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Day 5: From Nancy through Metz to Luxembourg

In medieval times, Metz was often referred to as the “Queen of the North.” The Gothic architecture of the Cathedral of Saint-Étienne de Metz boasts the breathtaking “Stained Glass of Agatha” windows, depicting biblical stories in vibrant hues. The former archbishop’s palace has been transformed into the diverse Musée de la Cour d’Or, exhibiting a treasury of ancient artifacts and fine arts. The impressive German Gate serves showcases the city’s historical past, while the Centre Pompidou-Metz is an architectural marvel, hosting dynamic exhibitions that push the boundaries of contemporary art. Make sure not to overlook the Cloître des Récollets, an important centuries-old cloister.

Depart Metz on Routes 31A and 3A and drive approximately 43 miles until you arrive in Luxembourg. The tour begins at the monument known as the “Gëlle Fra,” featuring a female figure holding an olive branch, symbolizing peace and national pride. It honors Luxembourgish soldiers who sacrificed their lives in World War I and II.

From there, proceed to the UNESCO-recognized Old Town with its maze of medieval streets. The Grand Ducal Palace, a symbol of Luxembourg’s royal heritage, is surrounded by charming squares. A lengthy promenade leads to the city’s landmarks, the Bock Casemates, an underground network of tunnels and fortifications dating back to the 17th century, integral to Luxembourg’s defense strategy. These casemates provided shelter for soldiers and served as a supply route. The panoramic view of the Alzette Valley from this site offers a unique perspective on the rugged landscape, as does the view from the Adolphe Bridge, connecting the modern and historical quarters. Finally, unwind at Place d’Armes, a square lined with cafes and shops.

Spend the night in Luxembourg.

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Day 6: From Luxembourg through Trier via Bernkastel-Kues to Saarbrücken

Start the day by traveling on Routes 1A and 64 for approximately 62 miles, arriving in the town of Traben-Trarbach. This picturesque town, situated on the Moselle River, is renowned for its Art Nouveau architecture and blends history and wine culture. Stroll through the city’s lovely streets adorned with well-preserved timber-framed buildings. Visit the Mittelmosel Museum, which showcases the history and heritage of the Moselle region through exhibits featuring artifacts, decorative arts, and documents. Don’t miss the entrance on the river bridge.

From Traben-Trarbach, continue on Route 53 along the Moselle River for approximately 12 miles to the enchanting town of Bernkastel-Kues. This picturesque town is adorned with half-timbered houses, cobblestone streets, and charming squares. The medieval streets of the old town ascend towards the vineyards, where you can marvel at the ornate doors of wine cellars carved into the hillsides. Here, the esteemed Riesling wines are cultivated on steep terraces. Enjoy a leisurely stroll or a brief ride to Landshut Castle, which provides panoramic views of the city and the river.

Bernkastel-Kues, Germany

Continuing along Route 53 for approximately 31 miles, you’ll arrive in Trier, undoubtedly the “Queen of the Moselle Valley.” This city, boasting one of Germany’s oldest universities founded in 1473, reveals an array of extraordinary historical monuments. The renowned “Black Gate,” Porta Nigra, is a massive Roman gate constructed from sandstone around 200 AD, serving as one of the city’s four entrances. Passing through this gate leads to a vibrant market street, and at its center lies Hauptmarkt, the main market square, surrounded by the impressive cathedral—a significant landmark in Germany and a former episcopal center. Inside the cathedral’s Relic Chamber is the seamless robe worn by Jesus on his way to the crucifixion, known as the “Heiligtum der Rösa.”

Exiting from the cathedral’s rear brings you to the awe-inspiring Romanesque-Gothic cloister, which houses the tombs of bishops. Weberbach Street leads to the Roman Baths of Kaiserthermen, and beyond the main road, Weimarer Allee, lies the Roman Amphitheatre. These structures, along with public buildings and sections of the wall, testify to the city’s importance during the Roman Empire.

Spend the night in Trier.

