Wines and Castles of Alsace

Cycling and hiking through Alsace, France

10 Days / 9 Nights. July 28- Aug 5, 2017. $3550.00 (Can)

Trip Overview

Along the wine route in French Alsace you will experience a beautiful landscape, fantastic villages, architectural treasures and fine food and drink, in an enchanting mixture that blends both French and German characteristics. Enjoy a culinary experience as Alsace's cuisine, cheeses, meats and wines are diversely varried. Alsace has successfully merged German and French winemaking. This tour will allow you to ride at your own pace along the Alsace wine route in the Haut-Rhin département, considered to be where the best Alsacian wines are produced. Enjoy Unique accomodations ranging from Chateaus to quiet Auberge with typical Alsacian architecture unique to Alsace. Rest and relax as we prepare delicious picnics where you will sample local foods. Ride along waterways, and past green meadows and lush vineyards. Visit Romanesque architecture and tiny villages. Included is 1 walking historical tour of Strasbourg and 2 amazing hikes. Distances riden are completely adjustable and optional.

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Itinerary

Day 1

Welcome to Strasbourg France!

1 hr Historical Walking tour

You will receive directions on how to get from Paris to Strasbourg with your booking information package. We will pick you up at the Starsbourg train station (a direct train ride from Paris via TGV) or at the Strasbourg airport and chauffeur you to our accomodations. We will get your bike ready while you relax and tonight we will brief you on this incredible cycling and hiking journey. In the late afternoon we will have a walking tour of the historical old town, its picturesque quarters and half-timbered houses in the neighbourhood known as "La Petite France". We will visit the gothic cathedral and its famous astronomical clock, a must-see. You can have dinner in town tonight and after we will shuttle you back to our accommodations. Enjoy your stay at the magnificent Chateau de Pourtales.

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Day 2

Eckbolshiem to Obernai

40 kms cycling through the Alsace Wine Route

We will transport you to the pretty village of Eckbolshiem. Today we will cover a distance of 40 kms as we head westward towards the base of the Vosges Mountains that you will be bordering and exploring for the next few days. Our ride will go along the Bruche Canal built by Louis the 14th military architect Vauban. We will encounter cabage and corn fileds and quaint villages along the Bruche before entering the wine region. We'll stop in Rosheim to see its three medieval town gates, the Romanesque church and the beautifully restored Romanesque house, recognized as the oldest in the region. Then we will go to Rosenwiller, with its Jewish cemetery – the largest and oldest in Alsace. From there, we'll descend into the vineyard village of Boersch, with its fortified medieval gateway and magnificent Renaissance town hall. You can stop to explore the town and this afternoon we can come back to do a little wine tasting. Your final destination of the day is Obernai which is only a couple of kms down the road. It is entrenched in centuries of history and you will find wonderful restaurants and boutiques to explore. 12:30 noon - Picnic lunch served in the town of Obernai. You will enjoy your 4 star accommodations, Hotel a La Cour d'Alsace in the heart of Obernai. Tonight you can relax or stroll through the old streets of town.

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Day 3

Hike to Mont Sainte Odile

3 hr Hike

Short drive to the start of our hike at the base of Truttenhausen Abby. 10:00 am - We begin our hike which is on sections of the Way of Saint James Pilgramage Route. The Sainte Odile Abbey is perched at the top of the most famous peak of the Vosges, Mont Sainte Odile. Your walk today follows a section of a mysterious Pagan Wall, a huge construction about 10 kilometres long which encircles Mont Sainte Odile Abbey. The origins and date of the wall are still disputed, with some claiming that it is a 3,000 year old druid construction. The walk following the wall is quite pretty, through dense forest, and offering occasional spectacular panoramas. You will pass by castle ruins, impressive rock formations, a small chapel, and walk a section following an old Roman Road. 1pm - Picnic style lunch at the top, then visit the abbey itself, including the church and the chapel where Sainte Odile’s tomb is interred. For those who have the legs, we will continue our hike and make our way back down for the second half of the hike for more spectacular view and castle ruins. Those that are going home at the halfway point (top of Mont Sainte Odile) will get driven back to our accommodations, Hotel a La Cour d'Alsace. 5 pm. Enjoy an optional spa treatment and dinner at this charming and stylish hotel of the Belle Époque.

