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Need advice on Alsace towns and vine route planning

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Mar 11th, 2015, 12:09 PM
  #1
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Need advice on Alsace towns and vine route planning

As part of my summer roadtrip (mostly) through Germany, i want to explore the little towns and vine route of Alsace and need your advice. Should Colmar be our base? (Hotel or apartment advice welcome); i read about little towns of interest (Equishem, Requewir, kayserberg, Truckheim) but need to figure out the day planning logic to see thee as well as some towns on the wine route. We will have the car and 2 full days (3 nights) to do this. Thank you!!
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Mar 11th, 2015, 12:20 PM
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Colmar is neat but it is a sizable but not huge city - if city life attracts you - lots of restaurants, shops etc it can be a good base as those towns you talk about are in a string just north of Colmar.

But many will love more the more romantic smaller wine villages like Riquewir - to me one of the nicest - or how about a B&B on the wine road or in a small village.

take the wine road all the way to or from the German border - and in Colmar don't miss the copy of the Statue of Liberty erected at the city limits - the sculptor who executed the original Statue of Liberty now in New Jersey make the pieces here and shipped it to New York.

If not into stopping by wineries there is not all that much of interest IME along the Wine Road (I biked it Colmar to Germany) except lovely old calm quiet villages. Be aware that France now has strict limits on blood alcohol - zero tolerance so don't imbibe and drive - there are roadside checks where everyone must stop that are not uncommon.
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Mar 11th, 2015, 01:17 PM
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PalenQ how would i plan my wine route exactly? Is Roquewir (and some of the towns i mention) ON the wine route? Then i could combine a little sight seeing with a little wine tasting. As to staying outside of Colmar I would love to experience something rustic so hopefully could find a place for the 4 of us to stay in one of the villages. Could you possibly point me to a good wine route map? Thank you
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Mar 11th, 2015, 01:22 PM
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http://www.tourisme-alsace.com/en/alsace-wine-route/

I always use a 1:200,000 scale Michelin map which you can buy in gas stations and book shops and supermarkets, etc everywhere in France.

This site above has a general map and good tips on questions like you are asking.
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Mar 11th, 2015, 01:34 PM
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Thanks!
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Mar 11th, 2015, 01:43 PM
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We stayed in Riquewihr and loved it. You can see our photos here

https://www.flickr.com/photos/pug_gi...7644953485474/
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Mar 11th, 2015, 01:54 PM
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Here is something I wrote about 10 years ago

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 “Beaux Arts”, 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 des Beaux-Arts, 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/Ribbeauville 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 & take plenty of film with you. 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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Mar 11th, 2015, 04:54 PM
  #8
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Thanks for the spectacular picz Jemkins. We might just have to choose Riquewirh as a base.
Stu, thAnks for all the details om the region. We are side tripping from our car trip around Germany (coming in from south east) and one of the villages would be perfect to stay in. My H is worried that there may be nothing much to do but i am kinda loving this concept. We will be travelling with 2 kids ages 6 and 16 so very fine dining is out of the agenda. If anyone has recommendations on fine-casual or fine-rustic or better but still afforable dining i would love that.
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Mar 11th, 2015, 07:18 PM
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Jamkins- could you direct me to the accommodations search in Riquewihr. thank you.
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Mar 11th, 2015, 10:24 PM
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Thanks Weekend!

We rented an apartment from this company

http://i-love-riquewihr.com

We would highly recommend them. Great experience!
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Mar 11th, 2015, 10:32 PM
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Bookmarking! Some great ideas here, thanks all!
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Mar 11th, 2015, 11:04 PM
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Bookmarking for later. Thanks
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Mar 12th, 2015, 12:18 AM
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We stayed in Turckheim a few years ago for three weeks in autumn and loved it. Not as popular with tourists as the more famous villages (which can make them crowded in summer), but very pretty and plenty of good food shops and dining choices. There's also a tasting room run by the local wineries as a co-operative on the edge of the village, called Cave de Turckheim, where you can spend an hour sampling local wines. A fun detour for your kids in that area is the Haut-Koenigsburg chateau - very atmospheric medieval castle just north of these wine villages.
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Mar 12th, 2015, 12:33 AM
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My daughter and I spent three nights in Colmar and enjoyed it. We stayed at a hotel/guest house called Martin Jund. Even though there were only two of us, we stayed in a fairly large room/apartment that slept six. There was a nice kitchen.

After Colmar we rode our bikes to Egisheim for one night, which is a neat little village. It's kind of round, with curved streets and buildings.
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Mar 12th, 2015, 07:15 AM
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Thank you FHurdle, Rozemaryoz for sharing your experiences (jamkins - for hotel link!). I am now again excited about my visit to this region (enough to overcome my H' s lack of enthusiasm) and actively looking for a place to stay. Please continue sharing you experiences with visiting the area- where yiu stayed and ate and what you filled your days with. I am now subtitling this portion of our European journey as gastronomic so interested in all sorts of interesting dining and tasting/picknique supplies suggestions. Dont you just love the planning-anticipation white page stages of travel J' adore!!
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