Christmas market in Alsace. Photo: Fotolia

We highlight some of the more popular activities, attractions and places to visit

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CHRISTMAS MARKETS

The enchanting Alsatian tradition of the Christmas market began in 1570 with Strasbourg’s Christkindelsmärik, one of the largest of its kind in Europe. www.noel.strasbourg.eu

SPORTS

If you prefer small, family-orientated ski resorts, try the Alsatian Vosges. The area has 170 ski lifts and 1,000km of marked trails. www.tourisme-alsace.com/en/skiing-vosges

Adventure sports lovers will find many extraordinary sensations in the Hautes-Vosges. With its magnificent scenery, the area is great for paragliding and rock climbing. www.high-vosges-of-alsace.com

Cycling from vineyard to village is the perfect way to discover France’s smallest region. There are 2,500km of bicycle trails from north to south and from the Vosges to the Rhine. www.cyclinginalsace.com

Formigolf, which is based in Colmar, offers golfing holidays around the world and has several options in its home region of Alsace. Visit the website to discover the region’s hotels and courses. www.formigolf.fr

Cycling, or walking, is a great way to discover the vineyards of Alsace. Photo: Jeffrey T Iverson

SHOPPING

Printemps Strasbourg offers a 12 percent tourist discount for non-EU shoppers spending €175 or more. Buy Lancel and Longchamp leather goods, spring jewellery, luxury perfumes, designers’ corner and ready-to-wear brands like Sandro and Maje. www.printemps.com/magasins/strasbourg

MUSEUMS

Le Musée Militaire Park is a new WWII museum in La Wantzenau containing the collection of Éric Kauffmann, one of the most important in Europe, and the Sussex 1944 collection of Dominique Soulier, which used to be at the Musée du Pays de la Zorn in Hochfelden. www.mmpark.fr

La Bibliothèque Humaniste in Sélestat is, with Strasbourg Cathedral and the Isenheim Altarpiece in Colmar, one of the three great treasures of Alsace. Comprising the Library of the Humanist School and the Library of Beatus Rhenanus, it is a working academic research establishment but is open to visitors. www.selestat.fr

Le Parc de Wesserling is a private garden in Husseren-Wesserling classified as one of the Notable Gardens of France. It comprises formal French gardens, an English park, a kitchen garden, a field garden, and a contemporary statuary garden. www.parc-wesserling.fr

CHÂTEAUX

Le Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg is a 12th-century castle that was abandoned in 1633 after being besieged and burned by Swedish troops, and restored in 1899 by the Prussian emperor Wilhelm II. www.haut-koenigsbourg.fr

Charlemagne spent Christmas 775 at Le Château de Kintzheim. The current, 12th-century castle survives as the home of La Volerie des Aigles, a sanctuary for endangered birds of prey. www.oleriedesaigles.com

Le Château du Haut-Barr was built in 1100 on a ridge 460m above the Valley of Zorn and is known as the Eye of Alsace for its control over the pass below. www.tourisme-saverne.fr

Standing at 800m above sea level, Haut-Kœnigsbourg Castle offers extraordinary views. Photo: Tourisme en Alsace

SCENIC ROUTES

La Route des Crêtes, along the ridge of the Vosges mountains, was once the Franco-German border. Today, it’s a drive through the clouds. For those without a car, a shuttle service runs in July and August. www.navettedescretes.com

The 170km Route des Vins d’Alsace from Thann to Marlenheim was inaugurated in 1953 with a car rally. Today, drivers take their time through its villages and vineyards. www.la-route-des-vins-alsace.com

WINE TOURISM

There are many places to try the local wine, but do visit Hugel et Fils’s large Winetasting Room in Riquewihr, www.hugel.com or take a tour of the region with www.parenthese-vigneronne.com

There are wine festivals across Alsace, from the traditional village wine fair every spring in Ammerschwihr to Colmar’s major summertime event, the Foire aux Vins d’Alsace. www.foire-colmar.com

From France Today magazine

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