Alsace wine trail by public transport?

Old Dec 28th, 2005, 02:33 PM
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Alsace wine trail by public transport?

Can it be done? Would Strasbourg be a logical starting point/base? Any other suggestions for a base? Are there day tours from local tourist offices that are okay? (I'm not fond of the second option. I don't do well on tour groups.) Any idea what the cost would be on the second option, that is , a tour? Any other suggestions so we can see the pretty, small villages and sample some wines? We're thinking of doing this sometime in July or August.I really don't want to rent a car. I did see in one of the travel guides that local buses are available from Strasbourg, but further details were unavailable.Thanks.
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Old Dec 28th, 2005, 08:11 PM
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Any answers out there? Thanks
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Old Dec 29th, 2005, 04:13 AM
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I can't imagine taking a tour bus thru the wine route. We drove from village to village, stopping when we wanted. It was very pleasant. I think a rental car is the way to go.

We stayed in Ottrott which is a couple of miles from Obernai. Obernai was a nice little village and would make a good base for the area. Our highlights were Mont Ste Odile, Haut Koenigsbourg, Petite Venice in Colmar, and Hohneck, as well as driving around some of the little towns & villages.
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Old Dec 29th, 2005, 04:38 AM
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Hi A,

>I really don't want to rent a car.

I take it that you will have a TC. In that case, you will have a navigator.

Driving in France is much easier than you might think. The roads are well maintained and well marked.

We used Michelin maps. In addition, I downloaded very detailed maps from www.viamichelin.com and www.mappy.com.

These were very helpful for one-way streets, anticipating where the main road took lefts and rights, etc.

I needed very few of them.

Have a nice trip.


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Old Dec 29th, 2005, 06:52 AM
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Hi. A number of years ago a friend and I stayed in Dambach-la-ville for four or five nights and visited Colmar, Obernai, and Riquirwhr (sorry about the spelling) without a car. The last was by bus, but there were lots of possibilities by rail. I'm sorry that I don't know the best website for checking rail/bus connections, but it can certainly be done. We had a railpass of some sort. Having said that, however, I don't think driving would be a problem either. J.
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Old Dec 29th, 2005, 09:04 AM
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I have driven mnay times in France. You are right that driving in France is easy, certainly pleasantner than driving in Southern California. And with maps and navigation systems, I know it would not be a problem. I just would prefer this time round if possible to see some of the small villages by public transport. Since we will only be there for a few days, I did not want to get involved in renting a car, picking one up, worrying about it, etc. and since I read that one can see the area by bus, I thought that we would take a chance on doing it, Here's hoping that someone in Fodor Land has had the experience and can report back. Thanks everyone for your help thus far. PS Last summer when we were in the Mosel Valley (absolutely beautiful by the way) we rented a car to explore the area. Later while we were getting into our rental car, we saw that public buses ran alongside the river and on to towns and villages. We stayed in Beilstein and there was a bus right in front of the hotel. It's just nice sometimes to let others do the driving. Here in So. California where we spend so much time in an auto, it is sheer luxury sometimes to take public transport and not worry about parking, driving, getting lost, etc. It would be nice on holiday to experience that luxurious feeling!
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Old Dec 29th, 2005, 09:32 AM
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I think that I have the answer for you. We were in Strasourg for 5 days this past September without a car, we also are from Calif and didn't want to be bothered this time driving. Our hotel hooked us up with a small company based in Colmar that does small van tours of the wine roads, they have maybe 3-4 different circuits that you can choose from, either half day or full day, 47/93E. I'm not sure how many the van held, maybe 6ish, but we were the only ones that day and pretty much had a private tour. We did the most popular tour, Riquewihr, Haut-Koenigsbourg and Ribeauville. JeanClaude takes you to these towns, telling you all about the history and such on the way there and then you are on your own to explore, which I liked instead of being led around. He also took us wine tasting and helped explain it in english for us.
Les Circuits D'Alsace
L.C.A. Top Tour
www.alsace-travel.com
email: [email protected]
0672371711

I would agree with most here that it would be better to have a car and explore on your own, but this was a great alternative for us...hope this helps.
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Old Dec 30th, 2005, 01:21 PM
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Thank you, Susana. That's the kind of info I was looking for. I guess what I wanted, was to take a public bus to one of the villages, walk around a bit, do some wine tasting, maybe see another village the same way, pick up another bus and when we tired, and return to Strasbourg. I am sure (without a doubt) that a car would be easier, but I just wanted to do it differently this time round since I read it could be done. I just did NOT want to be bothered with a car. If we find it is not possible to do it the way I am thinking, then we will consider a van tour or maybe a car, but I'm hoping that there is an alternative to both a car and a tour. Thanks everyone.
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Old Dec 30th, 2005, 03:53 PM
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Annetti, I spent time in Alsace in Oct.
of 2004. I started out in Strasbourg for a couple of days (loved it - alot to see there!)then rented a car for a week to see the villages, etc., staying in Ottrott and Keysersberg. However, I checked out train schedules on the SCNF website, just in case I decided not to rent the car - and there definitely are trains stopping in some of the villages. Strasbourg would be an excellent base to do that, especially if you stay in a hotel within walking distance to the train station. I'm sure there would be buses, too. Colmar would be another option for a base, but as a city, I liked Strasbourg better.
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Old Dec 30th, 2005, 04:13 PM
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I spent about 6 months living in Alsace in a small village called Orbey, up in the Vosges past Kaysersberg. I travelled from one end of Alsace to the other, visiting many villages, and more wineries. I love the place, and the wines! However the public transport system through the wines villages is very spasmodic, and is not to be recommended. A CAR IS THE ONLY WAY YOU WILL REACH MOST VILLAGES AND WINERIES EASILY. (Sorry to shout, but it is an important point to make.)
Some further advice: If you are going to sample wines, stick to Grand Cru riesling or g/traminer; life is too short to bother with lesser wines, and in these varieties, Alsace is a world leader.
In your hired car you could visit:
1* Bergheim, and the Cave of Marcel Deiss. He is considered the top producer in Alsace, and may well be.
2* Rouffach. Clos Saint-Landelin where the winemaker is Rene Mure.
3*Eguisheim: Cave Leon Beyer, in the main square.
4* Riquewihr, the most touristed village in France (!), where there are Caves belonging to Hugel et Fils, Dopff & Irion, and Dopff au Moulin.
5* Ammerschwihr, and Domaine Martin Schaetzel. (Nice meals to be had at L'Arbre Vert)
6* Soultzmatt, and Domaine Leon Boesch.
7* Turckheim, and Domaine Zind Humbrecht.

