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Alsace- The Humanist

Updated: Apr 29

a sunset in spectacular Strasbourg

Alsace a key word for an amazement. Each time I arrive to this region, the red curtain rises, revealing a world of charming half-timbered houses, rivers, streams, and delicious bakeries. And this is only the beginning of a region that takes every traveler in a spiral of beauty and enchantment.

I admit that there is and always will be a particular corner in my heart for this province where I did my literature and theater studies. I lived in Strasbourg, the capital of Alsace, for two years. Every day, I was fascinated, when I passed by the immense cathedral.

I was dreamy when I walked by "la petite France," the back part of the city with the streams of the river flowing under and between the colourful houses.

Alsace has many facettes. It is abundant with a unique charm that attracts tourists worldwide, but it has also many stories to tell, that will introduce you not only to its beauty but also to its human side and to the many characters who lived there, and have shaped this region through out the years.

Let's explore la belle Alsace ...with its compassionate soul.


Alsace the Humanist.


Many of you know that Alsace once belonged to Germany and France; it was torn between the two countries until it was back to the territory of France after the Second World War.

The view over Muztig- credit image Alsace tourism



I explored the Muztig fortress to understand the impact of the wars and the importance of the defense of Alsace.

This defense was built in Mutzig, a commune in Alsace, during the First World War. It was ideally placed between the Vosges and Alsace to block the plain of the Rhin.

It is an enormous fort built in the First World War, the biggest in the world. It was constructed by the Germans when they occupied Alsace between 1893-1917.

It was imposing to be there. It was a super rainy day at the end of January. With the specialized guide Bernard Bour, I got a detailed explanation about this monument constructed as a giant labyrinth. A whole world is suddenly alive underground.

A hospital, a room that exposed different canons, and pictures of the German soldiers who lived there: their dining room, kitchen, and even the toilets. You traverse narrow corridors that increase the sensation of the military citadel. The different rooms amplify your imagination and you can straightway go back in the tunnel of time.

I went out to the fresh air fused with rain, quite emotional in times of a brutal war and its heavy consequences in the Middle East and Ukraine. You look at amicable green Alsace, and it feels almost unbelievable. Alsace knew bitter wars between Germany and France and had achieved peace years ago, and when you pass the bridge that separates Kehl and Strasbourg, you learn that only peace can grow bonds of friendship and calm.

I remembered suddenly the lyrics of Sade's song- Tell me why tell me why, tell me why can't we live together, no more war no more war no more war, all we want is some peace in the world.


Molsheim - The spirit of the Middle Ages

The town hall place of Molsheim. credit image Alsace tourism


Alsace enfolds many treasures.

The town has a remarkable old medieval spirit. I arrived in the evening; it was rainy and dark, but I immediately noticed the impressive marketplace, the central square. The beautiful decorative house in the corner is La Metzig, a 16th-century building that was once home to the town butchers. In the square, there is an impressive lion fountain. I was accompanied by the excellent guide Gregory Oswald. We soon visited the big church- Jesuit, the second-largest church after the cathedral in Strasbourg, a famous worldwide monument.

I could only dimly see the decoration inside as it was obscure, but I was lucky to hear a Pipe Organ concert.

This reserved town possesses one of the most astonishing museums.

It is the Chartreuse Foundation.

It has the classic interior of an old monastery, with sculptures and paintings and a haunting atmosphere. The second part of the museum is the Bugatti Foundation.

Ettore Bugatti

You will find the story of Bugatti. In 1909, the Italian engineer Ettore Bugatti set up his car company in Molsheim, Germany. At this period, the entire Alsace belonged to Germany. The museum gives visitors a journey to the car industry founder and their family story. I was impressed not only by the bright, elegant cars but also by Bugatti's personality. He was an eccentric man with great confidence in himself and his vision. His young brother Rembrandt Bugatti- an animal sculptor, was also a charismatic man with the look of a stylish British actor. I was intrigued to see his pictures as his sculptures.



Sélestat and the Humanist Library


When I often passed by train from Strasbourg to Colmar, I heard the town's name Sélestat. This town is in the middle of these two cities.

But I didn't get off the train to discover it.

The visit allowed me to get to know the middle sister of the renowned Strasbourg and Colmar, and you have to believe that it is as charming as these two.

I had only two hours in front of me before heading to Munster.

The sun finally appeared in the sky at 11 am, and the town seemed to get awake.

