Towns of Alsace France
The towns of Alsace
Barr, Andlau, Itterswiller, Dambach-la-Ville, Kintzheim, Saint Hippolyte, Bergheim, Ribeauvillé, Riquewihr, Kayserberg, Turckheim, Wintzenheim, Eguisheim
No visit to Alsace is complete without seeing Strasbourg (the capitol) and Colmar. But we believe the true charm lies in the many small towns lining the picturesque Wine Route. Take a minimum of 3 days to get a real flavor of the region, its wine and food. Travel by car from town to town at your own pace, parking to explore the small streets lined with quaint homes, restaurants and shops.
There are over 90 small towns along the route, and though most are charming, the following is our list of favorites that have the most to offer. These are listed in order from north to south, starting near Strasbourg and ending just south of Colmar. Many of the towns are starting points for the 20 or more hiking trails that crisscross the region. Hiking on these trails is a peaceful and invigorating way to meander through vineyards while reflecting on a simpler way of life. Panoramic views are free year round, but the best time of year to visit is during the fall harvest (September and October). Many of these towns have a wine fair and/or harvest festival, taking place sometime between early May and late October.
Barr- Castles high on a hill, 17th &18th Century buildings, access to hiking trails, and a Wine Fair in mid July and Harvest Festival the 1st Sunday of October.
Andlau- Surrounded by 3 Grand Cru vineyards, it holds an Abbey church (Roman and 17th C.), easy 2-3 hour hikes to nearby castle ruins, and a Wine fair the 1st weekend of August.
Itterswiller- A 13th Century church and our favorite hotel on the vineyards edge with panoramic views of valley.
Dambach-la-Ville- Medieval ramparts, a Roman - Gothic church, an easy 2 hour hike to castle ruins, a Grand cru vineyard trail, and a Wine Fair on August 14th and 15th.
Kintzheim- A Medieval castle and many historic fountains.
Saint Hippolyte- The church and fountain dating to 15th Century, are surrounded by medieval ramparts, all at the foot of Haut Koenigsbourg Castle (see below).
Bergheim- Medieval fortifications with round towers, a Gothic 14th Century church, a small local history museum, and access to vineyard trails.
Ribeauvillé- a very popular tourist town, it is dominated by 3 castles and surrounded by 3 Grand Cru vineyards. It also has churches dating to 13th Century, a jewelry museum, a renaissance fountain, and old towers with stork nests.
Riquewihr- The most popular town on the Wine Route is a well preserved, self contained Medieval / Renaissance city. Many buildings date back to the 12th Century. There is a stagecoach and postal museum, a Grand Cru vineyard trail, and Reichenstein castle ruins are a 15 minute hike away.
Kayserberg- The birthplace of Dr. Albert Schweitzer has a small museum dedicated to him. There's a river bisecting the town near the 13th C. castle ruins that is crossed by a fortified bridge from 1514. The rest of the the town is filled with beautiful Medieval and Renaissance buildings. Known for its Christmas Market.
Turckheim- Evocative remains of 3 rampart gates, a Church dating to the 12th century, vineyard trail for views over the town, and town criers in the summer at 10:00 PM. Wine fair in late July.
Wintzenheim- Dominated by two 13th century castles and remains of a Gallo-Roman villa (1st-4th century.) on the Grand Cru Hengst slope.
Eguisheim- This Medieval city was built in 3 concentric circles around its castle and features historic half-timbered houses, balconies, oriel windows, and pointed gables. Guided visits of vineyard trails are available from the Tourist Office. A Wine festival is held on the 4th weekend in August.
Haut Koenigsbourg Castle
This is the top sight in the region that is not a town, and it is a great place to take the entire family. Medieval times come alive when kids let their imaginations run wild with knights in shining armor, and adults love the views to Switzerland and Germany. The Haut Koenigsbourg Castle was built in the 12th century to serve as the residence of several members of the Habsburg dynasty and the German emperor Wilhelm II. When Wilhelm II was emperor in the early 1900s, he began extensive restoration and rebuilding to bring the castle back to its former glory as a medieval fortified castle, so while much of is a reconstruction, it is authentically done. The castle is open daily except holidays. There are tours or self guided audio commentaries available. Picnic grounds are also available with excellent views over the Alsace plain.
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