My husband, 13yo son, and I would be traveling in and out of CDG 12/16-12/25. We want to spend some of the trip in Alsace to see Strasbourg and other towns. My husband would like to do a wine day in the area one day and all three of us are history buffs. How many days are best during this time of year? Is it best to base in Strasbourg and take day trips to Colmar, Eguisheim, etc? or should we move from city to city and stay a night or two? We would finish back in Paris for 4-5 days (or more if we need less time in Alsace). Apologies for another winter in Alsace post!
Allow two full days for Strasbourg if you are interested in visiting some of the museums. Day trip to Colmar is easy enough by rail. If you want to see some of the more famous wine villages without driving then move to Colmar. There are separate buse lines to Eguisheim and Kaysersberg, and the same bus line services Riquewihr and Ribeauville.
We have six days set aside for the Alsace region. As we will have a car, and to avoid vehicle emissions areas, we’re using Colmar and Eguisheim as bases. We’ll take the train to Strasbourg. Weather and shorter daylight hours will affect how much you can get done in December.
Vineyards in winter are pretty bleak landscapes. The vines are reduced to brown sticks sitting forlornly in brown soil. The winie-making chateau may have some educational content and picturesque gestures but most are, basically, retail stores.Still, a glass of wine is good anytime except when you are driving.
Fully agree with the above comment regarding vineyards: bleak in winter. It's still nice to go on a tasting, but I would not plan for a full day of wine touring: one winery will be enough at that time of the year (and you might need to make sure the one you pick is open / make a prior arrangement).
As for total time in Alsace : 5 nights / 4 full days is probably enough for a good overview already. 1-2 extra days would not go to waste, but I would not spend that extra time to the detriment of Paris - where 4 days is a short visit (5-6 is better).
Alsace is one of the best and most popular places for Christmas markets. There are lots of interesting local crafts and products, including plenty of wine tasting. The villages go all out with Christmas decorations. That means it will be very busy with lots of tourists and crowds. I visited once in December without a car only for Strasbourg and Colmar. I imagine it could be difficult to find parking. The villages are lovely and scenic in June when I stayed at a B&B in Eguisheim which was very convenient with a car. While in Strasbourg and Colmar (big cities, both) the markets will be open every day, some of the village markets are open only for a short time or only one some days of the week.
We just returned from a trip to France including 7 nights in Paris, 3 nights in Reims ( champagne) and 5 nights in Strasbourg. We used only trains to get around. While in Strasbourg, we took a day to visit the Konigsburg castle which was very worthwhile. As we were in an apartment in the center of city, I was very thankful that we did not rent a car.
We stayed in Colmar in late Nov/early Dec 2021 for 5 nights (with a car). Free street parking is not impossible to find if you don't mind walking about 10 minutes from the city center. We also took a day trip to Strasbourg by train, and I'm glad we stayed in Colmar rather than Strasbourg.
Highlights of our trip to the area included:
- Wine tasting at Domaine Marcel Deiss (book ahead, and give yourself plenty of time - we were there for 4 hours and would have stayed longer, but we wanted to be back in Colmar before dark).
- Day trip to Eugisheim
- Lunch at Aux Trois Poissons in Colmar (reserve in advance)
- Place de la Cathedrale Christmas market (and all the other Christmas markets around Colmar, but this one is known for its gourmet food stalls)
- Underlinden Museum, home of the Isenheim altarpiece. The Wall Street Journal just did an article about this masterpiece (article is behind a paywall).
- lunch in the Colmar covered market
If you base in Colmar without a car, Kutzig runs a shuttle bus from Colmar to nearby towns on the Alsace Wine Route: Ribeauvillé, Hunawihr, Riquewihr, Kaysersberg, Turckheim, Eguisheim, and Voegtlinshoffen. About 7 stops per day in each of the towns.
It's an easy 1/2 hour train ride between Strasbourg and Colmar, with frequent trains.
Thank you everyone as this is very valuable information. When it comes to a wine day it is less about seeing actual vineyards and more about tastings at different vintners. A few subsequent questions--is it worth staying in both Strasbourg and Colmar to really enjoy both? Also, are there any other WW2 era battlefield sites to see in the area as well?