Cycling the Alsace Wine Route – France September 2017

Since we both enjoy fine 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 someday to re-do this entire trip all over again. The Alsace region should be visited late Summer or early Fall when all the flowers are in full bloom. It is breathtaking to see every single window box filled with beautiful flowers as you cycle through these quaint Alsace villages.

For the Alsace cycling portion of this trip, we booked our self-guided bike tour with a company called, Discover France They arranged for us our accommodations, bikes, bags, luggage transport, GPS, and a detailed description of the route. Based on our requested “difficulty level” they provided us with a recommended bike route that best suited our fitness level. For this bike tour, we choose a level this company has named  “Hobby“. They define it as “Weekend riders, people with some cycling experience, rolling countryside and possible short climbs.” It was approx. 30-50 km of cycling each day and took us between 3-5 hours to get to each destination.  The time it took us each day was really up to us as we were cycling by ourselves so no one was rushing us along. We determined our own pace. At home, we would describe ourselves as “weekend bikers” so we had no major problem fitness-wise in completing this entire route. Here is a map below of the route we followed.

On September 17th, 2017, we arrived at our starting point which was the city of Strasbourg. This was day 1 but we actually did not do any cycling that day. We visited this beautiful city that borders on Germany. We could have actually stayed here a couple of more days. We had visited Strasbourg before, many years ago and it is certainly one of those cities that you could re-visit time and time again.

The bike company had arranged for us to stay at the Hannong hotel. Centrally located it was at this hotel that we met up with the bike tour regional rep. He provided us with our bikes, a package of info and all we would need in order to start our journey the following day.

Here are some of Strasbourg’s amazing sights which of course included the part of the city known as La P’tite France. Please if you go we strongly recommend doing the canal evening tour. It’s well worth it. The cruise starts around sunset. For the romantics, this is a must!❤️

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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 flammekueche is similar to a thin-crust pizza but made with crème fraîche. This one had sliced onions and smoked lardons for toppings.

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Day 2 We started off in 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, their amazing café au lait. ☕️ We were all excited as this was our first cycle day and our first destination was Obernai, which was approx. 40 km away. There was lots to see along the path. 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 also see this wine route sign all along the bike path which also serves as your guide.

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

Halfway 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

La “p’tite nappe champêtre” made this trip as well.

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

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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 were told can be a café, a restaurant or a bar in Alsace that specializes in authentic local cuisine and of course serves the wines of the region. They are usually more focused on local produce and are homey little spots. The meal there was very good and the server (a bit of an older gentleman) had this amazing playlist of music, a lot of songs well written by well known Canadian artists 😊❤️. Maybe it was just a coincidence that he played this playlist while we were there.

Day 3 we set off again. By the way, so far every hotel/Inn that was booked through our bike tour company was set up to accommodate 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 lodging, your luggage is already there waiting for you, IT’S 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 seated 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 glasses- an influence from Germany.

Cycling the villages of Alsace is like being in a fairytale book. Can it get any better than this!

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

As we cycled along on day 3, we came upon many local people, harvesting. 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 answer. 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 knew so well, “tous les Acadiens…”

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A great day’s work

This day of cycling included going through many vineyards, 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 were in a fairytale book.  We quickly checked 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 were never disappointed with the food in this region.

What we should mention now before we set out to complete the last two days of cycling is that we had absolutely no rain on this trip.  It went so well, very few hiccups with cycling this route and we had smooth check-ins at all our accommodations.

The next morning we set off, with our destination being, Colmar.  Here are a few photos that hopefully will make us remember this amazing day.

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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 of 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 final destination, Colmar. The hotel, Le Saint Martin.  is adorable and this village looks like a preserved medieval village. We spent two days there. The first evening we ate at L’aspèrge. Don’t miss this one it’s 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 its beauty even more.

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

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

Aurevoir Alsace!

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