This Picturesque Region Is A Great Spot For A Budget-Friendly International Vacation

Just a few baguette shops away from the Parisian charm of France's capital, Grand Est is a region so divine that you might just drop your croissant. Sandwiched between Belgium, Luxembourg, and Switzerland, the land is a gateway into some of Europe's most exciting destinations. Its capital, Strasbourg, is a picturesque blend of French and German influence. Cobblestone streets and baroque-style cottages invite travelers on a trip down memory lane to the fairytale village in Beauty and the Beast. One might be quick to assume a region that's as pleasing to the eye as Grand Est takes an entire savings account to visit. Yet, according to EuroNews, Strasbourg is one of the most affordable French destinations compared to Paris.

Spring and Autumn promise the most bang for your buck with lower airfare and hotels for as little as $80 per night. However, locals will tell you that Strasbourg is the world's Christmas Capital in disguise until December. The holiday season takes this delightful town to new heights with Christmas markets and an extravagant display of lights, tinsel, and stockings garnishing every boutique in sight. Yet, fall foliage, spring wildflowers, and lively summer events create a canvas just as captivating as its festive holiday scene. With everything from stunning wine country to fairytale-like cottages, this enchanting French region should indisputably be your next budget-friendly vacation. 

Stroll around Strasbourg

Nestled in the heart of France's Grand Est region, Strasbourg is a dreamy pocket of French charm that's welded into every aspect of the town's culture. Place Kléber is the main square of activity, home to an abundance of aesthetically pleasing half-timbered storefronts and cafés. Nibble on cheese and pastries at Le Café Potager, decorated with exposed brickwork and a flourishing collection of live plants that create a cheerful ambiance. L'Epicerie is a great spot for lunch that serves up classic French tartines for around $10.

La Petite France is perhaps the most desirable part of town to take a morning or evening stroll in. This tiny district is buzzing with energy as residents place their orders in Alsatian eateries and make their way across footbridges linking its cobblestone alleys. As part of Strasuburg's Grande-Île and Neustadt districts, its ancient structures date back to the medieval period and are preserved as part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Tanner House is an iconic landmark of French heritage and one of Strasbourg's most photographed spots, which you can explore for free. Built in 1572, it was once used as a common area for tanning hydes before becoming the modern French bistro tourists and locals enjoy today.

Sip wine in the French wine capital of Colmar

"Are we in France or Italy?" This is understandably the first question you might ask yourself upon arriving in the adorable French city of Colmar. Roughly an hour from Strasbourg, Colmar even possesses its own Little Venice district, a French replica of Italy's "Floating City." As the capital of Alsatian wine country, Colmar is home to almost 38,000 acres of vineyards and produces seven distinct grape varieties, making it an ideal French wine destination

Backed by the Vosges Mountains, follow the Alsace Wine Route to get an authentic local tour of Colmar's top wine-producing vineyards. The best part? It's budget-friendly, accessible by car or train, and requires no fees other than any irresistible bottles of wine you decide you just can't live without. You can rent traditional or electric bicycles from nearby towns to explore the region for as little as $25 for the day. 

The journey weaves travelers through a series of breathtaking villages and wineries, leaving several opportunities for wine tasting and chatting with the local vintners. To make sure you don't miss a thing, Route des Vins d'Alsace has put together a full itinerary to make the most of your trip through Colmar's wine country.