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Imagine fall in Alsace, the incredibly picturesque wine region of France while the vines are laden with grapes and the leaves are changing color, followed by Paris, the "city of light"and Monet's Garden in Giverny!

Alsace is a narrow ribbon of land in France that continues from the Swiss border in the south up to the German border in the north of Strasbourg and the Champagne area to the west. It is cradled by the Vosges mountains and the Rhine River. Alsace is an improbably beautiful place with medieval towns and villages with quaint, brightly painted half-timbered houses - the scenery of which fairy tales are made.

Each village is surrounded with colorful fall vines and on a hill on the edge of town, a castle looms in the distance. The rolling hills are perfect to capture landscape shots of the villages nestled in the hills. This area photographically rivals no other with the combination of the fantastical villages and gorgeous scenery.

My clients are convinced that Alsace is France's best kept secret. We were fortunate to spend the Christmas holidays there in December 2002 for our first tour and fell in love with this region. We met the friendliest people on earth and couldn't wait to go back. We were absoluteley in awe of the beauty and photo ops. The Christmas decorations were unrivaled!

Alsace is an amazing blend of the folklore and traditions of Germany with the sophistication, flair and gastronomy of France. Along the famous wine route is where the highly regarded Rieslings and Gewurztraminers are produced. The towns along the wine route are almost Disney-esque in their perfection, but are untouched by modern commercialism. Practically every yard has a garden, and every window has lace curtains with window boxes exploding with flowers. Speaking of flowers, each village competes with the other villages to see who can display the most flowers in their town. When you approach some villages, there are welcoming signs that tells you if it is considered one of the "eight most beautiful villages in Alsace" and has a flower rating similar to star ratings. Four flowers is the top rating. The Alsatians sure have their priorities in order when beauty is on the top of their list. Along with the profusion of flowers, storks sitting in their nests look down at you from church steeples, ancient turrets and many homes.

Not to be missed is the fabulously restored Koenigsburg Castle high atop a mountain and resplendent with draw bridges, interior decor, turrets and interesting details.

Aside from the wonderful architecture through out the town of Strasbourg, the Cathedral of Notre Dame is a marvel of medieval architecture that rises above the large cobbled square exactly as it was in the Middle Ages. The pink stone walls, the numerous incredibly beautiful stained glass windows and candelabras, the colorful 18th-century tapestries, all give Strasbourg's cathedral a feeling of warmth not typically found in such a large and holy place.

Resting on the foundation of of a Romanesque basilica built in 1015, it took three centuries to build this architectural marvel. The spire stands at a height of 142 meters and was the tallest church until the 19th century. Beside its magnificent statues, it boasts an astronomical clock built in 1547 by swiss clockmakers. Every day at 12:30 the chimes strike and the apostles parade in front of Christ to receive his blessing.

Each day will be resplendent with the wonderful cuisine and wines that the area is famous for. Foie gras is their specialty. Many of our top Michelin chefs in America have been trained in the area.

Leaving Strasbourg, we travel by train along the Route Des Vins (wine route) visiting the incredibly beautiful and quaint villages of Obernai, Bergheim, Riquewihr, Eguisheim, Hunawihr, and Colmar to name a few. The grape harvest in Alsace provides many great photos as the people really enjoy getting in touch with their land and its bounty. It is a social event for them as well with many ethnicities attending and they willingly pose for photographs.

Obernai, a medieval town, is a picture- postcard vision of Alsace complete with towers, ramparts, castles, numerous colorful half-timbered houses and a town hall from the Renaissance period. Bergheim, with vestiges of the bronze age, is surrounded by walls and ramparts and considered one of the most beautiful Alsatian villages. The market square complete with fountain, is surrounded by houses with remarkable colored facades. Gewurztraminer wine is their specialty.

Riquewihr is called the "pearl" of Alsace, due to its superb medieval homes adorned with carvings, corbels and bay windows. Its fortified surrounding wall complete with its "thieves" tower, dates back to 1291. Riquewihr is known for its Riesling wine, and is one of the most visited places in France. Hunawihr, is another small, extremely picturesque village nestled into the hollow of a small valley at the foot of the mountains. A stork recovery center is located here along with its castle-like church.

We will spend two nights in Colmar where history and poetic beauty await in ancient cloisters, magnificent half-timbered colorful houses and noble gardens. The picturesque "little Venice" area is reminiscent of the canals of Italy minus the gondolas.

Leaving Alsace, we take the high speed train back to Paris where we will photograph the "city of light" as it turns on its illuminated charm at dusk. The golden spectacle of the Pont de Alexandre III bridge with the Eiffel tower glowing in the background, Notre Dame basking in its soft light with the boats lit up on the Seine, the Champs Elysees with colored ribbons of traffic trails, and the newly gilded, spectacular fountains of the Place de la Concorde all await us.

Our days in Paris will be spent shooting cafe scenes, the artists of the Montmartre painting at their easels, architecture, the Luxembourg Garden, the Louvre, Notre Dame, and all the charm of Paris. On the Rue de Buci in the Left Bank, we will find produce stands, fish markets and flowers galore.

One morning we will take a train to Giverny, home of Monet's famous garden and lily ponds. We will spend the day using a few different creative techniques to create impressionistic, painterly images that Claude himself would have admired.

Our last Parisian evening will find us at the Eiffel Tower aglow in all her splendor with ribbons of colored traffic trails in the foreground, carousels, and great architectural shots- a fitting farewell for our last night in the "city of light".

Au Revoir Paris and La Belle France!

Click here to view photos taken by previous Alsace and Paris attendees on our Client Photo Gallery.

Click here to read a client's impressions of our Christmas tour to Alsace and New Year's in Paris.

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