Instagram

Follow Me!

DESTINATIONS Featured

Best Day Trip From Strasbourg: Visiting Three Fairytale Villages

October 9, 2018
Best Day Trip from Strasbourg - Alsatian wall plaque

If you need one more reason to visit Strasbourg—or to stay one extra day—you’ve got it!

The city is a perfect launch pad to explore some of the other beautiful Alsatian towns that are just a short distance away.

Best Day Trip from Strasbourg - Strasbourg is the gateway to Alsace

Strasbourg is the gateway to Alsace

After consultation with the concierge at our hotel in Strasbourg (Regent Petlte France), we settled on three places to visit—Colmar, Kayserberg and Riquewihr—mainly because of their rich historical and architectural heritage. Yes, these villages have become somewhat over-touristed, but when you visit them you can easily see why.

Getting there

We toyed with the idea of renting a car but the hotel concierge suggested booking a driver and car because parking might be a problem. As it turned out, we were happy to have the opportunity to spend quality time with Stephan, an English-speaking driver, who was eager to share his opinions about Alsatian culture, politics, food and the economy during our six-hour day.

Best Day Trip from Strasbourg - Our driver, Stephan

Our driver, Stephan

To reach the first of these villages, Colmar, we entered the toll-free highway, Autoroute A35. The ride in light traffic on a Saturday morning took about an hour. Located in the northeast part of France, the Alsace region borders Germany. Along the highway, every charming village is surrounded by vineyards, all set in the dramatic backdrop of the foothills of the Vosges Mountains and Black Forest.

Here are a few highlights of our stops!


Colmar

With a population of some 68,000 people, Colmar is by far the largest of the three towns we visited but its well-preserved historic center is small and intimate.

Upon exiting the highway, we entered a roundabout at the north end of town where we were welcomed by (and surprised to see) a 12-meter (almost 40-foot) resin replica of the Statue of Liberty. Built to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the death of sculptor Auguste Bartholdi, it foreshadowed our visit to the birthplace of one of Colmar’s most famous citizens. (Bartholdi’s home is now a museum there).

Best Day Trip From Strasbourg - Replica Statue of Liberty on the roundabout in Colmar

Replica Statue of Liberty on the roundabout in Colmar

In the town center, we set off on foot. Like much of the Grand Est region of northeast France, Colmar is filled with color. Floral displays drape the railings of the canal on the Lauch River, an area so picturesque it has been dubbed “Little Venice.”

Best Day Trip From Strasbourg - Little Venice in Colmar

Little Venice in Colmar

Best Day Trip from Strasbourg - Another view of the colorful houses in Little Venice in Colmar

Another view of the colorful houses in Little Venice in Colmar

The tiled roofs on the Gothic Saint-Martin’s Church and the old Custom’s House (Koifhus) are splashed with color, too.

Best Day Trip from Strasbourg- St. Martin's Church in Colmar

St. Martin’s Church in Colmar

The lively town is said to have been the inspiration for Belle’s hometown in Disney’s “Beauty and The Beast.” Narrow cobblestone streets wind through Colmar, lined with characteristic half-timbered houses.

Best Day Trip from Strasbourg - Colorful tiled roof in Colmar

Colorful tiled roof in Colmar

Best Day Trip from Strasbourg - Maison Pfister, a Renaissance building from 1537 in Colmar

Maison Pfister, a Renaissance building from 1537 in Colmar

The covered market first opened in Colmar in 1865 but its interior is quite contemporary, filled with a mix of German and French delicacies including plenty of pretzels, a specialty of Alsace. Here and in each of the cities we visit, beautiful Iron-forged medieval guild signs hang from the cafes, pubs and shops that line the cobblestone streets.

Best Day Trip from Strasbourg - The covered market in Colmar

The covered market in Colmar

Best Day Trip from Strasbourg - Umbrellas of Colmar

Umbrellas of Colmar in the covered market

Best Day Trip from Strasbourg - Foie gras purveyor at the market in Colmar

Foie gras purveyor at the market in Colmar

Best Day Trip from Stasbourg - Some of the many varieties of pretzels in the market in Colmar

Some of the many varieties of cheese pretzels in the market in Colmar

Especially noteworthy: Like Beaune is in Burgundy, Colmar is the wine capital of Alsace, the region’s main center of wine trading and marketing.

For more information: Tourist Office of the Ribeauville-Riquewihr Region


Kayserberg

About 20 minutes away and reached on much smaller roads, picture-perfect Kayserberg pales in population (with only about 2,700 residents) and in size to Colmar. Located in the Weiss Valley, the village’s Renaissance-style Hotel de Ville (Town Hall) dates back to 1521.

