The name "Alsace" derives from the Germanic Ell-sass, meaning "Seated on the Ill", a river in Alsace.

It was named one of the Top 10 regions to visit in 2010 by the Lonely Planet.

Alsace has through its history changed hands between Germany and France on several occasions. The local culture is distinct, and the region offers historic cities and castles, and interesting countryside. Alsace also has some of the most beautiful cathedrals and churches in Western Europe.

Alsace is divided East by the Rhine river (also forming the natural border between France and Germany) and West by the Vosges mountain range.




The political, economic and cultural capital as well as largest city of Alsace is Strasbourg. Because that city is the seat of dozens of international organizations and bodies, Alsace is politically one of the most important regions in the European Union.



Some renowned Alsatian people:

Katia KRAFFT – 1942 / 1991


A native of Soultz, along with her husband Maurice, Katia Krafft had a passion for geochemistry. She travelled the world to observe almost 160 volcanic eruptions, often risking great danger, and earning her the admiration of many scientists. She was killed with her husband at the crater's edge of the Unzen volcano in Japan.



Rouget de Lisle - 1760/1836


While garrisoned in Strasbourg, in 1792 Rouget de Lisle wrote the war song for the Rhine Army, which quickly became known as "La Marseillaise". A century later, this went on to become the French national anthem.


Charlotte de Turckheim – Born in 1955


Born into a family of Protestant Alsatian nobles, after gaining a baccalaureate Charlotte de Turckheim decided to study the theatre, this eventually leading on to a cinema career as an actress, director and scriptwriter.


Sébastien Loeb - 1974 loeb

The rally driver Sébastien Loeb originates from Haguenau. In 2001, he won the French championship and the junior world Super 1600 championship, followed by the WRC world championship in 2004 and 2005.



Marie-Thérèse KOLB – 1856 / 1935


A great theatre actress and later a cinema star, Marie Thérèse Kolb was born in Altkirch. She began her career at the Odéon, as partner to Sarah Bernardt, accompanying her on a successful tour in the United States. After being successively appointed secretary and later honorary member of the Comédie Française, she also pursued a career in silent films.


Frédéric Bartholdi — 1834/1904


Born in Colmar, in 1886 he produced his statue of "Liberty enlightening the world" (better known as the Statue of Liberty, the symbol of the port of New York), a structure produced from copper and iron built around a frame designed by Eiffel.




The Alsace region is divided into 2 departments:

Bas-Rhin, (Alsatian: Unterelsàss) (67), Capital: Strasbourg

It is the more populous and densely populated of the two departments of the Alsace region, with 1,079,013 inhabitants in 2006. The Bas-Rhin offers an fantastic range of sites of architectural, historic and religious interest, gastronomy and traditions.

The Romanesque road, the brewing heritage, the typically Alsatian villages, the fortified castles, the famous Wine Trail, the North Vosges forests, and the European capital, Strasbourg, are just some of the Bas-Rhin's remarkable places of interest.



Haut-Rhin (68), Capital: Colmar

With its Vosges massif, the Haut-Rhin is a wonderful destination to enjoy nature and mountain. Renowned for its prestigious museums, this region is also known for its charming colourful and richly flower-filled villages that are always great to stroll around. It is also the ideal place to sample famous wines and enjoy excellent typical Alsatian dishes.





Traditional Cloth

Kelsch cloth', ...basically meaning mattress cloth, is a homespun textile. It is known in the region of Montbéliard (Franche-Comté) as Verquelure cloth.

The word Kelsch, from the Germanic "Kolnisch Blau", refers to a plant grown as animal feed, and whose leaves and stems were the sources of an intense blue dye. As early as the 7th century, the plant, along with hemp and linen, was the main crop cultivated in eastern France and neighboring Germany. From the 16th through the 19century, the word kelsch came to describe the hand-woven linen and hemp cloths made by the rural peasantry in French Alsace.

Indigo blue and the root of the madder plant (the source of a bright red) eventually replaced or complemented the original dyes.



