Please help with Alsace iternerary

Old Apr 25th, 2016, 03:05 PM
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Please help with Alsace iternerary

My friend and I are trying to plan a trip to the Alsace region of France the first week of October. Our thought is to arrive at CDG and train from there to Strasbourg on our arrival day, spend 2-3 nights in Strasbourg, then train to Colmar 4-5 nights. We would like to rent a car in Colmar to do some day trips from there. We would train back to Paris for the last night before the flight home.

So my questions are:

1. Am I right that we should purchase the ticket to Strasbourg early to save money? If so, what website do I use.
2. What amount of time do you recommend for the 2 cities? Not sure if 4 days is too much in Colmar.
3. My friend would rather not go into Paris for our last night. What hotel recommendations can you give for one at the airport?
4. I assume renting a car in Colmar will not be a problem? I can drive a straight drive if necessary.

Hotel recommendations you may have for these two cities would be greatly appreciated.

Logistics for this trip are confusing me for some reason. Thanks so much for your help.

Cathy
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Old Apr 25th, 2016, 03:34 PM
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1. Yes. I believe you can purchase as much as 90 days in advance, the earlier you purchase, the more you save. Downside: the ticket you get is non-refundable, so if your plane into CDG is late.... Use the SNCF website, click on English. DO NOT use RailEurope as they are more expensive than buying direct from SNCF.

2. 2 days is sufficient for Strasbourg, but remember your first day will be a blur. To recover from jet lag, etc., I suggest 3 days for Strasbourg. 2 days is ample in Colmar, unless you are using it as a base to explore the other towns on the "Route de Vin," in which case 4-5 days is just right.

3. Get a new friend. I would much rather spend one night in Paris and get up at the crack of dawn than spend that night at some generic airport hotel near CDG.

4. According to AutoEurope, you can rent a car at Colmar airport. You will just have to find a taxi from the train station to the airport. Check with Kayak and other sites to see if you can find a rental car facility at the same station in Colmar where you disembark from the train.

Bonne chance!
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Old Apr 25th, 2016, 03:47 PM
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Why take the train to Colmar? Rent your car in Strasbourg and make your way down the Route du Vin to Colmar. You might want to stop overnight at one of the towns or villages along the way. Return to Strasbourg on the autoroute, turn in the car at the train station and head for Paris.
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Old Apr 26th, 2016, 12:09 AM
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My only question is Colmar for 4 nights, it depends on what you like, for me Alsace is all about walking in the vinyards in the early evening, and touring around, while Colmar as a pleasant small centre I'd prefer one of the smaller towns.

I suggest you look at one of the "quaint" hotels say in Eguisheim or other village, these sort of places are very pleasant once the tourists have gone home after 4pm.

I might also hire a bike for a day and ride along the vinyard roads rather than the bus-heavy route du vin.
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Old Apr 26th, 2016, 01:32 AM
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Agree, pick your car up in Strasbourg and drive the route du vins and then return it to the Strasbourg train station.

We use https://www.captaintrain.com/en to book our tickets, easier to use and same price as SNCF.

We didn't particularly like Colmar to stay, we also enjoyed the smaller towns more. We stayed in Riquewifr and loved it.

You can see our pics here:

https://flickr.com/photos/[email protected]

Happy planning
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Old Apr 26th, 2016, 02:17 AM
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There is much more to do in Strasbourg than in Colmar. I wouldn't plan for more than 2 nights in the latter. Rent the car in Strasbourg and make your way south, stopping for a night or two along the Route du Vin. Drop the car off in Colmar and take the train back to Paris from there. Staying at the airport is, to me, a very, very sorry way to end a trip to France unless you absolutely have to.

And it is not true that all the train tickets you buy 3 months in advance (it's 92 days, not 90) are non-refundable. You have a choice of several kinds of tickets, but yes, that is when tickets are cheapest. Be sure to give yourselves at least 3 hours from stated landing time to boarding the train.
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Old Apr 26th, 2016, 02:25 AM
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Strasbourg has the old town, the cathedral, the canals and some WW1 and pre-WW1 fortifications. Out of town but withing an hour of Colmar is some great walking, a castle, a concentration camp, the odd piece of fantastic architecture, some wonderful vinyards and some smelly cheese.

I guess I just like Alsace countryside, I spent 3 nights there 2 years ago, been for a week before and I am off for another week there in Sept of which I'll spend tops of 1 day in Strasbourg.
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Old Apr 26th, 2016, 04:56 AM
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Thanks for all the suggestions. I have read that Eguisheim is an easier location to use if you have a car, better to get in and out and park. So you agree? I would rather choose a town that is not difficult with a car.

I'm still researching, so I'm sure I'll be back with a few more questions.

Hotel recommendations are appreciated too.
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Old Apr 26th, 2016, 05:18 AM
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Well, yes, Strasbourg is a city and Colmar a large town, so they are by definition much more difficult to get in and out of than small towns and villages.
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Old Apr 26th, 2016, 06:18 AM
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I spent two weeks in Alsace and based myself in one of the smaller villages. We rented an apartment, had a car and visited all of the lovely small villages and the beautiful country side. I much preferred this to Strasbourg and Colmar. We did take the train and go to Paris for 2 nights. I prefer to spend my time when traveling getting to see an area all that I can....Enjoy your visit.
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Old Apr 26th, 2016, 07:20 AM
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Both Strasbourg and Colmar old town are a little difficult to drive around but they are very small parts of each town. The villages are very easy to drive around, but I would take a phone with GPS or have GPS on the car if I was on my own, just to ensure a road doesn't become a farm track.