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Day 7: From Trier through Saarbrücken, Phalsbourg, to Strasbourg

Trier boasts a wealth of historical sites, and the morning will be dedicated to exploring them. In the afternoon, drive along Routes 1A and 4A towards Strasbourg, covering a total distance of 143 miles. Along the journey, there are two recommended stops: the city of Saarbrücken and the town of Phalsbourg. In Saarbrücken, don’t miss the impressive Porte de France and the Saint-Jean-Baptiste Church, featuring a blend of Gothic and Renaissance architecture. The charming Place d’Armes square is adorned with picturesque buildings, and Parc Emile Stahl provides a tranquil retreat with lush vegetation and a stunning lake.

Spend the night in Strasbourg.

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Day 8: Strasbourg

Start your exploration of the city in the Jardin de la Place de la République. From there, head to the awe-inspiring Strasbourg Cathedral featuring Gothic embellishments and stunning stained glass windows, including the iconic “Rosace.” Inside the cathedral, observe the famous Astronomical Clock.
Next, make your way to the square named after Johannes Gutenberg, the inventor of the printing press, and then to the central square, Place Kléber, surrounded by architectural treasures such as the Aubette Palace and other elegant buildings.

Explore the narrow streets of the old town to reach the charming district of La Petite France, known for its picturesque canals and historic houses. On its outskirts, you’ll see the Barrage Vauban, a 17th-century dam with a magnificent panoramic view. Cross the dam to reach the opposite bank, where a unique blend of medieval and Renaissance architecture awaits. On your way back, pass through Place Broglie, another central square surrounded by notable buildings. Stroll through Rue des Hallebardes, a vibrant street lined with shops and cafes. If time allows, visit the Strasbourg Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MAMCS).

Spend the night in Strasbourg.

Day 9: From Strasbourg to Obernai, Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg, Ribeauvillé, Riquewihr, and finally Colmar

Embark on a delightful day tour in the Alsace region, passing through charming wine regions between Strasbourg and Colmar on roads that wind through picturesque landscapes. Choose internal routes like Route 35-D or 18-D, enabling you to immerse in the lush vineyards, orchards, and quaint villages. Here are some suggested stops:

Obernai: This picturesque town captures the distinct charm of Alsace with its cobblestone streets, timber-framed houses adorned with colorful flowers, and the backdrop of vineyards and orchards. The town is known for its well-preserved medieval architecture, including the Saint Pierre and Saint Paul Churches.

Obernai, France

Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg: This medieval fortress, a symbol of medieval heritage, has a rich history dating back to the 12th century. Offering panoramic views of the Alsace plains and the Vosges Mountains, the castle features military architecture, well-preserved living quarters, an impressive drawbridge, and a magnificent hall.

Ribeauvillé: This picturesque town nestled among vineyard-covered hills is renowned for its well-preserved medieval architecture. Surrounded by vineyards, it is located in the heart of the wine region.

Riquewihr: This charming town is known for its well-preserved timber-framed houses, cobblestone streets, and colorful facades. A popular tourist destination, Riquewihr hosts events and festivals throughout the year, including the famous Christmas market.

After exploring these enchanting towns, proceed to Colmar to spend the night.

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Day 10: From Colmar to Basel

The first part of the day will be dedicated to exploring Colmar, a city that is nothing short of an open-air museum. The charming streets of the old town are lined with historic timber-framed houses, galleries, and a wide array of shops, cafes, and restaurants serving authentic Alsatian cuisine, such as the iconic “Choucroute” (sauerkraut).

As you stroll along the descent towards the picturesque canals known as “Little Venice” (La Petite Venise), you’ll pass by the Colmar Cathedral and the original market, Marché Couvert de Colmar. Art enthusiasts may want to consider a visit to the Unterlinden Museum, which spans 7,000 years of history.

The journey from Colmar back to Basel is approximately 43 miles. If time allows, it is recommended to make a stop and explore the impressive National Automobile Museum (Musée National de l’Automobile) in Mulhouse.

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