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Alsace without the wine tours.

I know, this is an odd question but I am looking for recommendations for the Colmar/Riquewihr region that is not a wine tour. We will be in the area for 4 days with a rental car. I already have a number of ideas but I am hoping folks on this forum that are more experienced in this corner of France might uncover something I have overlooked. Oh, and we will be there in mid-May.

Many thanks in advance!

Posted by
5910 posts

We easily filled four days visiting the charming villages.

Posted by
1648 posts

We also spent a few days here with a rental car and no wine related activities and had a wonderful time. We stayed in Colmar, which was one of the biggest surprises of many trips...we thought it was beautiful, and much more than we had expected so that was a happy bonus. A visit to the Chateau du Haut Koenigsbourg was easy with a car. A small cafe made for a pleasant break after the visit, with beautiful vistas included. My nephew wanted to step foot in Germany on our all France trip, so we spent a very nice day in Freiburg im Bresgau (easy car parking, stroll) and a short drive in the surrounding countryside. The Alsatian villages were all lovely and easy to drive, park and walk. They were also quite similar, and looking back may have swapped day two of village drives for a day in Strasbourg, but hindsight is usually 20/20. A beautiful region, easy driving and lots to do. There is also and open air museum in Ungersheim, I researched a bit but we didn’t make it so can’t report. Safe travels!

Posted by
3283 posts

We stopped in and tasted wine at a few places, but we did not do any wine tours. We really loved Alsace. We just spent a day in Colmar and then moved on to the little villages. We stayed in Eguisheim. It's so charming. Haut Koenigsbourg is a castle with lovely views. We did Strasbourg on a separate trip, but you could spend at least a day touring the petite France area and the cathedral. I think you would find plenty to do.

Posted by
346 posts

We spent four days exploring (with rental car) following the RS self guided driving tours of the villages and recommended museums/castle. The hikes, at the villages, were a highlight and fairly easy. We stayed in Colmar which made for walking at night and a good variety of restaurants.

Posted by
17098 posts

I assume your research has revealed the existence of the Unterlinden Museum in Colmar. It is very good; its best-known holding is the Isenheim Altarpiece, which is spectacular. Though touristy in the central core, Colmar is gorgeous.

Posted by
14016 posts

I remember seeing brochures for the Route des Chateaux as well as the Route des Vins. The Route des Vins takes you to charming villages that are just as enjoyable without visiting a single winery or wine museum (though a few are interesting). All you need is a map you can pick up at the TI in any of the villages. Most of the village TI's have walking tours or a list of sights.

I stayed at a B&B in Eguisheim. Staying at any of the villages is better than in Colmar because driving in and out of Colmar is a hassle - it is a fairly large city. I dropped the car when I got to Strasbourg (my final destination) and spent a couple nights there before flying home from Frankfurt. The castle of Haut-Koenigsbourg is interesting and nearby Monkey Mountain was very enjoyable - interacting with a large colony of Macaques (Barbary apes like the ones on Gibraltar and in Morocco).

Keep your eyes open for the stork nests - everywhere except Strasbourg. You should be able to spot the baby birds. I was there in late June and the "chicks" were as large as the adults by then.

Even though it was late June, some of the restaurants in Eguisheim were only open from Thurs-Sun. I ate dinner every night there so I wouldn't have skip wine with dinner.

Posted by
3283 posts

We got to Colmar by train and then picked up a car there. We stayed our first night in Colmar and the next 3 in Eguisheim. It worked well for us.

Posted by
11743 posts

I did it with a car and no tour. I visited Burgundy first, then drove from Beaune to Colmar. I was also there in mid-May. Early may was too early for Burgundy (at least in 2017). It was still cold, the vines were barely starting, most towns were empty and restaurants were noticeably closed. By mid-May, the towns in Alsace were much more vibrant (not quite packed) and everything seemed to be open.

Based on advice from fellow posters here, I limited the number of towns I visited. After Colmar I visited Eguisheim, Kaysersburg, Riquewihr and Ribeauville. Really each town is as beautiful as the last. Pick some that seem interesting to you and go with those, you can't really go wrong.

I also visited Chateau du Haut-Koenigsbourg, a very good castle. I didn't visit Monkey Mountain because I've seen Barbary apes at Gibraltar.

I ended in Strasbourg before training back to Paris (with a one day/night stop in Reims).

I had more days in Alsace than I needed so I also spent a day/night each in Freiburg and Heidelberg.

I had some wine but it wasn't the focus of my trip. I get more enjoyment from seeing the architecture and countryside than wine. My Airbnb host in Strasbourg gave me a really nice bottle of Gewurztraminer (the best of Alsatian wines IMO).

Posted by
291 posts

Many thanks for all the feedback! We will be driving from Paris to our stay in Riquewihr. I have already seen Strasbourg on a previous journey but may add that on this leg as my wife and sister have never been. Freiburg is on my list for a quick dash over in the morning as I follow them in the Bundesliga. Once we finish our time in Alsace we drop the hire car in Colmar then train to Lauterbrunnen.

Again, thank you for all the feedback and suggestions.

Posted by
14016 posts

Be careful with car rental plans. AFAIK there is only one agency in Colmar, while there are several in Strasbourg. If you arent' planning to spend several nights in other places on the way to Alsace, it makes more sense to take a train to Strasbourg and pick up the car there.

Posted by
291 posts

Thanks Chani. We are driving TO Colmar from Paris. Enterprise has a facility just a bit north of the city center for drop off. I've rented numerous times in Europe and understand the challenges.

Posted by
35 posts

Looking for something a little different to do than hopping charming wine villages in the Alsace? Motorheads can enjoy the Bugatti museum in Mulhouse. Yes, Bugatti was a French car company originally. Engineers and 19th century buffs might enjoy following the canal Marne au Rhine from Saverne through Lutzelbourg to the Arzviller boat lift. Start out watching canal boats navigate the double depth locks in downtown Saverne, stroll the pedestrian only shopping street, survey the beautiful marina, drink the hometown Licorne beer named for the mythical unicorn which is the city’s good luck charm. Follow the canal to Lutzelbourg, a tiny town in a mystical valley overlooked by a castle on the hill were just beyond you’ll find the mechanical engineering feat of the Arzviller boat locks where you can watch canal boats effortlessly be lifted up 146 feet up the Vosges Mountains. Walk along the 17 locks and lock houses which this lift replaced imagining what this superhighway of the 1800’s must have been like. Historically after WWI, the lock houses were given to widows of soldiers so that they may have a place to live and a job. Many are lovingly restored and some stand abandoned. Architects might enjoy the Art Nouveau and Deco architecture of Nancy, 2 hours east of Colmar. Or for the well rounded over-achiever, start early to make it a complete loop; Mulhouse for Bugatti museum, head north to Saverne for a canalside lunch, marvel at the Arzviller with some hikes along the canal then head to Nancy to relish the beautiful facades before heading home. A whole day without a vineyard in sight! Whatever you do, don’t forget to eat the tarte flambé . Lucky you!

Posted by
4702 posts

There are a million things to do that don't involve alcohol. German cemeteries, traces of the classic film Grand Illusion, tartes flambees, flower villages, 3-star Michelin dining, Ronchamp chapel by Le Corbusier... .,,