Best Day Trip from Strasbourg - The town hall in Kayserberg

The town hall in Kayserberg

Best Day Trip from Strasbourg - Pont Fortifie - The fortified bridge of Kayserberg, c. 1514

Pont Fortifie – The fortified bridge of Kayserberg, c. 1514

Best Day Trip from Strasbourg - Church of the Holy Cross in Kayserberg

Church of the Holy Cross in Kayserberg

Best Day Trip from Strasbourg - Another charming street in Kayserberg

Another charming street in Kayserberg

With two Michelin starred restaurants in the same tiny town, Kayserberg is known for its food and wine (especially Pinot Gris). The five-star Le Chambard, a Relais & Chateaux property, sits right in the middle of town. The hotel (and the town) sadly achieved recent notoriety as the place where author, chef and TV host Anthony Bourdain took his life.

Hotel Chambard, where Anthony Bourdain took his life

Hotel Chambard, where Anthony Bourdain took his life

Best Day Trip from Strasbourg - The Winestub (wine lounge) at Chambard in Kayserberg

The Winestub (wine lounge) at Chambard in Kayserberg

Kayserberg was the birthplace of Nobel Prize-winning humanitarian Dr. Albert Schweitzer; a small museum occupies a house where he once lived in as a child. It’s fun to wander through the town filled with small shops and eateries.

Best Day Trip from Strasbourg - Bakery in Kayserberg

Bakery in Kayserberg

Best Road Trip from Strasbourg - One of the beautiful iron-forged signs in Kayserberg, found throughout Alsace

One of the beautiful iron-forged signs in Kayserberg, found throughout Alsace

The beauty of Kayserberg, although tainted by the memory of the death of Bourdain, was one of the most beautiful places we’ve ever visited. In 2017, Kayserberg was named France’s favorite village. Also, France’s National Council of Town and Villages in Bloom (Villes et Villages Fleuris) named it one of 4,246 floral towns because of it beautiful landscaping and floral displays.

The best day trip from Strasbourg - A welcoming courtyard in Kayserberg

A welcoming courtyard in Kayserberg

For more information: Colmar Tourist Office


Riquewihr

Best Day Trip from Strasbourg - One of the medieval gates in Riquewihr

One of the medieval gates in Riquewihr

Best Day Trip from Strasbourg - A door to the city of Riquewihr dating back to 1500

A door to the city of Riquewihr dates back to 1500

The trip from Kayserberg to Riquewihr was just 15 minutes by car. Riquewihr is one of Les Plus Beaux Villages de France (one of the most beautiful small, rural villages). A large producer of Riesling wine, the village is filled with wine shops, tasting rooms and winstubs—pub-like wine lounges (that are typical in Alsace). Winstubs serve simple foods along with the wine.

Best Day Trip from Strasbourg - A wine cave in Riquewihr

A wine cave in Riquewihr

Best Day Trip from Stasbourg - Riquewihr - A town surrounded by vineyards

Riquewihr – A town surrounded by vineyards

The quaint 16th-century storybook architecture of the town is eye-catching.

Best Day Trip from Strasbourg - A characteristic street in Riquewihr

A characteristic street in Riquewihr

Of the three villages, this one is the smallest (population of 1,200) but seems most geared to tourists: In fact, Riquewihr receives more than 2 million visitors every year. In addition to wine and souvenir shops, it has an abundance of eateries, bakeries and sweet shops. Some of the building facades date back to the 1500s.

Best Day Trip from Strasbourg - Hotel de Ville in Riquewihr

Hotel de Ville in Riquewihr

For those who prefer to go beyond the touristic center, a mini-train runs past wineries and manor houses, departing almost every hour. (We also found mini trains in the historic centers of Colmar and Strasbourg).

Best Day Trip from Strasbourg - The mini-train in Riquewihr

The mini-train in Riquewihr

The village recently launched GeoVino Alsace, a new immersive wine tourism experience that allows visitors to walk through the vineyards, meet with winemakers and learn about the terroir. The developers hope to sponsor 11 such walks by 2020.

Best Day Trip from Strasbourg - Vineyard grapes in Riquewihr

Vineyard grapes in Riquewihr

For more information: Tourist Office of Kayserberg


Best day trip from Strasbourg – The bottom line

This road trip through Alsace proved to be a wonderful opportunity to get a glimpse of these fairytale villages and the surrounding vineyards before embarking on our European Waterways hotel barge trip from Strasbourg.

We’d love to return someday and stay a week or more, perhaps in idyllic Kayserberg—to more slowly savor the region’s good food and wine along with its architectural and natural beauty.

Route of Our Road Trip in Alsace


Visiting Alsace?: Read my article on Forbes.com

6 Reasons To Visit Strasbourg, France: Cradle Of Alsatian Culture


For more information:


All photo credits: Jerome Levine


Save to Pinterest!

The Best Day Trip from Strasbourg

 

  • Reply
    Doreen Pendgracs
    October 9, 2018 at 8:28 am

    Fabulous post, Irene! I love all the photos of the three villages nearby Strasbourg. I would absolutely love to spend some time here.

    • Irene S. Levine
      Reply
      Irene S. Levine
      October 9, 2018 at 9:42 am

      Thanks, Doreen. They are so filled with color that I wish I could spend a week in each one—especially on a gray day in New York like today.

