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Alsace: Hidden gem of France

Updated on April 12, 2013
A flower carpet going right through the village.
A flower carpet going right through the village. | Source

Map of Alsace

The French Alsace region borders Germany and Switzerland
The French Alsace region borders Germany and Switzerland

When the roads are covered with flowers

Sometimes you come across the most amazing things when you least expect them. We were cycling through the vineyards and quaint little villages of the lower Alsace Region in France when we suddenly got stopped by a roadblock.

It was Fête-Dieu (Corpus Christi), a religious holiday which is usually 10 days after Pentecost. In many parts of the world this sacred day is celebrated with huge and colourful processions. Priests dressed up in lavish garments followed by a crowd of faithful churchgoers. We had seen it all before but nothing had prepared us for this: The procession came down a long road which was totally covered with flowers. Not just scattered flowers but neatly arranged ones. The local people must have spent hours if not days creating colourful flower carpets which seemed to flow seamlessly from one quaint alley to the next. We were stunned, to say the least. In total awe we stood there watching the procession go by. Several altars had been put up alongside the road. The procession stopped at each one of them and the priest proudly displayed a golden monstrance, mumbling a few words.

The whole spectacle was over in minutes. The townspeople dispersed and went home for a Sunday lunch. The road block was removed and the traffic started flowing again. Cars driving over all these beautiful flower carpets, as if they didn’t exist. The flowers were crushed by car tires and slowly wilted away.

However, the impressions of that day will stay in my heart forever.


Amazing designs

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Altar in the village center

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Riquewihr, one of the many lovely medival towns

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    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Alsace is one place I really love. I can still picture the small villages and winder ties we went to and the food we enjoyed. I wish we were there for Corpus Christi. It looks fascinating.

    • Huntgoddess profile image

      Huntgoddess 

      4 years ago from Midwest U.S.A.

      I really like that idea, nsm!!

      My parish is right in the middle of downtown, with lots of traffic, vehicles and people.

      Nevertheless . . . I think perhaps it's possible to use these ideas, but on a much smaller scale? I will see what I can do.

      Thanks so much, dear nsm.

    • novascotiamiss profile imageAUTHOR

      Novascotiamiss 

      4 years ago from Nova Scotia, Canada

      Huntgoddess: May be you could share the photos with your parish and encourage them to do something like this next year but in a smaller scale. They used all kinds of natural materials such as twigs, mosses, leafs, flowers, rocks etc. This could be a fun project for the whole community. May be you could start up something new in the US?

    • Huntgoddess profile image

      Huntgoddess 

      4 years ago from Midwest U.S.A.

      Thanks for the reply, novascotiamiss. Don't worry about taking a while. I do that quite a bit myself.

      Well, my great grandpa was born around 1870. He was already old and living in the U.S., before World War II started.

      Yes, the flowers are quite stunning. It's very generous of you to share your beautiful photos. I never knew there was a custom like that. I wish we had more of those customs here in the U.S.

      My parish does have Corpus Christi Processions each year, but no street decorations. That would be really awesome!

      Thanks again. Looking forward to reading more of your Hubs.

    • novascotiamiss profile imageAUTHOR

      Novascotiamiss 

      4 years ago from Nova Scotia, Canada

      Huntgoddess: Thanks for your comment. Sorry for replying late, I've been away for the past 2 months. To answer your questions: Alsace-Lorraine (German speaking) is nearby the area where I took the pictures (French speaking). You can find an interesting article about Alsace-Lorraine on Wikipedia which explains why part of the Alsace is speaking French and the other German (has to do with the 2nd world war). I believe that the flowers grow in the area (in people's gardens) and the villagers arrange them together on the street for Corpus Christi. They also use moss, twigs etc. The flower pictures were absolutely stunning and it was a shame that by lunch time the road re-opened to traffic.

    • Huntgoddess profile image

      Huntgoddess 

      5 years ago from Midwest U.S.A.

      Wow, today, our parish had its Corpus Christi Procession. It was very uncomfortably hot.

      My great-grandpa was from Alsace-Lorraine? Is that the same place?

      This is very interesting, about those flowers. Are they actually growing there? Or, are they cut flowers, that people arrange?

      Lovely Hub! Up, useful, beautiful, interesting.

      Thanks.

    • liapie profile image

      liapie 

      7 years ago from North Carolina

      Very pretty

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