Alsace: Vines & Villages (2015)

Alsace: Vines and Villages of the Vosges

Sample itinerary from 2015, our 2024 trip will be similar and we will update this page after we have finalized the Hotels and Towns

The many medieval castles and the Renaissance houses lining the flower-bedecked roads of its picture-postcard villages are what make the 170km long Alsace Wine Route the best-known of its kind in France.  It was officially recognised as a tour route in 1953 and in 2013 we were there to celebrate the 60th anniversary, enjoying unique traditions and wines.  Prompted by a conversation while tasting delicate white wine of Alsace this year we are offering a unique opportunity to cycle the Route des Vins and visit Paris during a 2 week holiday.  Paris is just a 2 1/2 hour TGV ride from Alsace, so we created a 10 day version of our multi-week Alsace tour to allow time to catch a fast train to the city of romance.  You may choose to visit Paris before or after our Alsace cycletour.

Stretching from the canal linking the Rhin and Rhone to the Mosel on the flanks of the Vosges mountains lays the incomparable Alsace.   The broad valley cradled between the Schwarzwald (Black Forrest) to the east and the Vosges to the west was formed millennia ago from a clash of tectonic plates to expose minerals and geology ideally suited for the delicious grape varietals we now enjoy as gewurztraminer, riesling, cremont, etc etc.   Vineyard and historic trade roads comprise the routes of our cycle tour thru the Alsace; with some 1000 producers along the way, the Route offers a magnificent perspective of the region and its winemakers.   The houses, inns, eateries and wineries along our route will entice your senses to linger just a bit longer with each twist in the road.   Welcome to the Alsace.

Looking out the window as your plane descends into the Rhine valley you will glimpse the vast tapestry of vineyards, wheat fields, canals, rivers, forests, hills and villages.  The sheer number of options is at once staggering yet energizing to immerse ourselves into the culture and history of a very special land.   The places we will explore and enjoy are sure to change your perspectives on permanence and change for a culture that has enjoyed prosperity and endured war to produce Nobel Prize winners, life changing inventions, gastronomical delights and artistic treasures.  Alsace has something for everyone.

The route that we will follow is best viewed as an outline to the story of the Alsatian way of life.   Beginning in the north, the gently rolling hills of the Alsace vineyards will ease us from our normal daily routines into a more relaxed and less hurried pace.  The Port du Vins Nord, Marlenheim, becomes our introduction to the Route du Vins.  And the Route des Cretes and Ballon des Alsace will inspire you with stunning vistas and twisting roads high above vineyard filled valleys.

The 170km Route du Vins with over 100 villages is the backbone of our daily riding choices; options that include vineyards, forests, museums, cathedrals, climbs or meandering cyclepaths.  The principle towns of Mulhouse and Colmar are essential to our appreciation and understanding of Alsace; each are featured outings from our quieter stayover locations.  The richness of possible experiences prompted us to create a unique point-to-point loop of Alsace; we ride point-to-point from the outskirts of Strassbourg and return to our start near Mulhouse by bike.

Day 1 –  arrival day  Mulhouse-Basel airport transfer to Molsheim

We begin our cycletour of the Alsace Wine Route in a rather unique way; we will take a train from St Louis to Molsheim to get an overview of the region and transport us back in time.  After hotel check-in, assembly of bikes will be followed by a shake-out the legs ride to Marlenheim along a small segment of the nearly 2000km of designated bike routes and bikepaths in Alsace.  The 40km loop will feature a bit of all that Alsace offers; vineyards, stork nests, cyclepaths, rolling country roads and quaint communities, followed by dinner of traditional Alsatian flavors and wines.

 

Day 2 — Molsheim

Molsheim is the adopted home of one of the most prolific inventors in the realm of transportation.  Mr. Bugatti moved from Italy to Molsheim where he created the fastest and most luxurious cars of the era. It is here that we begin our immersion in the wines of Alsace and the incredibly diverse people of the region.   The vineyards beckon us to explore their narrow paths lined with vines as we venture off into the countryside surrounding Molsheim.

 
Day 3 – Barr
Leaving Barr along a tree shaded stream we are soon easily riding a farm road leading into the forest on the flanks of the Vosges mountains.  As we ascend and finally reach a crossroads high in the Vosges we are presented a choice; descend toward Monestary/Convent of Saint Odile or continue the opposite direction to visit the Natzweiler-Struthof concentration camp memorial.  The choice is yours and we will be there to guide you either way.  Arrival in the village of Barr takes us with our eyes back to Medieval times as we ride over centuries old cobbled streets amid heavily timbered structures to our resting place at the foot of the vast Grand Cru Kirchberg vineyard.  A very special dinner poolside will close out the day.

Day 4 – BarrThe villages and vineyards surrounding Barr beckon us to explore or linger.  Not to be missed is the market in Obernai or the magnificent cathedral of Rosheim, both a pleasant cyclepath ride from our perch in old Barr.  Or perhaps you are interested in a bit of world history; we will organize a van shuttle to Natzweiler to visit the only concentration camp built on French soil.  And of course there will be ample time to lounge by the beautiful pool overlooking the broad Rhin valley with vistas of the Schwarzwald of Germany and Bernese Oberland of Switzerland.  Dinner tonight will be in a nearby wine cellar. 

