The Alsace Wine Route, in the region of Grand Est, is the most famous wine route in France. This simple itinerary of 170km, between Strasbourg and Mulhouse, invites visitors to discover the beautiful landscapes of Alsace and its more than 1.000 wine producers.
Learn about the wines of Alsace but also visit the picturesque Alsace villages with their beautiful half-timbered houses and marvel at the imposing medieval castles and their fascinating history!
Wines of Alsace
The Alsace Wine Regio produces dry white wines, sparkling sweet varieties, and roses. Just like in Germany, you can find delicious Rieslings, Gewurztraminers, and Pinot Gris. There are also wines made from the Pinot noir grape which are pale red, often rosé, Sparkling wines, known as Crémant d’Alsace, are also made of Pinot noir.
Alsace wines are aromatic, floral and spicy. Since they very seldom have any oak barrel aromas, they tend to be very varietally pure in their character.
Unlike in Bordeaux Wine Region, wine producers in Alsace open their wineries to visitors during the harvest, from September to November, and most other times of the year (including weekends). Usually, wine producers in Alsace speak French, German and English and chatting with them, while tasting their wine, is a good opportunity to learn more about the wines of Alsace.
TOP TIP: If you are planning to bring a few bottles home (who could resist?!), make sure you pack your wine properly so it arrives safely home!
Best way to visit the Wine Route of Alsace
We visited the Alsace Wine Route by car and this is, in our opinion, the best way to visit Alsace. We had our own car and we started the Alsace road trip from Paris, where we live. We visited the region from south to north up to Strasbourg.
If you don’t have a car, we recommend renting the car in one of the main cities of Alsace, even if you are leaving from Paris! It takes 5 hours to drive Paris – Mulhouse (without counting the time to leave the city) while Paris – Mulhouse or Paris – Strasbourg is only a 2-hour train ride. Rent your car in Mulhouse and drop it off in Strasbourg or vice-versa.
Alsace Wine Route Map and Itinerary
The best Alsace Wine Route itinerary includes some wine, some small towns in Alsace, hikes through the Alsace hillside vineyards and a bit of history. Click on the Alsace map to see all the stops of our road trip in Alsace.
» Mulhouse – Colmar – Kaysersberg – Riquewihr – Eguisheim –Château de Haut-Koenisgsbourg – Strasbourg
What we missed:
Unfortunately, we did not have enough time for hiking the Vosges or visiting other cute Alsace villages like Ribeauvillé (marked in grey on the map). We definitely need to come back!
Paris to Alsace
The distance Paris to Mulhouse is more than 500km, which makes a drive of around 6 hours non- stop. We decided to take it easy and we did some short stops for eating /drinking a coffee and sightseeing. Along the way, we visited the beautiful medieval city of Troyes and the amazing Chapel of Ronchamp by Le Corbusier but these places will be covered in other posts. We slept in Mulhouse.
DAY 1 | La Cité de l’Automobile in Mulhouse
Mulhouse is not the most exciting city in Alsace but it is a good starting point of any Alsace road trip. Mulhouse has two interesting tourist attractions which deserve at least a half-day stop: La Cité de l’Automobile and La Cité du Train.
La Cité de l’Automobile, also known of Musée national de l’Automobile, is built around the Schlumpf collection of classic automobiles. The Schlumpf brothers were two businessmen living in Mulhouse with a passion for cars. Their collection, located in one of their former factories, is the largest displayed collection of automobiles and contains the largest and most comprehensive collection of Bugatti cars in the world. The museum displays some of the very first cars but also racing cars or luxury cars. It is amazing!
Personally, I prefer the oldest cars while Norbert is fascinated by the cars of the ’70s and ’80s. The good thing about La Cité de l’Automobile is that there are cars for all tastes, you can even ride some of them!
This museum is huge! When you arrive, it is a good idea to take the little train (commented visit) which wanders around the museum to get an overview of the collection and the different sections.
Unfortunately, we only spent half a day in Mulhouse but if you can stop for one full day, don’t miss La Cité de l’Automobile.
DAYS 2-3 | Colmar
Colmar is the most popular city to visit in the Wine Route of Alsace. Compared to the other Alsace villages, Colmar is relatively big, with a good choice of accommodation and restoration so it is the perfect place to set your base camp for one day or two. We spent three nights in Colmar.
The Old Town of Colmar is the city’s main highlight. It is made of half-timbered houses, cobblestone lanes, and quaint canals (Little Venice). The best way to visit Colmar is by following the Tourist Trail. The signposted trail leads visitors in a 6.1km loop around the city (estimated time: 2.5 hours). The route is outlined on the free Colmar Old Town Map from the tourist office. Alternatively, simply follow the golden triangles (embossed with Lady Liberty) to top Colmar sights. Each Colmar attraction featured a sign of relevant information providing a history of Colmar, France (in both French and English).
FUN FACT: Artist Auguste Bartholdi – The man who created the Statue of Liberty – was born in Colmar in 1834. As a Colmar claim-to-fame, Lady Liberty appears throughout the city.
