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Villages Vineyards of Alsace

from $1,949.00

Very easy walking through flower-festooned villages taking in feudal castles, churches, forests and vineyards. Panoramic views of the Black Forest, Vosges Mountains and famous Route du Vin. Lots of wine-tasting opportunities.

  • Reviews 57 Reviews
    5/5
  • Vacation Style Holiday Type
    Self-guided
  • Activity Level Easy
    3/8
All about the Villages Vineyards of Alsace.

This unique part of France provides a fantastic step back in time – an absolute must for the history buff and those who appreciate a good glass of wine.
Having been fought over for centuries by Germany and France, this rolling, wine-growing heartland is now heavily characterised by an eclectic mix of cuisine, language, architecture and customs. Pristine German and French cemeteries offer a moving reminder of Alsace’s history.
Our holiday offers a leisurely walk alongside the Route des Vins, using sections of the world-famous Camino de Santiago trail, through delightful mediaeval villages and ancient neatly-groomed vineyards, passing east-facing ruined castles.
Along the way you will pass through some of the most beautiful villages in France; Kaysersberg and Riquewihr, with their brightly-coloured, half-timbered buildings decked with window boxes spilling with geraniums and traditional ornamental features. Alsace is a well-known white wine region boasting several Grands Crus vineyards, and every village, no matter their size, will have a ‘cave’ or ‘degustation’ to visit. The people are welcoming and helpful and keen for you to sample their produce!
For those who wish to take on more challenging terrain or longer routes, there are 2-Boot walking options attached to three of the four walking days. These take you up into the forests of the Vosges and provide a wonderful contrast to the undulating trail through the vineyards. You can visit the tiny Chapel St Alexis or The Galtz monument with its viewing platform or even have a walk around the ruins of the chateaux of Ribeauville.
Each September Ribeauville town celebrates one of the oldest festivals in Alsace; the Fete des Menetriers (Festival of the Minstrels). In the C8, Ribeauville was passed to the Lord of Rappolstein (the protector of the wandering minstrels). If you look carefully, you will see evidence of the Piper.
Historic Riquewihr is a highlight of the tour, an enchanting mediaeval village nestled amongst sloping hills of vines that produce the exceptional aromatic Riesling wine.
We have selected traditional, family-run hotels for your stay, including the stunning Hotel des Deux Clefs in Turckheim whose building dates back to the C16 and is officially classed as a monument historique. Turckheim also has a town crier who, at 10pm, walks the streets telling of the day’s events and bidding the local people a ‘good night’. Hotel a l’Oriel in the heart of Riquewihr has a cosy winstub and a pretty internal courtyard. Its beautiful beamed decor is stunning and quaint.

The tour package inclusions and exclusions at a glance
What is included in this tour?Items that are included in the cost of tour price.
  • All breakfasts
  • 8 nights in 3-star hotel-to-hotel accommodation
  • A choice of walks each day; one easier walk or a more challenging walk
  • Luggage transfers between hotels
  • Route notes and maps provided
  • Walking transfers
  • Services of your local Headwater Representative
What is not included in this tour?
  • Flights
  • Arrival & departure transfers (available on request, inquire for supplement)
    Room upgrades and extra nights at selected hotels (inquire for prices and details)
  • Single Accommodation (available on request, inquire for supplement)

Highlights

  • Walk through vineyards, ancient oak forest and unspoiled flower-filled gingerbread villages
  • Try the regional wines
  • Visit romantic castles, Gothic churches, Medieval villages; Riquewihr and Colmar, the ‘Venice of Alsace’
  1. Day 1 Day 1 Arrive at Turckheim

    Your first night is spent in a friendly Alsatian hotel in the heart of the village. With so many restaurants on your doorstep, we’ve left you free to choose where to dine this evening. (Staying at Hotel des Deux Clefs, Breakfast Only)

