Advice on Trip to Alsace/Burgundy/Paris

Old May 8th, 2024, 11:56 AM
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Advice on Trip to Alsace/Burgundy/Paris

Hello! My husband and I are planning a trip to France in late September, early October of this year. We will have a total of 15 nights /16 days. We are flying into Paris (arriving early morning, jet-lagged!) and planning to take the train directly to Strasbourg. The plan is to stay there for four nights and then travel to Colmar by train for another 4/5 nights where we would possibly rent a car to explore all the small towns on the wine route. We will finish our trip in Paris for 5 nights and will fly home from there. This gives us a couple of days between Colmar and Paris and I was thinking of staying in Beaune (train from Colmar). Is 8/9 days in Alsace too long and should we knock off a few days and spend longer in Beaune. We could also just extend on either end and skip the Burgundy region. My husband wasn’t too keen on even visiting Paris (thinks it will feel too busy and chaotic) but I thought it would be a lost opportunity since we are flying in and out of Paris. It was the Alsace region that was our motivation for the trip initially. We do love the vibe and charm of small towns and regions and like to take our time. Everything is still in the planning stages at this point and nothing is carved in stone. We spent a few day in Nice last year but other than that, we have not explored France. This forum (and Rick Steves) has been a tremendous help to us in the past so any advice will be greatly appreciated. Thank you!
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Old May 8th, 2024, 12:10 PM
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Strasbourg for six days might be a good compromise, going to Colmar by train for the day. There are towns to visit north of Strasbourg, some of them specializing in the Alsacian blue-grey pottery.

https://www.my-weekend-in-alsace.com...im-betschdorf/



A car would be useful in visiting the various locations. It could be useful in going from the Aslace to Burgundy, allowing you to visit sites like Ronchamp.


I think that you will also need a car in Burgundy if you want visit some of the plus beaux villages.


The problem, depending on where you stay in Strasbourg, is the parking.

Here is the Alsace album:

https://flic.kr/s/aHsjpbkZnu

Here's the Burgundy album:

https://flic.kr/s/aHsjoJGfmf
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Old May 8th, 2024, 02:44 PM
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We spent 2 weeks in Alsace in 2022 and were busy every day. This was our second visit of at least 1 week. Also many 2-4 day visits in the 90s. Alsace is stunning. You'll want a car.

We then drove to Northern Burgundy near Chablis. and stayed there for 2 weeks. We spent 4 weeks in southern Burgundy near Beaune about 12 years ago. We've never embraced Burgundy. We spent too much time in the car getting from site to site - so that implies that the sites are fewer and farther apart than they are in Alsace, Provence, Languedoc, Pays Basque, Auvergne, Brittany, Normandy, Loire, Cote d'Azur, and other regions we've visited (we've spent well over 3 years "on the ground" in France). We live near the Napa/Sonoma wine country, and although we are huge wine enthusiasts - vineyards & wineries don't "wow" us. However, Dijon is tied with Toulouse as our second favorites city in France, and Beaune is one of our favorite medium-sized cities.

Here is a link to my wife's Alsace Shutterfly book
Alsace - Stu Dudley's Shutterfly book

Attached is an itinerary I did for a friend who is visiting Alsace in September.

Stu Dudley
Attached Files
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Alsace for Fodors.doc (33.0 KB, 31 views)

Last edited by StuDudley; May 8th, 2024 at 02:47 PM.
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Old May 8th, 2024, 04:07 PM
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Michael and Stu! Wow, what wonderful replies from both of you! I have read that there is plenty to do in Alsace so reassuring to hear that confirmed. Our choice our towns in Burgundy were Dijon (if we don’t have a car) and Beaune if we do. My husband and I will be going through the photos and reports now from both of you. So much appreciated, thank you! May be back with some more questions .
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Old May 8th, 2024, 04:57 PM
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We spent 4 weeks in southern Burgundy near Beaune about 12 years ago. We've never embraced Burgundy. We spent too much time in the car getting from site to site - so that implies that the sites are fewer and farther apart than they are in Alsace, Provence, Languedoc, Pays Basque, Auvergne, Brittany, Normandy, Loire, Cote d'Azur, and other regions we've visited

I don't understand. Part of my albums covers a 55 km. 7 day cruise up the Burgundy canal starting in Saint Florentin and ending in Monbard. From the pictures themselves it is obvious that there are plenty of things to see just following that itinerary. The rest of the pictures speak for themselves. However, it is possible that the southern part of Burgundy is not covered, except for Beaune.
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Old May 9th, 2024, 12:31 AM
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Hi Maggie,

What types of things do you hope to do in France? Paris has so much to tour and is a gorgeous remarkable city.

