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-   -   Strasbourg and Alsace villages (https://www.fodors.com/community/europe/strasbourg-and-alsace-villages-796708/)

cjogo Jul 21st, 2009 06:23 AM

Strasbourg and Alsace villages
 
We plan to spend 4 nights in Strasbourg, arriving mid afternoon on 9/17. So we will have 3 full days (Fri. through Sun.) to explore. I assume that it is best to rent a car to tour the villages and I'm wondering how crowded the Route du Vin is on weekends. Should we allot 2 days to see smaller towns and one day for Strasbourg or visa versa.
Are shops open on Sundays? And one final question on recommendations for hotels - considering Hotel Gutenberg or Hotel Hannong? Appreciate any additional tips for first timers.

ira Jul 21st, 2009 06:36 AM

Hi cj,

We will be staying at the Gutenberg when we visit Strasbourg this Fall.

We have rented a car through www.kemwel.com. The pickup from Europcar is across the street from the train station.

Michelin Map #315 will be very useful.

We shall be sightseeing for 1 day in Strasbourg. We will spend 2 days touring Alsace.

These trip reports might help you:
Ira Visits Zurich, The Bodensee, Alsace and Paris – May 2008
http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...2&tid=35136218

Ira Visits Europe – May, 2007 (Salzburg, Fuessen, Bodensee, Burgundy, Alsace)
http://fodors.com/forums/threadselec...2&tid=35014078

Enjoy your visit.

((I))

StuDudley Jul 21st, 2009 07:45 AM

Shops will be closed in Strasbourg on Sunday - like just about all cities in France. Perhaps Monday morning too. Probably the same with most shops in Colmar. I'm pretty sure shops will be open in Riquewihr on Sunday - but perhaps not in Kayserburg & Ribeauville.

IMO, I would only stay 2 nights in Strasbourg, then 2 near Riquewihr for 2 nights. Strasbourg is a large city & a little difficult to get in & out for day trips by car, and also it's pretty far away from the southern Alsace vilages.

I posted a write-up a couple of days ago on another thread. Here it is:

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...for-alsace.cfm

Stu Dudley

cjogo Jul 21st, 2009 09:35 AM

Ira, thank you for your reply and very helpful info. Will you be staying in Strasbourg and doing day trips to villages? I would love to hear your itinerary for two days in Alsace as I'm wondering if the second day necessitates backtracking the first day. From what I have read, Riquewihr, Kaysersberg, Equisheim, and Colmar are must see towns - are there other areas that should not be missed?

Will check with kemwel and look for Map 315. Thanks, Cindy

cjogo Jul 21st, 2009 04:57 PM

Stu, just found your itinerary which I printed in Jan. 2007 when we first thought about visiting Alsace, "Vermont with vineyards". We will defintely use the scenic bike route to visit the towns mentioned. Thank you for such a comprehensive report which heightens the anticipation of this long awaited trip to France.

seafox Jul 21st, 2009 05:45 PM

If you find yourself in the area of Souflenheim, be sure to stop in a local pottery and check out their wares. It's unique to the Alsace and the family run shops have unique designs.

wanderfrau Jul 21st, 2009 05:51 PM

Good advice so far. I agree Strasbourg only needs 2 nights. Check out the route des vins for lots of interesting places to eat, drink, hike and bike. Pick a place to stay a couple of nights or travel the route and find a place that interests you. You really can't go wrong.

www.alsace-route-des-vins.com may be of some help

di2315 Jul 21st, 2009 10:17 PM

If you're going to be in Strasbourg during summer, don't miss the sound and light show at the Cathedral each evening. Details at:
http://www.strasbourg.info/events/

I don't think it's quite as good as the Amiens display, but well worth seeing, all the same. You can sit outside at one of the cafes on the square and enjoy a sumptuous desert at the same time!

Happy travels, Di

ira Jul 22nd, 2009 05:19 AM

Hi Cindy,

>Will you be staying in Strasbourg and doing day trips to villages?
No. For our time in S, we will visit S. We shall then go on to the villages.

It is about 2 hr from Pl Cathedrale in S to Riquewhir, if you go by the Rte du Vin. Under an hour if you come back by the highway.

You don't have to backtrack. You can do one day along the rte du vin down to Kaysersberg and another via the Vosges mountains down to Equisheim.

Get the Michelin Green Guide to Alsace and vicinity.

We visited Colmar for 1/2 day. My Lady Wife says that that was sufficient.
We took the bus to/from Kientzheim.

Additionally, there is train service between Colmar and S.

Lastly, have you considered spending a night and a day in S, renting a car and staying in one of the villages? You can drop the car in either Colmar or Strasbourg.

>Riquewihr, Kaysersberg, Equisheim, and Colmar are must see towns - are there other areas that should not be missed?<
Ribeauville is on the road to Riquewihr. Kientzheim is worth a visit on your way to Kaysersberg.

You don't have enough time this trip to do justice to Alsace. You will have to go back for at least another 4 nights. :)

Enjoy your visit.

