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First-class train beats short-haul misery

France is a favourite holiday destination for the English. But forget Provence or Paris, says Joe Jenkins, and discover the appeal of Alsace

FAR from the Dordogne, a giant leap from Provence, and rather more than a hop and a skip from Brittany, lies unfashionable Alsace.

Unfashionable it may be, but sipping a cool drink in the shadow of the Ancienne Douane, the 15th-century customs house that lies at the heart of Colmar — the principal town of the region — is about as good as it can get during any visit to France.

This outpost of eastern France is a civilised spot, a place that bridges two countries ...

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