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Alsace Wine Route

Greetings - hubby and I are planning our second trip to Europe - first trip to France. We want to tour the Alsace wine route. Thinking we'll need to rent a car here to be able to see all of the small villages along the way. From everything I read here, we should base ourselves in either Colmar or Strasbourg. Since this is our first time renting a car anywhere in Europe, I'm wondering which will be the easiest place to rent the car - easiest meaning less traffic.

Is two days enough time to tour this area? Can add another day if needed. Thanks for all your help.

Posted by
16758 posts

Well Colmar is certainly smaller and less hectic than Strasbourg. All those too cute villages are around Colmar, so that is a logical place to start and end. I'd vote for 3 days.

Posted by
5460 posts

Driving in France isn't that hard. We flew into Paris, took the train to Strasbourg, and after a few days picked up the car there. Our plan was to spend 14 days driving to Avignon, take the TGV to Paris, and two days later, fly home.

So besides a leisurely drive through Alsace (three nights in Ribauville) , we stayed in Besancon and also in Perouges, visited a relative in Geneva, and ate in a few Michelin 3-stars. In retrospect, it was covering too much ground, because we skipped Lyon and except for a glance, the scenic gorges on the way to Avignon. Note that this trip did not attempt to cover Provence - the target was the TGV train, after Avignon and Pont du Gard. Perhaps you might end up instead, in the Black Forest or Basel, if you have the time. However, it's much more expensive to return a car in a different country, and you need permission from the company.

Before 87 people chime in about vignettes, I've never rented a car in this area that did not come (from one of the big rental companies) with a Swiss vignette.

Posted by
502 posts

Thanks for the help. Sounds like we'd be okay getting the car in either Strasbourg or Colmar.

Posted by
5460 posts

I didn't do a very good job of indicating that there's a lot more to see than the "Wine Route". Although Rick Steves is absolutely devoted to the art museum in Colmar, there's more than that. And some of it is between Strasbourg and Colmar.

We were touched by the fact that France took the trouble to build German WWII cemeteries facing back to ... Germany. And it was a thrill to see the castle of Haut-Kœnigsbourg, which figures in the famous, and easy to enjoy Jean Renoir film about WW I, Le Grand Illusion.

If you're going in summer, be sure to watch for signs indicating the Flower-rated "garden" towns of France. And while "tasting", don't forget how much more serious Europe is about drunken driving than we are - sad to say.

Posted by
26 posts

My wife and I stayed in Colmar for 3 days this past summer. Rented a VRBO apartment in the city. We didn't rent a car but did rent bikes. Not the ideal way to see LOTS of wineries but we did see 3 different ones and had a great time. Took appx. 30 minutes from the train station where we rented bikes to get to the wine route. Lots of fun, no stress with parking a car.