We like to roam slowly and soak in the culture, charming pedestrian streets, markets and sit at cafes to people watch.

We love to take guided walking tours to hear the history. We love art and many French cities have museums with important work. Stunning churches and cathedrals also are in abundance.

Perhaps Strasbourg and Alsace will be your sightseeing adventure and Dijon or Beaune will be your slower travel. I know zebec was in Burgundy without a car. We also travel without renting cars and use local trains and buses.

From what StuDudley said, you could spend the majority of your time in Alsace in a slow travel manner then finish with a few nights in Paris!

Last edited by lrice; May 9th, 2024 at 12:45 AM.
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Old May 9th, 2024, 01:05 AM
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It is worth noting that traditional Europe holidays were based on countries there is no reason to stay in the borders. Alsace, and the Pfalz are right next door to each other and just as interesting. Worms is not that far from Alsace for example
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Old May 9th, 2024, 04:38 AM
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Around Colmar

Originally Posted by maggie23
The plan is to stay there for four nights and then travel to Colmar by train for another 4/5 nights where we would possibly rent a car to explore all the small towns on the wine route.
Hi,
From Colmar where you will stay, you can visit the picturesque village of Turckheim (10 minutes by train). If you like walking, ask the tourist office about the vineyards trails.
By taking a train from Colmar to Selestat then a shuttle (1hour 15), you can reach the famous Haut Koenigsbourg Castle.
To discover wonderful villages in Alsace and their locally wines, rent a car or book a tour.
Have a great trip !
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Old May 9th, 2024, 06:12 AM
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Well we sound much like you Irice. We like to take our time and really soak things in as well! Last year we did Venice, Florence, Santa-Marguerita and Nice. It was absolutely wonderful. With the exception of a couple of spots in Florence and Venice, we found many areas blissfully free of hoards of tourists (early to mid-October). My weakness is gardens, my husband loves history, we enjoy beautiful churches and cathedrals. We LOVE to eat and partake in all the local cuisine . We did a wondeful food and wine day trip into Tuscany (with Walkabout Tours). We do like to visit museums but often prefer to be outside. We walked from SM to Portofino (it was spectacular) and upon arrival, the town was almost empty. What a pleasant surprise! Last year we travelled by train, boat, foot, taxi and a few water taxis in Venice. We will rent a car if that really will give us the optimum experience in some places. I have to admit, driving can be an extra stress (especially parking) but we are not ruling it out. I imagine if we feel we could spend more time in the Alsace region, we could go directly to Paris and skip Burgundy. I am much more comfortable with a somewhat planned itinerary (my husband is more relaxed) but we always take the option of last minute cancellation in case we make changes. Thank you so much for your feedback, lots of ponder!
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Old May 9th, 2024, 06:14 AM
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Originally Posted by PJ94
Hi,
From Colmar where you will stay, you can visit the picturesque village of Turckheim (10 minutes by train). If you like walking, ask the tourist office about the vineyards trails.
By taking a train from Colmar to Selestat then a shuttle (1hour 15), you can reach the famous Haut Koenigsbourg Castle.
To discover wonderful villages in Alsace and their locally wines, rent a car or book a tour.
Have a great trip !
Hello PJ, All of your suggestions sound fantastic. I am noting everything in a journal, thank you so much!
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Old May 9th, 2024, 06:16 AM
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Originally Posted by bilboburgler
It is worth noting that traditional Europe holidays were based on countries there is no reason to stay in the borders. Alsace, and the Pfalz are right next door to each other and just as interesting. Worms is not that far from Alsace for example
Bilboburgler (great name!) That is exactly what my husband said - no reason to not travel into bordering countries! Thank you
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Old May 9th, 2024, 06:31 AM
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I try to visit Alsace as often as I can, while the whole region from the Mosel to the Pfalz is a wonderful area. I tend to cycle (lots of cycle rental about) and the route de vin (cars, tractors, coaches, lorries) is normally pretty slow but luckily there is a bicycle "route de vin" parallel to the road version. Plus lots of paths through the vines, up into the Vosges etc etc. If it were me I'd use the trains out of Strasburg to get into the Alsace proper and either stay in Colmar (which I'm less than impressed with) or some of the villages, especially those with railway stations.