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Day 4

Obernai to Chatenois

40 kms cycling through the Alsace Wine Route

We will begin from our hotel in Obernai then make our way to Barr which has lots of picturesque cobbled streets lined with traditional half timbered Alsace homes. A stop in Andlau is a must today to admire the abbey church, a masterpiece of Romanesque art. A mix of riding through small sections of forests and villages will open up to pretty panoramic view of the Alsace vineyards. Hillsides and wine-growing villages alternate until the foot of the Haut-Koenigsbourg Castle. You can choose to ride up or go straight to Châtenois, where we'll stop off in front of the Witches' Tower (Tour des Sorcières). Tonight we are staying at the Hotel Dontenville.

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Day 5

The Silver Valley

55 kms cycling through the Alsacian countryside

From Chatenois we will make our way through several wine villages and make a stop at Bergheim, the best preserved medieval town in all of Alsace with fully preserved medieval walls. We will take our time riding inside the town, then we will exit the wine region and head to Ribeauville where at 15kms in our 1st of 2 climbs begins. We will arrive at Sainte Marie aux Mines, the "capital" of the Val d'Argent (silver valley), which owes its name to the many silver veins exploited in the valley and mountains of Neuenberg. The mining dates back to the sixteenth century. This is where our 2nd climb begins but is shorter than the first. Remember, what goes up makes for a fun descend with Vosgian alpine scenery as a backdrop and several chateaux ruins looking on along the way. The last 10 kms are downhill to Chatenois where we will ride back to Hotel Dontenville. For those who want an easier loop, we will ride the first 15 kms as mentioned above to Ribeauville then we have a flat 25 km loop cycling through quaint little wine towns all the way back to Chatenois.

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Day 6

Ebermunster to Colmar

6o kms of Cycling Along the Alsace Wine Route

You will experience classic Alsace towns today. We will shuttle everyone to a must see in Alsace, the Abataille de Ebermunster. It is an incredibly beautiful abby and is where we will start our ride after a visit. There will be many beautiful villages along the wine route today including Riquewihr, a medieval town right in the heart of the Alsatian vineyards. It is classified among the "Most Beautiful Villages in France". For centuries this magnificent town has managed to combine the quality of its architecture with the quality of its world-famous wines, hence its nickname "The Gem of the Alsace Vineyards". But it's just one gem amongst a treasure box that is lined up for today. We will go to Kaysersberg and Katzenthal both with their famous castles. The town of NiedermorschwihrIt and its narrow cyling routes in the vineyards is breathtaking and a great spot for our picnic. Then we will continue to the ancient city of Turkheim with its exceptionnally well preserved medieval walls. It is surrounded by stunning scenery. The village also has several half-timbered houses, typical of the region. We will end the ride on a tranquil path, following the Lauch river to Colmar. Truly a great and scenic ride today. We can go on a group wine tasting at Wettolsheim after our ride this evening. You will really enjoy your stay at l' Hotelerie le Marechal situated on the banks of the Lauch river in the heart of "Little Venice" in Colmar.

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Day 7

Hartmannswillerkopf Hike

3 hr hike

We will depart from l' Hotelerie le Marechal for a short drive to one of the lesser known WW1 memorials - Hartmannswillerkopf also known as "Vieil Armand" which was a WW1 battlefield. This hiking experience might not be for everyone due to the visual reminders of historical events that occured there. 10:30 am. Start of our hike. It is a long walk but with relatively low elevations and is perfect for hiking at a walking pace. History lovers will be extremely impressed when crossing the battlefield by the discovery of many monuments related to the History of the First World War. It is unique because it is one of the very few WW1 memorials and battlefields set in the mountains. This means most of the trenches were either built out of stone or carved directly into the rock. So you can actually see and walk around in the very well preserved WW1 trenches. We could spent almost an entire day walking around in the trenches and we would not see them all. That's how much is still there! What Happened at Hartmannswillerkopf? A stalemate typical of WW1. The mountain top has great views of all of Alsace, so both sides wanted control of the summit. When the French managed to push the Germans back, the Germans would then somehow manage to push the French back to where they were before...and vice versa.

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Day 8

Enf of the trip

After breakfast, we will drive you to the Mulhouse train station for a direct train ride to Paris.

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