Most hotels have car parks, and the high-end tourist villages have village car parks, so all very easy but you have to follow french laws (not the laws of driving where you come from).

Hotel rec. Depends what you like and how much etc. I use tripadvisor.co.uk pretty good for selection purposes.
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Old Apr 26th, 2016, 07:59 AM
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If you have a car and drive, you must try to eat lunch or dinner at La Meuniere in Thannenkirch. We happened upon this gem by accident and were lucky enough to eat lunch there. It was the best meal of our entire trip, including Paris. We attempted to eat here again but they had no availability. If I ever return, I will certainly make reservations to dine here. The view from the terrace of the restaurant was absolutely breath taking. This is also a small hotel. Enjoy! Just any fyi we had a gps and on those crooked roads it was almost useless. We did much better with our map.
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Old Apr 26th, 2016, 08:00 AM
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We have been more than a dozen times in Alsace and it never came into our minds to stay in a city.

The charms of Alsace are in its picturesque wine villages, not in the cities.

Especially Strasbourg can be nasty when the European Parliament has sessions and the hotels are booked and overpriced.

A good base which is located between Strasbourg and Colmar would be Ottrott, with several excellent hotels and restaurants. Riquewihr may be a bit too touristy. Eguisheim is a another beautiful village and so is Turckheim. Many options to stay. Usa a hotel search engine to find a hotel according to your preferences and budget.
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Old Apr 26th, 2016, 08:11 AM
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If you have no plan to visit Paris, look into flights into Frankfurt, Germany. It is closer to Strasbourg, trains depart right from the Frankfurt airport, and if you wanted to drive from Frankfurt, the autobahn is easy. There is also good, very cheap, bus service from Frankfurt to Strasbourg. While I prefer trains, it is a relatively short trip, and Lufthansa has a bus from the airport to Strasbourg. You do not have to have flown Lufthansa to use their service.

The old city center of Frankfurt is just a few minutes by train from the airport, so you could stay there, but with great, quick train service, you could also spend your last night in some charming smaller town.
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Old Apr 26th, 2016, 08:32 AM
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Another option, if you're concerned about missing the train you've booked and having to purchase a new ticket, is to fly with Air France and book through to Strasbourg. The ticket is actually made up of the AF flight from the US to CDG, followed by the train to Strasbourg. It says on the website that if you don't make the connection, they'll put you on the next, first available train.

When you go to their website click "Strasbourg all airports" and you'll see it pop up.
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Old Apr 26th, 2016, 09:11 AM
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Hello

Yes, Strasbourg has much more to offer than Colmar.
Yes a car is really useful in Alsace.
Yes rent the car in Strasbourg - as said there is an agency (Hertz ?) just in front of the railway (on your front left).
Yes a small town is nicer than Colmar or even Strasbourg.
No driving in Alsace is not complicated.
Yes traintickets are less expensive as much in advance as possible - for FAST trains (TGV's). As said the less expensive the less flexible.
No, not sure Frankfurt is that easy : since the attacks you are stopped at Kehl bridge - I lost 45 min last time - not even during rush hour.
Do visit the other small villages like Eguisheim, Riqwihr, and go to Kaysersberg + others.

If you take the train to Strasbourg from CDG, allow time to deplane, get luggage and go to the gare de l'Est (RER CDG to gare du Nord then on foor 6 minutes) or one metro stop.

Either be sensible and stay the last night in Paris, close to a RER B station (45 minutes to the airport - direct, RER starts about 5 am), or stay at the Ibis : no charm, not inexpensive but walking distance from airport - don't go to hotels that drive you to the airport with a shuttle - that's the worst of two worlds : ugly palce and not convenient !

If you have money there is a SOFITEL of something like that IN the airport.
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Old Apr 26th, 2016, 09:12 AM
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Forgot to add : renting a car : I'd take winter tyres - yu never know what the weather will be like.
No snow most surely, but winter tyres are great when temp goes below 7 C - much less sliding.
I live in Belgium and we put our winter tyres in early october. Yet it is warmer here than there.
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Old Apr 26th, 2016, 09:16 AM
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Before OP gets frightened: Alsace will be warm and nice in early October, but in the mountains there might be fresh snow.
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Old Apr 26th, 2016, 09:58 AM
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You guys are great for taking time to respond. I'll be checking out all suggestions. One more question though. Tha Alsacian food sound pretty heavy. Will we find other options?
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Old Apr 26th, 2016, 01:57 PM
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The Alsacian food is not heavy. There are a few dishes which are heavy like choucroute garni and baeckeoffa, but I would not recommend them anyway.

Typical for Alsacian cuisine are riesling sauces. Fish is always a good bet in Alsace, like trout in riesling sauce or pike-perch in riesling sauce. Also, chicken in riesling sauce is worth a try. Often, these dishes are served with noodles.

Otherwise, foie gras is a specialty of Alsace. But, to be honest, foie gras is a specialty of almost any other region in France. Escargots are also a specialty of Alsace, like in any other wine-making region in France, e.g. Bourgogne.

In every restaurant in Alsace, you will find refined French cuisine. It is easy to be on the light side, just avoid those heavy rustic dishes (which are always mentioned in the guidebooks but are in fact eaten rarely).
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