Alsace Wine Route: Best Towns & Castles to Visit

Updated: Apr 9, 2021

This part of France is literally straight out of fairy tales. It was the inspiration for Belle's village in Beauty and the Beast. One of the best ways to see the beautiful vineyards, small French medieval towns and hilltop castles is the Route des Vins (Alsace Wine Route).


Real Town Belle's Village Beauty & the Beast Inspired By Alsace France

This week is my mom's birthday so I am reminiscing about this trip - it was our big mother-daughter trip. We visited Alsace in 2011, but these vineyards have been in existence since the Middle Ages and are just as worthy of a visit today!


WHEN TO GO TO ALSACE

Flower Competition Season

If it looks like everyone is having a gardening competition of who can grow the most flowers - it's because they are. It's called the concours des villes et villages fleuris. Villages are rated from 1 to 4 "flowers" and the goal is to promote "visual quality." Could anything be more French?


Kaysersberg Alsace France Concours des villes et villages fleuris

And while some might seem to get a little carried away...


Flower Competition Alsace France Flower Awards Route du Vins

You really do have to go during flower competition season. Flowers start blooming in April, but we went in August and flowers were still bursting from every window. The window box rhododendrons paired with colorful timbered houses... your eyes will thank you.


Noël in Alsace

I would love to go back and visit Alsace during Christmastime. It is known for its Christmas traditions and festivities: sipping mulled wine, enjoying a gingerbread, shopping at the markets and admiring the decorations.


BEST TOWNS TO VISIT ON THE ALSACE WINE ROUTE



RIBEAUVILLÉ

Walk the Grand-Rue, and wander the side streets. Do a wine tasting or dine al fresco.


Three Castles of the Lords of Ribeaupierre

Overlooking Ribeauvillé are three castle ruins: Saint-Ulrich, Girsberg and Haut-Ribeaupierre. You can hike to the castles from the town.


RIQUEWIHR

Riquewihr is one of "Les Plus Beaux Villages de France," which is a collection of small rural French villages with rich cultural heritage. Wander inside this medieval town's 13th-century ramparts surrounded by rolling vineyards.


KAYSERSBERG

Kaysersberg Best Towns to Visit on the Route du Vins Alsace France

Kaysersberg Castle

A short walk from the town center is the Château de Kaysersberg ruins.

Go to the top of the tower - the view of the town and vineyards below from the window is breathtaking.

Aerial View from of Kaysersberg from Kaysersberg Castle

EGUISHEIM

Eguisheim is winning all of the awards. It has 4 out of 4 flowers in the flower contests (Concours des villes et villages fleuris) and is one of "Les Plus Beaux Villages de France."

Eguisheim Fairy Tale France Towns to Visit in Alsace

Three Castles of Eguisheim

Three Castles of Eguisheim Alsace France

Three 11th-12th century towers on the Schlossberg hill overlook the town of Eguisheim. Explore the castle ruins and take in the beautiful panoramic view of the town and vineyards below.


COLMAR

Colmar, Alsace, France Colorful Timbered Houses

Colmar is the largest town on the wine route and a great place to stay. You can take day trips to any of the towns listed above easily from Colmar.



WHERE TO EAT IN ALSACE: WINSTUBS


What's a Winstub?

A Winstub is a cozy French pub in Alsace serving local wine and homemade specialties of the region. Originally, they were places winemakers sold off surplus inventory and served wine and food - so most are adjacent to vineyards.


Recommendation: Winstub Au Tire-Bouchon

An Alsatian Winstub in the center of Riquewihr with a long history and a16th century cellar.


BEST ALSATIAN FOOD & WINE TO TRY

Alsatian cuisine is a French-German fusion.


DISHES:

  1. Choucroute, a local variety of Sauerkraut usually served with pork and boiled potatoes

  2. Tarte flambée (flammekueche) - Alsatian version of pizza

  3. Baeckeoffe - Alsatian slow-cooked casserole of pork, beef and lamb marinated in white wine and juniper berries

  4. Spätzle - Egg noodle pasta with a dumpling-like texture

WINE:

  1. Reisling - Alsatian Reisling is a much dryer version than the traditionally sweet wine - in a very good way.

  2. Gewurztraminer

CHEESE: Munster - the town of Munster is only 15 km west of Colmar, so you could even visit the birthplace of the cheese.


WHERE TO STAY

Recommendation: Hôtel de la Couronne

Located in the heart of the Riquewihr, the Hotel de la Couronne is an authentic Alsatian XVIth century house. The furniture and walls are beautifully hand-painted in the typical style.


HOW TO GET IN/OUT: STRASBOURG

Strasbourg Cathedral Alsace France

You will probably start and/or end your trip in Strasbourg. From here you can take the train to Paris, Germany, Switzerland or another nearby city/country.



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