Travel Guides for Alsace

Old Jul 18th, 2009, 05:22 PM
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Travel Guides for Alsace

In preparation for our trip to Alsace in October, I went to Border's today to look for a guide in addition to the Michelin Green and could find nothing. Came home and went to Amazon.com, and again, nothing. The Michelin guides are great, of course, but I'd like something that lists nice restaurants, etc. Are there any guides that deal exclusively with that area? I'd like something a little more comprehensive than just a France guide with a small section on Alsace, but that may have to do.

Thank you!
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Old Jul 18th, 2009, 07:59 PM
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I purchased a Michelin Green Guide last year that focuses only on "Alsace-Lorraine-Champagne". It contains a section on each town/village that covers its history, places to stay, places to eat, etc.

Here's a link to this book at Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Michelin-Green...7972246&sr=1-1
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Old Jul 18th, 2009, 08:02 PM
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Grandmere, I spent 10 days driving around Alsace a few years ago - loved it! I don't think I found a specific guidebook, either, except for the Michelin Green Guide. I did lots of research on this forum, etc., and studied my maps. I think I used the Michelin Red book for restaurant suggestions - just copied the towns I'd be in before I left. I also had Frommer's and Fodor's, and probably Rick Steves sections on Alsace, and was just fine. I started trip in Strasberg (spent 2 days there), rented car from there - and ended in Colmar. October was just beautiful that year. There were lots of German tourists, but didn't see any Americans. I thought the food was great - I hadn't expected to particularly like it, but sure did.

Have a wonderful trip.
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Old Jul 19th, 2009, 12:06 PM
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Thanks, ambage and Sue4; I think we will be fine with the guides that are available. We will take the train from Paris to Strasbourg and from there drive our rental car to the apartment/house (nor sure how it would be categorized) we're renting in Riquewihr for a week. We plan to do day trips from there. Any restaurants you especially recommend in the area, Sue4?

We're there in mid-Oct. so I hope there are still some leaves on the trees as opposed to a barren landscape! Were you there in early Oct.?

We've been to Strasbourg before but never outside the city, so I may be asking more questions as the time draws nearer!
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Old Jul 19th, 2009, 12:34 PM
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Hi Sue! I hope you will have a great trip! As for the leaves, according to the weather they might be falling already at that time, but you should also find nice red/orange/yellow trees.
Have fun! coco
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Old Jul 19th, 2009, 01:03 PM
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Hi GM,

We have used the Michelin Green Guide "Alsace Lorraine - Champagne" and Map no 315 with some success. (Our 3rd visit is in Sept).

>Any restaurants you especially recommend in the area,...<
See my trip reports:
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

Have you considered visiting Nancy?

Enjoy your visit.

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Old Jul 19th, 2009, 01:13 PM
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Sounds like a wonderful trip. We enjoyed Alsace as well as Lorraine, like Ira, we loved Nancy.
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Old Jul 19th, 2009, 01:19 PM
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Sue,

Just drop a note to Jean-Paul and Martine. I'm sure that JP will supply you with more than you possibly have time for.

He would also be pleased to do so.....

Joan
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Old Jul 19th, 2009, 03:32 PM
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Good idea, Joan!

Hadn't thought about Nancy, but it is an idea, Ira and Cigale. I don't know much about it but have time to read up on it. Would you both recommend it, given we just have a week and we will probably spend a whole day in Strasbourg b/c our traveling companions have never been there?

I would like to try Philippe Bohrer's restaurant ( I have a cousin with same last name) in Rouffach; are you going there, Ira? I think you and someone else were discussing it in an earlier thread.

Thanks for all the suggestions, everyone; you'll be seeing more questions, no doubt!
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Old Jul 19th, 2009, 03:56 PM
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You probably already have theis - but here it is for a second time.

Alsace

Alsace is one of the most beautiful places in France. In fact, the “Wine Spectator” ran a large expose on Alsace about 8 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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Old Jul 19th, 2009, 05:14 PM
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Thanks, Stu; no, I had not seen that before, and it will be helpful. We're looking forward to all the pretty little villages, and the ones you've mentioned were on my list. I was disappointed to read that there are no bargains at the outlet in Ribeauville; surely less expensive than those Beauville linens in stores both in France and here in US?
Good to get the tip on the route that is better than the Route du Vin; we're actually staying in Riquewihr, so it should be easy to find.
Did you go to any of the "pottery towns", such as Betschdorf or Soufflenheim? Not sure if they're worth a trip or to just look for the pottery in Strasbourg, where there are lots of stores around the cathedrale.
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Old Jul 20th, 2009, 02:08 AM
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Hi Sue,
You are getting material..lots from Stu.

This is Jean-Paul's world and he loves to show it off, so do drop him a note. They took me to all sorts of places when with them a few years ago.

You reminded me that I need to drop them a note, too, as they want me to join them for a week in one of their beautiful Alsace places while I am in Paris this fall.

I know you will enjoy the one where you will be staying. They are all lovely!

Joan
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Old Jul 20th, 2009, 06:44 AM
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Yes, with all the great info on here as well as what J-P will tell me, I probably don't need to even look at an Alsace section in a travel guide!

The pictures of the apartment are indeed lovely, and it will be fun to be staying within the village of Riquewihr, also.
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Old Jul 20th, 2009, 04:27 PM
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Ira, I just read your trip reports from 2007 and 2008; lots of good tips. I hope we get to try some of the restaurants you mentioned.
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Old Jul 20th, 2009, 05:08 PM
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We loved dining at the Auberge De l'ill in Illhaeusern ,
We stayed in Colmar at the Hotel Romantique Marechal
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Old Jul 20th, 2009, 06:19 PM
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Cigale, I have heard of the Auberge de L'Ill and will put it on our list of possibilities. I understand that is it tres cher; you feel that it is worth a splurge?
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Old Jul 20th, 2009, 06:28 PM
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Well, my J was retiring and it was my treat. The old guy who owned the place, greeted each table outside by the Ill while we had apertifs and before entering inside for dinner. We were lucky because I read you had to book far in advance.and I suggested going there on a whim as I looked at the map.
J loved it!!
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Old Jul 22nd, 2009, 10:01 AM
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We're also going to Alsace, but in September. I found the 2008-2009 Pudlo Alsace book helpful for restaurant suggestions!

Have a great trip!
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Old Jul 22nd, 2009, 10:39 AM
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Grandmere
I don't know where you are located, but I got lots of pamphlets, maps and info from the French Tourism Office in NY. I believe if you call them, they will send you info. Or I believe you can just call and ask questions. they were and have always been very helpful.
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Old Jul 22nd, 2009, 12:17 PM
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Thanks, all! We're in Pgh., which, alas, does not have a French Tourism Office.
Actually, I am getting lots of good advice here, on this thread and another, by cjogo.
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