Self-Guided Tours in Alsace
On the border with Germany lies the Alsace region, along the Rhine river and stretching from Strasbourg to Colmar.
Alsace has everything a wanderer will like: so many colorful half-timbered towns built along a scenic vineyards route. Always in the background, the Vosges mountains add to the picturesque scenery and you can reach the foothills in less than 30 minutes to have unlimited walking and hiking options.
Munster and its cheese will give foreign travelers a real introduction to uncompromisingly tasty French cheeses, while the local pizza called Flammekueche as well as the famous Choucroute will get everyone to agree - food in Alsace is delicious!
How to Get to Alsace
- If you are driving, Burgundy is a 2hr45 drive south from Alsace, the Verdun region is a bit less than 3hrs west. We do not recommend driving directly from Paris or CDG Airport to Alsace, as it is about a 5hr drive on the highway.
- If you plan on reaching Alsace via train and then rent a car, you need to plan for Strasbourg, which is the main city of Alsace. From Paris Gare de l’Est station, you can catch a direct TGV high speed train and in 1hr45, you will arrive in Strasbourg.
- The train is the best way to get to Alsace if you don’t plan to stop over in Reims for Champagne or in Verdun for the World War I sites on the way.
Where to Stay in Alsace
- Most of the sightseeing in Alsace lies between Strasbourg in the North and Colmar in the South. The 2 cities are 45 miles (73 kilometers) apart and the drive is about 1hr drive.
- Parallel to this North-South road you will find the famous Alsace Wine Route with all the gorgeous typical little towns on the foothills of the Vosges mountains.
Katzenthal vineyards - ©Tristan Vuano - CDT Alsace
- For this reason, we have selected premium Bed & Breakfasts on the Colmar – Strasbourg axis, perfectly located to tour the Alsace region driving.
Alsace Christmas Markets
Alsace Christmas markets make this French region very special. Nowhere else in the world will you enjoy such a charming, very special Christmas ambiance than strolling Colmar, Eguisheim or Riquewhir on Christmas market season.
You will enjoy tasting fresh pretzels with hot mulled wine while walking around, or you may sit in a traditional winstub to taste sauerkraut or braised ham. For beer or wine lovers, Alsace has a lot to keep you busy !
Alsace Christmas Markets - ©Lois Moreno - CDT Alsace
Maybe what we enjoy the most about Alsace Christmas markets are the nice decorations all over the places: on the streets, in the windows of all the homes . . . everywhere you look! And if you get lucky with a bit of snow, it is magical !
Now, visiting Alsace Christmas markets requires some logistics and you need to be an early bird for reserving. While the Christmas market season starts in late November and ends on the first days of January, most accommodations are fully booked a year ahead. Thus, based on this, please plan ahead and do not hesitate to contact us.
The Alsace Wine Route
The vineyards of Alsace are postcard landscapes with the half-timbered towns and the Vosges mountains in the backgroundss. It makes a really pleasant drive with gorgeous photo stops. Several of the towns are “most beautiful villages of France” and we also recommend strolling less famous, less touristy towns that we have selected for our travelers.
Most Alsace wines are white wines, in the German tradition. Alsace's vineyards are famous for the Sylvaner, Riesling and Gewurztraminer varieties. These are wines that are not produced anywhere else in France. Along the Alsace Wine Route, there are lots of wineries you can just walk into and taste the wines.
Wine Tasting in Alsace - ©Lez Broz - Visit Alsace
Alsace has long been known for Gewurztraminer wines, especially those known as “vendanges tardives”, meaning late harvested grapes which produce strongly savored wines that are excellent as an aperitif. Tastes tend to change and people now drink wines with less sugar and Alsace also makes some nice dry Pinot Noir or Pinot Gris wines. So every traveler should find a wine they like !
Alsace's Very Special History
Being located along the German border, the Alsace region has a very eventful history. It was torn between Germany and France many many times in history and while this is a French region, you can enjoy in Alsace a great taste of Germany: the architecture, the gastronomy, the traditions.
It makes the discovery of the region very special and unique.
One great witness of this history is undoubtedly the castle of Haut-Koenigsbourg which stands on the top of the hills between Colmar and Strasbourg. There are lots of other medieval castle ruins in this area but Haut Koenigsbourg was rebuilt in the early 20th century by William the 2nd of Germany, so it is “complete”.
Haut Koenigsbourg Castle - ©JL.Stadler - CDT Alsace
Made in Alsace
- Storks are the symbol of Alsace. While they almost disappeared in the 70's, the repopulation efforts are working and you will see stork nests everywhere. Legend says that if a strok flies above a house, then a baby will come soon. If you want to see the storks, come during the summer season, in winter, they are in Africa.
White Stork Nest in Alsace - ©Marc Solari - CDT Alsace
- Pottery is traditional in the Alsace region, with colorful and generous shapes. While Soufflenheim is famous for its clay and potteries, you can find shops selling these all over Alsace. In Kayserberg, a local workshop makes georgous pottery decorations for the christmas tree . . . just saying !
- Alsatian traditional costumes are also part of the culture. They are no longer worn in the streets since the end of WWII but in all the festivals, you will see people with the Alsatian costumes.
Wine Festival in Eguisheim with traditional costumes - ©V.Muller - Visit Alsace
- Alsatian gastronomy is very rich: you can tell this is a cold region in winter: pork meats, potatoes, cabbage make delicious baeckeoffe, sauerkraut, spaetzles. Apple strudels or cherry bettelmann should definitly be on your list to taste, while the Kougelhopf brioche is a must for breakfast or teatime.
Alsatian Baeckoffe - ©Klaudia IGA - Visit Alsace