Day 5 – KientzheimThe 40km Alsace Wine Route from Barr to Kientzheim is perhaps the most picturesque section along the entire Route.  The “photo-ops” are so plentiful that at times you will wonder if you have enough memory on your SD card to capture all that you see.  And there are wineries to visit with deliciously delicate Sylvaner, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Noir to taste.  Fortunately we have more days ahead and a “stayover” day on the morrow to return to wineries and villages that piqued our interests today.   The worn steps of the circular stairways, heavy timbers and creaky old floors of our abbaye retreat will make for fond memories of this stay along the Route.  Plus the local winery just a few steps away has exceptional examples of Alsacian wines for our tasting enjoyment.

Day 6 – KientzheimKaysersberg is a short walk thru the vineyards from our abbaye “home”.  The medieval former Holy Roman Empire chateau is mostly in ruins, but the beautiful round tower with 100 steps affords great views from its summit.  The central cathedral and local merchants market help us feel a bit of the old ways.  And Dr. Albert Schweitzer’s home houses memorabilia and stories of his humanitarian endeavors in Africa.  The riding options are plentiful either thru vineyards or high into the Vosges mountains.  Colmar is just a short drive away, so we will organize an afternoon excursion to visit museums, wander the pedestrian area and walk along the canal.  Dinner will be on your own tonight.

Day 7 – Kientzheim

  

Day 8 – ThannThe Route des Cretes or “Road of the Ridges” is central to our route today.  Built in the summer of 1915 it ran from Col du Bonhomme in the north to the Hartmannswillerkopf in the south.  It was built as a supply route to the French troops on the passes and mountains they held.  Nearly 100 years later it supplies the region with tourists of Alsace and offers spectacular vistas over the vineyards and villages.  Our climbers route takes on quiet roads to a crossroads where intense battles were waged; memorial cemetaries for both German and French armies remind us of the human cost incurred during the First Great War.  A thrilling descent on near flawless roads takes us to the heart of Munster for a taste of some very special macrons du Munster.  Following quiet roads in the forest we arrive on the Route des Cretes for an undulating “ridge surf” to le Grand Ballon before our final descent to the Southern Portal of the Alsace Wine Route.  The old “Witches’ Tower” now houses a fabulous museum of the wineries of Alsace.  Dinner at a local pizzeria to enjoy flammenkuchen and other Alsatian delights is a fitting finish to this day.

Day 9 – Thann

The riding and sightseeing options today are almost daunting.  Mulhouse, the capital of technical museums, is just a short train-tram ride away.  There you will find several noteworthy museums: National car museum (Schlumpf collection) houses over 400 exceptional cars tracing the creation and innovations of the automobile; French railway museum houses the most important collection of railway material in continental Europe with about a hundred steam engines, electric engines, autorails, luxury and ordinary carriages tracing a century and a half of French railway history; Museum of textile prints; Electopolis EDF museum; and the Mulhouse historical museum.  And there are stork nests to see along the cyclepath to Cernay, a breathtaking circuit from Thann to the summit of the Ballon d’Alsace and relaxation by the hotel pool.  We will rendezvous on the garden terrace for refreshments and recounting stories of our day before taking dinner in the elegant hotel dining room.

Day 10 – St LouisWe follow the Canal du Rhone au Rhin from Dannemarie to Illfurth for a wonderfully restful morning on our journey back to St Louis.  We leave the canal path at Illfurth to follow small farming roads taking us to an Old Roman Road perched on the crest of the rolling hills of the farmlands.  The now paved ancient roadbed provides us with the ultimate in “ridge surfing” as we easily roll back to the modern comforts of our St Louis hotel.  The spacious courtyard will be the setting for our departure packing of bikes followed by the delicious dishes prepared in the newly created adjoining kitchen.

Day 11 – depart

 

Pre or Post Alsace tour option —

Paris is just a 2 1/2 hour TGV ride from Alsace, so we created a 10 day version of our multi-week Alsace tour to allow time to catch a fast train to the city of romance.  Prompted by a conversation while tasting delicate white wine of Alsace, this year we are offering a unique opportunity to cycle the Route des Vins and visit Paris during the span of a 2 week holiday.  You may choose to visit Paris on your own before or after our Alsace cycletour.  We are happy to help you with the logistics of travel to Paris from Alsace.

Accommodations:
Comfortable family operated Bu0026amp;Bs, inns and hotels well situated to enjoy local culture and flavors.

Meals:

Group breakfasts and dinners featuring typical local flavors and dishes prepared individually for our enjoyment.  Breakfasts provided by our lodging partners.  Dinners generally include a variety of choices for each course (starter, first course, main course, dessert); paired with wines, beer and after dinner coffee.   Most dinners served from the kitchens of our hotels, others taken in nearby restaurants. 

Included:
10nights, 10 breakfasts, 8 dinners, daily road snacks/picnics, maps and route descriptions, luggage transfers, on-the-road ride guides, van support (sag wagon).

Excluded:

Lunches, 2 dinners, tips u0026amp; gratuities, airfare, museum entries, trams or lifts, trip insurance