Alsace or Normandy

Dec 9th, 2002, 10:48 AM
  #1  
confused
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Alsace or Normandy

In the midst of planning a fall 2003 trip to France this fall (one week in Paris and one week in Normandy?), on Thanksgiving I come to find out that my husbands great grandparents are from the Alsace region of France, and he didn't even know he was part French!

Well, now I'm thinking that perhaps the Normandy portion(1 week) of our trip should be shifted to the Alsace region. I've been pulling up some old threads on Alsace, and from the books I've previously purchased on France, I've attempted to do some reading about the area.

However, I'm feeling confused. These two areas are so dramatically different, that I'm not sure if shifting to Alsace is the thing to do. Wondering if folks have been to both places (i.e. Normandy & Alsace) could comment?

Thanks.
 
Dec 9th, 2002, 10:54 AM
  #2  
Mike
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I vote for Alsace. We spent a week in that region, and the fall, with all the wine festivals along the wine route would be great fun. Also, there are lots to see and do in Alsace. We loved our week there last summer.
 
Dec 9th, 2002, 11:52 AM
  #3  
lynn
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Do you have the names of specific towns you might want to visit in the Alsace? Chances are that there are interesting sights to see in or around those towns, e.g., World War I sites, wineries, great cathedrals. As Mike noted, the fall is a great time to visit Alsace, with many wine festivals.
 
Dec 9th, 2002, 12:14 PM
  #4  
StCirq
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I've been to both places several times, and my fairly strong preference would be for Normandy. They ARE dramatically different areas, so it would certainly mean a significant shift in plans. Neither area will disappoint, but I think there is more interesting history and culture per square mile in Normandy.
 
Dec 9th, 2002, 12:22 PM
  #5  
mimi taylor
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Alsace is beautiful but not crazy over the food(Germanic) Lots of German also spoken so I couldn't improve what little French I have. In Alsace we stayed in Colmar. Great white wines and the munster cheese excellant. We loved Normandy, particularly by the coastline. Great seafood, calvadoes, butter, camembert,pontl'eveque cheeses. hard cider.
 
Dec 9th, 2002, 12:38 PM
  #6  
Nicht Deutsch
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German isn't spoken in Alsace - Alsatian is - but everyone also speaks French.
 
Dec 9th, 2002, 01:29 PM
  #7  
Joe
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Loved both. Very different. Plenty to see and do in both areas. With emphasis on family ties, I might choose Alsace first and save Normandy for another time.
If it isn't German in Alsace, it certaily is very close.
 
Dec 9th, 2002, 02:17 PM
  #8  
confused
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Thank you all for your responses. I'm trying to get more details on what town the greatgrandparents are from and the name. Perhaps if contact can be made and a stronger connection can be established that will help. At this early stage, the things going for it are the WINE (which I Love).

However, Normandy has the coastline. Also the norseman history, which is important.

From a WWII perspective, if Normandy won, I'd make a point of going only to that beach that my father came in on. But not so much into WWII as in the periods before that.

More into the wine, food, culture/art, interesting towns. Does this make a difference?

Also, logistically, I'm set for Normandy (i.e. rent a car at CDG & I know the road to Rouen). Don't know how to get to Alsace (distance, time, etc.)
 
Dec 9th, 2002, 02:27 PM
  #9  
CharlieB
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Dear confused -
1) "Alsatian" is classified as a German dialect - it is not its own language. A recent article published by the University of Wales (www.aber.ac.uk) states that "Elsasserditch" or "les dialectes Alemaniques" is a dying dialect in that some 60% of Alsatians speak the language while only 36% of primary grade children can speak it.
2)Depending on when your husband's grandparents left Alsace - they might be considered German.
That being said, Alsace is a beautiful area of Europe and I personally would be proud of an Alsation heritage, not giving a damn whether I was German or French, but satisfied in just being an Alsation.
 
