We enjoy holidays that combine sightseeing with a bit of activity; taking the e-bikes to a holiday destination and then riding them along a canal or river towpath works well. We decided in the Summer that, when we could, we'd take a look at the Alsace region, test the wines, and ride the bikes along the Rhine or the canals there.
We have just come back from ten days in or around Alsace, and our main impression is that you'd think we were in Germany, except that everyone speaks French. The last time that the region transferred from Germany to France was in 1918, and the german character of the place is still very apparent. Tidy villages of well-kept, timber-framed houses with neat front gardens, all with names that end in "heim". Clean toilets, and, in the restaurants, Flammenküchen on every menu, except that you have to call them tartes flambées. These are pizza-like dishes, on a very thin crust, topped with cheese and bacon pieces plus whatever the chef thinks he can sell. We can buy them as Flammenküchen in Mayenne, but I guess that's a bit too german for a part of the world with the background of Alsace.
The Rhine valley is wide, flat and fertile. The dark, nearly black soil is too rich to waste on grapes, and we saw huge fields (hundreds of acres, thousands?) of maize (now harvested), and cabbages, leeks, asparagus. I saw the first lawn turf grower that I have come across in France, and potatoes were for sale in various farm outlets. The vineyards are on the hillsides that bound the valley, I guess the soil is poorer there, and drier too.
The flatness of the area makes it ideal for cycling, and it is criss-crossed with paved and well-signposted cycle tracks. We chose to cycle along waterways, but one could also navigate between many of the villages without having to share the way with cars.
We took our time getting there; it's a long drive, and we were in no hurry. We stayed over in Langres on the way out, and Reims on the way back, and while there we stayed in Neuf Brisach for a few days and then Lipsheim near Strasbourg. More later.