Several months ago, we purchased cheap tickets to Paris for Valentine’s Day. After spending 5 more days in Paris over Christmas, we decided that we wanted to do something different. While we weighed the options of flying to another destination, I decided that it would be easier for us to spend the long weekend traveling along the Alsace wine route. We had both become intrigued by it when researching Christmas markets, but Tom wanted to save it for a less busy time of year. So, we headed towards the Vosges Mountains and the Route du Vin for Valentine’s Day.
The Alsace wine route truly surpassed our expectations. We both found that we actually like white wines. The Alsatian towns are beautiful and unique in their own ways. Alsatian people were happy to see us and generally very kind and patient with our French. And, the scenery is beautiful. Truthfully, our trip to the Alsace region of France is exactly what I needed. We enjoyed our spa hotels, explored quaint towns on foot, and generally moved at a much slower pace than we would in Paris. We did spend our last day / night in Paris, and it was lovely, but we certainly walked 7 miles that day – I have no idea how. Alsace is a wonderful place to slow down.
In 2021, we headed back to Alsace for the famous Christmas markets, and in summer 2022, we ended a weeklong trip to Paris with a few days outside of Eguisheim. Every trip we’ve made to the Alsace has held a lot of magic and a little something different. I can’t recommend it enough.
There are a lot great weekend getaways from Paris to consider, so if you see a cheap flight to Paris, grab it! The train station at CDG makes it super easy to connect to destinations in France and the surrounding area!
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Getting to the Alsace Wine Route
As I mentioned, we flew into Paris directly from Dallas. (Thanks American Airlines!) Using Rome2Rio, I found that there are a few trains per day that run between CDG and Strasbourg. The trip takes less than 2 hours and is very easy. I don’t recommend purchasing tickets in advance because you never know what is going to happen with your flight. We missed the earlier train by less than 10 minutes, so we had about 2 hours to kill in the airport train station. We bought pastries at Paul and fought through our jet lag. Once our tickets were checked on the train, we took a short nap and before we knew it, we were in Strasbourg!
At the Strasbourg train station, we picked up a rental from Sixt. They had the best prices and I had heard good things about the rental experience. Their no-hassle rental car return proved to be a godsend when we were running late to catch our train back to Paris. I simply dropped the keys and ran to the platform. We made it with two minutes to spare. Our car ended up being a mini Fiat 500, which was the best car for exploring the Alsace wine region. It was easy to park, turn tight corners, and got tremendous gas mileage. It was a perfect fit for the two of us and our luggage. We did not fill up the car until the end of our little road trip.
We use SOLIS when we travel, so we always have internet and aren’t using our cell phone’s data plan. (Save 10% by using SOLIS coupon code JOURNEYOFDOING.) We used to rent a mobile hotspot from TEP wireless, and it’s a great option as well. We purchased Skyroam when we realized that we were traveling more. Google Maps is a great app to download if you aren’t already using it. We had no trouble getting around the region using our hotspot and our phones.
Where to Stay in Alsace
Tom wanted to split our first stay in two different villages. He thought that this would give us the best opportunity to see more of the region while also getting a sense of different towns. This proved to be a great idea, and we certainly got two different experiences. When you are planning your trip, I think it’s important to consider what kind of traveler you are. Are you the person who wants to experience the picture-perfect fairytale village with its half timbered houses, even if it doesn’t feel like the town is “lived in”? Or, are you the person who wants to experience what daily life for an Alsatian would be like? Different villages will cater to these different interests, so it’s worth doing your research. Pick up a copy of DK’s Back Roads France for ideas and routes to consider.
5 Terres Hotel & Spa in Barr, France
This hotel blew me away. Barr is at the beginning of the Alsace wine route and is located among the vineyards of the region. I could not find any information on it and it doesn’t appear to be considered one of the most beautiful villages in Alsace. I respectfully disagree. The 5 Terres Hotel is situated on the main square in Barr. You can drive up to the hotel, drop your luggage, and park in a free lot a couple minutes away.
The lobby is bright, modern, and very stylish. The elevator leads up to half timbered hallways and beautiful spacious rooms. Our room looked over a side street and the main square, and I could not enjoy it more. The bathroom offers a stand up shower, a large vanity, and a very comfortable bed. It is an impeccably designed space with all the modern amenities you could want.
