Long Weekend in Alsace (by Nataly)
Posted on 20 April 2017
Alsace, a French region close to the German border, is a real foodie’s paradise. With an abundance of quality produce and one of the world’s highest concentrations of Michelin-star restaurants, it’s easy to see why so many people from all over the world come here. Alsace is also famous for its traditional, picturesque, colorful villages. Easter and Christmas are the perfect times to visit this region, as every village does its best to decorate everything making it look like a fairy tale come to life. I visited Alsace this Easter and fell in love with the region. I want to share some of my tips to make your next stay there most enjoyable.
The best place to stay is in southern Alsace, near Colmar. There are lots of lovely small villages with beautiful houses and great restaurants, and everything is very close.
What to see:
From my point of view the most beautiful villages are:
- Eguisheim: Designated as one of France's "Plus Beaux Villages" (Most Beautiful Villages of France), the picture-perfect village of Eguisheim is nestled in a sunny valley surrounded by the green rolling foothills of the Vosges Mountains. Just a short distance from Colmar, this typical Alsatian village has narrow cobblestone streets lined with brightly painted half-timbered houses that date from the 16th and 17th centuries. You can spend almost the whole day wandering, visiting small artisanal shops, tasting wine, and eating in great restaurants. I recommend the restaurant “Au Vieux Porche” for lunch or dinner.
- Riquewihr: This is another fairy-tale village, also one of the "Plus Beaux Villages de France" as well as a "Village Fleuris" (Flowering Village). Its beautiful historical center is a bit smaller than Eguisheim’s. This village is famous for cheese and other delicacies. It also has an incredible Christmas shop, not to be missed any time of the year!
- Kaysersberg: This village is a bit bigger and more touristy than Eguisheim and Riquewihr but still very nice. You can stroll along the streets of Kaysersberg, admiring its colorful houses, look across the river, and go up to the castle, where you will have a wonderful view of the village and vineyards below. We tried the Easter menu in Winstub du Chambard (the simpler sister restaurant of Olivier Nasti, chef and winner of the illustrious “Meilleur Ouvrier de France” title in 2007) and it was simply amazing!
- Ribeauvillé: Located only four kilometers from Riquewihr, this town is divided into an upper and lower part. You can walk around the town in one or two hours, visiting many of the local shops, which sell artisanal products and gourmet food. There is a very nice restaurant, a bit outside of the city walls but only 4 minutes from the town, called “Au Relais des Ménétriers”, which has fairly inexpensive gourmet menus. You should definitely try their dessert with sabayon and strawberries.
You should also visit Château du Haut-Koenigsbourg, very close to Ribeauvillé. It was originally built in the 12th century and restored at the beginning of the 20th century. On a clear day, you will have a breathtaking view from the château on valleys and villages below.
- And, of course, you cannot miss the main village of the area – Colmar. The Krutenau Quarter, also known as "Little Venice," is a wonderful area for walking along the tree-lined streets, or taking a scenic boat tour around the canals.
What to eat/drink in Alsace:
- You should try the local foie gras d’oie (goose liver), escargots, choucroute, and the amazing desserts. For lunch, you can have tarte flambé, another specialty of Alsace which is a bit like a thin pizza.
- Alsace is famous for its wines, and anywhere you go you will see local producers. You can just drive in and ask to taste their wines! As there are so many of them, I would recommend doing a little research before you go. You should especially check out the Grand Cru wines (I loved the Grand Cru Wineck-Schlossberg from Katzenthal, next to Kaysersberg). Alsace is famous for its white wines, the most popular of which are: Pinot Gris (which is usually rather sweet in Alsace), Gewurztraminer (good with foie gras, also on the sweet side), Muscat (fruity but dry), Pinot Blanc (rather dry) and Crémant, which is like young champagne (some are very nice!).
What to buy in Alsace:
- cheese from Munster
- foie gras d'oie (it's better to get demi-cuit but you need to preserve it in the refrigerator)
- glass products made by local artisans (there is a nice shop in Kaysersberg) or some special souvenirs (like from the mushroom shop in Eguisheim).
Alsace is also famous for its bicycles rides. So, if the weather is nice, get a bicycle and tour vineyards or try cycling the wine road (Route des Vins).
INVIN jewellery recommendation for this region
As the most beautiful villages here are "Ville Fleurie" (Flower villages), you should definitely wear our flower sets:
- Try “Spring in the Alps” or "Montreux" (which also perfectly matches the colors of the houses) or
- Flowery “Delft”, named after a beautiful Dutch village.
Overall, having travelled a lot in my life, I would say that Alsace region should not be missed while visiting Europe, and it’s a great weekend trip from Switzerland.
All photos made by Nataly Taranova