Tips and Inspiration for your European holiday

Lakes or mountains (and often both) are usually essential reasons that make me fall in love with a town or region and include it on my 'absolute favourites' list. On my most recent trip to the UK and Europe, however, two regions without either a significant lake or mountain have knocked me for six and stolen my heart. The first region is the Cotswolds in England and the second, France's stunning Alsace region and particularly, the gorgeous village of Riquewihr.

 
Riquewihr buildings


Over the years, Alsace has been part of both Germany and France, with both countries fighting for the region, and it still retains a mixture of both cultures in its architecture, food and wine and even its language and town names. Whilst proudly French these days, village names like Riquewihr, Hunawihr and Guebwiller sound more German than French but the region has integrated both cultures seamlessly.


For both our stays in the Alsace region we have based ourselves at Riquewihr, one of France's most beautiful villages, and just 20 minutes from the centre of Colmar. Riquewihr is situated on the famous Alsace Wine Route and has to be one of the loveliest villages I have ever visited.

 

Colourful buildings in RiquewihrColourful buildings are just one of Riquewihr's many charms.

Things to do in Riquewihr

The town, which has a population of just 1300, is like something out of a fairy tale. You enter it through the gate of the old fortified town walls and are immediately struck by its beauty.


The cobblestoned main street is lined with brightly painted houses with window boxes bursting with colour and leads to the Dolder, one of the original gates of the 13th Century town walls, at the top of the street. A maze of narrow alley ways, all decorated in the same manner, lead off the main street and just beg to be discovered.

Flower boxes in Riquewihr, FranceFlower boxes adorned many of the buildings in Riquewihr, adding even more colour.


There are plenty of souvenir shops to tempt you but a visit to Kathe Wohlfahrt's Christmas Shop is a must, as is a tasting of the local wine at one of the many cellar doors. Riesling and Gewurztraminer are the two local wines the region is famous for.

 
Kathe Wohlfahrt Christmas shop, RiquewihrThe Kathe Wohlfahrt Christmas shop in Riquewihr is a Christmas-lover's delight. And it's open year round!


A 40 minute ride on the Petite Train is a good way to learn a little about Riquewihr and as it also passes some of the vineyards on the edge of town, you can also find out some of the facts and figures about wine growing in Alsace.

 

 

What to see around Riquewihr

The Alsace Wine Route, which pretty much stretches from Strasbourg in the north to Mulhouse in the south, offers endless gorgeous villages, all surrounded by grapevines, to visit. Most villages have wine cellars where you can taste the local drop.


Ribeauville and Kayserberg are two nearby towns we enjoyed visiting.  Just like Riquewihr, brightly coloured buildings stand shoulder to shoulder along the streets, and every corner you turn results in another 'ooh' and 'aah'.


Ribeauville, FranceWandering the streets of Ribeauville, you almost feel as if you are walking in a fairytale.


Hunawihr, just a couple of kilometres from Riquewihr, was another village we loved. Its churchyard provided fantastic views of the acres and acres of lush green vines which are planted on the sloping hillsides.


Hunawihr is also home to a recovery centre for storks.  These majestic birds were almost extinct before a breeding program was introduced.  They can now be seen sitting on their (very large) nests on top of many local buildings - and even on church spires!


View of RiquewihrRiquewihr is situated on the picturesque Alsace Wine Route.


A drive from Riquewihr to Haut Koenigsbourg Castle is definitely worthwhile. The castle has been restored to a high standard and contains many items from its days of glory. Built high on a hill overlooking Alsace, the views were absolutely stunning.

 

haut koenigsbourgThe views from Haut Koenigsbourg Castle are spectacular.


On our first visit to Riquewihr, we were lucky enough to be there on the weekend of Bastille Day (France's national day) and enjoyed a local pageant which included a marching band all decked out in their traditional costumes.

 

Bastille Day celebrations in RiquewihrThe local Riquewihr marching band entertain the crowd on Bastille Day.


Where to stay in Riquewihr

On both visits to Riquewihr, I stayed at the Best Western Hotel Le Schoenenbourg, Riquewihr, just a two minute walk from the centre of town.  Read my review | Check latest prices


Kayserberg, FranceKayserberg is another village well worth a visit.


Getting to Riquewihr

Riquewihr is most easily accessed by car (you'll need one to visit the multitude of lovely sights in the area) and is situated 15 kilometres from Colmar and 80 kilometres from Strasbourg. 


Hire cars can be collected from the railway stations at these two cities, whilst the TGV and TER trains service Colmar, Strasbourg and Mulhouse from Paris. The region is also serviced by both the Basel-Mulhouse and Strasbourg airports.


If you don't have your own car, Riquewihr can be reached by a local bus service from Colmar.  Bus 106 departs from near the cinema in Colmar and the return fare is around €6 per adult.  View timetables here.


Get a free car hire quote | Search train fares


The Dolder RiquewihrRiquewihr's main street leads up to the Dolder (clock tower).

 

If you prefer to stay in Strasbourg or Colmar, you can still visit Riquewihr on a day or half-day tour.  These are some of the most popular tours:

 


Where to eat in Riquewihr

The pedestrianised streets of Riquewihr are home to many restaurants and cafes, mainly serving local specialities.  We enjoyed a delicious, casual meal at du Vignoble restaurant and pizzeria at 3 rue Laterale.  I tried the traditional Tarte Flambee (a thin-based pizza crust with cream, onion and bacon topping) with a glass of local Riesling  - it was delicious.


Riquewihr shopThis gorgeous shop in Riquewihr's main streets sells local products.

 

Take a look at Riquewihr on this short video:

 

 
Related articles:

 

 Click here to read my other French travel articles >>

 

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Riquewihr and the Alsace wine region alsace wine route

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Comments   

# Carolyn 2014-02-13 16:47
Quoting cbaarch:
Hi
I am Bouncing from the link on Aussie in France's blog. If I might add:
We stay in Marlenheim at the north end of the wine route mainly because of Le Cerf which has a Michelin 1 star with absolutely great Alsacien dishes.
We used the autoroute E25 to get back and forth after doing a wine route section.

Thanks for stopping by and for the great tip on Marlenheim. I'm hoping to get back to Alsace again this year so will definitely add Le Cerf to my list of things to do. I've never eaten at a Michelin star restaurant so what better place to start than Alsace!
Reply
# cbaarch 2014-02-13 13:42
Hi
I am Bouncing from the link on Aussie in France's blog. If I might add:
We stay in Marlenheim at the north end of the wine route mainly because of Le Cerf which has a Michelin 1 star with absolutely great Alsacien dishes.
We used the autoroute E25 to get back and forth after doing a wine route section.
Reply

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