The Belle France Guide to the North-eastern corner of France with a dash of German influence
Alsace is not like any other region of France. Nestled away in the north-eastern part of France, you may think you’ve crossed the border into Germany when visiting, as the Germanic influence is very evident. To be fair, ownership has changed hands many times over the years, so it’s the perfect combination of both worlds.
It is its own place – even the language is a natural combination of both countries, and visitors will be as likely to experience sauerkraut together with mussels (ok, not really, but you get the point!) such have the two cultures intertwined over the years.
This is the attraction however, and together with the food, evidence of German influence can be seen in the architecture too.
Known as a wine producing region, Alsace is also famous for its beer too, did you know that Kronenburg and Heineken originate from Alsace?
But back to the wine. There’s a popular cycle trail which runs through the region, the Alsace Wine Route, which runs for 170km from Marlenheim in the north, through to Thann in the south. So if you are looking for something different to the Loire Valley cycle route, this could be the answer.
So what can be seen along the way? Here are a few sights which are not to be missed if you decide to hop on your bicycle and give it a go. All of the below sights can be found on our Alsace Prestige en Vélo tour.
This pretty village is a member of the Association of the Most Beautiful Villages in France, and it’s not difficult to see why. Stunning historical architecture is all around, with half-timbered medieval houses, the Dolder Tower (defensive gateway from the 13th Century) and courtyards, wells and fountains making up what really is a spectacular sight. It’s also famous for its Reisling, and there’s even a torture museum thrown in for good measure too! So if you want to step back in time, and experience this region how it would have been in the 16th Century, then this village is a must on your itinerary.
A popular town, second only to Strasbourg in terms of attracting visitors to the region. Instantly recognisable by its twin towers of the St Pierre/Paul Church. As with Riquewihr, some wonderful examples of medieval architecture, but Obernai also boasts a Renaissance Well of the Six Buckets, remains of the medieval ramparts, and a belfry which all contribute to the character of this beautiful town.
The capital of Alsatian wine, you can’t visit the region without making a stop here. It has its own microclimate, making it one of the driest places in France, perfect for making wine. Again, you will come across the timber buildings which are synonymous with this region, interspersed with Vosges pink and yellow sandstone.
It has an area of canals which run through the old town, earning it the nickname of Little Venice. Interesting architectural sights and wonderful wine make this a winner.
With the usual sights expected of an Alsatian town, Ribeauville is no different. However, there are also three castles which are nestled in the side of a hill which overlooks the village which make this an additional sight to see, and a lovely walk to get to all three and visit. What makes this town especially popular are the festivals that take place here every year, including the Fiddlers’ Festival, Wine Festival and also the Christmas market.
A truly ‘get away from it all’ region, and perfect for cycling along, stopping off at the various medieval towns along the way and sampling the wine, maybe even a beer or two too! Coupling sausages and sweet biscuits, you really are in for a treat if you decide to holiday here. Do get in touch with us if you would like to arrange your holiday for you (and don’t worry if you don’t want to cycle, we do have a walking and a river cruise to this region too!)
2 Related Holidays
Alsace Prestige en Vélo
Cycle the famous wine route of the Alsace
Alsace is a little known corner of France with a distinctly Germanic influence: a combination of picturesque historic towns, fine wines, beer and choucroute contribute to a unique culture. Cycle the oldest wine route in France,...
Venture into the Vosges
Pagan walls and castles of Mont Sainte-Odile in Lorraine
This is a picturesque hike, passing the ancient monastery at Mont Sainte-Odile. You will encounter many old castles and ancient Neolithic walls as you follow tracks across an ever-changing terrain of woodland and vines. Belle France are not...