In Colmar, it is a good idea to take a full day or a half-day Alsace wine tour as an introduction to wines of Alsace. Once you learn the basics of the Alsace wine and do some tastings, you will be better prepared to deal with the small wine producers and make interesting purchases.
Don’t you have a car? The town of Eguisheim, just southwest of Colmar, can be reached by bicycle in less than one hour! Alternatively, take a full-day tour to explore the most beautiful Alsace villages.
DAY 3 | Kaysersberg
Kaysersberg is another cute Alsace village which deserves a short stop on this Alsace Wine Trail. The village is built by the River Weiss, which flows between the houses.
Apart from the architecture of half-timbered houses and pastel colors, so typical of the region, Kaisersberg has other outstanding sights like the Rhenish Rennaissance town hall, the 16th century fortified bridge and the ruins of the 13th-century castle still dominating the village from the hill. Finally, don’t miss the stone decoration on houses and public buildings and the old shop signs.
DAY 4 | Riquewihr
If you have to choose only one village to visit in Alsace, Riquewihr has everything to fall in love with it. This fortified village surrounded by vineyards and listed among the Most Beautiful Villages of France was built in the 16th century and it is like if time has slowed down in this town.
Apart from its beautiful half-timbered houses and picturesque alleys, Riquewihr has no less than 40 monuments classified as Historical Monuments. Follow the town’s walls and visit the 3 defense towers of the village, some of the oldest fortifications here. The Thieves’ Tower was the former prison of Riquewihr.
DAY 4 | Route des Grands Crus Hike
Beyond the limits of Riquewihr lies a stunning horizon filled with vineyards growing between some hills. This is the starting point of the Grands Crus Wine Trail which goes through the Alsace vineyards of the communal territories of Riquewihr, Beblenheim, Benwihr, Hunawihr, and Zellenberg. (Grands Crus Trail). This bucolic 16km trail is punctuated by panels explaining the works in the vineyards and the production of wine.
- Starting Point: Auberge du Schoenenbourg in Riquewihr and it is open all the year-round except during the grape harvest.
- Difficulty level: easy
- Duration: 4 hrs 30 min for the full trail (loop) but we cut it at Zellenberg – a smaller loop – due to lack of time. From Zellenberg we went back to Riquewihr to buy some wine!
DAY 4 | Eguisheim
Eguisheim is a very cute small town, listed among the Most beautiful villages of France. In Eguisheim the streets are arranged in concentric circles around the Eguisheim Castle. Wander around the narrow cobbled streets, flanked by beautiful architecture of half-timbered houses with balconies and windows full of flowers. Don’t miss the central square with its magnificent stone fountain and the colorful Saint Leo Chapel inside.
DAY 4 | The 3 Towers of Eguisheim Hike
The three castles on the Schlossberg hill (591m) is a nice hike to walk. The castles were built during the 11th and 12th centuries by three families of the region. All the three castles were destroyed in 1466 during the War of the Six Oboles.
The castles per se are nothing spectacular but the hike up to the hill is beautiful. We took the trail starting at the camping “Les Trois Chateaux” in Eiguisheim. On the way, we crossed vineyards, the small town of Husseren-Les-Châteaux and a bit of forest at the end of the hike.
Moreover, this path offers an exceptional panorama on the whole valley and its three castles. The views from the top of the hill are also great.
DAY 5 | Château de Haut-Koenisgsbourg
On the way to Strasbourg, the end of this Wine Route Alsace, stop at Château du Haut Koenisbourg, one of the most interesting Castles in France. This is a fortified castle built in the 12th century but deeply transformed over the centuries which dominates the Alsatian Plain from the Buntsandstein Rock.
The castle was built by the Hohenstaufen family as part of a defense line to reinforce their power in Alsace. Over the centuries the castle was disputed by different families and nations until it was badly damaged during the Thirty Years’ War and it was abandoned.
In the 20th century, the castle went through a deep restoration under the direct supervision of William II who visited the works regularly. For the Kaiser, this castle marked the western boundary of the German Empire.
DAYS 5-6 | Strasbourg – the capital
Strasbourg is the capital city of the Grand Est region, formerly Alsace. Home of the European Parliament, Strasbourg is an international city, not too big but not too small, with a very interesting heritage from the medieval and Renaissance period.
Strasbourg’s most outstanding sites are the picturesque neighborhood of La Petite France – the former tanners, millers, and fishermen district set along the banks the Ill river – and its huge cathedral, 142 meters height! After visiting the cathedral we recommend climbing to the top of the towers to admire the city from above. During clear days it is possible to see the Black Forest in Germany.
TOP TIP: In Strasbourg all the city center is car-free. For us, it was key to find a hotel not far from the city center and with its own carpark.
The Alsatian cuisine is very similar to German cuisine, with a wide use of pork in all its forms, and potatoes in generous portions. Traditional dishes include baeckeoffe, flammekueche, choucroute (on the picture above), cordon bleu, Vol-au-vent, spaetzle, fleischnacka, and bretzel.
Dishes are served with Alsatian wines (mostly whites) or beers. Kronenbourg is the most famous beer made in Alsace but there are also many micro-breweries producing interesting beers.
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