Making kelsch cloth defined domestic industry during the winter months when work on the land was less demanding. With the first frosts, families would weave and dye cloth on small handmade frames. Every member of the household was skilled in their use. Being part of local cottage weaving industries was a popular and necessary source of income for the peasant class.

As the looms were small, the lengths of two cloths were hand-stitched together, selvage to selvage, and without any seam allowance, to meet the necessary sizes of personal linens. When joined as fabric envelopes, the "kelsch cloth" became the "kelsch" as it is known today -- the mattress itself, or a plumeaux.


These pieced cloths, one plain bottom, one patterned top, were tightly whipstitched together on three sides. Linen ribbons, appliquéd to the open edge of the envelope after the three sides of the finished piece were joined, kept the feather or straw lining, crudely in place. Vents cut into the cloth or formed by leaving the corners of the kelsch open, allowed the family to stir the stuffing with their hands, thus keeping it well distributed. Family Linens often finds cloths that still have remnants of feathers or straw caught in the stitching.

The cloth was sewn on three sides into an envelope with ribbon ties to close the open side. This envelope was then stuffed with straw or feathers to make pillows, eiderdowns and mattresses.

Nowadays, this linen is still made in a traditional weaving factory in Muttersholtz, Bas-Rhin (67) called Gander.


We offer a selection of these beautiful fabrics:

Heritage Kelsch fabrics  
french linen tablecloth
linen tablecloth with check design
Lynette red
Caroline pink
linen tablecloth
french linen tablecloth
Lynette Ecru
Caroline Ecru
linen tablecloth

Left picture:

Linette Ecru large rectangular French linen tablecloth set for an elegant dinner party
(Inglewood, Western Australia)

french heritage linen tablecloth
Kelsch tablecloth
Lynette linen
Caroline linen
linen tablecloth

Costing for all Heritage French Linen Tablecloths:

8 seater rectangular tablecloth: AU$200 - US$170
10 seater rectangular tablecloth: A$239 - US$203
12 seater rectangular tablecloth: A$278 - US$236

For any other size or shape and to place an order
please send us an email:

Contact & Order

Caroline Brown
french linen tablecloth
heritage linen tablecloth
Caroline Navy
Caroline Blue
heritage linen tablecloth
natural linen tablecloth
Caroline Red-Navy
Caroline Red-Blue
linen tablecloth
linen tablecloth
Caroline Green
Caroline Yellow


Alsace lists 5 "most beautiful villages of France":


Eguisheim (Haut-Rhin) engui


huna Hunawihr (Haut-Rhin)


Hunspach (Bas-Rhin) huns


mittel Mittelbergheim (Bas-Rhin)


Riquewihr (Haut-Rhin) rique




Things to do:

Visit some beautiful churches in Thann, Andlau, Murbach, Ebersmunster, Niederhaslach, Sigolsheim, Lautenbach, Epfig, Altorf, Ottmarsheim, Domfessel, Niederhaslach, Marmoutier (see picture below) and the fortified church at Hunawihr.




Heroic castles in Ortenbourg and Ramstein (above Sélestat), Hohlandsbourg, Fleckenstein, Haut-Barr (above Saverne), Saint-Ulrich (above Ribeauvillé), Lichtenberg, Wangenbourg, the three Castles of Eguisheim, Pflixbourg, Wasigenstein, Andlau, Grand Geroldseck, Wasenbourg. Last but not least, the Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg (see picture below).



Musée de l'automobile in Mulhouse, open daily, 10-5.



The Struthof, the only concentration and extermination camp on the French territory during WWII.



Alsatian Vineyard Route: it is a mostly rural route in Alsace, France. The route stretches from Wissembourg in the north (near) Karlsruhe, to Thann in the south and east to Mulhouse. The route goes along medieval wine producing villages situated on the slope of the Massif des Vosges. The route is officially divided into four regions: going from the South to the North, Thann-Colmar, Colmar-Ribeauville (Rappoltsweilen), Ribeauville-Obernai, Obernai-Wissembourg.

