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Alsace for 5 days and 6 more days- where???

Alsace for 5 days and 6 more days- where???

Jan 13th, 2017, 09:25 PM
  #1  
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Alsace for 5 days and 6 more days- where???

Hi Fodorites,
We are off to Germany for 3 weeks in May with a group of friends, ending in Cochem. After that, we have 11 days to spend on our own. I have booked a gite out of Riquewihr in the Alsace for 5 nights, but am looking for suggestions on where to spend the remaining days (6 nights) prior to flying out of Frankfurt.
We enjoy scenery, food, people watching, sitting in the garden in sunlight (so not so thrilled about staying in old houses in old towns as there is generally not a lot of light or garden!!), seeing beautiful gardens, seeing beautiful architecture, not too strenuous hiking (we are in our 60s), history, meeting other people, dancing,music etc. There is a lot to enjoy, isn't there?
We have a hire car for the trip, but don't want to do too much driving as we will have already driven through south Germany. We will have already travelled through the Black Forest and along the Rhine.
I am looking forward to some suggestions. Maybe even staying on a farm or winery might be a nice change, if you know of any really nice ones.
Cheers
Pam
MYOBlady is offline  
Jan 14th, 2017, 05:50 AM
  #2  
 
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check out Luxembourg -the lovely countryside not necessarily the rather blah capital. surprisingly neat and off-beat.

The Clervaux area is especially bucolic:

https://www.google.com/search?q=cler...w=1536&bih=760
PalenQ is offline  
Jan 14th, 2017, 08:20 AM
  #3  
 
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I would head to Burgundy, rent a gite there, and explore the area. We've vacationed in Burgundy for 2 weeks & Beaujolais for 2. Lots of stuff to do & see.

Then drive to Chalon sur Saone, return the car, and take the 11:02 TGV that arrives in Frankfurt at 15:53. No train changes. Or you could take the train from Dijon with 1 train change.

Stu Dudley
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Jan 14th, 2017, 08:26 AM
  #4  
 
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I would second Burgundy -I thought it were perhaps too far from Frankfurt for you- for lots on trains check www.bahn.de/en for schedules-for general info www.seat61.com; www.budgeteuropetravel.com and www.ricksteves.com.

The Neckar River Valley by Heidelberg and beyond may be one to look at too.
PalenQ is offline  
Jan 14th, 2017, 10:51 AM
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Metz is an interesting city and a 2 1/2-hour drive from Riquewihr according to Google Maps. I guess it is actually Lorraine, not Alsace. Architecturally significant train station and a handsome cathedral, plus a large park in the city centre with attractive landscapes. A branch of the Pompidou art museum from Paris opened several years ago.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metz
http://www.centrepompidou-metz.fr/en/welcome
Southam is offline  
Jan 14th, 2017, 03:46 PM
  #6  
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Oh they are all great suggestions...I hadn't thought of Burgundy as in my mind, I thought it was a long way, but on Google Maps it is only 3.5 hours drive so it is a possibility too.
Thank you so much for all your thoughts...I will have a good look at what the accommodation, sights and scenery is like in each of the areas.
Not sure about the train as we are hiring the car in Germany, so I think we might have to return it in Germany or suffer a financial penalty.
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Jan 14th, 2017, 04:04 PM
  #7  
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Oh, the cost of the car jumps by $1000 to drop it off in France, so I think we will be driving back to Frankfurt!
MYOBlady is offline  
Jan 14th, 2017, 04:26 PM
  #8  
 
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- The TGV will cost you about 55E per person. You might save a day's car rental also.

- The drive from Beaune to Frankfurt takes about 5 1/2 to 6 hrs with time for pottie breaks, back-ups at toll booths, lunch, deviations, etc. Gas & tolls are around 62E, according to ViaMichelin.com. If you take the suggested northern route, you would go through Nancy - which would be a great half-way break. We were there for 2 weeks in 2015. Place Stanislas would be a fantastic spot for lunch. One of the most beautiful squares in France. Then pick up a walking itinerary at the TI.

Stu Dudley
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Jan 14th, 2017, 04:28 PM
  #9  
 
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>>Oh, the cost of the car jumps by $1000 to drop it off in France<<<

You can have a REALLY nice lunch in Nancy for $1,000.

Stu Dudley
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Jan 14th, 2017, 04:31 PM
  #10  
 
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We loved Strasbourg. We spent 1 1/2 driving from France all the way to Budapest and back and Strasbourg turned out unexpectedly to be one of the highlights! Great food-wonderful walking and people watching.

Also, you might check on the car leasing programs. I think most have a 3 week minimum but they are cheaper than the rentals for pick up in one country and drop off in another. With only 21 days, it might not be a good fit-we rent for at least 2-6 months, so then they are a great deal.
jpie is offline  
Jan 14th, 2017, 04:59 PM
  #11  
 
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Here is something I wrote about 10 years ago when we stayed in a Gite near Riquewihr for a week. We've visited Alsace for 2-4 nights each on several prior trips also.