Then go hiking, or get a taxi to take you up the Vosges and walk back. Hiking is a big thing in the area and every gite, airbnb, hotel etc will have local maps of walks plus local tourist info will have guided walks, walks with wine, you name it they have it.

Over the years I've stayed in Eguisheim, St Hipolyte, Colmar and then single nights in many others. My view is that as long as there is a restaurant or two in town it will do for me.

I like Burgundy but prefer other towns to Beaune. If you want to do the touristy thing of seeing the abbey then fine, but there are wonderful towns with more, approachable facilities. If it were me go to Strasbourg, stay a couple of nights, then train to a village and just hike, wine taste and enjoy the countryside.
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Old May 10th, 2024, 06:02 AM
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Thanks once again for the useful information. I have been reading so much and may be getting close to information overload lol! I think a lot of our decisions will be based on whether we decide to rent a car for part of the time. If we have one, Beaune (or another smaller town) would be better, if we don’t, am thinking Dijon would be better. If we are short on time we may book an organized tour to see as much as we can that way. My thought was perhaps 8-10 days in Alsace would be too much of the same thing and a little change before Paris would be nice. However, we may be quite content once we are there to stay (it seems there is much to do if you are game). It will also depend on the flexibility of our hotel reservations if we can make last minute cancellations!
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Old May 10th, 2024, 11:44 AM
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I have a home in Strasbourg the last 10 years. 2 days is quite enough for Strasbourg. I'd recommend visiting Nancy/Metz from Strasbourg. Between Strasbourg & Colmar are Obernai /Selestat /Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg. Colmar is surrounded by cute towns -- Kaysersberg, Riquewihr, Eguisheim, Ribeauville. Basel is an easy day-trip from Colmar.
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Old May 11th, 2024, 05:01 AM
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Originally Posted by FrEsDe
I have a home in Strasbourg the last 10 years. 2 days is quite enough for Strasbourg. I'd recommend visiting Nancy/Metz from Strasbourg. Between Strasbourg & Colmar are Obernai /Selestat /Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg. Colmar is surrounded by cute towns -- Kaysersberg, Riquewihr, Eguisheim, Ribeauville. Basel is an easy day-trip from Colmar.
Good to hear from a local, thank you so much! The latest plan in my head is to stay 3 nights in Strasbourg (we will be very tired the day we arrive so probably a bit of a write-off) That would give us two full days there. We would then take the train to Colmar for four nights and possibly rent a car 1-2 days to see the small towns along the Route de Vins. Then onto Burgundy for 3 nights (Dijon or Beaune) and finishing 5 nights in Paris. From what I am reading the roads are more more manageable in Alsace compared to Burgundy? For that reason we are thinking of doing an organized tour there (any suggestions to get a good feel of the region). There are so many forums and opinions on the same topic differ greatly so can be overwhelming when trying to make a choice. However, so much amazing information.
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Old May 11th, 2024, 05:47 AM
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Originally Posted by maggie23
From what I am reading the roads are more more manageable in Alsace compared to Burgundy?
Sorry I do not drive in France and never ventured out to wine towns, so I can't opine re the road condition. All the towns I listed are linked by local train or regional bus (bus routes are on roads in good condition). condition.
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Old May 11th, 2024, 06:41 AM
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We spent two weeks in Alsace and then drove to Burgundy & spent two weeks there. No difference in roads. Navigating around Strasbourg and Dijon are a little challenging. Best to have a car in both countryside areas, IMO.

Stu Dudley
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Old May 11th, 2024, 06:51 AM
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Burgundy roads are fine. Lovely empty roads for a large part.
We recently stayed west of Dijon and saw barely another car on the roads.
We enjoyed the area even in the rain, and will possibly return and explore more sometime.
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Old May 11th, 2024, 02:44 PM
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We have spent several weeks in Burgundy since 2006 and do not find the roads difficult. My husband does the driving and, coming from Australia, that means driving on the opposite side of the road. It is a long time since we visited the Alsace, but it was our first trip, so cannot have been too bad either. Burgundy is one of our favourite areas, and there is a lot more to it than just the Dijon/Beaune part which is where most people go.
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Old May 11th, 2024, 11:15 PM
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Both areas have some pretty empty roads, busy roads and fast roads. None are especially difficult. Drinking and driving is heavily policed
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