  2. Day 2 Day 2 Turckheim to Kaysersberg 10km/6.5mi/3hr or 21km/13.5mi/5.5hr

    Today it’s time to explore Turckheim’s Renaissance church and mediaeval gate where storks still nest. Your walk through the vines takes you past flower-filled Niedermorschwihr and Ammerschwihr where you can taste the local vintage, Kaefferkopf, in cosy wine cellars. It’s then on to the fortified town of Kaysersberg, voted prettiest town in France 2017, and your hotel on a quiet cobbled street in the old town. (Staying at Hotel Les Remparts, Breakfast Only)

  3. Day 3 Day 3 At Kaysersberg

    In the morning why not stroll up to the ruins of the mediaeval castle for a bird’s eye view over Kaysersberg’s half-timbered houses decked with geraniums along the River Weiss? Afterwards, perhaps follow a valley trail to Kientzheim or visit Colmar, only 25 minutes by local bus. Known as the ’Venice of Alsace’, it’s a honeycomb of pretty canals and gorgeous pastel-coloured houses. (Staying at Hotel Les Remparts, Breakfast Only)

  4. Day 4 Day 4 Kaysersberg to Riquewihr 11km/7mi/3hr or 12km/7.5mi/3.5hr

    A gentle climb to the French cemetery above the village of Sigolsheim, with its panoramic views of the Alsace plains and the Kayserberg Valley. Descend through the vineyards to the Renaissance houses of Riquewihr, the ’Pearl of the Vineyards’. (Staying at Hotel A L’Oriel, Breakfast Only)

  5. Day 5 Day 5 At Riquewihr

    The town of Riquewihr is so enchanting it’s been declared an historic monument in its entirety. You’ll be fascinated by its cobbled alleys, galleried courtyards, fountains and colourful signboards. The pretty ’Christmas Shop is worth a visit. (Staying at Hotel A L’Oriel, Breakfast Only)

  6. Day 6 Day 6 Riquewihr to Bergheim 11km/7mi/3hr or 20km/12mi/5.5hr

    You pass through the heart of mediaeval Alsace via the Riesling vineyards nestling at the foot of the mountains. Hunawihr has a fortified church and stork sanctuary; you’ll also find otters, butterflies and orchids in the reserve. Three ruined castles of the once-powerful Counts of Ribeaupierre loom overhead as you walk on through the vines to Bergheim. (Staying at Hotel La Cour Du Bailli, Breakfast included)

  7. Day 7 Day 7 At Bergheim

    This colourful and ancient market town was a mediaeval refuge where criminals on the run were safe from persecution. There are lots of beautiful timber-framed houses and a decorated fountain in the old square. Be sure to take a short taxi ride or do the longer optional walk to the amazing Haut-Koenigsbourg Castle; it’s a gentle downhill walk back too! (Staying at Hotel La Cour Du Bailli, breakfast included)

  8. Day 8 Day 8 Bergheim to Chatenois/Turckheim 12km/7.5mi/3.5hr or 14km/9mi/4hr

    You continue parallel to the Route des Vins to a poignant WW2 German military cemetery with panoramic views over the famous restored castle at Haut-Koenigsbourg. At St-Hippolyte there’s a Gothic church and fountain, whilst the ruined court of mediaeval Kintzheim Castle is the setting for spectacular flying displays by birds of prey. At Chatenois, where the walk finishes, we give you a lift back to Turckheim. (Staying at Hotel des Deux Clefs, Breakfast Only)