In the lower level there is a spa available for guests. In addition to treatments, there is a heated vitality pool, a hamman, and a dry sauna. We took full advantage of the spa amenities and enjoyed our breaks. Though it was very busy because of Valentine’s Day weekend, all the guests were very pleasant and it was easy to use the facilities, even if they were a bit more crowded than we are used to.
I liked Barr because it was very obviously lived in. Restaurants served locals. People were picking up pizzas and taking them home. I don’t recall seeing many tourist shops, if any. The local businesses seemed to cater to normal citizens in a way that I did not expect nor see in some of the other towns. There was a large Lidl (grocery store) on the outskirts of town. We picked up a lot of local foods to try and it was incredibly reasonably priced.
Le Chambard in Kaysersberg, France
Kaysersberg is a postcard perfect village along the Alsace wine route. It makes Barr look like a small city by comparison. It was certainly one of Tom’s favorite villages and he would be happy to stay there again. There is a river that runs through the center of town with half timbered houses lining streets on either side. When we walked through in the evening, it felt as if we were in a storybook. (Tom kept singing Beauty and the Beast throughout the trip.)
Le Chambard is a Relais & Chateaux property. I adore Relais properties because they do such a great job of preserving the local character of a hotel. This character comes through in the decor and room design, but also in small things, like welcome drinks and arrival gifts. The service has also been exceptional. For that reason, I had high expectations. We love Borgo dei Conti and Le Sommita Relais.
Le Chambard is a little different. The service didn’t feel quite as personal, but they were quite busy when we arrived. They waved us over to a welcome buffet, but there was not an explanation of what the regional specialties were. Despite the relatively modern feel of the public areas, the rooms felt a little more dated and a bit more traditional than what we are used to with Relais properties. It’s not to say that this is a bad hotel, but it was quite different. Our room was on the ground floor had a terrace that overlooked the parking lot and the spa.
The bed was so comfortable and included a step to get into it. The bathroom was huge, and I enjoyed the large soaking tub. The shower is a mounted hand shower, and I had a bit of trouble figuring out the best way to use it. Once I did, however, the water pressure was good and there was no shortage of hot water.
Like the 5 Terres Hotel, Le Chambard offers a spa that is free to guests. There is a dry sauna, a pool, and a jacuzzi. We took advantage of this during our stay and found it to be quite comfortable and not quite as busy at the 5 Terres spa.
Le Chambard is in the middle of the old town, so you can walk to all the restaurants nearby. There is a parking lot behind the hotel, which is gated. When you first check in, you can use the intercom and they will meet you in the parking lot to help with your luggage. The young woman helping us was so kind and friendly. After checking in, they gave us a code that we could use to come and go from the parking lot as we wanted.
Regent Petite France in Strasbourg
On our second trip to Alsace, we planned our trip around two things: 1. Maison des Tetes in Colmar and 2. Strasbourg, the capital of Christmas. I went back to my original Alsace hotel list (details below!) and decided that we would book the Regent Petite France Pavillion.
The Pavilion offers 17 modern rooms overlooking the Petite France canals in Strasbourg. It is a 30 second walk to the main Regent Petite France hotel building, which houses the spa and more rooms. I loved how quiet the annex was, especially since we were visiting Strasbourg during the Christmas markets. Strasbourg was busy, but the Regent Petite France was always quiet, especially in the evenings. The spa was a wonderful way to take a break during the middle of the day, too!
The French are geniuses when designing a space that can be used effectively. Our privilege room was an L-shape with four sets of windows overlooking the canals of Petite France. I loved how bright it was during the day, the accordion music in the early evenings, and we felt very comfortable leaving the windows open to cool our room down in the evening.
Our room had work spaces that both Tom and I could use – a small desk and a small sitting area – and in the evening, we turned it into a table for our picnic dinners. Our room offered tea service, a mini fridge, and a safe in a small dresses. The closet was tiny with only a few hangers, but it is sufficient. There are several shelves available for storage.
There was a separate bathroom and toilet area, which was really nice. There was a large walk-in shower with dual sinks. Bath amenities were Kos (which I also tried at the Hotel du Louvre in Paris), water pressure was good, and we had no issue with hot water. The bathroom was well-lit, very clean, and extremely comfortable for two people. The heated towel rack was really nice, especially in the evenings. I would warm up my nap dress before putting it on – how cozy!
