Cycling the Alsace Wine Route – France September 2017

Since we absolutely love wine and great food, we decided to book a self-guided bike tour, of the Alsace & Burgundy wine regions, for our 35th wedding anniversary. Wow, what an amazing trip this turned out to be. We would love to re-do this trip all over again. The Alsace region should be visited late Summer or early Fall at the time when the flowers are in full bloom. It is breathtaking to see all the window boxes filled with vibrant flowers as you cycle through these quaint Alsace villages.

For the Alsace cycling portion of the trip, we booked our self guided bike tour with a company called, Discover France They arranged the lodging for us,  as well as the bikes, bags, luggage transport, GPS, area description, route planning, suggested highlights to visit  and an emergency hotline. Based on our requested “difficulty level”, they provided us with a recommended bike route that best suited our fitness. For this bike tour we choose a level this company has named  “Hobby”. They define this level as “Weekend riders. People with some cycling experience, rolling countryside and possible short climbs.” It is approx. 30-50 kms a day of cycling and can take up to 3-5 hours. However the time it took each day was up to us as we were cycling by yourselves so no one was rushing us. You determine your pace. We are only weekend bikers per say and we had no major problems to complete this route. Here is route we took:

September 17th, 2017 we arrived at our starting point, Strasbourg. So day 1 we actually did not do any cycling, we just visited this beautiful city. Because of it’s charm, we could have actually stayed there I think a couple of more days. We had visited Strasbourg before, many years ago when we were much younger but, it is certainly one of those cities that you could re-visit time and time again. It borders Germany so the influence for instance of the German architecture is very apparent.

The bike company had arranged for us to stay at the Hannong hotel. Centrally located and where we also met up with the bike tour regional rep. He provided us with our bikes, a package of info and all we needed to start our journey the next day.

So after that we went off to explore this beautiful city . Here are some of it’s amazing sights which off course included the part of the city called La P’tite France. Please do the canal evening tour. Well worth it. This evening canal cruise starts around sunset. For the romantics, don’t miss it!

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La p’tite France

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We ended our stay in Strasbourg of course by going out to eat a traditional “Flammekueche”  with an amazing Alsace white wine. The one we had was like a thin-crust pizza made with crème fraîche, sliced onions and smoked lardons.

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Day 2 We start off the morning with a typical European breakfast which included of course some cereal, croissants, fruit, a variety of cheeses and the highlight of our morning, the much loved café au lait. ☕️ We are all excited and nervous at the same time as this is our first cycle day and the first destination is Obernai, about 40 kms. But lots to see and do along the way. We set out with our GPS all programmed for the Alsace Route des Vins. Please, please don’t just depend on your GPS. Refer to the paper map included in your package as you will definitely need both. This is if you don’t want to get lost after just 2 kms 😊. However what is certainly helpful is that you see the wine route sign below along the way.

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What a great first day of cycling we had . Alsace region is so picturesque. The route basically brings you through many quaint little villages and vineyards. So peaceful.

Half way to Obernai we decided to stop and have a picnic lunch. We grabbed a fresh baguette from a local boulangerie and of course some of that amazing cheese . We set up our picnic lunch on a bench in the little village square of Molsheim.P1050096

Did you pick out the “p’tite nappe champêtre” on the bench?

We arrived at our destination early afternoon, OBERNAI. Yeah!

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So when we checked-in at the little hotel in Obernai,  Le Colombier  they told us that we had been upgraded to another hotel just a couple of blocks away  à la cour d’alsace. Well what a treat that turned out to be. Très Chic, thank-you.

That evening we ate at a traditional Alsace restaurant, La Dimewhich is classified as a Winstub.  A Winstub, we are told is a café, restaurant or bar in Alsace that specializes in authentic local cuisine and of course the wines of the region. They are usually more focused on local produce, are quaint little places and relaxed. The meal there was very good and the server (a bit of an older gentleman) had this amazing playlist of music, a lot of it by some well known Canadian artists we knew 😊❤️. Maybe it was just a coincidence.

Day 3 , off we go again. By the way, so far every hotel/Inn that was booked through our bike tour company, is set up to accommodate us cyclists. So for instance, the bikes get locked up at night on the hotel premises till the next morning. AND what is also great about a self-guided bike tour is that your luggage gets moved each day and you don’t even have to worry about it. When you arrive at your next destination your luggage is already there waiting for you. LIKE MAGIC! By the way we recommend you travel light in Europe. We always just have each a carry-on luggage and a backpack.

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Our destination on Day 3 is Riquewhir.  But of course lots of stops for wine tastings (small tastings😕 as we need to stay on our bikes). The Alsace wines are so so good. They are often served in these Alsacien wine glasses pictured below. AND you’ve probably guessed by now, you are primarily drinking whites in Alsace, so if you are a white wine lover, you will be in PARADISE here. Rieslings and Gewürztraminers galore .

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Typical Alsace Wine gasses- influence of  Germany

Cycling the villages of Alsace is like being in a fairytale book. Can it get any better?? yes it does.

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P1050141The Fall season is a very important time in Alsace. It was a privilege for us to be there to experience the harvesting of the grapes.

As we cycled along on day 3, we came upon many local people, harvesting the grapes. This special lady below in the photo took the time to chat with us and got us to taste these wine grapes.  We asked her, “how do you know when the grapes are ready?” She replied, “by tasting them of course”. Loved that response. She was also curious about where we were from. We explained that we were “Acadians” from eastern Canada and she started singing in a very loud voice, a beautiful traditional Acadian song that we know so well, “tous les Acadiens…”

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A great day’s work

So this day of cycling included, going through many vineyard, wine tastings and passing through theses many charming villages.

Arriving at Riquewhir we were in awe by the beauty of this small village. Did we already mention feeling like we being in a fairytale book.  We quickly booked in at the hotel, Best Western Le SchoenenbourgThen off we went to explore …

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Village de Riquewhir

We ate that evening at another Winstub , Au Tire BouchonWhat can we say, we have not been disappointed so far with the food in this region.

What we should mention now before we set out to complete the last two days of cycling in this region is that we have had absolutely no rain.  It’s going so well, very few hiccups with cycling this wine route and we are having smooth check-ins with our accommodations.

So next morning we set off, destination, Colmar.  Here are a few photos that hopefully will make us remember this route.

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Alsace Wine Route, cycling through the vineyards
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Alsace Wine Route

On the way we also took some time to visit the village Kaysersberg, which had won that year a distinction award for having been voted  “Le Village Préféré Des Français”.

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Kaysersberg

We arrived at our destination , Colmar . The hotel, Le Saint Martin. Colmar is an adorable place and looks like a preserved medieval village. We spent two days there. The first evening we ate at L’aspèrge. Don’t miss this one ,wow, wow!

 

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COLMAR, La Petite Venise

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Make sure you do a canal tour of La Petite Venise en “chaloupe”. You will appreciate it’s beauty even more.

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We found the history of the Alsatians very interesting.  In history as a result of having been under German rule, the Alsatian culture has some Germanic influences, some through the language, music, foods and certain traditions. However we are told that they absolutely “feel French”.

The last day in Colmar we simply left the bikes in the hands of the hotel staff. Signed a few forms and voilà, that easy.

Aurevoir Alsace!

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