It’s summer in a scorching temperature, a public holiday. How fortunate I am living in a country with several public holidays in a year. I haven’t planned anything that day but knowing I’m going somewhere but didn’t know where to go. I have searched for last minute flights, but most of the destination I already have visited. So I thought, why not going on a road trip.
France is my favorite neighboring country and always lovely to visit anytime, as there were so many things to do. My thought was going on a road trip to the southern part, but then I was thinking of the long drive and the traffic.
France is a popular destination for the Europeans, as well as for the outsiders. Because we only have a couple of days, I pick the Alsace, it is closer and I never been there in the summer. My last visit was in November three years ago; it was cold and grey, and ideally not beautiful compared to the summer. Thus, searching for accommodation at the last minute isn’t easy, especially in the high season. Still, successfully, I found an affordable place to stay for a couple of nights in the Alsace.
Summertime in the Alsace
How wonderful to be back during the summer. Alsace, a versatile destination for all kinds of travelers. The small area lies in the northernmost part in France, with alternates mountain landscapes, vast plains, vineyards, winding rivers, and the picturesque villages. A perfect destination for a short or even longer holiday as there is so much to experience. Visiting the Alsace in the summer is undoubtedly beautiful. The villages embellished in flowers, in fact, it is the best time to see the area, as everything in bloom. But be conscious, it can be quite busy.
After five hours of driving, it was for me a liberation, stuck in the car seat for so long, barely feel my legs. Where is Selestat? A village in the east of France located on the upper Rhine Plain near the Vosges. Selestat is a cozy town and less popular compared to other municipalities in the Alsace, but truly worth a visit.
There are several highlights to find out during your walks, the tower of course – the main entrance to the village. Also, Selestat is known for its Humanist Library, which contains an essential collection of old books that have registered on the World Heritage List for documents since 2011. Furthermore, you will find the imposing churches, the masterpiece of Romanesque and Gothic architecture.
Additional things to do in Selestat, take the car and drive up to the castle (Chateau du Haut Koenigsbourg). The beautiful ancient castle perched above the high valley. You’ll immerse in the heart of history, and the place itself seems almost magical, it does take you back in the centuries.
We visited Riquewihr in the afternoon, and it was incredibly crowded, but it is expected to happen if you were visiting in the summer. The vibrant medieval town is rich in architectural buildings from the period between the 15th and 18th centuries. If you happen to visit in the high season, go early in the morning for photographs.
It is a compact town. From the old city gate, it takes you through the winding alleys and onto the beautiful main street where most of the visitors walked. There you find a significant number of half-timbering houses; however, if you want to walk away from the mass, you still find radiant half-colorful timbered dwellings; this allocates almost everywhere inside the village.
Furthermore, the old city gate built from 1291, which was an integral part of the wall and used to defend the town thanks to the watchtower located at the top of the Belfry, which is the eye-catcher in the city. You can go up to the tower and enjoy the beautiful view of Riquewihr and the surrounding vineyards.
On the second day, we begin in Kaysersberg. Morning is a good time as it’s fewer crowds. All the villages in the Alsace are a look-alike. Yet, the comparison to each one of them still different.
Kaysersberg sounds like Dutch or German. Whatever it sounds like, this is another beautiful town in the Alsace, which is also attracting many visitors every year. The small fountain stood in front at the entrance of the church – dating from 1521, is the first thing you see when entering the town.
From there, it catches on everyone’s eye. The attribute of beautiful half-timbered houses will take your attention. And while leisurely wander through the main street, sooner or later, you’ll come to the fortified bridge, which built-in 1514. The two halve of the village are held together by a lovely old reinforced bridge. Like all original buildings in this village, the bridge is an attraction in itself.
Another quaint town in the Alsace, and much more pleasing to wander. It gives a great impression and less crowded compared to the others. The cozy village with circular streets abundantly decorated with flowers in the summer; Eguisheim is one of my favorite among the six towns. I’ve never been comfortable walking except in this one, a walkthrough feels like stepping back in time.
I’m not forgetting, Colmar is beautiful, but it is a big city and busy. I prefer smaller Eguisheim. The town has chosen as one of the most beautiful villages in France in 2013, mainly because of the beautiful half-timbered houses in the old center. Astonishing how they build the homes, the coziness of the houses, especially the inner blocks which two streets constructed around them that run around the core and the incredible colors. This town frequently is seen on postcards of the Alsace. Also worth to go up the castle, you have a pleasing view of the village and the surrounding area.
I heard someone saying this is the cutest town of the Alsace; every one has its own opinion. Ribeauville is indeed a beautiful town and different from the other villages. The broad main street Grand Rue featured with some colorful half-timbered houses, and while underneath from these buildings used for shops and restaurants.
Such as any of the Alsatian town, you’ll find lots of winemakers in Ribeauville. Although I’m not into wines, I genuinely enjoyed the excellent food; there are many good restaurants in town.
Mostly, everyone wandering through the main street; however, if you take the small alleys, you still notice some of the remarkable buildings from the 12th and 13th centuries, which characterized in the Alsace. The long-run street winds you through the middle ages tower, which one of the highlights in Ribeauville. Also, if you want to see more of the town, the little tourist train runs every day from May to the end of October. The enjoyable ride takes you through the vineyards and the neighboring village of Hunawihr.
Colmar is a lot bigger than in previous towns, and there are so many things to do. One can spend the entire day in the city. However, we only spend a half-day. Colmar lies near the German border; you can expand your visit from here. Freiburg Germany is approximately one hour’s drive from Colmar, a beautiful city near France.
Colmar is already famed in the Alsace; however, since the Tour de France passing through here, visitors in the city increases. Many people want to see the town after the events. In the city center self, you find a small house embellish in jerseys, bike, and country flags. And of course, everyone wants a photograph in front of that house as a souvenir. Who doesn’t? I’m standing there too.
One thing that can irritate if coming with a car to Colmar, the parking is remotely from the old town. Somehow, it was worth the effort; after walking for almost 30 minutes, the first thing that we encounter is the Little Venice. Not precisely the Venice of Italy, but surely worth to take that river cruise. Colmar is a beautiful old, and pleasant city, full of centuries-old half-timbered houses. The old town center is a maze of streets and alleys where you see colored houses.
Where to stay in the Alsace
There’s no shortage of accommodations in the Alsace, and can be overwhelming in which cities or towns to base as they’re all pretty. Be aware if you were traveling with a vehicle, some of the lodgement doesn’t provide space for the car, and you’re likely compelled to use the pay parking. Car parking in the Alsace is expensive, 1 euro for one hour and most of the parking beyond the town center.
To make things easier for us, I booked a place with free parking, but not in a famous town. We stayed at Gites Marschall Jean-Pierre in Beblenheim, a self-contained flat. However, we haven’t use the kitchen, but the place is perfect for a long-term stay — the Gites just a five-minutes drive to Riquewihr.