Alsace is one of the most beautiful places in France. In fact, the “Wine Spectator” ran a large expose on Alsace many years ago and called it the most beautiful wine growing region in the world. I would probably include the Mosel in this category, but Alsace has gobbled up more of my film per square mile than almost anywhere else in France (we spend 2 months every year in France). It’s kinda like Vermont with vineyards – dozens of picture postcard villages with church steeples sticking up above the houses, surrounded by vineyards, and backdropped by the Vosges mountains. There is also the very pretty town of Colmar, which I would have to rank in the top 5% of all the medium sized towns I’ve visited in France (perhaps #1 even), Strasbourg is one of my favorite large towns in France. We spent a week in a lovely Gite near Riquewihr last year and we’ve visited Alsace on 3 other occasions for a duration of 3-5 days on each visit. If I have any complaint about Alsace, it’s that there is not as much variety to the sites, villages, and countryside as I’ve seen in other areas of France. The villages in Alsace are almost too pretty to be real, but there are a lot of similarities to them. The Vosges are nice, but nothing like the Alps, Pyrenees, or the Cevannes. I would go there in early September, so that the geraniums that are everywhere will be in full bloom. One time we were there the last week of August, and we had no problems with crowds (I hate crowds).

We’re lucky enough to dine in France at least 30 times per year. We found the restaurants in Alsace to be excellent, in most cases. It’s very easy to avoid the pork & kraut, if that’s not your style. If you look at the red Michelin guide, there are more starred restaurants in Alsace than anywhere else in France (except Paris).

If you are starting your trip in Paris, I would recommend that you take the train from Paris Est to Nancy and visit this lovely city. It’s the center of “Art Nouveau”, and the city architecture & the Place Stanislas are spectacular – especially the golden gates around the square. Take the walking tour outlined in the Green Michelin guide for Alsace. Also visit the Musee de l'Ecole de Nancy, if you’re interested in this style. We actually visited Nancy as a day trip by train from Colmar. We had lunch at the Excelsior Flo, which is truly a sight to behold (see the picture in the Green Michelin guide). There are about 6 direct trains from Paris to Nancy daily, and the trip is about 3 hrs or less. There are about 9 direct trains from Nancy to Strasbourg daily and I suspect that most go on to Colmar too (trip is less than 1 ½ hrs). You could stay overnight in Nancy, or even just make it a ½ day stopover, if you can find a way to stow your luggage.

If you stop or stay in Nancy and then go on to Strasbourg and stay there, you perhaps might be getting “a little too much big city”. It would be more efficient that you start your “Alsace central” visit in Strasbourg, but it might be best to stay somewhere in a small village in the countryside and visit Strasbourg as day trips. There are several trains departing from both Colmar & Ribeauville to Strasbourg. If you decide not to start in Strasbourg, I would take the train to Colmar and pick up a rental car there. Colmar is an easy town to get in & out of (Strasbourg is a little more difficult).

If you overnight in Strasbourg, we’ve stayed at the Gutenberg twice, and loved it. It’s small, centrally located, and not that expensive. It’s difficult to park nearby, however, since it’s on the fringe of the “pedestrian only” section. Take the walking tours described in the Michelin guide. I previously said I’m not a pork fan, but we dined at Chez Yvonne twice and enjoyed it. It’s a very popular brasserie serving traditional Alsace food in a rustic décor – reserve ahead. We’ve also dined at Maison Kammerzell, which is more upscale and located in one of the most beautiful buildings in Strasbourg. It was a Michelin 1 star, and the food was OK (we’ve had much better meals at other restaurants), but the main draw at this place is the décor.



The charm of Alsace is the countryside & cute villages. We’ve stayed in Oberni, Kayserberg twice, and in a Gite near Riquewihr. I would recommend that you stay in the Kayserberg/Riquewihr/Ribeauville area & take day trips from there. These villages are very close together & the area around the villages is stunning. The Route du Vin is a good road to use to visit all the villages, but it gets a lot of heavy truck traffic & there’s a little too much not-so-scenic commerce on it. There is a prettier and less traveled road that goes from village to village just west of the Route du Vin. It’s actually a very well marked bike route that is much more scenic than the Route du Vin. It probably doesn’t traverse the entire length of the Route du Vin, though. There are a lot of signposts along this route that indicate the direction to the next town, distances, etc. The best way to find this route is to go to Riquewihr & walk or drive around the perimeter of town until you find one of these signposts – it’s actually quite easy to find this route.

Villages not to miss are Oberni, Ribeauville, Riquewihr, Kayserberg, and Eguisheim. There are ramparts around Bergheim and its fun to walk on the top of them & circle the village, looking down into everyone’s back yard. There is a very nice lookout in the town of Zellenberg. Go up into the village & try to find it. There is a viewing table there that’s a little hard to locate, but worth the effort. There is also a very scenic lookout in a cemetery just outside of Sigolsheim – it’s marked on the Michelin map. Hike up to the old Chateau above Kayserberg in the early AM or late PM to get some wonderful views. Visit Haut Koenigsbourg. We really enjoyed the Ecomusee d’Alsace, although I’m usually not a fan of this “Williamsburg” type of stuff. It’s a collection of old houses that gives an insight into housing in the different periods & rural areas of Alsace. There are a lot of storks nesting on the roofs of the buildings in this Ecomusee. The Beauville linens factory & 2nds store is just west of Ribeauville on the road to Ste Marie aux Mines, but expect no bargains.

