First a bit of background -
It's been a while since we've been on holiday but were looking for something that wasn't going to cost too much but also, as it was a special birthday, that wasn't going to be cheap. Most of our holidays don't involve too much relaxing and lying on a beach or by a pool but we wanted to keep the distances down. I love France and we'd had dinner with friends who had been to Alsace a while ago - we'd just driven through previously having stopped twice in Colmar, once on the way back from driving to Athens for the Olympic Games in 2004, and having visited the wonderful Unterlinden museum there - I had very fond memories of the excellent farmers market there and wanted to spend more time there.
DP was a city councillor here in Manchester and I'd read somewhere that Strasbourg, a home of the European Parliament, was a fairly underrated city. And so the germs of a trip started to form - my birthday is 6 July and on previous trips to Paris we'd been lucky enough to be there on Bastille Day and see the parade down the Champs Elysee in the morning and then the brilliant fireworks in the evening - it's one of my favourite days and I wanted to do it again.
So, we had Strasbourg, Alsace and Paris. The very first thing I do after getting the germ of a trip is to check distances on a map. From that I got that Freiburg wasn't that far away. I'm a town planner (zoning in US) and had long heard that Freiburg is one of Germany's greenest cities and we'd long had it on our list of places to get to.
At about this time I found a great deal on Hilton hotels via their website - we could get their hotel in Strasbourg for £50 a night ($75) - bargain!!
Then its a case of working out how many nights - at the moment this has more to do with our finances than how much annual leave we have left at work. We settled on more than a week but not a fortnight.
And then I buy books - in this case the three new ones I bought were (whispering here)Frommer's 'France Day by Day', Michelin's 'Alsace Lorraine Champagne' and Eyewitness 'Back Roads France'. Of these the Eyewitness book was the most useful but all were read extensively in planning the trip.
Given that we were going to Freiburg we decided early on that we wouldn't use air travel. I love train journeys and so it was going to be a combination of train and hire car.
It's only then after a good deal of planning that I turn to Fodor's
This time, having used this site for so long, I got good feedback on the following plan:
Strasbourg 4 nights
Then drive the Alsace wine route and stay in Thannenkirch 1 night
Continue the wine route and stay in Colmar 1 night
Illhaeusern (for my special birthday meal) 1 night
Freiburg 1 night
Paris 2 nights
Next - getting started.
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Strasbourg, Alsace, Freiburg, Paris and where not to be on July 14
First a bit of background -