Promoting Alsace in Toronto are Melanie Paul-Hus, deputy director in Canada for Atout France; Alexandre Willmann, Tourism and Sales Unterlinden Museum in Colmar; Jean-Christophe Harrang, Business Development Manager Access Alsace; and Yann Jadis, representative Ontario, Access Alsace.
Promoting Alsace in Toronto are Melanie Paul-Hus, deputy director in Canada for Atout France; Alexandre Willmann, Tourism and Sales Unterlinden Museum in Colmar; Jean-Christophe Harrang, Business Development Manager Access Alsace; and Yann Jadis, representative Ontario, Access Alsace.

New high-speed rail to cut Paris-Alsace run to 1 hour 50 minutes

TORONTO — The Unterlinden museum in Colmar in northeast France, will soon double in size after a $55-million expansion and renewal project.

Two new buildings, designed by Pritzker Architecture Prize-winning firm Herzog & de Meuron, will house 45,000 masterpieces when it opens on Dec. 12, 2015.

Museum spokesman Alexandre Willmann, who was in Toronto Tuesday to meet with the media and tour operators, said the works on display will include ancient artifacts from as early as 7000 BC to modern art including paintings by Picasso. An underground gallery will connect the former Dominican convent to the new structure.

The museum is located in the Alsace region, which is known for its wine and gastronomy. Jean-Christophe Harrang of Access Alsace said the region, which is located in central Europe, boasts 29 restaurants with Michelin stars and is known for its white wines, which can be enjoyed along the Alsatian Wine Road – a 170-kilometre-long route with 119 villages and 500 wine cellars that can be visited.

The region is also the biggest producer of beer in France and many breweries are open to visitors, as are brandy distilleries, and half a dozen chocolate factories, located on the ‘Chocolate Road’. Food and drink aside, one of the biggest attractions in Alsace is the 14th century Haut-Koenigsbourg Castle located between Strasbourg and Colmar.

The historic centre of Strasbourg, the capital, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and this year the Strasbourg Cathedral with its 142-metre-high spire will mark its 1,000th anniversary. The city is also home to famous department stores such as Le Printemps and Galleries Lafayette that are found in Paris.

Also new and notable:

  • Alsace has a new website to help travel professionals: tourisme-alsace.pro
  • Alsace will be even quicker to reach next year when a high-speed train begins service, reducing the travelling time from Paris to Strasbourg from 2 hours and 20 minutes to 1 hour and 50 minutes
  • a new website for cyclists is cyclingalsace.com/en
  • Alsace is located in the middle of Europe and offers easy access to neighouring countries Germany and Switzerland
  • Bugatti, the fastest and most expensive sports car (it can travel 410 kph), is made in Alsace
  • the first Sofitel hotel was opened in Alsace in 1964
  • the Royal Palace, near Strasbourg, is the third largest music hall in France
  • the man who built the Statue of Liberty, Auguste Bartholdi, was born in Alsace.