The Alsatian Vineyard Route includes 67 towns and villages. For a useful trip planner, see and

You can tour the route for several days depending on how much of it you want to see. For one of the four regions specified above a day should normally suffice.





Festivals and traditional events

Festivals in Alsace typically fall into three categories: cultural, musical and gastronomical, a lot of them taking place during the high season of summer.


All along the Alsace Wine Route, each village takes it in turn to organise its own Wine Festivals. Featuring processions and other events in local costume, and punctuated by wine tastings, each fair lasts all day and often well into the night, in a lively and jovial atmosphere !
From April to November, no less than fifty wine fairs enchant visitors from home and abroad, including local Alsace people.


For a detailed schedule, visit

Voix et Route Romane festival: it gets its name from the route through Strasbourg that was historically used for pilgrimages. Honoring the legacy of these pilgrims, the festival consists of a series of medieval concerts, including traditional chants and hymns.


Voix-Romane occurs every May through September – an astounding four months of festivities!

More info at:


Jazz d’Or festival: occurs every November in Strasbourg, and attracts internationally renowned jazz musicians. The classical Festival Musica is in October - its program includes traditional classics as well as modern experimental pieces.



The village of Erstein holds a Sugar Fair every August, with plenty of chocolate sweets and other sugary treats.


Ribeauvillé holds 2 festivals: one devoted to the kugelhopf, every June ( and The musician's festival, during September called the "Fête des Ménétriers" which celebrates artists and performers against a backdrop of mediaeval entertainment (




The "corsos fleuris" (flower floats") are today very much a part of the region's culture. During these celebrations, flower-decked floats decorated with thousands of dahlias pass through the towns and villages. The most famous of the "corsos fleuris" is that held in Sélestat, which has been organised since 1927. Originally, this procession created by the "Association des Jardins Ouvriers d'Alsace" was intended to attract young people to the gardening professions. It takes place in September.






The market stalls in Alsace represent a unique gateway to the heart of local tastes and traditions. Cheese, fine delicatessen, foie gras, cakes, honey and many other delights are all for the taking. You can make up your own gourmet basket with whatever takes your fancy to bring home as a souvenir of Alsace.


o Place de la Gare côté hôtels, Mondays 7am-6pm
o Place de Bordeaux, Tuesdays 7am-1pm

o Rue du Faubourg National, Wednesdays
o Place de Zurich Krutenau o Rue Watteau at Elsau on Wednesdays, 7am-1pm
o Place Broglie, Wednesdays 7am-6pm

o Quai Turckheim , Fridays
o Place de Haldenbourg à Cronenbourg de 7am-1pm on Fridays
o Rue Virgile at Koenigshoffen-Hohberg 2pm-6pm on Fridays

o Flea market: rue du Vieil Hôpital, place de la Gde Boucherie on Saturdays
o Books : place et rue Gutenberg, rue des Hallebardes Saturdays 9am-6pm
o Craft and Mountain Market: place du Marché Neuf de 7.30am-4pm on Saturdays



Market at 'Place Saint Joseph', for fruits and vegetables market with organic procucts, Saturdays 7am-1pm
Marché Quartier Ouest - Avenue de Paris - fruits and vegetables, Saturdays 8am-12.30pm


The Alsace region in general is home to 35 Christmas markets. While it's impossible to list or detail them all here, be sure to check with the Alsace Tourism Office for details and at


Five hundred-year old Christkindelsmärik , the Strasbourg Christmas festival and market - Nov. 29 to Dec. 24 - This is one of the largest Christmas markets in France, and the setting in front of Strasbourg Cathedral is breathtaking. In its 431st year, this market in Alsace is the oldest Christmas market in France. Be sure to visit La Petite France, a cozy neighborhood of timbered fairy-tale buildings with Christmas shops and a gingerbread bakery.



