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See the Other France

Sep 8, 2008
Nestled deep within the heart of France sits the Alsatian region. A cross between a colorful page from a fairy tale book and a small farming community, this part of France is often missed by tourists. Far from city life and stressful atmospheres, Alsace is pure heaven on earth.

Located in the east of the country, this is the relaxed, rural France of sunflowers and old charming villages. With nearly 2 million people in the region, you can find unique experiences and good eats.

To find the heart of a country, it often is a good idea to find smaller towns where the basic culture is readily apparent. In Alsace, the small towns of Obernai, Wissembourg and Petite Pierre are the places to go.

Enjoy a bit of quality vino? Riquewihr is the town for you. When it comes to vineyards in the area, this is the undisputed top area. Just take a deep breath, head off to a local restaurant and enjoy the gold for the palette.

The town of Obernai is home to a large collection of storks. In addition to the legendary birds that line the streets, visitors will discover that this city is surrounded by stone walls, flowers, and gingerbread inspired houses. Enjoy a Grand Cru in Obernai while watching those storks pass by.

Surrounded by an octagonal wall, Neuf Brisach is another town that has to be seen. If Eden was in France, this would be the place. It sparkles like a diamond and French Kings often visited its manicured gardens.

While Neuf Brisarch is definitely a jewel, the wall protecting it is something that has to be seen to be believed. Words really do not do it justice, but it is in such good shape that it can take you back in time.

To be honest, you really cannot go wrong with any of these little towns. Each has an element that is alluring and amazing. If possible, plan on spending a bit of time in each to take in the allure of small town France.

The big city of France, Paris, is certainly a place worth seeing at least once, but getting caught up-in it is a mistake. There is much more to France and the rest of the country is a lot cheaper. Try Alsace and you will not be disappointed.
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