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Help Planning a Stay in Alsace Please

Old Jan 7th, 2016, 04:38 AM
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Help Planning a Stay in Alsace Please

Good Morning!

I hope everyone enjoyed a blessed Christmas and is looking forward to a Happy 2016!

The Mr. and I will be in Strasbourg in late June. Initially, we were just going to use Strasbourg as our base and rent a car for one day to see Le Struthof and Mont. St. Odile. Now, I'm rethinking this plan.
Would you help me fine tune it please?

My new thought is to rent the car on a Tuesday and spend the night in Obernai. I have found a nifty map @ getalsaced.com that is helping me see the 'relative' distance of one place in relationship to the next. Based on that map here is my plan:

Tuesday:
Leave Strasbourg and head to Le Struthof for a tour.
Lunch in Rosheim - Is this a good idea? Bad idea? Can you suggest a better idea?
Check into our hotel in Obernai (still to be determined.) Recommendations are welcome!
Visit Mont St. Odile

Where else should we go?
Can anyone offer recommendations for a great wine tasting experience or dinner in the area?

Wednesday
Walking tour of Obernai in the early a.m. with someone from the Tourism Office
Lunch ?
Anywhere else we should see while in the vicinity? Places like Colmar, Riquewihr, Haut Koenigsbourg, and Equisheim will be seen on Monday with a tour guide.


Eventually, we plan to make our way back to Strasbourg and take a train to Paris. I have a couple of questions here. Will we need to book these tickets in advance? I'm hoping not, because that takes out the flexibility of the day, but I can book a later in the day ticket and we will just make it work. Also, in relationship to the train station where will we drop off (and pickup) the car? Oh one other thing. When we pickup the car, how 'flexible' is that timing? I ask because we won't want to pick it up until we leave town. Depending on how much we have covered during the rest of our stay in Strasbourg, we might leave early in the a.m. or if there is something we want to see or do before we leave town, it may be later in the a.m.


As always any insight you can provide is greatly appreciated.
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Old Jan 7th, 2016, 04:56 AM
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Obernai, Rosheim and the surrouding villages offer a multitude of restaurants of all classes, up to two Michelin stars.

A good bet is the "Bib Gourmand" which means excellent cuisine at moderate prices. L'Ami Fritz in nearby Ottrott has this badge.

Obernai is certainly a fine town (with many restaurants).

When we were in the area we stayed at Le Clos des Delices in Ottrott because it has a pool. http://www.leclosdesdelices.com/

We had a very good stay, with excellent cuisine.
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Old Jan 7th, 2016, 05:41 AM
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Here is a list of wineries with opening hours etc. in the region north of Colmar:

http://www.ribeauville-riquewihr.com...ne-growers.htm

Most of the times, it is the best idea to ask your innkeeper. He/she will name a relative or friend which adds a personal touch.

Colmar, Riquewihr, Haut Koenigsbourg, and Eguisheim are the main attractions in the area. Otherwise, just drive leisurely through the little villages. You can also drive through the mountains over the Route de Crète (the crest road).

Another good bet is the Ecomusée - an extensive open-air farmhouse museum - in the southern part of Alsace.
http://www.ecomusee-alsace.fr/fr/

If you are interested in WWI history, the Vieil Armand is also very impressive. You calk walk through the trenches and fortifications. Nearby, there is a mountain farm called "Molkenrain". They serve rustic meals and desserts made with homemade cream which is the best that I have ever tasted (even better than Devonshire clotted cream).
http://www.ferme-molkenrain.com
http://www.tourisme-alsace.com/en/23...ttlefield.html
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Old Jan 7th, 2016, 07:10 AM
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TGVs to Paris are seldom fully booked, but if you want to get a highly discounted fare, you must book in advance.
Have a look at man in seat 61
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Old Jan 7th, 2016, 07:48 AM
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A walk-up ticket on the TGV from Strasbourg to Paris (or anywhere, for that matter) could cost you many times what you'd pay if you booked online 3 months (or more in some cases) in advance.
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Old Jan 7th, 2016, 08:14 AM
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Sounds good to me Teacher !

My only comment would be that I'd do the tour on monday by myself, since you already have a rental car. But it is me - I hate tours.

