Day 1: Rhine River, neuf Bisach and the Eco-Museum
Strasbourg, if you are not already staying here on your pre-trip, is easily accessed from Paris or Frankfurt by train. Our route moves from south to north and back near to Strasbourg. Thus, you can plan on seeing this great city on your own before or after your tour. We will gladly help you with selecting a hotel in the medieval center to enhance your stay. Upon meeting, you will need to be ready to ride as you will immediately be fitted for with your bike and then engage in a warm up ride that starts in the fascinating fortressed town of Neuf Bisach. It was built in 1698, to plans drawn by Vauban, a military engineer at the service of Louis XIV. Vauban died in 1707 and this, his last work, was completed by another. The fortifications are Vauban's final work and the culmination of his 'Third System' that you will get a chance to examine before setting out. It was useful in its purpose to guard the border between France and the Holy Roman Empire and, subsequently, Germany.
A friendly flat bike route takes us across the Rhine River and momentarily into Germany before returning to France to visit the bicycle path into Westhalten.
Westhalten hosts some 15 small producers, many very skillful. We stop for a tasting and tour at least one of the charming smaller vintners such as
Agathe Bursin. The wines from here are reputed. Or we may stop at
Diringer, who have a long history in the village. At the center of this charming city, which was fortified in 1257, we finds the remains of the fortified castle that was constructed in the 13th century by the Duke of Alsace, and the nephew of Saint Odile.
Lodgings: A beautiful 4 star Chateau in Rouffach
Dinner: At Chateau
Day 2: Abbey of Murbach, Eco Musee d’Alsace
Today we set off on a loop through some of the more impressive Grand Cru wines of the region. On the west side of Westhalten we find the imposing Grand Cru Zinnkoepflé. With its peak at 420 meters, it reaches higher than any other of the 51 Grand Crus of Alsace. Zinnkoepflé has a unique and characteristic, violent acidity that provides the backbone to Gewurztraminer, but also puts a requirement on Riesling to mature for at least 5 years. In this region there is a geologically unique formation, a strain of sandstone rich in lime that runs from south to north along the western rim of Westhalten. Many growers in Westhalten have land in this region.
One noteworthy stop on our ride takes us to Soultzmatt. The name of the Soultzmatt village is derived from "Sulz " or " mineral spring ", and from "Matte " or "meadow." As of the 13th until the 16th century, several vassals' families of the bishop built up to seven different castles: the cemetery and the village were probably fortified moreover. Six mineral springs were discovered there in the 15th century. Today Soultzmatt's water is marketed under the label "Eaux de Table", or table water. Everything anyone would ever want to know about mineral water can be discovered here.
We continue to the Abbey of Murbach, founded in the 8th Century and at the time one of the most important intellectual centers of the Upper Rhine Valley. The setting in the lush foothills of the Vosges Mountains is gorgeous.
Pedal through the market village of Guebwiller to the Thur River and follow the bike path to the EcoMusee Alsace, which comprises of almost 70 authentic rural homes, dismantled in their original village where they were due for demolition, and rebuilt it here brick by brick. From the chimeneys the storcks watch you discovering the rural life of Alsace during the 19th Century.
Through sleepy, flower decorated villages we return to Westhalten.
Lodgings: Same as previous night.
Dinner: In the village of Rouffach
Day 3: Route des Vins, Eguisheim and Local Delicacies
Our morning ride takes us first to Eguisheim. The uniqueness of this village, which dates back to the Middle Ages, lies in the winding streets which are abundant with flowers as well as in the beauty of the surrounding countryside we will have ridden.
To fully enjoy our visit to this ancient town, we will explore its fascinating history.
The remainder of our route takes us through charming small villages of the wine route. In 1049 Bruno of Eguisheim was born here; he would become Pope under the name of Léon IX and was partly responsible for the reform of the Church in the Middle Ages. He was later canonized. From a totally different point of view, Eguisheim is considered to be the cradle of Alsatian wine-making in the 4th century. The
expansion of this industry took place during the Middle Ages as the bishops of Strasbourg and certain Abbeys owned and developed their vineyards. The reputation of the marvelous wine that came from this region soon traveled. Wines from Eguisheim were found on the royal tables of England and Holland. Later, Voltaire, who stayed in a nearby region, would declare his preference for these wines and acquired certain domains.
We take time to explore some of the many castles, villages and vineyards along our ride through this storybook landscape. Taste the home made Jams and Patisserie of Christine Ferber, let Mrs Klur pour you a taste of all the wines her sons are crafting and stroll through charming Kientzheim before reaching our destination, Colmar.