((I))

grandmere Jul 22nd, 2009 06:09 AM

Seafox, I've been wondering if Souflenheim is worth a visit for the pottery and see that you think so; how about Betschdorf-did you go there as well? Its characteristic pottery is that gray-ish blue design.

I've seen both potteries in stores in Strasbourg, but I imagine (?) it's more expensive there than at the source? Any thoughts about all this?

Thank you.

Sorry to hijack the thread but others including the OP might be interested in this info, also!

cjogo Jul 22nd, 2009 06:28 AM

Ira and Stu, based on your comments, I'm beginning to rethink spending 4 nights in Strasbourg......was trying to avoid a lot of time spent changing hotels, etc. But it sounds as if we will be spending a good portion of time getting to villages and back to Strasbourg so maybe it makes more sense to stay in a small town. We will be taking TGV from CDG to Strasbourg after overnight flight (I never sleep) and we need to return to Strasbourg to catch a train to Paris.
As it stands we have 4 nights in Alsace and 4 nights in Paris. I could possibly add a night to this trip.....after all it is our 40th wedding anniversary! The best way to get to Paris is TGV from Strasbourg, right?

NanBug Jul 22nd, 2009 07:17 AM

I'd definitely ponder spending 2 nights in Strasbourg and 2 nights in one of the villages. Add another night if you can. We spent 3 nights in Strasbourg this past year, then based ourselves in Kaysersberg for 4 days after that.

We fell in love with Kaysersberg. It was our favorite place of all. Great architecture, stunning little castle ruin with lovely vistas, wonderful restaurants and winstubs, nice cafes, friendly people.

We contemplated staying in Riquewihr and were very glad we didn't. Riquewihr was visually beautiful, but we felt like a stage set built for tourists. We were there in the off-season, and it was the only place we saw groups of tourists roaming the streets and very few locals. I can't imagine what it must be like during the summer or fall, mobbed probably. Get there early or late, I'd recommend.

We walked to Riquewihr and Kientzheim for the day (about 6 miles roundtrip through the vineyards from Kaysersberg). And we spent the day in Colmar (via bus). Definitely visit the Musee d'Unterlinden in Colmar, a little gem of a museum set inside a medieval cloister with the famous Isenheim Altarpiece inside. Just great.

Other than having the flu for 4 days, we loved Alsace and can't wait to go back. Bon Voyage!

cjogo Jul 22nd, 2009 07:37 AM

Nan, definitely leaning towards spending 2 (or 3) nights in a village and Kayserberg sounds perfect. We like to hike, gentle hikes, and being able to walk to neighboring towns through vineyards sounds wonderful.

Sounds like a terrific trip despite the flu, ugh!

Can you recommend a hotel or B&B in Kayserberg?

NanBug Jul 22nd, 2009 07:52 AM

Alsace is a beautiful place, that's for sure, you'll love it.

Kaysersberg is centrally located to a few towns, which is why we picked it. And many Fodorites' opinions swayed our decision, too. We also did the entire trip without a car, so it had good bus access, too, as well as walking accessibility.

We stayed at the Hotel Constantin, right in the heart of the village: www.hotel-constantin.com

The location was perfect. If you have a car, they have a garage. Several restaurants are within about 50 feet of the hotel, as are 3 cafes/coffee shops, ATM machines, etc. But it's very quiet. It's a quick 2 block walk to the public parking area, where you can pick up the bus to Colmar, which is cheap and easy and sure beats looking for a parking space and driving in Colmar traffic.

The hotel is a mix of old and new. The exterior is still retains its historic facade and arched entranceway, however, the inside of the building has been gut renovated, probably back in the 1980's. When you wake up in the morning, you may think you're in a Holiday Inn -- similar decor, etc -- until you look outside, of course. Not that this is a bad thing, but if you're looking for historic charm inside, you may not get it here. They do have some rooms done in what they call the "Alsatian style" but we didn't get a peek at those. You can request one of those, I'm sure.

We didn't eat breakfast at the hotel, but it looked like they had a nice spread in their downstairs dining area which I dubbed the "Florida room." See web site pics.

The staff were very friendly, the place was spotless and the price was right -- we paid around 50 Euros per night for the 2 of us.

If you need swanky, look elsewhere. But I would recommend staying there. Check out the web site and pics and you'll get more of a feel for the place.

Have a great trip and enjoy those tarte flambees. I'm envious.

wanderfrau Jul 22nd, 2009 09:02 AM

Grandmere

If you like wandering through tiny, unorganized shops, often attached to homes, sometimes hard to find, sometimes not open the posted hours, then a visit to Soufflenheim and/or Betschdorf is worth it. There is a much larger variety to choose from and I thought it was cheaper than in Strasbourg. Sometimes you may even meet the potter. We actually stayed at a potters B&B and bought from her "special" collection.

Soufflenheim has the folksy, more traditional pottery often decorated with dots and ducks. You'll find lots of bakeware. My gugelhof pan is from there.

