Ideally situated in the heart of Europe, Alsace promises candy-coloured towns and villages straight from a children’s book. With Switzerland to the south and Germany to the east, the beautiful cities are surrounded by dense forests, beautiful hills and superb vineyards. Nothing short of idyllic, we couldn’t wait to send two clients there for a taste of the region. Here’s what they had to say…
“EuroAirport Basel Mulhouse Freiburg is located just outside the city of Basel, Switzerland. It has two sides, and we followed the French side for the collection of our Hertz rental car. The process was easy, mainly due to our full insurance cover, which meant no inspection was required.
Google Maps led us to our first destination, Zimmersheim.
We stayed at La Maison d’Artgile, a converted barn containing five guest rooms, a breakfast room and a swimming pool. The breakfast was truly amazing, with fruit which we had never heard of, cakes, bread, pastries, cheese etc. The owner’s wife is a local artist and the barn is decorated with her work. The property is beautiful and we strongly recommend this as a stop over.
As the local restaurant is closed on a Monday, we took the owners’ advice and had a meal in Habsheim at La Table de Louise. This was a first class experience and ensured we started our holiday in good spirits.
We travelled a short distance to our next hotel, James Boutique Hotel in Colmar.
Superbly located on the fringe of the old town, the hotel is a good standard but very generic and similar to a Holiday Inn. Breakfast was a traditional continental and we ate dinner in a traditional restaurant in the centre of Colmar, Brasserie Des Tanneurs, which we would recommend. We tasted tarte flambé and a selection of German sausages on sauerkraut.
Colmar is very pretty, with beautiful waterways, although it is quite commercialised and worth noting that there is a difficult one way system and very expensive parking. We parked at the supermarket next door, which cost 12 euros per day.
We continued the trip with a drive into the Vosges Mountains (Route du Ballon d’Alsace), which was about half an hour away along a very windy road. The panoramic views from the top were breathtaking.
We made various stops at Eguisheim, Kaysersberg, Riquewihr, and Ribeauville - all are very cute although similar.
We thought our next hotel was located in Selestat, but it was in fact 5km further away, in a small village called Dieffenthal.
Located in the middle of the vineyards, we initially thought the hotel was a little strange. Arrival at reception was not a friendly experience and we were left to locate the suite in the loft ourselves. To our surprise, the beds were not made and the room was very untidy. We complained to the manager and were then offered a general room, which in fact was far better. Sometimes the word ‘suite’ just means more beds are crammed into the room and is not a reflection on room quality.
Breakfast is recommended in this hotel due to the remote location but it was poor. It was just one member of staff serving approximately 30 rooms. We managed to locate Dambach-la-Ville, which is a lovely village a few kilometres away, and would recommend this for supper, lunch or an alternative place for breakfast.
A 30 minute drive south is Château du Haut-Koenigsbourg. During the Thirty Years’ War it was abandoned but between 1900 and 1908 it was rebuilt by the German Kaiser Wilhelm II. Today it is a major tourist site and well worth a visit.
Our hotel was nothing to write home about and none of the wineries offered samples, you had to spend 7-10 euros for approximately five tastings.
Our next stop was Obernai, a lovely village with a lot of life. We stayed at Hôtel Le Gouverneur, which was tired and needed some investment.
Access to Strasbourg was excellent via the train in Obernai and cost six euros return per person. The train took 35 minutes and was clean, modern and on time. A short walk from the main Strasbourg station took you into a busy city and walking the streets gives you a flavour of the place. The waterways reminded me of Bruges and the flowers were amazing.
We had two glorious meals at Winstub La Dime in Obernai, which was first class. Service was efficient and friendly. We would recommend drinking the Cremant, which is basically champagne. The wine region collects the grapes for cremant on 9/10 September and collects the grapes for white wine the following week. This gave us an insight into the working wine region.
We visited Mont Sainte-Odile, a convent which is free to visit and has commanding views of the area with lovely chapels to enjoy.
Over all this was a very pleasant holiday in an unspoilt region. French and German are primarily spoken with bits of English. The hotels in general in the wine region were ok but not to our usual standard.”
Karen and Robert Gunn