  • Reply
    Carol Colborn
    October 10, 2018 at 5:16 am

    Downright lovely as a fairy-tale. As an American, I would love to see that replica of Bartholdi’s masterpiece. Keyserberg is so beautiful I wonder why Bourdain took his life there?

    • Irene S. Levine
      Reply
      Irene S. Levine
      October 11, 2018 at 12:38 pm

      I will never understand the pain that Anthony Bourdain must have been feeling at that moment, in such a beautiful place.:-(

  • Reply
    Kemkem
    October 10, 2018 at 8:46 am

    Oh.. I love all these quaint little villages, but Colmar takes my breath away. I am only sorry that l will never get to visit all the places l want to in this lifetime! We took a mini-train in Marseille and it was so much fun. Thanks for sharing this..on my list now 🙂

    • Irene S. Levine
      Reply
      Irene S. Levine
      October 11, 2018 at 12:37 pm

      Yes, mini-trains are a great way to get an overview. We took one in Strasbourg.

  • Reply
    Chris Corbet
    October 10, 2018 at 11:46 pm

    Wow, that brings back some memories. We spent half a day only in Riquewihr, sadly time didn’t permit us to visit the other towns, next time, but it is an incredible village. Some of those buildings date back to the 16th century, that is just so amazing to me.

    • Irene S. Levine
      Reply
      Irene S. Levine
      October 11, 2018 at 12:37 pm

      Yes, visiting these very well preserved places is like stepping back in time!

  • Reply
    sheryl kraft
    October 11, 2018 at 9:11 pm

    I don’t need any more reasons – just time and money! Beautiful photos and such great information.

  • Reply
    Carole Terwilliger Meyers
    October 11, 2018 at 10:10 pm

    I stayed in Colmar long ago, and now you’ve enticed me to also explore Kayserberg and Riquewihr. I do enjoy the smaller towns and these look like special ones. Great images!

  • Reply
    Jackie Smith
    October 11, 2018 at 10:38 pm

    We had houseguests last night who’d just returned from a European river cruise and who were singing the praises of Colmar and now I see it on your blog. High time we get ourselves ‘out and about’ in Europe and start visiting these places that are so very tempting!! Beautiful post, Irene.

    • Irene S. Levine
      Reply
      Irene S. Levine
      October 13, 2018 at 10:49 am

      It’s a funny phenomenon. Often, I’ve never heard of a place and then I hear about it from multiple sources.

  • Reply
    Karen Warren
    October 12, 2018 at 6:03 am

    It’s easy to see why those villages in Alsace are so popular with tourists! They all look fabulous, but Kayserberg, with its Michelin starred restaurants, would be a winner for me.

  • Reply
    jane
    October 12, 2018 at 1:18 pm

    Love love love these little towns. (notwithstanding the sad connection to Bourdain). It makes me want to visit the Alsace. Like, now!

  • Reply
    Suzanne Fluhr
    October 14, 2018 at 2:11 am

    Now that we have “more time to travel” (get it?), I am realizing the benefit of being able to take day trips around “must visit” cities all over the world. I also endorse the idea of hiring a local as a “driver”. They will usually insist they are not a tour guide, but I find this often makes them feel freer to discuss all manner of topics about their area and lives. You can often read the official tour info in a guide book or on line. The photos here do your subjects justice. Beautiful.

    • Irene S. Levine
      Reply
      Irene S. Levine
      October 14, 2018 at 7:35 am

      Yes, that “extra day” can introduce you to the destination for your next trip!

  • Reply
    michele h peterson
    October 14, 2018 at 12:47 pm

    I’ve long wanted to visit Strasbourg and you’ve given me three extra reasons! The umbrellas in the city of Colmar look specially charming…I’ve got a serious case of umbrella envy

  • Reply
    Sue Reddel
    October 15, 2018 at 12:27 am

    Love this post-Irene! We did a similar road trip when we did a Burgundy barge cruise, too. We absolutely fell in love with Colmar and would love to spend more time there. BTW I really like your updated website looks wonderful.

    • Irene S. Levine
      Reply
      Irene S. Levine
      October 15, 2018 at 10:35 am

      Thanks for your comment—and the compliment on my website.

  • Reply
    Lori
    October 15, 2018 at 7:58 am

    Sounds like a great decision to hire a driver on this trip so you sit back and enjoy the view without a traffic or parking ticket! And such a perfect day trip itinerary too. The small town of Kayserberg sounds especially lovely!

    • Irene S. Levine
      Reply
      Irene S. Levine
      October 15, 2018 at 10:33 am

      Yes, we would have had trouble navigating parking. So given the limited time we had, this was very time-efficient.

  • Reply
    Judy Freedman
    October 18, 2018 at 4:45 pm

    I’ve been to Colmar and loved it. The other two cities look quaint too. The Alsace region is so lovely. Good idea to secure a driver instead of doing it yourself.

    • Irene S. Levine
      Reply
      Irene S. Levine
      October 18, 2018 at 11:02 pm

      Colmar is far larger than the other two villages but together, they make a perfect trifecta!

Leave a Reply

Share
Tweet
Share
Pin
Flip