Our room overlooked the moving bridge – something you have to see to believe – and we were surrounded by Michelin Star restaurants. One thing to know about Alsace is that you ALWAYS need reservations for dinner. No matter what town, what time of year, or what cuisine, we still haven’t learned our lesson on securing reservations in advance. When we arrived in Strasbourg in December, the restaurants let us know that they had been booked for more than three weeks. Fortunately, Christmas market food is delicious and I’ve never been let down by a boulangerie in France.
Maison des Tetes in Colmar
I don’t know what caught my attention about La Maison des Tetes, but from the moment I read about it, I knew I wanted to stay there. I was worried that I overhyped it in my mind, but it turns out that I absolutely loved every part of La Maison des Tetes. It is the perfect romantic hotel in Alsace, especially if you don’t need a spa. The contrast between the ancient building and the luxurious rooms is executed perfectly. The staff is incredibly kind and welcoming. The location is steps away from everywhere you want to visit in Colmar yet quiet in the evenings, making it the perfect Colmar retreat.
The standard room at Maison des Tetes is designed for comfortable luxury. Our room offered dual windows on the front facade of the building with soft linens curtains that blocked both light and noise when necessary. We had a very comfortable king bed with soft linens and plenty of pillows. Wall sconces, reading lights, and nightstands on both sides of the room made it very comfortable and provided plenty of light, even on dreary winter days.
I had a small alcove with a modern recliner and coffee table (where I’m writing this review actually), and Tom made use of a small desk and chair for his work. Our room offered a Nespresso machine, a mini-fridge, and plenty of room for storage and hanging clothes. The toilet was separate from the large bathroom, which was a nice touch. I loved having a soaking tub and dual sinks. The only thing I missed in our room was a heated towel rack, but that’s only because it got down into the low 20s in Colmar while we were there!
I loved the color scheme of our room at Maison des Tetes – a soft navy that is complemented by neutrals and beautiful wood paneling. The exposed wooden beams contrast with the modern lines of the furniture, but somehow it all fits together perfectly in that way that only Europeans seem to be able to pull off. The carpet was plush but very clean. The room felt incredibly luxurious without feeling stuffy.
With only 21 rooms, this hotel does sell out, especially for the Christmas markets If you find a great deal on it, book it. Our France itinerary was built around the days I could book La Maison des Tetes. I won’t judge you if you do the same.
Other Hotels Along the Alsace Wine Route
On our first tip, I was obsessed with staying at La Maison des Tetes in Colmar, but it was closed for its annual holiday. I wanted to stay there because it is located in the central part of Colmar and the antique glass and building looked incredible. We ended up at another Relais property, Le Chambard, as both Hotel des Berges and Domaine Du Kaegy were not open for the season yet either.
Less expensive hotels that we considered in Colmar are Hotel Colombier Suites, Reflets sur la Lach, James Boutique Hotel. Given the consistent issues with my hip, I opted for the hotels with spas, just to be on the safe side.
When we visited the Strasbourg Christmas markets in December 2021, I considered a few hotels in Strasbourg, including the Sofitel Grande Ile, M Gallery Hotel Cour du Corbeau, Hotel Le Bouclier d’Or et Spa, and Regent Petite France Hotel et Spa. I ended up choosing the Regent Petite France, and we loved it. The spa was a beautiful reprieve from the crowds of the Christmas markets in December.
In Summer 2022, we stayed at the James Vignoble in Eguisheim. It is the perfect place if you want to stay in a vineyard in Alsace! It’s a short walk from town, but offers comfortable rooms, spa amenities, and stunning views of the Alsace countryside! In some ways, our classic room felt very similar to our room at Le Chambard, though the bathroom was quite a bit smaller. The spa is incredible though – there are two pools (indoor and outdoor), a jacuzzi tub, and a sauna that overlooks the vineyards. That alone sold me on this hotel. It’s a very peaceful retreat, and Tom was ecstatic to stay within walking distances of Eguisheim.
In retrospect, I’m really glad that we did not stay in Strasbourg on our first trip to Alsace though. Both Barr and Kaysersberg were more convenient for exploring the Alsace wine route, and Strasbourg really did feel like a big city. It’s not to say that it’s not worth visiting, but I think some of the smaller villages have more character.
On our last night in Alsace, we discussed staying in Obernai and Riquewihr on future trips.
