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Itinerary for Alsace Lorraine, July 1 to July 20, 2012

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My husband and I are trying to figure out the most time efficient and cost effective way to get to the Alsace Lorraine region. At present the best airfare we could find was JFK NY to Stuttgart through Air France, part of the trip being Premier Voyageur.
We would like to visit a lot of the small villages along the Route du Vins, Strasbourg to Colmar. If we have enough time, we would also like to visit Nancy and possibly go as far south as Annecy. We originally were going to spend four days in the Berner Oberland area of Switzerland, before visiting Alsace Lorraine using public transportation, but we were having such difficulty understanding what train passes we needed that we decided not to do it.

Right now we are planning to fly into Stuttgart and take the train to Strasbourg, visit for two days, then pick up a car, stay somewhere in the Colmar area, visit the vineyards and not sure what else. My husband does not mind driving as long as it isn't narrow mountain roads.
(Did that last year in the French Riviera hinterlands. It was beautiful.)
Not sure how to plan the itinerary, so that it will be easy, relaxing and not wasting too much time returning the car and getting back to the Stuttgart Airport. We tried to figure out a way to drop the car off and take the train possibly from the Colmar area back to Stuttgart, but the way I read the schedule there isn't a train running early enough to be at the airport by 8:30 a.m. Our flight is departing 10:25 a.m. on 7/20/12. Also not sure how reliablel the trains are.
Any suggestions you savvy travelers can give would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks so much for your help.

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