(Champagne-Ardenne, Lorraine, Alsace, Franche-Comté, Burgundy)
Your suggested itinerary in Eastern France
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The TGV runs directly to Dijon, Montbéliard, Beaune, Chalon-sur-Saône,
Mâcon and Besançon. Dijon, Nancy, Reims, Troyes, Strasbourg,
Colmar and Mulhousc are connected to Paris by train and autoroute. Air
Inter flies to Strasbourg and Mulhouse airports.
Continental-quite cold in winter, hot in summer. Although there are
many sunny days, it can be chilly in spring and fall.
FOOD & WINE:
As well as the many varieties of champagne in Champagne, in Lorraine
there is Côtes de Toul and Côtes de Moselle; Alsatian wines include
the white Sylvaner, Pinot Blanc, Riesling, Muscat, Tokay-Pinot Gris,
Gewurztraminer, and the red Pinot Noir; in the Jura, vin jaune or Arbois
Chardonnay; in Burgundy, when not drinking the famous red wines, try
white Pouilly-Fumé or the glorious whites of Pouligny-Montrachet.
Regional food specialties abound. In Champagne-Ardenne, Troyes is
known for tripe, Chaource and Langres for their cheeses, Reims for
croquignolles, merinques to accompany the bubbly. Lorraine has its quiche,
but also potée Lorraine, a pork stew. The mirabelle plum is used in
pies, jams and brandy. Try Nancy's famed macaroons and bergamot candies,
and the Proustian madeleines from Commercy. Alsatian food includes
choucroute, a trencherman's dish of sauerkraut with ham and sausages; coq
au Reisling; baeckeoffe, beef, lamb, pork, potatoes and onions braised
in white wine; and kugelhopf cake.
In Franche-Comté, Jura cheeses include the fruity comté, Gex Blue,
the creamy Mont d'Or, Morbier with its characteristic line of ash in the
center, and the runny Calcoillotte. Jura also has Morteau sausage and
other smoked meats. Burgundy's fare includes eggs Meurette, baked in
wine, Charollais lamb or beef, parslied ham, and the famed escargots de
SPORTS & LEISURE:
In Champagne-Ardenne, water sports on the Lac du Der-Chantecoq, river
cruises and ballooning. Both Alsace and Lorraine have excellent biking
and hiking trails, and cross-country skiing in the Vosges. Lorraine
also has golf in Vittel and Bitche. There is ballooning in Burgundy, and
canal barge trips-both hotel-style and pilot-yourself-are available
throughout Eastern France.
Champagne has cutlery, tapestry, hosiery ... and Champagne. Lorraine
offers fine crystal at Baccarat, St-Louis and Daum. In Alsace, table
linens and ceramics. In France-Comté, wooden toys. In Burgundy, the
pottery of Nevers and cassis, the black current liqueur requisite for
making a kir.
TOURS & VISITS:
In Champagne, visit the cellars in Epernay, Reims and along the Route
Touristique. Alsace, Burgundy and the Jura all have wine roads. In
Lorraine there are also "trails" of military architecture and stained
glass. Franche-Comté has tours of cheese and wine cellars.
Local tourist offices have listings of wine producers that offer
tastings. Some of the grander cellars in Burgundy and Alsace, and
virtually all Champagne producers, charge for tastings; many others do not
charge, although there may be a small basket where visitors may leave 10
francs. Some very small producers may expect tasters to buy a bottle
or two, but the larger houses do not necessarily expect on-the-spot
Reims: Notre-Dame Cathedral, Basilica of St-Remi, Palace of Tau.
Troyes: Modern Art Museum, Renaissance houses. Metz: St-Etienne Cathedral,
stained glass windows. Nancy: Place Stansilas, School of Nancey museum
of Art Nouveau. Strasbourg: the Gothic Cathedral, the old town.
Colmar: Unterlinden Museum with 16th-century Issenheim altarpiece. Mulhouse:
Classic Car Museum, Wallpaper Museum. Arc-en-Senans: Royal Salt
Factory. Ronchamps: Le Corbusier's revolutionary Our Lay of the Heights.
Beaune: 15th-century Hotel Dieu.