Wine Tasting along the Alsace Wine Route
Book a Formal Wine Tasting
One of the first things we did was schedule a formal Alsace wine tasting at one of the local producers. This wine tasting experience was the best thing we could have done in Alsace. Not only did we get a tour of their wine cellar and the old tasting room, but we learned about the different types of Alsatian wine and what distinguishes wines as grand cru. They spent an a lot of time with us and helped us understand more about the region, the grape, and the process. We didn’t realize that many Alsatian wineries are now owned by co-ops, so it was a gift to be able to meet a local producer whose family has been making wine since the end of World War II.
After the tour, we were able to try different white wines, including some of the grand cru wines. Tom and I both figured out that we enjoy white wine. Alsatian wines are very smooth without the acidic after taste. While I enjoyed the tasting that we did in Rothenburg ob der Tauber, I enjoyed these wines a bit more. We purchased two bottles from them at incredibly reasonable prices. Even the grand cru wines were inexpensive. This winery will ship within France, so we’ve had them ship wine to our hotel in Paris to bring back in our wine suitcase!
BOOK THIS: Alsatian Wine Tasting
Informal Wine Tastings in Alsace
If you aren’t interested in a formal tasting, there are tasting rooms all over Alsace. Once we knew a little bit more about the wines, we became more comfortable popping into the wine cellars and ordering at restaurants and cafes. (We didn’t have a bad wine in Alsace.) I think it’s really important to try different wines – while the grapes are the same, there are so many different flavors of wine. Don’t assume that all varietals will taste the same. Pop in anywhere and try what sounds good. Just FYI – the tasting may appear to be free, but it’s customary for the French to buy a bottle or two and keep moving to other wineries and purchase another bottle down the road. Don’t feel like you have to buy an entire case at one place.
Some of my favorite tasting rooms and bio wines from Alsace are Domaine Martin Jund (Colmar) and Maison Paul Gaschy (Eguisheim).
I think Eguisheim and Riquewihr are two of the most picturesque Alsatian villages to enjoy wine tasting. It felt as if there was a tasting room almost every few feet!
Where to Eat along the Alsace Wine Route
Alsace has more Michelin starred restaurants per capita than anywhere else in France. While we considered dining at one in Kaysersberg, we didn’t make a reservation and missed out. No matter the time of year, you need dinner reservations in the Alsace. (Even in France, on Valentine’s Day weekend, you need reservations.) The other thing that was challenging for us is that many of the menus were exclusively in French. I know enough French to get by, but if you don’t have a basic understanding of French, you’ll want a translation app. (Study some French though! Duolingo counts!) Throughout all of our trips, we’ve had some delicious meals throughout the Alsace wine route, though as I look back, Barr had the highest concentration of the most delicious meals.
If you miss out on securing restaurant reservations, pick up some picnic supplies and enjoy some bread, wine, cheese, and sausage at your hotel. I love a 15-18 month Comte with a fresh baguette. If you arrive in the evening, the Lidl will work for provisions. I promise.
If you visit during the Christmas markets, you can eat your way through the Christmas markets. We love to try the different sausages. Tom loves the Alsatian beer, but I’m a huge fan of the vin chaud blanc (especially in Strasbourg). We did a food tour of the Strasbourg Christmas markets that was absolutely delicious and completely filling.
Where to Eat in Barr, France
Viande & Passion
Our first meal was at Viande & Passion, which is just on the outskirts of Barr. I found this restaurant while searching instagram for more information on Barr. This restaurant functions as both a steakhouse and a butchery. Tom ran in to find out if they were open, and he quickly found out that my French skills would be necessary to translate. They were happy to welcome us as their second guests of the evening. We chose our steaks, the cook of the meat, and decided which of their house-made sauces to try, and they did the rest to ensure our meal was both delicious and memorable. There is also a salad bar of sorts that included olives, tomatoes, and the most delicious bread. I was happy to make my own bruschetta. I ordered a glass of wine with my steak and Tom and I both agreed it was the best wine we had ever tasted. (Our official wine tasting would happen the next day.)
The steaks were cooked perfectly. We enjoyed both the au poivre (peppercorn) sauce, as well as the sweeter shallot sauce. Next time I’m trying their house-made garlic butter. The steaks were serves with frites (fries) and a small side salad that was so delicious that Tom ate every bite of his (and mine)!