Betschdorf has the blue salt glaze pottery and you often find more tableware -- pitchers, creamers, salt & pepper, etc. I have a wine pitcher from there. Be sure to look for the roundabout with the huge pitcher in the center if you go.

cjogo Jul 22nd, 2009 10:15 AM

Nan, I emailed Hotel Constantine and I really like the idea of no car. On our first trip to Europe two years ago we were in an accident on our first day in Provence.....husband was trying to navigate circle, understand signs, and deal with stick shift. This put a damper on his mood so the idea of no car is appealing.

Thinking 2 nights in Strasbourg and 3 nights in Kayserberg. Then we would need to get back to Strasbourg to catch TGV to Paris for final 4 nights. Are there frequent trains from Kayserberg to Strasbourg and how long is the trip?

Grandmere, feel free to hijak at any point....I have read and enjoyed so many of your reports over the years. Of course Souflenheim goes on the list!

NanBug Jul 22nd, 2009 10:57 AM

Cgogo, I know how you feel about a car. I'm used to living in cities and towns and not being dependent on a car for everything, so vacationing in a car isn't that relaxing to me. Most people will tell you it can't be done on public transport, or that you'll be missing everything important, but we've never felt like we were missing out. We were delighted with what we saw and did, since we're pretty much slow travelers. We'll be back again someday to see the rest.

Kaysersberg isn't on a train line, but it is on a bus line that goes into Colmar pretty quickly. (20-30 minutes)

You'll want Kunegel bus line 145, which runs between Kaysersberg and Colmar (among other towns). Here's the site with pdf files of the schedules: http://www.l-k.fr/fr/kun_horaire.htm

Note that there are several bus stops in Colmar. If you need to take the train somewhere, get off at Gare SNCF (the station). If you'd like to wander around the historic area, get off at Unterlinen Roesselmann, which drops you right by the museum.

Trains run very frequently between Strasbourg and Colmar, I believe every 30 minutes, but you should check. http://www.voyages-sncf.com/

Another thing I'd suggest: When you leave Strasbourg, take the train south to Selestat, where you can pick up a shuttle bus to Haut Koenigsbourg. Visit the castle (ditch your bags at the castle), then take the shuttle/train to Colmar and on to Kayserberg. I'd give you the link to HK, but their web site is down for some reason. Google it. The castle's shuttle bus only runs during the spring, summer and fall, and it's a great deal.

You can also take a bus into Colmar, then transfer to another bus to Eguisheim, a charming little village right near Colmar. Spend a half day or so there, if you'd like.

Don't let the buses scare you -- the schedules are frequent enough and the locals use the all the time. The tourist info office in Kaysersberg is very helpful with bus info, too.

I originally wanted to spend the day in Colmar after leaving Strasbourg, but there are no luggage lockers in the Colmar train station and the TI office doesn't store them, either. Hence, we did a day trip from Kaysersberg, which was painless.

I hope this helps you formulate your plans a bit more. You'll have a great time, I imagine it will be magical there in October.

NanBug Jul 22nd, 2009 11:02 AM

Forgot to add -- if you get a frequent express train between Colmar and Strasbourg, it's a 30-minute ride. Costs 10.70 Euros. Slower trains (45 min ride) cost a whole 20 cents less!

grandmere Jul 22nd, 2009 12:13 PM

Cjogo, we will be in Alsace just about a month after you; I will look forward to hearing about your trip before we take off on ours! We're staying at an old restored apartment in Riquewihr for a week and planning to do day trips. I think we will give Soufflenheim and Betschdorf a try, too. Our daughter spent her jr. year in college in Strasbourg, and we each have some pieces of Alsatian pottery from that time. Now with her own home and family, she wants me to bring back some more. Too bad it's so heavy!

Wanderfrau, Souffenheim and Betschdorf sound like fun places to explore; thanks for the info. I don't have a map in front of me at this moment, but as I remember, both those towns are north of Strasbourg and therefore kind of off the beaten track from where we might otherwise be. Are there any other attractions in that general vicinity that you saw? In other words it would be good to have something else for the two men in our foursome to see besides a day of looking at pottery! :-)

seafox Jul 23rd, 2009 12:02 PM

Grandmere - to be honest I used to live in Germany and have a fine collection of blue/gray salt glaze. So I always focused my efforts on Souflenheim and the colorful varieties their potters produce. I love every piece that I bought (and I bought a lot over the years - even found some on ebay this year). Not sure there is much for the guys to do - other than haul your purchases (there is a small church, and maybe with luck some WWII stuff to see. The pottery is heavy and somewhat fragile (as is mostpottery), focus your buying on small accent pieces that might compliment a set of dishes you already own. (I own about 30+ sets now so that's pretty easy for me to say). My favorite purchase in Souf. are 4 dozen little pottery snail shells. I stuff them with button mushrooms and garlic butter and all my friends love "faux escargot." If you bring home one great piece, be sure to get something that will not be covered by the food you may be serving...a pitcher or covered casserole are good choices....just my thoughts. If you google soufflenheim pottery you will find maps and potters locations as well as be able to view pieces on-line

By the way the potters now all use lead free glazes - anything more than 20 years old lkely has lead (the colors are more subt;e in the old). Always be sure to soak your Soufflenheim in water and hour before using.... adds a dose of protection when baking with it .... after all replacing it is not easy!


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