  9. Day 9 Day 9 Leave Turckheim
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Where you stay
Hotel des Deux Clefs
The 3* Hotel des Deux Clefs is absolutely stunning. The hotel building dates back to the C16 and as such, is officially classed as a monument historique. It’s easy to see why: it is an authentic Alsatian construction with timbered walls, oriel windows and lintels. Flower bedecked balconies complete its picture perfect exterior. Inside, the hotel is traditionally furnished with wooden panelled walls, and tasteful red furnishings, making it instantly feel cosy and welcoming – especially in the sitting room where you can savour a drink before dinner. The bedrooms however are fully equipped for the demands of the C21 traveller; all are en suite and feature satellite tv.
Hotel Les Remparts
On the edge of the historical town of Kaysersberg, bordering forest and vineyards, the Hotel Les Remparts offers calm and comfortable accommodation. The spacious guestrooms are distributed among 2 buildings situated in the hills overlooking the beautiful, open and verdant landscape. All of the rooms are equipped with modern en-suite facilities, free Wi-Fi internet access and TV. Additional services include a bar, a sauna and a games room with table tennis, pool table and fuss-ball table. There is no restaurant at the hotel however there are plenty of dining options in the local area. Private parking is available on site.
Hotel Oriel
Hotel a l’Oriel is located right in the centre of historic Riquewihr. The building is centred around a central courtyard and is painted a cheerful yellow with wooden timbered balconies burgeoning with flowers. The cosy interior has been beautifully renovated to retain its traditional Alsatian style: the bedrooms, many with wooden beamed ceilings, are decorated with bright patchwork quilts and solid wooden furniture.
Hotel La Cour du Bailli
The Halbeisen family and their team will welcome you to Alsace. Local wine growers since 1737, the family has converted the old wine growers farm, surrounded by their vineyards into a 3 star hotel. The hotel features a mediaeval decor with a pretty courtyard and all en suite rooms are traditionally decorated. La Cour du Bailli also offers a spa centre with an indoor pool and hot tub. The restaurant offers locally sourced produce with plenty of Alsation specialties and a full line of the best wines from the familial winery estate as the perfect accompaniment to your meals.
Eating and Drinking

Continental breakfasts are included in this trip.

Although traditional Alsatian cuisine is originally a peasant cuisine featuring potatoes, cabbage, beef and pork as the main ingredients, there are now some 30 Michelin starred restaurants in the Alsace region, offering visually spectacular and delicious, locally sourced, dishes. With two ‘starred’ restaurants in Kaysersberg, one in Riquewihr and one in Ammerschwihr, along with several others featured in the Michelin guide, there is plenty of top quality dining to choose from along your route. The cuisine features a lot of different pies, long simmered or stewed dishes like the traditional baeckeoffe. There is also the famous tarte flambée (flammekeuche in Alsatian dialect), a thin dough covered in cream, chopped onions and diced bacon. The influence of German cuisine and food habits is mainly marked in the important consumption of pork products and charcuterie.

‘Winstub’ is a traditional Alsatian restaurant. Originally it was a public space where the Alsatian wine-makers used to come to present and sell their wine. They used to serve traditional simple dishes to their customers, to accompany their tasting.

Activity level: 2 (Leisurely/Moderate)

Along the way you will pass through some of the most beautiful villages in France; Kaysersberg and Riquewihr, with their brightly-coloured, half-timbered buildings decked with window boxes spilling with geraniums and traditional ornamental features. Alsace is a well-known white wine region boasting several Grands Crus vineyards, and every village, no matter their size, will have a ‘cave’ or ‘degustation’ to visit. The people are welcoming and helpful and keen for you to sample their produce!

Activity level: 3 (Moderate)
For those who wish to take on more challenging terrain or longer routes, there are longer walking options attached to three of the four walking days. These take you up into the forests of the Vosges and provide a wonderful contrast to the undulating trail through the vineyards. You can visit the tiny Chapel St Alexis or The Galtz monument with its viewing platform or even have a walk around the ruins of the chateaux of Ribeauville.

This is a self-guided tour, as such there will be no group or tour leader and you are free to complete the walks at your own pace. Please bear in mind that although this is a self-guided holiday, the atmosphere in the hotels tends to be quite social and they will sometimes seat guests together at breakfast and dinner. We have suggested that 8yrs is the minimum age for this trip, but as it is self-guided and you will be leading your own family we will ultimately leave this decision up to you.