Winstub du Manoir in Barr
This was our Valentine’s Day dinner. We were worried about getting into any restaurant without a reservation, but the woman of the house was happy to accommodate us. Winstub du Manoir is a traditional Alsatian restaurant with wooden tables and chairs, exposed beams, and a menu filled with Alsatian dishes, from tarte flambe to charcroute with Alsatian meats. Tom enjoyed the traditional sauerkraut and sausage plate. (It’s served best with an Alsatian reisling.) I thought the sausage was delicious. I wanted to eat a plate of that!
To learn a little more about the wine, we ordered a couple of different glasses and enjoyed trying the different varietals. The clientele was mostly locals and they were happy to help us translate.
La Romanella in Barr
When planning a trip through the Alsace wine route, you need to take into account that most restaurants are closed on Sunday and Monday. Those are very quiet days to be in the Alsace, which is lovely, until you’re trying to figure out dinner. We had resigned ourselves to driving to Barr and picking up pizzas at a restaurant that seemed to be doing steady take-out business every time we passed by. As we were looking for a parking spot, I noticed that La Romanella appeared to be both open and empty. (It was 7:05pm. They open at 7:00.) They very happily accommodated us – along with many other local diners – and many, many pick up orders – and it was one of the most delicious meals of our trip. (I love how the French make such delicious and creative Italian food, especially in Alsace. I’ve had so many unique Italian dishes with incredible flavors not found elsewhere.)
We ordered a pizza as a first course, which they graciously split for us. Tom ordered his favorite thing I make – penne arrabiata. I ordered the penne avec pesto et jambon Italien. This was the most delicious dish I have ever had in my life. It wasn’t a traditional basil pesto, but rather a herb cream sauce. The combination of the sauce with the salty prosciutto was incredible. We ordered a liter of the house red wine and enjoyed every moment of this unexpected meal. (Aren’t those always the best ones – the ones you don’t think will work out??)
What made this meal extra special, however, was how kind the owners were. They constantly checked up on us, made sure that we enjoyed our food, and complimented our attempts to speak French. I know it seems trivial, but isn’t that why we travel? To share these moments of connection with others? (You have to remember that we were there at the end of February 2020, right before everything changed in so many ways.)
Where to Eat in Colmar, France
Via Roma Colmar
On our February 2020 trip, we tried valiantly to get a reservation at Via Roma in Colmar and failed multiple times. When we returned in December 2021, we snagged a reservation and enjoyed it so much that we got a second reservation, just in case. We ended up there again. Both meals were incredible, both in terms of the food and the service. When we returned in summer 2022, they were completely booked. Take it from me – you need a reservation for Via Roma.
Everything here is good, but the bruschetta stands out for its exceptionally fresh flavors. My mouth is watering just writing about it, and it’s definitely what I missed the most on our summer trip. I loved their lasagna in the winter months. It was the perfect way to warm up. They serve a penne with chicken that is especially delicious, too.
Tom loved their Christmas beer (served in an adorable boot), and they have a great wine list.
La Pignata Colmar
After finding ourselves without a reservation and unable to get into restaurants in Kayerberg and Colmar (even in February!), I was frantically searching restaurants outside of the city center and found La Pignata. This restaurant, after sizing us up and deciding we wouldn’t be a problem, offered us a table for an hour. Tom made a joke that we are Americans and definitely can eat under an hour and they gave us the table. (This is a place to use your French. When Tom called in summer 2022 for a reservation, they weren’t having it in English.)
I ordered the house speciality, which was a spinach ravioli with sun-dried tomatoes and a basil cream sauce. (It also had peas.) It was incredible. Tom kept asking me to switch entrees with him because he liked it so much. About halfway through the meal, we switched dishes and I finished his pizza. We split a tiramisu for dessert. The wine and the service was excellent.
Where to Eat in Eguisheim
Don’t let its stellar location fool you. Caveau d’Eguisheim is worth a visit. It’s a traditional Alsacatian restaurant right off the main square, and it is open on Sunday evenings! (Call in advance for your reservation.) We found the services to be very friendly, and the wine list is extensive with mostly producers from Eguisheim, so you’ll be able to pick up a few bottles before you leave. (At least, that’s what we did!)
Tom ordered the charcroute with 5 types of smoked meat with reisling. I ordered the filet au poivre, which was flambeed tableside. The green pepper shallot sauce was more sweet than peppery, and it was absolutely delicious with the frites. (I feel like I’m on a mission to try every version of steak au poivre in France now – I’ve never had two that were exactly alike.) I enjoyed a glass of pinot gris with my steak, though I’m not sure that’s the best wine for it. (Ask your server for ideas – their wine list is extensive!)