Lodgings: 5-star In Colmar's medieval center
Dinner: night free
Day 4: Colmar
Mostly spared by the destructions of the French Revolution and the 20th century wars, the
cityscape of old-town Colmar is homogenous and renowned among tourists. The area crossed
by the canals of the River Lauch, and which formerly served as the butcher's, tanner's and
fishmonger's quarter, is now called "Little Venice" (La Petite Venise). Colmar's the town offers
visitors an exciting glimpse of 1000 years of European history. What's more, Colmar retains a
'country town' atmosphere which contributes so much to its charm. Wonderfully preserved from
the ravages of time, its homogenous historical center is classed as a 'protected area' and has
benefited from careful restoration and ongoing improvements for more than 20 years.
In the morning, our guide Stéphane will take you on a privately guided walking tour of Colmar and
share his love and knowledge of his home town with you.
We dedicate an afternoon to beautiful Colmar. With its lively squares and superb half-timbered houses, the village offers a delightful picture postcard setting. Today is a perfect day to take off the bike, however if you wish to bicycle we offer you a ride out to the Rhine River and the German border before our optional cooking class.
Lodgings: same as precvious night
Dinner: In Colmar’s little Venice or cooking class
Day 5: Haut – Koenigsbourg, Dambach la Ville and Obernai
Our scenic rides along the “Le Route du Vin” leads to the fortified villages of Bergheim and Dambach-la-Ville. Pine and Chestnut forests, vineyards, majestic castles and rolling meadows deliver you to our home for the next two nights, Obernai.
We transfer out of Colmar back to Riquewihr, where we get on the bike. Between the Vosges Mountains and some of the most famous vineyards in Alsace we continue north along small, quiet country roads. Japanese may find it familiar as it served for the design of an animated film "Howl's Moving Castle”... Our first destination is Haut -Koenigsbourg.
Although built relatively recently, the castle has remained true to the spirit of medieval architecture and one of the most visited castles in France. Inside the building, the sheer refinement of the rooms is extremely impressive, with their wall paintings, Renaissance furniture and enormous cast iron stoves.
Perched at a height of almost 800 m, this famous medieval fortress looks down majestically across the Alsatian plain. From the top of its towers, the castle offers an unbeatable view across the Vosges, the Rhine River, and the Black Forest and even across the Alps.
Our destination is the beer and wine making town of Obernai. It is home to France's best
known beer, Kronenberg, and the historical wine of the city is called the Vin du Pistolet in
reference to a local legend. In an authentic and warm, friendly setting, 11 winstubs will delight
you with their regional specialties, such as the traditional sauerkraut, baeckeoffe and tartes
flambées. At the center of this charming city, which was fortified in 1257, we find the remains of
the fortified castle that was constructed in the 13th century by the Duke of Alsace, and the
nephew of Saint Odile.
Lodging: 2 nights in medieval center of Obernai
Dinner: Free night
Day 6 & 7: Rosenwiller, Mt Ste-Odile and Struthof
During our final day's ride we loop out to pilgrimage site and most famous Alsatian cathedral outside of Strasbourg, Mte Sainte-Odile. Within these grounds we examine the Pagan Wall and the mystery behind its huge construction of ten kilometers long which encircles Mont Sainte Odile. It is composed of about 300,000 blocks, with some claiming that it is a 3,000 year old druid construction.
The sleepy village of Rosenwiller features for centuries Alsace’s largest Jewish cemetery,
situated in a peaceful meadow. Enter Rosheim, once one a powerful, prosperous community, through one of the four late medieval city gates. The Maison Romane is one of the few examples of a Romanesque home in Europe. Rosheim’s church is probably the most beautiful and perfect church built during Romanesque period in the Alsace.
Before returning to Obernai you might like to pay a visit to the memorial site of Struthof, the
only concentration camp of its kind on French soil.
On day seven we say our good-byes after breakfast and help you get to the train station or airport as previously arranged.
Dinner: At our favorite Winstub
The following is a list of train schedules for transportation to and from the tour start and end locations. Train departure times and tracks are subject to change, so verify before boarding.
*Meeting your tour by train if not staying in Strasbourg:
Trains from Frankfurt to Strasbourg (tour start):
Frankfurt .....10:50am; arrival Strasbourg.... 12:59pm
Stuttgart.... 11:11 am; arrival Strasbourg.... 12:59 pm
Paris Est....7:48am; arrival Strasbourg.....11:43 pm