And this one will be loaded : we spent several hours in Haut Koenigsbourg, several hours in Riquewihr (be sure to visit that little shop specialized in Christmas decorations - like a musuem and buy some small stuff at exit), Colmar we stayed one full day and Eguisheim I don't remember.
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Old Jan 7th, 2016, 08:48 AM
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Agree that Colmar deserves a day for itself - it's a charming town with a ton to see and do.

And for the TGV to get a decent price you need to buy tickets far in advance.
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Old Jan 7th, 2016, 08:57 AM
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I would do the tour on my own, as well, spreading it over two days if possible. That's just too much to bite off in a single day! Also, a 1-day car rental generally costs the same as a 3-day rental, so you could use to car to get to those places on your own without extra transportation costs. Just something to consider.
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Old Jan 7th, 2016, 09:21 AM
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Thanks everyone! You've given me lots to think about and consider.

I figured I needed to book the Strasbourg to Paris train tickets in advance, but was hoping that it wasn't necessary. Naturally, we want the best possible price, so I will book in late April (?) when they become available.

Can anyone tell me, if the car rental place is near the train station?

As for the tour, I will consider a 'do it yourself' tour. However, I guess we are strange, but the Mr. and I love tours. We take them everywhere we go. We love hearing the history of what we are looking at. For us, it just makes the building, house, or "whatever" more interesting to know the 'backstory' of it's existence. I suppose we could just be nosy.

Whathello, I will definitely look for that Christmas shop. We enjoy collecting Christmas ornaments from wherever we travel. Thank you!

Thanks for the links Traveler59. I will enjoy browsing through them tonight! One question about Ecomusee. I had looked at it earlier. We like that sort of thing, but since we are going to spend three nights in Gengenbach prior to Strasbourg and plan to see the Black Forest Open Air Museum Vogtsbauernhof, I wasn't sure if it would be 'more of the same'. Thoughts?

Again, many thanks to everyone who replied. You've been most helpful.
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Old Jan 7th, 2016, 09:31 AM
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You never "have to" buy train tickets in advance -- the only exception might be some real popular route in vacation time or something like that, when it would get totally booked.

I don't agree that you must book far in advance to get a "decent price", either. I think SNCF fares are pretty good and decent, in general (just compare them to Amstrak in the US for the same distance), even without booking in advance -- but you can, of course, get good discounts if you book a nonrefundable ticket for a certain time far in advance.
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Old Jan 7th, 2016, 09:55 AM
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>

We would have to know which car rental place you're referring to, but generally speaking, car rental places are atvery near to train stations and airports.
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Old Jan 7th, 2016, 11:13 AM
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You are right that the Ecomusée is pretty similar to the Vogtsbauernhof. So, you can skip the Ecomusée.

>>Can anyone tell me, if the car rental place is near the train station?
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Old Jan 7th, 2016, 12:15 PM
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I disagree with not booking SNCF tickets far in advance.
Cost of the day of travel is just 2 or 3 times more than well in advance. Wether it remains reasonable compared to Amtrack, I don't know but it is still thrice what you could pay.

I suppose the rental agency is in Strasbourg, since the train is arriving there (you can call me Sherlock).
Yes, there is - at least one - rental company close by ('bout 50 m).
You exit the trainstation, you cross the place - say about 11 hours, maybe 10 30 hours. The house on the corner there is a rental agency - EUROPCAR I think (99% sure).

I took the car there last month. If you travel in winter time, it is best to rent a car with winter tyres. I didn't and I had to come back to Strabsourg because the road was icy 50 kms away.

Have a great stay !
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Old Jan 9th, 2016, 01:00 PM
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Sorry for the delay in replying and thanking you all for your suggestions and insight.

Whathello AKA Sherlock is correct. We will be leaving for Paris from Strasbourg. If Europcar is nearby, that seems like the logical choice for a rental agency.

We will be visiting in late June, so winter tires will not be needed.