We finished off our dinner with the kugelhopf glace, which was the perfect summer ice cream dessert.
Alsace Villages to Visit Along the Alsace Wine Road
Unpopular opinion: Skip the day trips to Alsace. Plan to actually stay in the Alsace villages. I was shocked at how empty the towns were at night, and I feel like so many people are leaving so many amazing experiences on the table when they do these towns a day trip from Strasbourg or even Paris.
A long weekend is not nearly enough time to discover all the gems of the Alsace. I’m just going to tell you that now. I think it’s one of those places that you have to keep going back to and peel back the layers – kind of like Tuscany and Umbria. You can appreciate the beauty on the surface, but if you want to crack the nut, you have to keep going back.
I’m going to give you a brief overview of the towns that we’ve visited. I didn’t notice big difference between what was open in the summer versus the winter, however, the locals did tell us repeatedly how smart it was to visit in February when it was less crowded. That said, they did say to come back for Christmas markets, even if it would be crowded. (It was 100% worth it.)
Barr is so dramatically underrated. With water fixtures, cobblestone streets, and half timbered houses, it’s just as lovely as some of the more popular Alsatian villages. The drive from Strasbourg to Barr was really lovely. Tom thinks the vineyards around Barr are some of the most beautiful in the region. (Hunawihr and Eguisheim vineyards are very lovely, too.) I think Barr has some of the most delicious food in the area. While it feels a bit more modern than some of the other towns, it is also remarkably well preserved and feels very lived in. I am sure it is extra lovely in spring when the flowers are in bloom. Barr has a walkable historic city center, but it also has a brand new Lidl grocery store right outside of town. (This is Tom’s favorite Lidl, lol.) As a side note, I loved the late night mini mart next to our hotel. He sold bulk Haribo candy, which happened to be the perfect sweet treat when I needed one.
Riquewihr reminded me of Rothenburg ob der Tauber in the fact that it felt like it was straight out of the Middle Ages with its ramparts and towers. It might also be because I bought a night watchman ornament from Feerie de Noel. They were doing a lot of work on the buildings on the cobblestones while we were there, but I particularly enjoyed visiting a couple of the art galleries. Riquewihr is less than 15 minutes from the winery we visited, and they insisted that we visit Riquewihr when we left.
If you are looking for a souvenir to bring to your friends, I thoroughly recommend the cookies at Maison Alsacienne de Biscuiterie. There are a few more locations of this store throughout the region, but I liked the Riquewihr store best. She had the most delicious pretzels. too. As far as cookies go, I recommend the etoile (stars), the cinnamon cookies, and the praline flowers. The rose cookies are unique and delicious, too… but I went back for the pralines and the stars multiple times!
When we visited Riquewihr in the summer, we stumbled upon a Venetian festival, complete with a costume parade. If you are visiting the Alsace in the summer, make sure to put this festival on your radar. The costumes were incredible, and the people were so very kind – stopping for photographs and to indulge the excitement of children!
Ribeauville is one of the bigger towns in Alscace but it doesn’t feel like a city the same way Colmar does. Though they have preserved the historical feel, there is definitely a different feel between the newer part of the city and the older part of the city. If you’re looking for a city that will keep you entertained, it’s probably Ribeauville.
There are plenty of shops and restaurants to explore throughout the town. Many of the cafes and bakeries have places to sit and watch the world go by. We visited on Sunday afternoon and there were plenty of people out and about. Many things were closed, but there was more open in Ribeauville than there was in Kaysersberg. If you are traveling with children, this is probably the place to stay.
If my hip wasn’t protesting, we would have done a bit of hiking in and around Kaysersberg. Kaysersberg is the right place to stay if you want to be in a town but you also want to explore nature. The river that runs through the town is particularly beautiful and you can follow it up into the vineyards. There are some very reasonably priced Michelin-starred restaurants in Kaysersberg and many restaurants have outdoor seating. It’s the perfect place for an evening meal in the summer. If it had been just a bit warmer in the winter, I would have liked to order some pretzels and watch the world go by.
