The Bas-Rhin is one of the two departments that form the picturesque region of Alsace. It accounts for a population of more than one million inhabitants, and the main towns are Strasbourg, Haguenau and Séléstat. The Rhine River flows across Alsace from the north to the south and marks a natural border between the Bas-Rhin and Germany.
The Bas-Rhin departement has plenty of vestiges and patrimony such as ancient churches or medieval castles. Indeed, it has the most important numbers of fortified castles of France! Numerous pretty villages have to be visited, as it offers a good glimpse of what is really the Alsatian culture in all its senses (dialect, architecture, gastronomy…). For instance, Hunspach or Seebach shelter beautiful examples of Alsatian half-timbered houses decorated with many flowers as the geraniums, definitely the most widespread and popular ones.
The famous vineyards are stretched at the foot of the Vosges mountains. It benefits from the special weather of Alsace that is due to the Vosges mountains that form a natural barrier. The departement offers marvellous landscapes and has an unspoilt nature. One third of the Bas-Rhin is covered by forest and this various and important nature enabled the area of the northern Vosges to become “Regional Natural Park” and to receive the label “world reserve of the biosphere”.
Bas-Rhin is also rich in surprises. Thus, many interesting activities can be done such as the visit of a leisure park completely dedicated to storks which are numerous in this region. The volerie des aigles offers spectacles with eagles or either a walk in the site called “monkeys mountain” is entertaining.
This department is definitely a place satisfying multiple expectations. Wine lovers will appreciate the wine route and its fantastic wines. The people who want to discover another facet of France and a picturesque region will not be disappointed while the families will be fond of the various activities the Bas-Rhin offers, whether it is sport or culture.
Alsace is a region which is not particularly expensive, and stands in the region average in terms of property prices. However, a difference of prices is observable between the northern and the southern departement. Indeed, Bas-Rhin seems to be more expensive than Haut-Rhin. An explanation can be found in the fact that Strasbourg and its employment area represent an economical lure. At the beginning of 2009, the price to buy a property in Bas-Rhin was about €2,544 /sq m, while it was less than €2,000 /sq m in the Haut-Rhin departement.
Regarding the dwellings themselves, 91% of them are used as main homes and about their types, an equity is made as 49% of the properties are detached houses, the rest being apartments. Generally speaking, the properties are quite large as 41% of them comprise at least 3 bedrooms.
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Culture and historical heritage: fortified castles overlooking the plains are emblematic of the medieval history of the region. Built in stones since the 12th century, many still remain and others form impressive ruins. Vestiges of the recent conflict between France and Germany also abound. The fort of Mutzig was built after the war of 1870. After the first world war, the Maginot line was constructed along the Rhin River to protect Alsace from a German invasion. Unfortunately, Natzweiler-Struthof, the only concentration camp of France can be visited in Bas-Rhin. These are witnesses of the difficult history of Alsace.
Good Food: the Bas-Rhin departement has, as the whole Alsace, a formidable and rich gastronomy. Sauerkraut, Bäckeoffe or Flammekueche can be tasted in many good places from great restaurants to rustic taverns. The typical Alsatian taverns called winstubs are certainly the best place to savour these specialities in a typical setting and a convivial atmosphere. The cabbage used for the preparation of sauerkraut is above all cultivated in the area of Strasbourg, between the towns of Obernai and Erstein. Thus, some sauerkraut feasts are organised in this area some week-ends of August and September.
Activities: the Vosges mountains of the Bas-Rhin departement offer marvellous hikes. There, an exceptional variety of natural and historical richness can be discovered along the tracks. Across the vineyards and forests, more than 50 medieval fortified castles as the Haut-Koenigsbourg but also the Mont Saint-Odile site can de seen. Not less than 1,000km of itineraries enable to discover the Bas-Rhin’s treasures either by walking, cycling or horse riding. Other activities are available as climbing or the practice of golf for instance. During winter, the practice of cross-country skiing is possible on the 250km of trails.
Wine and alcohol: the famous wine route goes through the Bas-Rhin from the villages of Marlenheim to Kintzheim. There it is possible to discover and taste the different wines produced in the area, such as Muscat, Gewurztraminer, Sylvaner, Riesling, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir. Eaux-de-vie and liqueurs are other specialities produced in the departement. Alsace also furnishes more than the half of the national production of beer. Many beer feasts are held and wine feasts across the departement celebrate the end of the grape harvests at the end of September.
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