Mulhouse Christmas Market - Nov. 21 to Dec. 31 - This Alsatian market features shopping while sipping mulled wine and "bredele," or Christmas biscuits. The tourism office offers a package, "Discover Christmas in the Land of Christmas Carols and Fabrics," which features two nights' hotel stay, a dinner and entry to the Textile Printing Museum.





The Gastronomy of Alsace

The Food

Alsace is the smallest region in France, but it possesses the largest number of five-star chefs per inhabitant!

Alsatian cuisine, strongly based on Germanic culinary traditions, is marked by the use of pork in various forms.

Traditional dishes include: baeckeoffe (see recipe below!)


choucroute garnie





In addition, a traveller can expect to find tarte flambée (an onion, bacon, and creme fraiche 'pizza' - Flammkuchen in German) and good foie gras made in the region since the 17th century. Southern Alsace, also called the Sundgau, is characterized by carpe frite.

The festivities of the year's end involve the production of a great variety of biscuits and small cakes called bredala as well as pain d'épices (gingerbread), especially from Gertwiller, which are given to children starting on Saint Nicholas Day.


Alsace is also known for its Munster cheeses



The Wine
Alsatian wines are ‘extraordinaire’ and very different from their German counterparts. In fact, the taste of Alsatian Rieslings differs greatly from Rieslings that are produced in other parts of the world. Futhermore, unlike all other French wines, Alsacian Riesling is known for its grape and not for the region it is grown in. The Gewürztraminer is another favorite of Alsace and comes from a much fruitier and robust tasting grape.

Other varieties of grape feature Sylvaner, Pinot Blanc, Rielsing, Muscat, Pinot Gris, Klevener de Helligenstein, and Pinot Noir.

Alsace is also the main beer-producing région of France, thanks primarily to breweries in and near Strasbourg. These include those of Fischer, Karlsbräu, Kronenbourg, and Heineken International. Hops are grown in Kochersberg and in northern Alsace. Schnapps is also traditionally made in Alsace, but it is in decline because home distillers are becoming less common and the consumption of traditional, strong, alcoholic beverages is decreasing.


Recette du Baeckeoffe- Alsatian Meat Stew Recipe




* 500 g (1 lb) boneless beef topside, brisket or chuck

* 500 g (1 lb) boneless pork shoulder or loin

* 500 g (1 lb) boneless shoulder of sheep or lamb

* 1 pork tail and 1 pork trotter (optional)

* 250 g (½ lb) onions

* 1 large carrot, 2 white leeks

* 2 cloves garlic

* 1.5 kg (3 lb) potatoes

* ½ litre (2 cups) Riesling or Sylvaner

*1 bouquet garni of thyme, bay leaves, and sage, tied with a string – ground cloves

*salt, pepper, and flour



24 hours of marinating
30 minutes of preparation
3 hours of cooking


• Make a marinade by mixing the wine, the leek whites, a few onions, the carrot sliced in rounds, the bouquet garni and the spices.
• Chop the meat and marinate it in the above mixture for 24 hours in the refrigerator.
• Preheat the oven to 210 °C (thermostat 7 - 410°F).
• Peel and slice the potatoes, cover the bottom of a terrine with them and add salt and pepper.
• Slice the remaining onions, place them on top of the first layer and add salt and pepper.
• Place the meat on top of the onions and add salt and pepper.
• Remove the herbs and vegetables from the marinade liquid.
• Pour the marinade liquid, the rest of the white wine and a little water over the three layers until the level reaches the middle of the terrine.
• Add the marinade herbs, plus salt and pepper.
• Make dough with the flour and water and use it to seal the terrine’s lid.
• Put in the oven and bake for at least 3 hours (the longer it cooks, the better the Baeckeoffe will be).


Useful websites

For Gourmet markets, selling local products, visit

For a complete list of Bas-Rhin and Haut Rhin markets, visit


Return to Map of French Regions



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Catherine Castelain
Date Last Modified: 4/3/15
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