As I said earlier, Colmar is a gem. Follow the walking route indicated in the Michelin green guide. My wife purchased some wonderful lace in this town. We enjoyed the Musee d’Unterlinden. Spend a ½ day at least in Colmar. It’s easy to drive in & out & parking is no hassle. Stores may be closed on Sunday and Monday.

Here’s a pretty drive through some villages, and then into the Vosges. Head south of Colmar going through the villages of Eguisheim (spend several hours in this village – one of our favorites), Husseren, Hattstat, Gueberschwihr, Rouffach, Westhalten, Bergholtz, and then Guebwiller (visit). Then drive to Murbach to see a nice church in a pretty setting. Take the D430 west through Lautenbach and further until it hits the D27. Take the D27 north over the Col du Platzerwasel toward Munster. Continue on to Munster (D27 changes to D10). Stop & wander around in Munster (of cheese fame). Continue on the D10 to Turckheim (visit).

A farther away trip:
Visit Wissembourg and take the walking tour described in the Michelin Green guide. Then follow drive #3 described in the VOSGES DU NORD section of the Michelin guide. This will take you to Chateau de Fleckenstein, Lembach, Hunspach, & Seebach. In these latter two villages, the houses are half-timbered & painted white – it’s quite a contrast from other villages in Alsace. If you want to see how France attempted to defend itself from the Germans and Russsians after WWI, visit a section of the Maginot line at Four-a-Chaux just outside of Lembach. We enjoyed the tour of underground fortifications, hospitals, barracks, etc.



An excellent way to get back to the CDG airport in Paris for your return home is to stay in Dijon the night before. You can take the early TGV to CDG, which leaves Dijon at 7:47 & gets you into the airport at 9:35 (Sunday schedules might be a little different). We drove from Alsace to Dijon (an easy all-freeway drive), and dropped our car off at the train station and walked across the street and checked into the Hotel Jura. Dijon is a beautiful city. We were there on a Saturday AM and we immediately went to the outdoor market next to the “Les Halles” permanent indoor market. Lots of foodstuff, brocante, etc. The “Les Halles” market is one of the largest I’ve seen. Dijon is a very lively town – especially on a Saturday. Take the walking tour described in the Green Michelin Guide (you’ll have to buy or borrow the green guide for Burgundy Jura). We dined at Pre aux Clercs which was a 1 star and also got raves from Patricia Wells. It was good, but about twice the price as places in Alsace. This year it lost its star.

Restaurants.
Maximilien at the base of Zellenberg was our favorite. The ambience was very relaxed (we had to talk in a whisper) and the setting was lovely. This is a Michelin 1 star restaurant and the food was supurb. Auberge du Schoenbourg in Riquewihr was also excellent. It is a Michlein 1 star. We did not like Table du Gourmet, also in Riquewihr (also a 1 star). I had a very sloppy presentation of overcooked Sandre on a bed of scalloped potatoes (very unimaginative). My wife’s dish also did not please her. We dined at Auberge de Norbert in Bergheim, which was excellent. In Colmar, we dined at the Maison des Tetes, which is one of the most photographed buildings in the City. Our dinner was only so-so and the service was painfully slow (we usually spend at least 2 ½ hrs at dinner).

Stu Dudley
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Jan 15th, 2017, 07:36 AM
  #12  
 
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That should read:

"We loved Strasbourg. We spent 1 1/2 months driving from France all the way to Budapest and back and Strasbourg turned out unexpectedly to be one of the highlights! Great food-wonderful walking and people watching."
jpie is offline  
Jan 15th, 2017, 06:48 PM
  #13  
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Stu, you are an amazing person...thank you for thinking to repost that report for me. There is lots of useful info in it, including the restaurants.
Given the cost of the car, we are going to keep in and drop it off in Germany. I do want to go to Burgundy, but I think it deserves a decent length of time, so I will keep that for my next trip to France (and it gives me another excuse to go back to France).
After Riquewihr, we are going to spend 4 nights in Strasbourg and then we are going to spend 3 nights in Mainz. Yes, maybe a bit too much bigger city, but we can still do day trips out. We are going to drop the car off in Mainz (saves a few days hire) and then train to the Frankfurt airport at the end of the trip, which costs about 5 euros each!
So thank you one and all for lots of great suggestions!!!
MYOBlady is offline  
Jan 16th, 2017, 08:01 AM
  #14  
 
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Weisbaden -a spa town across the river from Mainz is a much smaller and relaxed city than Main.

A nice day trip from Strasbourg is Baden-Baden nearby in Germany- one of the most famous spa towns in Europe with fancy ornate old casino where once the rich and famous congregated.
PalenQ is offline  
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