Thanks again!
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Old Jan 10th, 2016, 03:23 AM
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IMO, after about 200 car rentals in Europe, you should check out AutoEurope. It's a broker, and will probably connect you with Europcar in Strasbourg if that's the most convenient outfit to the train station. The advantage of AutoEurope if you are exclusively anglophone is that they have a 24/7 free telephone help line back to the States if your car breaks down or you're in an accident or get robbed or whatever. If you rent directly from a French/European company, if something happens, it's up to you usually to deal with it all in French. Fine if you speak the language, but most Americans I know, even if they have some traveler's French, can't discuss brake linings.
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Old Jan 10th, 2016, 07:07 AM
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another vote for autoeurope, as a Brit who speaks French I'd still use them as they have watched my back twice now and dug solved "issues".

walking tours by tourist info can be great fun and worth relaxing into. I would prefer to stay in Strasbourg as there is more to do there but I also love the little villages, walking in the vinyards and tasting the wine.

Obernai, not my favorite village, very pretty but loads of tourists, I tend towards the southern Alsace area the Haut Rhin, but you'll be fine. You will find that a fair few of the wineries and town centre shops have hiked their prices in the last 2 years as the tourist market will support the prices.

Last year+1 I tasted some rubbish there at E20 a bottle, two Americans were in the shop at the same time and loving the wine, so we switched into French and the shop assistant admitted that the quality had dropped but it kept selling ;-)

So enjoy.

There have been a bunch of Alsace threads in the last 3 weeks, search back and enjoy, or follow my name back to see my last shopping trip
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Old Jan 10th, 2016, 10:00 AM
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Thank you StCirq & Billoburgler. I will take your advice and book with AutoEurope and hope we get something near the train station in Strasbourg.

The Mr has a bit of HS French but I am totally ignorant, so we do need to rent with someone who speaks English.

We thought we would spend one night in Obernai because we really enjoyed our one night say in Bayeux in 2014. We are hoping for the same slow pace and quaint picturesque experience. Are we on the wrong track with Obernai?

Again, thank you both!
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Old Jan 10th, 2016, 10:25 AM
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We loved the area when we spent a week there in June 2014. You can read our trip report here:

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...m#last-comment

And see our pics here:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/pug_gi...57644953485474

We loved the small towns and villages and the food is outstanding. Enjoy it!
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Old Jan 10th, 2016, 11:07 AM
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Just to clarify a few things:

1. AutoEurope will give you a choice of pickup location, and they almost assuredly have an affiliate (probably Europecar) right at the train station.

2. DO call them. Do not just book online. They have incredibly helpful and knowledgable staff who will answer all your questions.

3. It is possible that the actual Europcar (or other AutoEurope affiliate) staff onsite will not speak English, but very unlikely. If you should happen to come across someone who doesn't speak any English, call AutoEurope if you're the slightest bit unsure about anything the affiliate is telling you or asking you to sign.

4. Take pictures of the exterior and interior of the vehicle before you drive away, including the undercarriage if you can manage it. And make sure the affiliate sends a staff member out with you to fill in the check-off list that notes any damage (small nicks, scrapes, etc.) to the car before you drive away.

5. Make sure you know how to put the car in reverse before you leave. And make sure you know whether to fill it with diesel (gazole) or unleaded (sans plomb).
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Old Jan 10th, 2016, 11:54 PM
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Great advice from StC, that is exactly what I do when i rent, I also photo the dash board with the engine running, so any issues about full tanks are clear. I do the same on the return.

Obernai, you have to balance being quaint with having enough services for you to enjoy your visit and enough stuff to photo/walk around. Obernai certainly has this and once the coaches leave it will be extra-fine and you'll enjoy it. If you've chosen it I'd stick with it. If you go look at the other villages with a lot of restaurants and hotels, they are there for a reason and suck in a similar sort of traffic. I'd certainly stay there more than Colmar (which is a town and stretches out a fair bit, a pretty centre but...).

The true alternatives to the busier places can tend to be a bit dead (I guess that is obvious) after 6pm as the tired farmers just want to eat and get an early night.

In late June the days will be long, I'd recommend getting out in the fields, even walk to the next village etc, take a torch and wander back as light falls, or just enjoy where you are.

Bayeux (also partially walled) is a good image with a similar issue of coaches during the day, but in the evening (or early morning for the joggers amongst you) it is even nicer.
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