The French region of Alsace is unique in France, due to its complex history. The region has at times been under German rule, which affects it linguistically, culturally and even economically.
The territory was part of the Holy Roman Empire between 870- 1648. Atthis time the population was ethnically German, but it eventually became part of France after the “thirty years war” when the city of Metz became part of the Kingdom of France in 1552 and Mulhouse became part of the French Republic in 1798 (http://dgmweb.net/Ancillary/Geog/Europe/Alsace-Lorraine.shtml). After the Franco-Prussian war in 1871, the region became known as Alsace-Lorraine and wasceded to Germany in the Treaty of Frankfurt. Alsace-Lorraine was ruled by the German Empire until 1919, when the territory was returned to France as reparation in the Treaty of Versailles, after Germany was defeated in WWI. This region was ruled by Nazi Germany during World War II for four years, but was returned to France in 1945 and has been under French rule ever since (Grandhomme, Jean-Noël(2008). Boches ou tricolores. Strasbourg, France). Today, the same region is known as “Alsace-Moselle,” although Alsace and Lorraine are now two separate regions. In this essay, the focus will be on the larger of the two: Alsace and the major defining factors of its culture, language and economy. Due to the fact that Alsace has changed hands four times between France and Germany in the past 75 years(Assall, Paul. Juden im Elsass. Zürich: Rio Verlag), it is evident that there is a strong Germanic influence in the region. This results in a unique Alsatian culture.
Gastronomy in the Alsace region is a central part of the culture. It is unique in France, as a lot of the cuisine is influenced by its German neighbours and by its history. For example, famous traditional Alsatian dishes includeFlammekueche, baeckeoffe, schiffala, fleischschnackas and kouglof, but also more French inspired cuisine like tarte au fromage blanc, biscuits brédalas, pain d'épice (gingerbread), tarte flambée, choucroute, carpes frites and foie gras d'oie (http://www.french-property.com/regions/alsace/heritage.htm). This is just one example of how the traditional French and German cultures mix to create thedistinctive Alsatian culture. The region is famous for its vast amount of vineyards which are situated on the eastern slopes of the Vosges Mountains (René Bourgeois, Simone Eurin, La France des Regions, Presses Universitaires de Grenobles, 2001). Consequently, there are a great variety of famous French wines produced in the Alsace region.
Architecture and art is a focal point of heritage in Alsace. TheGerman influence is evident in areas such as “La Petite France” – a district in Strasbourg with half-timbered, Swiss style houses, and even more so in le Quartier Allemand which is the showcase of German neoclassical architecture in Strasbourg (www.strasbourg.info/sights). La Cathédrale de Nôtre Dame in Strasbourg is one of the most iconic landmarks of Alsace. It is a gothic cathedral with aunique silhouette, reaching 142 metres high, and took many centuries to complete. La Cathédrale de Nôtre Dame houses the famous “L’horloge de Trois Rois” – an astronomical clock built during the Renaissance period. Its beauty has been celebrated by many famous men in history including writers, Stendhal, Goethe and Victor Hugo (Bourgeois & Eurin, La France des Regions, 2001).
Strasbourg is a vitaltourist destination in Alsace, however Mulhouse is the most visited town in France for its museums after Paris. The Alsace wine routes are another attraction for tourists, as are the towns of Hunspach, Mittelbergheim, Eguisheim, Hunawihr and Riquewihr which have been awarded as "the most beautiful villages of France" (www.french-property.com/regions/alsace/heritage). Tourism is a key industry...