STRASBOURG, HAUT-RHIN AND THE ALSACE REGION
From Sofia I flew to Basel-Mulhouse airport with Wizzair. It was September 2020. This would be the beginning of the Roadtrip in Switzerland, which I did with my brother and father. An incredible trip. But in advance, I would stay in Mulhouse for a few days. My brother and dad would then come by car and pick me up. We'd continue to Switzerland. Why Mulhouse? I had never been there. The airport is actually located in France. Taking a bus from the aiport to the station of St. Louis and then a train gets you straight to Mulhouse or Strasbourg. Or the train to Switzerland. Alternatively, taking a bus to Switzerland directly from the airport is possible as well.
In Mulhouse I stayed in the Best Western Hotel de la Bourse. It was okayish. A good bed, relatively clean but small room, and a very basic breakfast. I dislike breakfast in France in general. Basically it's just bread, some cold cuts, butter, nutella, honey, jams, juices, tea and very bad coffee. You pay quite a lot for the breakfast though, and it's never something you couldn't just get straight from a supermarket. I'm always a fan of bacon and scrambled eggs at breakfast, so for an international hotel chain it's quite disappointing. Nonetheless very affordable, three nights for about a 120EUR. So I don't complain, just don't go to this place with high expectations. The same goes for the whole of Mulhouse, nothing much to do or see. So head straight to the surrounding areas instead, because that's where the fun is.
In particular, Strasbourg is worth your time. I'd say a couple of days, to hang out and just relax. It is a laid back city with a business vibe as well. It is formal and informal at the same time. A city with class and a hint of 'joie de vivre'. Not as much as in let's say Toulouse, in the deep south, but certainly more than a city like Paris.
The city is on the left bank of the river Rhine. The center of Strasbourg is at about a kilometer from the Rhine, which forms the natural border with Germany. It has held this strategic position since about 1300 BC. It was named Argentorate, a Celtic town and a center for trade. It became a Roman city, was an army base. The Roman empire fell and then the Alsace region was occupied by the Germanic tribe called Alemanni. Then this tribe became part of the Frankish empire. Nowadays, the city is very different than any other in France. It has plenty to see nearby as well and it is quite easy to head to Germany for a day or so. Also, the whole region feels like it has strong German influence, historically speaking it has had a lot of overlap.
It would be best to have a car when you go explore the Alsace. You can get to most places by train but many villages have castles where it would be hard to get on foot. Château du Kagenfels, Château de Rathsamhausen, Château de Dreistein, Château de Landsberg and the whole Parc naturel régional des Ballons
des Vosges (Ballons des Vosges Nature Park) will be a lot easier for you to visit by car. Depending on how much time you have, you have a ton to explore in this area. It is not affordable, for me at least, but traveling by public transport was certainly feasible. Hotels are a bit out of my budget. But I would be willing to spend for a wine tour through the area or some scenic bed and breakfast with a romantic partner. Some things have a bigger price but offer a bigger experience in return. Definitely go sip some of the wonderful wines and build up your experiences as much as you're willing to spend. No matter on what budget you travel, you'll have something, and even the basics are already enough to enjoy this area and make it unforgettable.