We are pleased to present a new tour for 2017, which will benefit from the knowledge and expertise of distinguished travel writer Anthony Peregrine. For those who have travelled with Anthony before, you will of course be aware of the unique itineraries that he prepares and, this new tour is no exception. Our base is the beautiful Alsace town of Colmar, famous for its wealth of historical and architectural heritage. Anthony once again takes us 'off the beaten track' with some fascinating visits, and some truly unforgettable lunch stops, including a 'wine-maker’s picnic'. Read Anthony’s distinctive itinerary below and then sit back and relax on what will be another memorable holiday.
CURRENCY - Currency required for this tour will be the Euro.
PASSPORT - Required.
The 3 star Best Western Grand Hotel Bristol Colmar is located close to the station, approximately 10 minutes-walk to the historic centre. The hotel is traditional with an elegant charm throughout. All bedrooms are traditionally decorated with hairdryer, satellite TV, minibar and tea making facilities. There is a lift.
Late morning departure we transfer to Hull for the overnight ferry crossing to Zeebrugge. (Meals not included).
We disembark and travel south to Colmar, a town in the Alsace region of north eastern France, near the border with Germany. Its old town has cobblestone streets lined with half-timbered medieval and early Renaissance buildings. We check in for 6 nights half board accommodation at the Best Western Grand Hôtel Bristol, located a 10-15 minute stroll to the centre of town. Our tour will be accompanied by travel writer Anthony Peregrine, who will join us in Colmar for the duration of our stay.
Today we travel into the Vosges Mountains to Le Linge WWI site, a mountain top site where French & Germans troops battled in 1915. Trenches, etc, are still there (and, at one point, barely a couple of yards apart). You can get in the trenches, walk along them, and generally imagine yourself a Great War squaddie. Or not! We include a 3 course lunch nearby at an upland farm inn, enjoying beautiful views over the forest and pasture. Later we drive on along the top of the Vosges Mountains route des Crêtes - with a stop at the Grand Ballon, the mountains’ highest spot. Here there are a couple of cafés, and lovely views, and the possibility of a nice little stroll. Onwards then to Hartmannswillerkopf for a brief stop. Here’s a grander WWI site, with memorial, cemetery and a certain gravity; a good reminder that the Great War wasn’t only Britain .v. Germany. There was an awful lot of France .v. Germany, too.
This morning we visit Colmar itself by little tourist train, the perfect way to view the cobblestone streets lined with half-timbered medieval and early Renaissance buildings. We then board our coach, and follow the Wine Route of Alsace (the most beautiful in Europe) – to the lovely village of Zellenburg, where Martine Becker of the Becker wine family (big names in Alsace) will show us round her winery, then host a tasting of her frankly fabulous wines, before laying on for us a 'wine-maker’s picnic' – a pretty lunch-time sumptuous affair in the village gardens of the winery. A memorable experience! In the afternoon, a 10-minute hop to Hunawihr and the Centre for the Re-Introduction of Storks and Otters. Storks are the emblematic birds of Alsace, but during migration they are gradually being wiped out by flying into electric wires and so forth, so this centre exists to reintroduce them. We hope to be able to get quite close to the nests – and see the parents & young. We should also see otters doing their thing in a sort of 'otter show'.
A slightly longer drive today up into the Vosges hills again, to Struthof, the only WWII concentration camp on French soil. The camp unfolds down a mountainside where any normal person would have put a holiday village, for the surroundings are beautiful. The Nazis established the full concentration camp panoply, including gas chambers. Much of the site has been retained and there is also a new and very effective on-site museum. This might sound a bit depressing – but it’s also uplifting that this is now behind us. And no-one can properly understand Alsace unless you get to grips with the darker elements of its past. Later we travel across the mountains to the Mont Ste Odile, a mountain-top abbey and religious site, the most important in the region and pretty dramatically-sited. It’s lovely respite after the Struthof, and we enjoy an included lunch with drinks. En route back to Colmar in the afternoon, we make a stop at Riquewihr – perhaps the prettiest and most atmospheric wine village of Alsace. It’s so well-preserved that it seems in permanent readiness for a pageant.
Strasbourg is our destination today. We start with a morning boat trip round the city’s waterways – a great introduction to the city, and then out to the Euro-institutions. From the boat, a short walk brings us to the magnificent Strasbourg cathedral in the city’s glorious central square and right opposite, the Brasserie au Dauphin. We include a lovely lunch – all being well on their internal court-yard. After lunch, free time to explore Strasbourg returning to Colmar along the Rhine, with a chance to see Neuf Brisach, a fortress town created by the great military architect of Louis XIV, a certain Vauban, to keep the Germans at bay. It didn’t really work!
We take a jaunt up the road, then up the mountain (up and up) to the Haut Koenigsbourg chateau. We’ll have been seeing it perched way up high all week. Today we visit Alsace’s key medieval château, astoundingly sited, renewed by Kaiser Wilhelm II when Alsace was under German control from 1870 to 1918. We return to Colmar for free time.
We bid farewell to Anthony and make our way north to Zeebrugge for our overnight sailing to Hull.
Travel from Hull to our local area, arriving home lunchtime.
2 nights aboard P & O Ferries in 2 berth inside cabin (meals not included), 6 nights dinner, bed & buffet breakfast plus 4 lunches (with coffee and wine), Luxury coach travel with on-board toilet & facilities, Services of experienced tour driver, Services of excellent guide/travel writer, Excursions including entry to Le Linge WWI site Museum, a trip on the Colmar Tourist Train, entry to the Centre de Reintroduction at Hunawihr, Struthof Museum, Strasbourg boat trip and entry to the Haut Koenigsbourg chateau.
DEPOSIT: £80.00 per person
Single supplement: £315.00, Outside cabin supplement: £18.00 per person return, Outside cabin single occupancy: £35.00, Lower berth supplement: £14.00 per person return, Return dinner & breakfast package on P & O Ferries: £50.00 per person in the Kitchen Restaurant