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The Alsatian Wine Road

May 15, 2011

Alsatian Wine RoadNorth of the Switzerland border, tucked between the Vosges mountain range on the West and the Rhine River on the East, lies Alsace, a region rich in history, fertile land and natural beauty.  Here you will find the Alsatian Wine Road, a 170 kilometer route stretching from Marlenheim , located just west of Strasbourg, to Thann,  situated near Mulhouse (see Alsace Tourism map).  The route is dotted with over 100 charming villages, each welcoming visitors with its own fine wine, local delicacies and stunning landscape.

The Alsatian Wine Road is a perfect destination for a romantic weekend without the kids, but also can be a great family destination to explore the medieval villages with half-timbered houses, cathedrals, towers and castles.  The area is best visited by car, in order to have full access to the many quaint villages, or alternatively by bicycle, for the more adventurous and athletic.  Visitors are welcome year round: in spring when the flowers are in blossom and the grape vines are fresh with new leaves, in summer when the weather is warm and the days are long, in autumn to witness harvesting for the wine and in winter for the spectacular Christmas markets. 

The wines of the region are primarily white, with a strong Germanic influence.  Alsace produces some of the finest dry Rieslings in the world, and is also well known for its Gewurztraminer wines, as well as Muskat and Pinot Blanc.  Tourists can stop in a village “winstub”, a combination of restaurant and wine bar, to sample Alsatian wines and specialties, like baeckeoffe, sauerkraut and tartes flambees. Or there are many food markets and local shops to visit for specialty cheeses, meats, foie gras, cakes and honey. 

There are dozens of picturesque villages to explore for a short visit or overnight stay.  Here are just a few of our favorite spots to visit when in Alsace:

This town, situated 25 kilometers southwest of Strasbourg, oozes in charm.  Obernai’s origin dates back to the 7th century and in the town you can find abundant half timbered houses, a bell tower and a beautiful cathedral.  There are many quaint hotels to stay in, most quite reasonably priced.  On our visit, we stayed at Hôtel De La Cloche right in the center of town, in a two-floor family room in the hotel’s 14th century building.  The 2-star hotel full of character and has a lovely restaurant serving tasty traditional Alsatian cuisine.  From here we visited the city by foot, walking through town to the ancient fortifications surrounding the city, with its walls, towers and ramparts still preserved from the 13th century.

Mont Sainte Odile
Just a 20 minute drive from Obernai is Mont Sainte Odile.  This convent was founded by and named after the patron saint of Alsace.  The site now houses a hotel, and the convent and chapels remain, including one with the tomb of Sainte-Odile.  At over 750 meters, Mont Ste. Odile provides an amazing vantage point for spectacular views of the region.  You can also walk through trails in the wooded hills and visit the “Pagan Wall” built around 1000BC.

This typical Alsacian village of 5,000 is located almost 15 kilometers from Colmar.  Ribeauville is a wonderful town to stop in for a stroll down the main street for wine tasting, a meal or just visiting the shops.  From Ribeauville you can hike to the ruins of 3 castles in the region: the Saint Ulrich, the Girsberg and the Haut Ribeaupierre.  A great time to visit is the first Sunday in September to celebrate Fiddlers Festival (Pfifferdaj), an event featuring a parade of fiddlers and other musicians dressed in medieval costumes.

This city of over 100,000 inhabitants lies at the convergence of the Lauch and Thur Rivers.  Don’t be fooled by the modern outskirts of the city; the old-town is well preserved from the Middle Ages with impressive attractions like the pink stone St. Martin Church, the Dominican Church with its early gothic architecture, and the Uterlinden Museum with masterpieces from the Rhine Renaissance.   A wonderful way to explore the city is by boat on a canal in Colmar’s Little Venice.

Each time we travel to the Alsace region, we are always surprised us how close we are to our home in Switzerland, yet how far away we feel.    Both French and German influences can clearly be seen and felt in the region, in the language, the food and the culture.  Alsace is the perfect location for a weekend trip to explore historic villages, taste Alsatian wines and to savor local delicacies in a beautiful setting.

Check out our photo album of the Alsatian Wine Road on Grin Travel.

Jennifer Grinold, Travel Agent
Grin Travel

2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 15, 2011 9:52 am

    This area has intrigued me for awhile and recently even more. I have been doing some research into my ancestry and have found that my relatives are from the Alsace region. This came as quite a shock since we always thought we were German (maiden name is Zimmerman) and now need to readjust to being French 🙂

    Very interesting. I will bookmark this post since those villages are calling me in!

  2. May 15, 2011 11:50 am


    Thanks for the comment. You very well could be German. The region has passed between French and German control numerous times. We found that more people in the region spoke German than English (I don’t know any French, unfortunately).

    Alsace is a fabulous place to visit. There are so many wonderful villages and towns to visit and the prices for hotels and restaurants are relatively low (compared to Switzerland, that is). I really have fallen in love with the area.


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