In summer 2022, we had a really delightful meal at L’authentique Sophie on the terrace. I loved my Napoli pizza with olives, and Tom thought the diavola pizza with an egg was the most spicy pizza he’s ever eaten. He loved it. I opted for a spritz and Tom enjoyed an Alsatian beer, though in retrospect would have ordered the Italian one to complement his pizza.
One thing you have to know about my husband is that Beauty and the Beast is his favorite movie. He says the Eguisheim is the village that it is based off of, and I don’t disagree. He LOVES Eguisheim. I found it to be a little too quiet, especially in February. At times, it felt almost a little too perfect, a little too postcard-y, and not very lived in. But – if pretty villages are your thing – head to Eguisheim. (The cobblestones around the ramparts were hard on my hip in Eguisheim though.)
If you are most interested in wine tasting, I will say that there are several wineries that offer tastings. You can walk from tasting room to tasting room in Eguisheim. (The cobblestones were also really hard on my hip, so it might be my pain talking.) You can also rent bikes in Eguisheim – it’s very conveniently located to visit the other villages by bike or on food. (Yes, in December 2021, we walked from Colmar to Eguisheim.)
I loved the Christmas market in Eguisheim. It felt very local and less frantic than Colmar or Strasbourg.
I was most looking forward to Colmar because that’s the town everyone talks about. I had heard about the Petite Venice (little Venice) neighborhood and I was excited to see it for myself. While I loved the Petite Venice area (what’s not to love?), it did feel like a bigger city compared with the smaller villages. There were plenty of “name brand” stores, souvenir shops, and a lot of poorly rated restaurants.
That said, if museums are your thing, definitely don’t skip Colmar. The Unterlinden Museum, along with the Bartholdi Museum, may be the more interesting museums in the region. My favorite part was certainly checking out the covered market, and it’s certainly one of the first places we returned to when we stayed in Colmar in December 2021. I left our first trip to Colmar feeling like I was missing something. I think that first trip to Colmar is what convinced me that I need to dig deeper into the Alsace and peel back the layers a bit more.
When we returned to Alsace in summer 2022, I booked a bike tour from Colmar to Eguisheim, and I enjoyed seeing the city from yet another perspective. I would definitely consider booking the wine tasting or gastronomy bike tours next time!
Don’t miss taking a boat ride around the canals of Petite Venice around sunset! Even in the winter, it is a lovely trip!
Listen, Learn & Read More about the Alsace Wine Route Villages
As I mentioned above, I had a hard time finding information about the Alsace. Most books focus on Strasbourg and maybe Colmar. So many of the other villages are left out, and much of the information online focuses on day trips to the area. Don’t do it as day trip. Spend a couple days in the Alsace. Try different pastry shops, local restaurants, and stay in hotels. It’s what keeps these villages from becoming living museums.
The Rick Steves app has a couple of episodes about the Alsace region, particularly as it relates to the food and the German influence on it. Again, there’s not a lot out there in terms of informative videos or podcasts. There are some beautiful 4k videos of the villages that got us really excited to visit, but they didn’t have any information. If you’re looking for photographic inspiration though, those videos are a great way to get excited.
Frommers France Day by Day book had quite a bit about the Alsace wine region. It is actually part of the reason that I found Le Chambard and was excited about booking it. It has a couple of thorough itineraries for Alsace and Lorraine with different interests highlighted, and included some of the other towns that aren’t covered by other websites and books. It also has a significant portion of restaurant recommendations for foodies.
I bought Tom the Rick Steves France book for his Valentine’s Day gift. He was really excited because it included walking tour ideas for all the major towns in Alsace. Both of these are pretty good size books, so I didn’t pull them out except on the plane, train, or in the car. They don’t serve well as pocket guides.
My first stop for trip planning was Lorelei’s blog. She has an incredibly informative post on things to do, see and eat in Colmar. She also has a great 3-day road trip itinerary through Alsace. If you’re looking for more information on wine tasting in Alsace, Anisa has a great post on her blog.
Here are a few of my favorite books that I used for trip planning: France’s Best Road Trips, Back Roads France, and Frommer’s Day by Day
Your photos are stunning! I have a month-long trip to France book at the beginning of May (fingers crossed things have settled down by then) and was planning on visiting most of the places you mentioned in this post! I’m definitely saving it to review again closer to my trip- it will be very helpful.
I love Alsace so much! I went during summer 2018 and it was so magical, but I hope to go back again during Christmas market season with my mom since it’s been her dream to go there.