Overall Rating
5/5
Reviewed On 10/09/2019
5/5

Mr Heald

We had a lovely holiday in the Alsace. The villages and the scenery are beautiful. We coped well with all the level 2 walks despite extremely high temperatures. Walk three which included the steep path up to the three chateaux I would class as 2 boot plus! I don't have a head for heights and I found there was a lot of clambering on the way up. My husband had to give me a lot of encouragement! However I accept I am in the older age range now (67 years) so these things are only going to get more difficult! Once we reached the top the rest of the walk was straightforward. I miss the diagrams you used to have on each page of the Headwater brochure which indicated ascents, descents etc and whether a head for heights is needed.

We were very happy with all the hotels but we did think when we were on half board at Hotel la Cour de Bailli that an alternative choice to the set dinner menu would have been better. We simply ate what we were given though to be fair they did ask us if we were happy with the menu. Fortunately we are not fussy eaters. Overall though we had a great time.

Reviewed On 04/09/2019
5/5

Mr Stowell

Hotels providing evening

Reviewed On 21/08/2019
5/5

Mrs Sodring

Easy walking, mainly on tracks and country roads through the vines. Very pretty villages, some beautiful churches, Colmar well worth a visit on day off. Small restaurants provided good food and beer but also had wide ranging wine lists. At the height of the summer season, book ahead or be prepared to eat both lunch and dinner early or you might be disappointed. Small Boulanger that are in the villages provide basic foods for lunches. People are very friendly and the most used language is French though the hoteliers speak good English..

Reviewed On 05/08/2019
5/5

Mrs Tokumasukendri

Good and varied itinerary. Some delightful villages and the option 2 walks specifically were satisfying, and even in the exceptional heat were manageable. Our only reservation was that our room at Hotel a L'Oriel Riiguewihr was at the lower end of expectations; very small and stuffy; even making allowance for the heat, this being a standard room, and this an old building in an excellent location in the middle of the village . Jude our Rep was excellent.

Reviewed On 16/09/2013
4/5

Mr Jackson

We chose this holiday because it was advertised as the easiest grade of walking in an area that looked very attractive in the brochure. We suspected, from looking at the altitude chart, that the second walking day might be more challenging than the grade implied, and we were right!



The shorter walk distances were fine for us, the directions were clear and the maps helpful, although we could have managed without them, as the walking notes were so good. We did have occasional problems finding the waymarks, particularly on Day 2, when we assume they had been on trees which had fallen. The villages we stayed in were very picturesque, the hotels were welcoming and the arrangements all worked very efficiently.



We have been on many Headwater holidays over the past 30 years and always enjoyed them, although we are choosing the easier grades nowadays. I would recommend this holiday, with the proviso that it is definitely NOT flat walking. Most days had a fair number of uphill and downhill stretches, and the second day in particular was a very lengthy uphill effort, with a couple of steep pulls, followed by some fairly tricky downhill walking through forests with fallen trees in places. We found our walking poles very useful, particularly on Day 2.

Headwater response:
Dear Ms Thompson,
Thank you for taking the time to complete our on line questionnaire and for your feedback regrading the grading of the walks , please be assured that all of the feedback we receive is valued by us and is used to help improve and develop our holidays for the future.
It was great to read that you enjoyed your holiday to France. Although, I am sorry that you found some of the walks more challenging than you expected.

This year we introduced a new grading system of soft/leisurely/moderate/challenging. In previous years we have used a boot’ rating. However, we have received mixed feedback regarding this new grading system and a number of people have told us they feel the old boot ratings gave a clearer indication of what was involved. We have therefore decided that from Nov 2013, we will be reinstating our previous system, in order to avoid any future problems. We will therefore be rating this holiday as a 1 boot which I hope you will agree is a suitable rating.

I am also sorry that you found discrepancies with some of our waymaking points, this is checked at the beginning of the season and then throughout as necessary, I have passed your comments on to our local rep, he will be re checking the routes before the start of the new season and will check out your feedback to ensure it is corrected.

Thank you once again for your constructive comments and for your loyalty over the years, we do hope to welcome you on another Headwater holiday in the future.
Yours sincerely,
Lisa

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