I visit the Humanist Library of Sélestat. It is a majestic place that I vividly recommend you to go and see in your following passage in Alsace.

It was designed by architect Rudi Ricciotti, who also planned the modern museum for Marseille- Mu CEM.

It is marvelous from outside to inside and reveals the intellectual universe of the greatest minds between the 15th and 16th centuries. The heritage of the books exposed there was the gift of the humanist Beatus Rehananus. You would also follow the traces of Erasmus, who, for me, was one of the first cool, free-spirited thinkers from that era.


Stepping outside, I was immediately taken by the elegance of Sélestat. I couldn't understand why it is less famous than her self-confident sister Colmar. But the good thing is that it is less crowded with tourists. I enjoyed walking in the small paved streets with the beautiful houses at the end of January; there were leftover Christmas decorations and a feeling of tranquility as there were not many people around on a Tuesday morning.

Did I tell you about my adoration of pretzels? I once wrote a story dedicated to this salty, crunchy pretzel.

It was lunchtime, and I discovered a stunning restaurant and bakery in the heart of town.

"Le fournil de Marcel Kientz". It is a paradise for bread lovers, and in Alsace, they have nailed how to make them so tasty. Customers arrived to enjoy a very high-quality lunch. As I was short of time, I ordered a flat white and a pretzel; they both arrived at the speed of light and were super good. Keep this address in mind when you visit Sélestat.


I was now driving to the town of Munster, and a little bit before, we stopped on our way in Gunsbach, a village where is the house of the Nobel Prize winner of the year 1952- Dr Albert Schweitzer. Gunsbach, a little town close by to Munster.

"In the hopes of reaching the moon, men fail to see the flowers that blossom at their feet."

Albert Schweitzer quote.

Today, he would have been called "multi-talent"

He was a doctor, philosopher, theologian, organist, and pioneer of African humanist medicine. This house where he lived, which was transformed into a museum, filled me with emotions. In times of war shaking our spirits and forcing us to deal with philosophical questions of morality and war crimes,

I plunged into the world of a great mind with enormous courage and idealism. He could have contented with a successful career as a doctor and a piano musician in Alsace, but he opted to save the sick and the helpless in Gabon, where he constructed a unique hospital.

When you look at his picture, he looks like Albert Einstein's identical brother. They have known each other. In the museum, you will see photos of many influential people who have honored him, such as Mark Twain and Stefan Zweig, among the personalities who wrote letters to the doctor, musician, and philosopher "Albert Schweitzer."


Taillanderie Maison Luquet

I met Soumia, the director, in a most exciting workshop close to Munster. With a humble and friendly smile, she explained to me the profession she exerted with a few co-workers: fabricating the different stencils for building the roofs of prestigious churches and cathedrals. We all witnessed, terrified, one of the most emblematic cathedrals in France, Notre Dame de Paris, devoured by the flames in mid-April 2019. A few years later, significant progress was made in the reconstitution of the damaged roof. The Maison Luquet is the one that constructs the original and rare tools that are needed for that task.


It was the first time I looked at various axes and knives, as I was in an art exhibition.

Seeing how skillful and hardworking you must be in creating these instruments was impressive.


Soumia offered me hot tea, as it was a freezing day. It was fascinating to hear the story and imagine the work of the glorious cathedral.

The cheese of Munster in a delicatessen in Munster

I stayed over the night in the village of Munster. You might have heard of the cheese Munster. It is one of the village's well-known products. It has quite a pungent taste. I like it a lot.

The village is on the way to the Vosges; from there, I headed to Gérardmer. It is scenic and has these mountains flair.

I discovered "Schweitzer Park" in the morning, and it was a very relaxing and inspiring moment.

I was walking in the early morning in the blooming green park, hearing the sound of the water stream and wishing this peaceful and harmonious atmosphere would spread into our shaken world.

Report -Niva Josef

Images- Niva Josef beside the ones I mentioned the credit.


Hotel Diana in Molsheim

A charming hotel where I also had my delicious dinner. Very central as well

In Munster I had a lovely dinner in the restaurant Au p'tit Munster

and gad a night over in the hotel La Cigogne

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3 תגובות

Enjoyed reading and seeing the nice pictures.


Wonderful. I love Alsace, a rich and beautiful region. Thank you for this report, I traveled there with you

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בתשובה לפוסט של

Thank you very much

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