Surprise and Delight
Tuesday, April 20,
Before leaving Epernay, we shall visit the caves

of one of its many great Champagne houses to learn how it is made and sample its products.

En route to Alsace we see something of Lorraine, a province noted for its thickly -wooded landscapes, elegant spas and famous artists such as Claude Le Lorrain and the sculptor Ligier Richier.

We stop first in Verdun

Whose strategic position has commanded battle lines since the days of the gauls and Romans. In 1916 it became the symbol of French Resistance when 400,000 French soldiers lost their lives there. The original Citadelle de Verdun has become the Musee de la Citadelle de Militaire. It tells the story of the role of Verdun in World War I.

In addition this place has been memorialized by many 20th C. novelists and poets who have seen it as a symbol of pointless war. The Welsh poet Wilfred Owen writes:
Was it for this the clay grew tall?
O what made fatuous sunbeams toil
To break earth's sleep at all?

North of the city are the battlefields and the thousands of crosses that commemorate the dead.

Proceeding south through some of Lorraine's pleasant landscape we reach the town of Nancy,

once the capital of the Duchy of Lorraine from the 12th to the 18th C. and still manifests the classic French culture and elegance of the period. The symbolic heart of the city is Place Stanislas with its white classical facades and wrought gilt-iron railings. The city is rich in museums; The Musee des Beaux Arts features works by Claude and Poussin and many of the Impressionists. The Musee de I'Ecole de Nancy

reflects the 19th C. Nancy School of Art Nouveau. It is displayed in the town house built by Eugene Corbin an early patron of that form.

We reach our hotel in the afternoon. Hostellerie des Chateaux

located at the foot of Mont Sainte-Odile among vineyards, is a cluntry hotel and represents authentic Alsace. Along with its warm interiors and local cuisine it offers the luxury of a fully equipped spa.

Wednesday, April 21,
Today we visit Strasbourg - the crossroads of Europe - thought by many to be the most interesting and attractive city after Paris it is also a comfortable and pleasant place built on a human scale. A city rich in art, music and intellectual excitement partly due to its prestigious University which was established during the 16th C. when Strasbourg became an important centre of humanism and Protestantism. Johann Gutenberg perfected the printing press here between 1434 and 1444. At the heart of the city is the breathtaking Cathedrale Notre-Dame.

Goethe, who studied at the University, said of it "that here sublimity and loveliness had merged to form a whole". The old town has been well preserved and in its most picturesque quarter, Petite France, the winding streets and canals are lined with 16th and 17th C. half timbered houses. We shall take a trip by boat encircling the old town.
Next Page