Part 2 of France travel blog series: Picturesque Alsace and it’s finest wines – all about the beautiful French villages and most gorgeous white wine
Part 1: First Impression of France
Do you want to visit towns that look straight out of fairy tales, the ones that will take you on a whimsical journey? Head over to the gorgeous region of Alsace, the historic region in the northeastern France. You will find lovely view of flower decked canals, cobblestone streets, crooked half-timbered medieval houses decorated with brightly coloured flowers, charming little towns amidst green hills, and great food. Add some wine tasting to this mix! You will be surprised to learn that you are now able to distinguish between the various types of wines. By the end of few tasting sessions (some of them are even free), you would have partly become a wine connoisseur. That’s what Picturesque Alsace and it’s finest wines does to you, making you fall in love with it and bringing out the exotic self.!
Getting there – Picturesque Alsace and it’s finest wines:
Major cities in Alsace are Strasbourg, Colmar and Mullhouse. Colmar is the most commercialised and touristy city and Strasbourg comes next. However, the real beauty of this region lies in the small villages along the beautiful wine route. You haven’t explored Alsace if you haven’t wandered around the cobble stoned streets of these small villages. In this post we plan to tell you more about these small villages, the picturesque Alsace region. And of-course, it’s finest wine which you can’t go without sampling.
We highly recommend renting a car from Strasbourg, either the airport or in the city. Exploring the smaller villages will be much easier with a car. There are trains that get you to Strasbourg and from there to Colmar but you will be missing out on driving the windy roads lined with picturesque vineyards.
Handy Tip: Parking fee can also be paid using the machine or an app. The apps that support the parking space can be seen as a sticker on the parking machine itself. You get discounted rates on the app sometimes and it’s also easy to extend the parking through the app instead of running back to the parking machine.
The capital of the Alsace region looks straight out of the stories told only in folklore. Home to Grande Île which is a UNESCO world heritage, Strasbourg is a vibrant city with countless restaurants, monuments and also is the official seat of the European Parliament. Strasbourg is situated at the border of Germany, hence visiting this highly desired city is a multicultural experience by itself. Strasbourg also hosts one of the largest Christmas markets in Europe. Experiencing the magical time of Christmas in this city would indeed bring about a perception that the gingerbread houses have come alive.!
The main allure in Strasbourg is “La Petite France”, the historic old town quarter with spiral alleyways. The half-timbered houses here look very unique and were once homes to tanners and fishermen. Barrage Vauban is a popular lookout point with a panoramic terrace from where you can enjoy the view of the arched bridge with stone towers guarding the bridge at each end. Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Strasbourg is another must visit landmark for a bird’s eye view of the city, provided you climb the 300 odd steps to the top.
Strasbourg comes alive during summer as the city is swarmed with visitors and outdoor seating is in full action at various cafes and restaurants. To completely relish Strasbourg, grab a coffee, walk along the canals, chill out sitting near the water and watch the small tourist boats that tours along the length of the river.
For the untrained eyes, Colmar looks quite similar to Strasbourg but has its own charm. In addition to being one of the astonishingly beautiful cities in the Alsace region, Colmar is also the Alsatian wine capital. With both German and French influence in architecture and food, Colmar survived the world wars and was able to retain its medieval appeal.
The well preserved old town area with its cobblestone alleyways, pretty flowers adorning the canal bridges and brightly colored half-timbered houses are a pleasure to stroll through. The houses are well maintained and the owners take pride in decorating their house exteriors with clocks, lamps and even bikes.! Here is an interesting trivia: The house colors often represented the occupation of the owner; green for farmers, blue for fisherman, yellow for bakers and white for tanners.!
Similar to the “La Petite France” in Strasbourg, Colmar has its own “La Petite Venise”. This is an area in the old town part and is also one of the most photographed location. There are also local markets near the canals where you can purchase fruits, vegetables and some delicious macaroons. The cafes and restaurants organize their tables outside and the whole area becomes crowded, representing the hustle and bustle of the city. Locals and the visitors occupy these tables, sipping their coffee, smoking and discussing their holiday plans, life and watch the world go by…
Handy tip: For passionate photographers that want to shoot picture perfect postcard worthy photos of Colmar, visit the town at day break to avoid crowds and for the golden hour.
The best part of exploring picturesque Alsace is it’s finest white wine!! History shows that wine has been produced in this region since very old times. Nothing refreshes you like a glass of chilled white wine on a hot sunny day.! The wines in the Alsace region are named after their grapes and the main varieties are Muscat, Riesling, Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Noir.
We personally like fruity wines and our favorites are Muscat (half dry and half fruity) and Gewurztraminer (fruity). There are numerous wineries in this region and many of them offer free wine tasting. So, don’t hesitate to try them out. However, please be careful and don’t drink and drive.
We tried wine tasting at Domaine Pierre Adam in Ammerschwihr and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. The person serving the wine was extremely friendly and was quite knowledgeable. We bought a few bottles of white wine as well. We also tried Paul Schneider in Eguisheim.
- About the breathtaking Italian wine region
- This cute little town in Spain
- This magical village in Austria
Smaller villages in Picturesque Alsace and it’s finest wines:
The real beauty of the Alsace region lies in the many smaller towns in the area. Again, you would need a car to visit these places but they are well worth it. Our personal favorites are Eguisheim, Ammerschwihr, Riquewihr and Kaysersberg. All these towns are along the Alsace wine route. You will be blessed with beautiful views of the hilltop vineyards basking in the glorious sunshine!
The enchanting Eguisheim looks straight out of a page from a medieval legend. For a moment, one might even assume that they have stepped back hundreds of years in time only to find out later that the fantasy is actually legitimate. It comes as no surprise that this village was voted as the most beautiful village in France in 2013.
This quaint villages is located on the popular Route du Vin (wine route). Being one of the prettiest, colorful villages in the Alsace region, the village sports the characteristic narrow cobblestone streets. These streets are dotted with well preserved half-timbered houses, with many flower pots hanging out of their windows. Eguisheim has its own charm as the streets are much concentric than their neighbouring towns. You will be transported to olden times!
There are many local shops selling cheese. You will also find few wineries, where you could spend a few hours enjoying local wines. There is no doubt that you will fall in love with this little village.
- About this fairytale castle and how to reach
- Pretty little island which will make you happy like a kid
Did you know that Bella’s village in the movie Beauty and the Beast is inspired by Riquewihr? This village is right in the heart of the Alsatian vineyards. It is surrounded by beautiful vineyards and green hills. The drive towards Riquewihr will give the feeling of entering a dreamland. Riquewihr is also home to the Dolder tower (a defensive gateway from the 13th century), fortified walls, stone entrance gates, the typical brightly painted half-timbered houses, a winemaker’s house (dating from 16th century). You will find the streets lined with local bakeries, shops and boutiques. It’s a popular tourist destination as more tourists visit Riquewihr as compared to its neighbouring villages.
A short distance from Colmar, Kaysersberg is another picturesque quaint village in the Alsace region. The whole town is easily walk able and it’s quite charming. It’s basically a photographer’s paradise! The architecture, narrow alleyways, brightly colored houses by the canal and the flower decorations won’t let you put down your camera. It’s quite underrated as tourists usually visit the nearby bigger cities like Colmar and Strasbourg but we highly recommend visiting this little village.