East France comprises Lorraine, Alsace and Franche-Comté and is very much an undiscovered region of the country renowned for its magnificent scenery and hospitality. Alsace in particular is very different with a strong Germanic influence, not surprisingly as the area has changed hands between Germany and France many times over the centuries.
For a family holiday you will need to pick where you stay carefully as attractions suitable for families are perhaps not so numerous as in other parts of France. However in Alsace and Franche-Comté there are some fabulous castles to visit and around Mulhouse there are a couple of first class children friendly museums (see details below). In addition, the great outdoors and Alpine scenery beckons in both the Vosges mountains and eastern Franche-Comté with wonderful walking, cycling, canoeing and rugged mountain drives.
Description: Excellent little fromagerie in a rather out of the way spot. There are many such cheese producers in the area, however we liked this one because it seemed really authentic. There’s a video (French only) explaining the cheese production process, after seeing this you can taste the fare and make your selection. Free except for purchases!
Location: Take the D50 north from Valdahon heading towards Baume les Dames, after 10km turn right to the small hamlet of Epenouse.
Our recommendations: Great idea for a rainy day!
For the children: When we went here the children did enjoy themselves but it’s not the sort of place you can expect to spend a lot of time in. However, on a rainy day it’s great to have somewhere like this to go. Nowhere to let off steam though.
Nice unspoilt place – excellent for a quick break on a rainy day!
Description: This Open Air “Ecomusée” is a 50 acre site displaying over 50 traditional old Alsace buildings. You are free to wander through the site at your leisure. In summer months there are evening entertainments laid on. And there are usually traditional craftsmen practicing their trade.Location: 10km south west of Ensisheim (just north of Mulhouse)
General info: Tel: 33 3 89 74 44 54. French only website.
Our recommendations: There is plenty of interest in this site – expect to spend 3 or 4 hours there; you could take a picnic on a sunny day.
For the children: To keep the children entertained there are even some old funfairs! Excellent day out for the family.
Musée National de l’Automobile
Description: An excellent collection of more than 500 vintage cars which have been collected over more than 30 years by the Schlumpf brothers. The cars cover more than 100 years of motoring history with the earliest model being the steam driven Jacquot from 1878 and the most recent the Citroen Xantia.
Location: In Mulhouse, the entrance is off Avenue de Colmar.
General Info: Official website.
Our recommendations: After visiting the car museum try the Musée Français de Chemin du Fer in the west of Mulhouse (Rue Alfred de Glehn). There are some excellent examples of France’s pioneering trains on display here.
Fascinating place if you’re into cars!
Tepacap Activity Centre
The children will love it!
Description: A really unusual outdoor activity theme park for children, with different zones for different ages, in a large forest setting. This is a great chance for all the family to play at being Tarzan for a day!
Location: At the Etang de Hasselfurth, just south of Bitche.
General Info: From 01/04/07-15/06/07 and from 15/09/07-31/10/07 Tepacap is open from 09.30-18.00 on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays. In High Season it is open daily from 09.30-19.00. Telephone for further information: 03 87 06 40 00.
Our recommendations: If you want to get a full day of activity, make sure you arrive early. The whole site shuts for an hour at lunchtime around 12.30 and everyone has to stop their activity.
For the children: There is good general supervision and safety provision. For children under 10 it won’t provide a day’s entertainment, however there is a separate adventure area for the youngsters and they will adore the combined trampoline/bungey ropes!
Chateau des Enigmes
Description: This is primarily an outdoor Treasure Hunt with a theme that changes each year (2005 is a Pirate Adventure). 20 games with questions/problems to solve takes the ‘players’ around the park and gardens of the Château, as well as underground in the château itself. An English version of the clues is available and English speaking staff are on hand should the need arise. Answers are self-checked at the end using a computer and if the final puzzle is solved then certificates are awarded.
Location: In the Bas-Rhin department of Alsace at the Chateau de Fleckenstein, 15km or so west of Wissembourg, and about 6km NNW of Lembach.
General Information: www.chateau-enigmes.com (in French only) Tel:- 0(3) 88 94 28 52. Prices are approx €32 for a family of 2 plus 4. Open from Easter to Toussaint (which is roughly the UK October Half term)
Our Recommendations: Great fun with most of the action taking place outdoors, so come prepared with hats etc… in hot weather. The original Chateau des Enigmes is near Pons in the Charente.
For the Children: Children will love it – older ones can go off on their own as it is a secure site.
Here’s more information to make the most of your visit to East France: