ROAD TRIP ALSACE
Throughout Europe, there isn’t a road trip quite like it. Whether you road trip Alsace and visit its picturesque towns by car or by campervan, this stunning wine region of France is sure to charm and delight.
The Alsace wine route is awash with fairytale villages dripping with colour from their windows and bridges and it also happens to boast some of the world’s best wines.
On this Alsace road trip, you’ll explore enchanting towns brimming with blooms and floral displays, wander medieval cobblestoned streets, admire magnificent gothic churches, drive past verdant valleys of vineyards and may even try a glass or two of the local Reisling or Pinot Blanc.
ROAD TRIP ALSACE WINE ROUTE: QUICK OVERVIEW
This article will help you plan your Alsace road trip itinerary and includes:
- The best fairytale towns to visit when road tripping the Alsace
- Alsace road trip travel tips
- Motorhome and campervan stops along the route + links for further details such as facilities, price and reviews
- An interactive Alsace road trip map
- Suggested Alsace road trip itinerary
- Driving tips for France
ROAD TRIP ALSACE MAP
To use this map, expand it using the square symbol on the top right-hand side and you will find the key on the left-hand side.
By clicking each location you will find extra information. For example, each Campervan overnight stops on the map has the web link to Camper Contact where you can see the motorhome facilities available, the price, opening times, and useful user reviews on each Alsace campsite.
The Motorhome overnight stops are marked by an orange circle with a motorhome icon and the places we visited are marked with purple icons.
To get the PDF of the Alsace Wine Route Tourist Map by the official Alsace Wine Route website click here.
ABOUT THE ALSACE REGION
Alsace is a region in northeast France that borders both Switzerland and Germany. It sits nestled between the Vosges mountains to the west and the Rhine River to the east. The Alsace is one of the most fertile areas in central Europe and is renowned as a wine-producing region. Hence why it is known as the ‘Alsace wine route‘ or ‘route des vins Alsace’ — a popular route for wine lovers.
However, you don’t have to be a lover of wine to enjoy the Alsace region. It also has some of the prettiest fairytale-like towns and villages in Europe.
The house facades in the Alsace region very much mirror the Swiss and German style of timbered housing. In fact, the control of the Alsace region has passed back and forth between Germany and France over the centuries.
Since World War II, however, the French have retained control. The Alsace region is now part of the larger Grand-Est region of France.
ALSACE ROAD TRIP TOWNS TO VISIT
Hirtzbach is a cutesy village with wooden beamed houses laden with colourful floral window boxes. A stream runs through the centre of the town and the little bridges that cross it are draped with beautiful hanging baskets.
Therefore, it comes as no surprise to learn that Hirtzbach is a four-flower ‘Village Fleuri’ and consistently wins this accolade year after year.
The village of Hirtzbach also boasts a beautiful place for repose, in the form of an English Garden created in the 19th century — the Parc de Reinach.
Nothing escapes the floral adornment of Hirtzbach and in the centre of the park, you’ll find an old piano, playing its part in showcasing the blooms of the village. With a trickling stream, duck ponds and an array of English trees, the park envelopes you with a serene sense of calm.
This was our favourite town on our road trip through the Alsace. Being mid-July and midday, the town of Eguisheim bustled with tourists, but you could plainly see why. It is just the prettiest town with its medieval, half-timbered houses dripping hanging baskets from every available window and wall.
Standing on the cobbled streets with the pastel-coloured timber houses, as if in a Hans Christian Anderson fairytale, you can certainly see why Eguisheim is one of the most beautiful villages in France. It has also won the accolade of being France’s favourite village in 2013.
The town of Eguisheim has a circular design, spreading out from the central St Leon Square. In the centre of the square, you’ll find an octagonal decorative fountain with a statue of Pope Leon in the centre. And of course, a frenzy of flowers completes the scene.
Just behind the fountain is the Eguisheim church, the old castle and a small chapel of St.Leon. The steeples of the church drew lots of attention when we were there. This was due to the sight of the baby storks peeking their heads above the rims of the nests precariously built atop the steeples.
The Alsace region is also proud of its population of storks. You’ll find lots of trinkets and goods in the shape of a stork which, in folklore, are said to be bringers of good luck and fertility.
The stork is the emblem of the Alsace and though they were almost wiped out in the late 1960s the Alsatians began a conservation and breeding program to ensure that storks remained a part o the ecosystem. Remember to look up.
The shops in Eguisheim are beautifully decorated and full of local artisan crafts and wares to entice you. The patisseries and boulangeries are full of local specialities such as the Alsace kugelhopf, (like a brioche) and pains d’epices (gingerbread).
If you look closely at the door lintels as you wander through the backstreets of Eguisheim you’ll notice old inscriptions on the lintels which used to depict the trade of the house owner.
Overnight Campervan Stop: Eguisheim (Winery Courtyard)
The overnight camper spot we stayed at was at wine growers with 10 designated camper stops. We arrived at about 1 pm – just as it was starting to fill up. There is a cycle path from Eguisheim to Colmar.
Colmar is one of the most talked-about towns on the Alsace wine route. It is much larger than most of the towns and, on its outskirts, you wouldn’t rate it as anything special.
However, in the old part of Colmar, and particularly in the area known as ‘Little Venice’ or ‘Petite Venice’, you can see why Colmar gets the popular accolade. Saying that though, I would say it was our least favourite town that we visited on our road trip in Alsace.
The Gothic 13th-century, Eglise Saint-Martin church is in the centre of the old part of town surrounded by the typical timbered houses that give such fairytale ambience to the villages on this Alsace road trip.
‘Little Venice’ was admittedly picturesque with its pastel-coloured houses on the side of the River viewed from a bridge of bright flowered blooms.
Maybe because it was overcast and grey, and maybe because it was one of the busiest towns we’d visited so far, but Colmar didn’t quite live up to our high expectations. Colmar seemed less personal and more commercialised than Eguisheim and Hirtzbach.
Many sing its praises though and on a sunny day, it may shine more brightly. But for us – there are many other towns just as deserving of the attention that Colmar attracts.
Apart from wine and its charming towns, the Alsace is also ranked as one of the leading French regions of chocolate production and represent 40% of the nation’s export.
And since our visit, Colmar has opened a Chocolate museum … now that would have been on our list to visit!
This museum exhibits a huge 500 kg of chocolate sculptures, 500 collector pieces, 30 experimental activities and runs over 1000 workshops per year.
Search accommodation in and around Colmar here
In Ribeauville we were up at the crack of dawn to make sure we arrived before other tourists, so we could explore the village at its best. As with all the charming villages on the Alsace ‘routes des vins’, we were greeted with more half-timbered houses and colourful flowers splayed in multiple baskets and pots.
On the hill overlooking the town, you’ll see the three ruins of what were once fortified castles. You can get to them via a hiking trail on the mountain.
The castles were:
- the Saint Ulrich castle (the oldest of the 3 castles)
- the Girsberg castle
- the Haut-Ribeaupierre castle, (the highest of the 3 castles).
You can download a map and brochure of Ribeauville with details of all its points of interest here.
Overnight Campervan Stop: Ribeauville – Camping Des Trois Chateau
The campsite – on the grass under trees, was just on the hill above the town of Ribeauville with an easy walk down to the village.
Riquewihr is another popular medieval town on the Alsace wine route and with its nickname, ‘the gem of the Alsace vineyards, combined with the fact that is also one of France’s most beautiful villages, you can appreciate that it is indeed an enchanting and charming village to visit.
We drove to the town and parked in the main carpark. [Note: If your campervan takes up two parking spaces you need to pay for two spaces]. There is also an option to overnight at a carpark in Riquewihr.
The Dolder Tower, in the background of the above photograph, was a defensive gate for Riquewihr, originally built in the 13th century.
The shops are a delight to wander and so decorative. I bought a little white metal heart that says ‘home sweet home’ and it has travelled with us on all of our journeys as we road trip around the world.
You can download a map and brochure about Riquewihr here.
Search accommodation in and around Riquewihr here.
Just a few minutes drive from Riquewihr is Hunawirh. This little village was a complete contrast to the others we’d visited as it was completely devoid of tourists.
Hanawihr has been awarded the title of being one of France’s most beautiful villages. One of its main attractions is its 15th-century church on the hill – Church of St Jacques le Majeure, which is surrounded by a fortified cemetery.
From the church, you get a magnificent view across the local vineyards.
There is also a butterfly farm just outside the village that you may wish to visit with a large carpark. We parked there and walked up to the village from there.
Search accommodation in and around Hunawihr here.
The Alsace capital city of Strasbourg is another destination you may wish to add to your Alsace road trip. (We skipped the city but have included a snippet here for your information).
Its Gothic Cathédrale Notre Dame is said to be one of the most visited in France – with an astrological clock and great views of the Rhine from its spire.
Here are 6 reasons to visit Strasbourg to give you an idea as to whether to add this city to your Alsace road trip.
Overnight Campervan Stop: Strasbourg Options
Search accommodation in and around Strasbourg here.
OTHER ALSACE WINE ROUTE TOWNS
There are many other traditional villages and towns on the Alsace routes des vins that we haven’t covered here: Such as: Mulhouse, Kaysersberg, Cleebourg, Marlenheim, Rosheim, Obernai, Scherwiller, Bergheim, Ammerschwihr, Katzenthal, Gueberschwihr, Guebwiller and more …
We have covered the main ones though and part of the fun of any road trip is taking a detour and discovering places for yourself.
Our next town, Hatten, isn’t on the Alsace wine route (which was apparently an old rally track), but is in Alsace and was the last town that we visited on our Alsace road trip.
Our road trip in Alsace ended by stepping back in history – not quite as far as the medieval times that many of the Alsace villages reminded us of, but to the poignant times of WWII.
Hatten is just 50km north of Strasbourg, and it is here that you’ll find the Musée de l’Abri de Hatten. The museum was once an underground bunker built in 1930.130,000 men from the Alsace-Moselle region were forcibly drafted into the German Army by the Nazis between 1942 and 1945 when the Alsace region was annexed to Germany. There is a tribute to these men at the museum.
Overnight Campervan Stop: Hatten Museum car park (Free for Motorhome overnight parking)
ALSACE TOWNS WITH FRENCH VILLAGE AWARDS
There are a couple of awards that are of interest when visiting the Alsace French towns and villages – the annual Towns and Villages in bloom competition and the ‘Most Beautiful Villages of France’.
CONCOURS DES VILLES ET VILLAGES FLEURIS (TOWNS AND VILLAGES IN BLOOM)
You may often see a sign at the entrance to the village displaying a number of flowers as a rating. Those villages with a higher number of flowers ( 4 being the maximum) have been judged as doing the most for the environment and improving the lives of the villagers and experiences for visiting tourists.
LES PLUS BEAUX VILLAGES DE FRANCE (MOST BEAUTIFUL VILLAGES OF FRANCE)
This award was established in 1982 and judges the tourist appeal of small rural villages with a rich cultural heritage and what they are doing in their planning to develop tourism.
In the Alsace region these towns have been judged as the most beautiful villages of France:
There are also several of the Dordogne villages that have been awarded this coveted award as well. The Dordogne area is another of our favourite places in France – we lived there for nine months in the tiny French village of Villars.
THE BEST TIME TO ROAD TRIP ALSACE
The best time to road trip along the Alsace region is from May to October. This is when the vineyards will be looking at their best and the villages’ floral displays will be blooming beautifully. Bear in mind that the French school holidays begin in early July and end at the beginning of September.
We motorhomed through the Alsace region, in mid-July. This was probably the busiest time – but we were easily able to get camper spots and if you arrive at the villages early you can avoid the busy tourist parts of the day.
We haven’t visited at Christmas, but by all accounts, the Alsace is as magical as ever with its floral displays replaced with fairy lights and Christmas trees.
FESTIVALS IN THE ALSACE
- February: Strasbourg holds its valentine themed festival, ‘Strasbourg mon amour’ in February which is 10 days of romance with cultural and music events throughout the city. Find out more about this event here.
- Feb/March: Mulhouse holds its Carnival with decorated floats, music parades and a few days of fun. Check the website here to check dates (often late Feb – early March)
- March/April: Colmar holds its Festival of Spring, Fête le Printemps, with Easter markets and music festival. For dates check out this website.
- July: Colmar hold the International Festival of music – check dates and artists here. Also, Décibulles holds a 3-day outdoor music concert – details here.
- July/August: Wine Growers Festival in Eguisheim with exhibitions, procession and plenty of wine tasting. Check the dates here. Colmar also its Alsace Wine Fair with over 300 exhibitors.
- August: Selestat holds a flower-filled procession and traditional folklore celebration the Corso Fleuri.
- November/December: Alsace Christmas Markets
SUGGESTED ALSACE ROAD TRIP ITINERARY
ALSACE ROAD TRIP MOTORHOME ITINERARY
If you are travelling through the Alsace wine route in a campervan/motorhome then you can really take your time enjoying the Alsace region. Most of the camper stops here were either free or very reasonably priced – and that was in the peak season.
The following itinerary worked well for us but it depends on which direction you are travelling in France. If you are hiring a motorhome just for this trip then you will likely be picking the vehicle up in Strasbourg.
♥ Day 1: Arrive in Hirtzbach – Explore Hirtzbach and the surrounding countryside ( Overnight in Hirtzbach)
♥ Day 2: Drive to Eguisheim – Park the campervan in the Eguisheim camper stop and explore Eguisheim
♥ Day 3: Drive to or cycle to Colmar – We cycled 6km to Colmar and stayed another night at Eguisheim
♥ Day 4: Drive to Ribeauville – Park the campervan and visit town and hike to the three castles on the hill.
♥ Day 5: Drive to Riquewihr and Hanawihr – Park in the villages and explore.
♥ Day 6: Drive to Strasbourg and Hatten – You may like to stop in Strasbourg (we went straight to Hatten)
MOTORHOME RENTAL FOR YOUR ALSACE ROAD TRIP
We recommend Motorhome Republic – they can search for the best deals for you with various pick-up points and countries. When we used them they were incredibly helpful and we saved more money going directly to them rather than to individual rental companies.
For more information on and details of how and why we hired a Campervan for our Travels in Europe – check out our CAMPERVANNING IN EUROPE article.
For great motorhome, deals check out Motorhome Republic today.
ALSACE ROAD TRIP BY CAR ITINERARY
If you are road tripping the Alsace by car then we have included links under each of the main Alsace towns for you to look for accommodation. However, you will likely want to only stay in one or two of the towns to save the hassle of packing up each day. The wine route isn’t too long (the whole route is about 170km), so it is easy to do day trips to the places that you want to visit.
If you are on a budget then we’d suggest maybe choosing a town that isn’t so popular as you will likely get better rates but still have great access to the wine route.
If you are looking to hire a car then we recommend Rental Cars – who we use when we need to rent. They normally get us the best deal around and they have a price match guarantee.
DRIVING TIPS FOR YOUR ALSACE ROAD TRIP
- In France, you drive on the right.
- You will need to have the following documents:
- Drivers licence (An international driver’s licence isn’t required)
- Vehicle insurance
- Vehicle registration document
- You are also required to have the following in your vehicle:
- Driving in France requires adjusting the beam pattern to suit driving on the right so that the dipped beam doesn’t dazzle oncoming drivers. You can cheaply purchase beam deflectors to adjust the beam.
- Many of the motorways have tolls. To avoid them you can program your navigator to avoid tolls and you can also use www.autoroutes.fr to plan your trip and find out the costs of tolls etc.
Speed Limits are as follows unless otherwise signposted and on dry roads
- 130 km/h (80 mph) on toll motorways
- 110 km/h (68 mph) on dual carriageways and motorways without tolls
- 80 km/h (50 mph) on other roads
- 50 km/h (31 mph) in towns. Town name starts the limit, a bar through the town name is the de-restriction sign
ROAD TRIP ALSACE… THAT’S A WRAP
We hope this article helps you plan your Alsace road trip and gives you an idea of what to expect in this beautiful part of France.
Let us know your favourite Alsace village and remember to ask us anything that you think we may be able to help you with.
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PLANNING YOUR TRAVELS?
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- Travel Gear and Accessories: Check out our top picks @ Lifejourney4two page on Amazon
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