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Warm welcome makes village French favourite

After winning a deluge of votes as France’s favourite village in a TV poll, Kaysersberg in Alsace is preparing for a deluge of visitors with thousands expected to now plan holidays to visit.

Previous winners of the title have seen visitor numbers soar – last year’s winner, Rochefort-en-Terre, in Morbihan, Brittany, saw a jump from 600,000 to a million – and Alsace tourist officials have started publicising other local sights such as Colmar, Strasbourg and the Route de Vin.

Kaysersberg itself is renovating its historic chateau and promoting its Nobel Peace Prize winner, Albert Schweitzer, who won the prize in 1952 for his philosophy of ‘Reverence for Life’.

The village is also known for its Christmas market, which can attract 50,000 visitors over a weekend, and can now expect to grow in popularity. But it was not just Kaysersberg’s cobbled streets, timber-framed buildings and its site on the Route de Vins d’Alsace that won it... it won hearts for the warmth of the locals.

When the final result was shown on live TV the crowd gathered in the square outside the church went wild... and celebrated by dumping the mayor Pascal Lohr in the fountain.

Voting was by text message on the France 2 show ‘Village préféré des Français’ and was close until the final minutes with Kaysersberg neck and neck with Saint-Valery-sur-Somme. In third place was La Roque-Gageac in Dordogne.

The contest sees 13 villages chosen from among those on the Plus Beaux Villages de France list. Others taking part were Moncontour, Côtes-d’Armor; Piriac-sur-Mer, Loire-Atlantique; Bell­ême, Orne; Lourmarin, Vaucluse; Sant’Antonino, Haute-Corse; Lagrasse, Aude; Bèze, Côte d’Or; La Garde-Adhémar, Drôme; Gargilesse-Dampierre, Indre, and Mont­chauvet, Yvelines.

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