In passing, some good restaurants:
1* I had lunch once at the Auberge De L'Ill in Illhaeusern near Colmar. Best meal ever. The restaurant has had 3 Michelin stars forever.
2* Philippe Bohrer in Rouffach. One Michelin Star.
3* Maximilien's in Zellenberg. One Michelin Star.

Finally, to easily reach the top wineries and restaurants, Colmar might be a better base than Strasbourg. It certainly is easier to drive into and out of!
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Old Dec 31st, 2005, 08:38 AM
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Thank you,Sue4 for the information on the trains and thank you,adeben for providing such an extensive list of restaurants and caves. After some more reading, I found information about taking the bus in an old copy of France's Lonely Planet. (This info may be in the newer editions, but this happens to be the LP I own.) They write: "For the car-less, public bus is an excellent way to visit many parts of Alsace 's Route du Vin." Of couse, one may note that they use the words "many parts" but since the route is 120 kms, I probably would not cover it even in a car in one day if I stopped several places along the way. For those interested, like me in not driving, there is a bus station next to Colmar's train station where one can get buses to Riquewihr,Rybeuville, etc. The best times to use the buses according to LP is Mon-Fr since the buses are more limited on the weekends. There are several bus companies that do the route. There is no doubt in my mind that a car would be better to travel the wine route: I do not need convincing on that idea, but occasionally I just prefer to not drive. Last summer, was the first summer in years that we used a train for part of our holiday in Europe and only rented a car for a week. In fact though we had a car for a week, we only used it three days and went back to using the train. It was liberation for us to spend our time (four weeks) on the train and not bother with a car, that we decided this summer we would go car-less, I have a feeling, we will enjoy the non-car vacation even more this time round. PS Maybe we can make this statement, since the majority of our trip will be in Switzerland, where the trains have a reputation for being wonderful. We only plan to spend a short time in the Alsace. Thanks again everyone.
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Old Dec 31st, 2005, 01:21 PM
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I guess driving would allow you to stay just as long as you want where you want but as you said you want to try something different. We are not fans of tour groups either but when we were in Strasbourg , the Tourist office was advertising small group trips in a van. We decided to give it a try and it worked out perfectly. There was only one other couple plus the three of us. It was very laid back and the driver more or less left it up to us how long we wanted to stay where.He took us to the various villages and left us to wander on our own, have lunch if and where we wanted etc.A lovely unpressured trip which was a great compromise for us.Another day we simply took a train down to Colmar for a nice day trip.Hope things work out for you too.
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Old Jan 1st, 2006, 08:06 AM
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Thsank you, Peteralan. What time of the year were you in the Alsace? It sounds like a perfect day, casual and relaxed.
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Old Jan 1st, 2006, 09:54 AM
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It sounds like Peteralan and I took the same tour.

We also stayed for 5 night in Strasbourg, took the train down to Colmar twice, very charming place, one day in the mini van, rode bikes over to Germany and had lunch in a beer garden. Strasbourg also has a lot to see, it is a wonderful city. You could take the train also to a couple of the other towns. I inquired at the Touritst Office about busses and it really wasn't as convienent as the train.
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Old Jan 1st, 2006, 12:02 PM
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annetti, it was September when we did it and Strasbourg was such a lovely place to do it from.Let us know how you get on.
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Old Jan 2nd, 2006, 06:52 AM
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Susana and Peteralan, Again, thank you. I think the van sounds like our best bet. We will be in Strasbourg sometime during July/Aug so we'll see how crowded the van tour is. If we are as lucky as you, we will give it a try. We have often ended up being the only couple on walking tours of cities (Dinan), visitng castles (Fougeres), visitng Mumms, taking a guided Jane Austen walk in Bath,etc in summer, so we know it is possible to be lucky even during the crowded tourist season and be the only couple on a tour. Also, Susana, I think we will make Strasbourg our base, too for 4 or 5 days. Does anyone have a suggestion for a well-located reasonable hotel for around (or less) 80 Euros? Thanks.
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Old Jan 9th, 2006, 12:06 PM
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We stayed in this hotel which is a great location right down the street from the Cathedral. Their standard room is in your price range, we had a superior so I can't comment on their standard. Very nice people at the desk. We spent on night at the Du Dragon...what a dump....don't stay there.
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Old Jan 9th, 2006, 12:15 PM
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oopps...forgot the name and link:
Hotel Rohan
http://www.hotel-rohan.com/E/chambres.html
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Old Jan 12th, 2006, 03:01 PM
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Thanks, Susanna for the web site. The room looks attractive. I think we will go ahead. Thanks for all your help.
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Old Jan 12th, 2006, 05:39 PM
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Good luck and don't forget to let us know how you got on.
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