Dec 9th, 2002, 02:54 PM
  #10  
confused
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To Charlie;

Thank you for your input, I will let my husband read your opinion on being Alsatian, I'm sure it will make him feel good.

It is a shame to allow a language to diminish such. But only that region can institute the force that would change it's course. As a child I did not appreciate my own heritage and the multiple language skills that I had at the time. Now, as an adult, I wish I had them back.

 
Dec 9th, 2002, 03:39 PM
  #11  
t
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t
 
Dec 10th, 2002, 11:35 AM
  #12  
dick
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agree both are wonderful but alsace is indescribably charming. we hit the wine festivals one sept and it was great. riquewihr was closed to cars, with parades and with many vintners serving food and their wines at tables in the courtyards. marvelous. colmar was rather ordinary city for our tastes but the numerous villages were all delightful. strasburg is a gem:cathedral and river.
we flew from paris to strasburg and rented car for nearly 2 weeks...and we would gladly have stayed longer. scenic delights. every hilltop seems to have a quaint village with cobblestone streets and is surrounded by vineyards. people nice,many speak french and english. enjoy. save normandy for next time...
 
Dec 10th, 2002, 03:27 PM
  #13  
xxx
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We visited Alsace (Strasbourg specifically) and it's very beautiful. You see the German/French influences.
 
Dec 10th, 2002, 05:43 PM
  #14  
Sue
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I've not been to Alsace, but I went to Normandy a few years back. Seeing the beaches and the sheer cliffs that so many Allied soldiers struggled to gain on D-Day, and then seeing the crosses and stars of David row on row, impacted me in a way that no other place I have visited ever has. Whether you're a WWII history buff or not, it's not to be missed.
 
Dec 10th, 2002, 06:01 PM
  #15  
StCirq
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Charlie B: Alsatian is a language, not a dialect. It may have been reclassified fairly recently, but it is a distinct language, not some variant of German. I think the local kids in Alsace would confirm this, as would any translation agency. Anyway, that is not germane to the discussion, which is Normandy versus Alsace. It really depends on whether you want to re-engineer your trip to trace your husband's roots. If you do, I'd opt for Alsace; if not, Normandy has far more "bang for the buck" and to my mind is more "authentic."
If the poster is truly into the wine/food/culture/interesting towns, as I said before, Normandy wins. Except in the wine area. But Alsace wines are not to everyone's taste - Rieslings, Tokays, Gewürtztrainers are all fairly sweet white wines that don't to my mind evoke France. I know they belong in a class of their own, but when I go to France, that's not what I want to drink.
In sum, I don't think you'll be unhappy with either area, but for a first foray to France (maybe this isn't, but you made it sound like one), I'd head to Normandy.
 
Dec 10th, 2002, 06:02 PM
  #16  
Heather
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Do you want to visit WWII history (Normandy) or visit the vine country (Alsace). Your choice. In the fall, I would go for Alsace.
 
Dec 10th, 2002, 06:20 PM
  #17  
Bob C
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We did the wine thing in Alsace and there was more German spoken than French and saw that the German tourists
were in the majority.
 
Dec 10th, 2002, 06:40 PM
  #18  
Nicht Deutsch
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Well, the German tourists were certainly speaking German, but the locals weren't, Bob. No doubt they could understand one another, but they were speaking different languages.
 
Dec 11th, 2002, 01:57 AM
  #19  
Bubba
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Does anybody really care whether they speak German or French in Alsace?
 
Dec 11th, 2002, 05:00 AM
  #20  
CharlieB
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Bubba - you are so right. What language is spoken in a country should have no effect on its appeal. The fact that Alsace is able to live with its heritage makes it even more intrigueing. Having lived in Texas for a few years I have always been intrigued by the small towns which have tried to maintain their pioneer and european heritage. One such town is Castroville which was founded in the 1840s by a group of Alsatian immigrants and Elsasserditch (Alsatian German) is still spoken by some of the older residents.
 

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