Everything You Want to Know About France and More...

Guide to the prettiest towns of Alsace

Village of Riquewihr, nestled in the vineyards of Alsace

A guide to the best villages, vineyards and castles of Alsace by award winning photographer Jeremy Flint.

The north-eastern French region of Alsace is a place of scenic splendour and historical wonder. Picturesque small towns, colourful half-timbered houses and vineyards carpet the landscape. Away from the conventional travel routes of Paris, Provence and the Côte d’Azur, this cultural corner is less than 6 hour’s drive from Calais. It’s one of the most beautiful and undiscovered places in France. Alsace borders Germany and Switzerland, and lies on the west bank of the river Rhine, between the Rhine and the Vosges mountains with Lorraine and Franche Comté to the west.

There are many wonderful locations to visit in Alsace. This guide highlights the most impressive sights to see and capture on camera within the region.

Alsace Wine Route

A tour along the Route des Vins d’Alsace (Alsace wine route) uncovers some of the best things to discover in the area. The route spans the wine growing area over 170km and five regions from near Strasbourg in the north to just south of Colmar. This is one of France’s oldest and most popular drive, and traverses the heart of the region. The journey takes you through a multi-coloured landscape of luxurious green vines. You’ll spot perched castles and impressive mountains. Stop off at charming villages. And savour, swirl and purchase aromatic Alsace vintages at one of the many roadside wine cellars.


Strasbourg in the old district

Alsace comprises a mix of French and German heritage reflecting each country’s control of the area over the centuries. The wonderful blend of French and German culture is evident in the fairy-tale towns and villages that line the route with their half-timbered houses and cobblestone streets. Set on the Rhine, Strasbourg is one of the finest medieval towns in Northeast France. It’s also one of the most photogenic places you can visit in Alsace. With its historical monuments and striking architecture, the city’s finest building Notre-Dame Cathedral should be top of your list. Don’t miss Strasbourg’s historic centre the Grande Île (large island). At this UNESCO World Heritage site you can stroll through atmospheric alleyways and admire elegant buildings and historic churches before enjoying the café-filled squares.


South of Strasbourg, Ribeauvillé and Riquewihr are two of the most beautiful villages in France. And, they are very close to each other. Ribeauvillé is a Route des Vins must, encompassed by vineyards and mountains. Its impressive buildings and fortified castles are the main draw. Don’t miss the the 18th century Hôtel de Ville (town hall) where you can see a prestigious collection of silver goblets. And also don’t miss the well-maintained Tour des Bouchers (Butchers’ tower). Perched high on a mountainside overlooking the medieval village, Saint Ulrich Castle stands proud. It’s the oldest and best-preserved castle of its kind, surrounded by an endless forested landscape.


Taking a historic walk through the elegant Medieval ramparts,. Explore hidden courtyards. And admire the brightly coloured architecture. Riquewihr is a truly enchanting village. Venture onto the neighbouring hills to get a real sense of Riquewihr’s chocolate box lid pretty looks and to appreciate its peaceful nature.

For centuries, the vineyards of Riquewihr and Ribeauvillé have produced some of the most incredible wines ever made. Wine lovers will adore the fresh and full-bodied Grand Cru appellation varieties, synonymous with the region including the local Kirchberg de Ribeauvillé, Osterberg and Geisberg.


Each village is full of unique and colourful buildings combined with traditional character, and Hunawihr is no exception. It’s situated a mere 2km from Ribeauvillé and Riquewihr. The highlight of Hunawihr is its fortified church Saint-Jacques-le-Majeur. Sitting amongst vineyards on a hillside at the edge of the village, it’s incredibly photogenic. After witnessing this fantastic sight, head into the walled hamlet. Don’t miss the Schickardt House, the Renaissance Town Hall and the Fountain of St. Hune. Last but not least, visit the cellars of this well-established wine-producing village to sample the exceptional liquor. Hunawihr is also home to a stork re-introduction centre so keep your eyes peeled and you will likely spot storks in nature.

Château du Haut-Koenigsbourg

An alternative castle worth visiting, located in the Orschwiller commune, 10 minutes from Ribeauvillé is the medieval Château du Haut-Koenigsbourg. It sits a whopping 757 metres above the Alsace plains. You can explore the furnished fortress and discover its medieval weapon collections. Then scale the summit of the bastion for fantastic views over the Vosges mountains and the Black Forest beyond.


At the foot of the Haut Koenigsbourg, Saint-Hippolyte is a wonderfully traditional village. Think timbered houses and quintessential Alsatian architecture. The 14th century parish church was modified in the 15th century by having a bell tower added to it in 1822. This makes it an extremely photogenic church and an incredible piece of Italian gothic architecture. Within the village’s old medieval walls, you will see the Tour des Cigognes (Stork’s tower) topped with nesting stalks. Don’t miss the town hall and a fountain, dating back to 1555, that adorns the square.


The beautiful town of Colmar makes for a great day trip along the Alsace wine route. It’s well-preserved old town, plentiful architectural landmarks and winding canals offer excellent opportunities for photography. Take a stroll along the Grand Rue (high street) for shots of rainbow-coloured houses. And explore Petite Venise (the Little Venice quarter) on foot or by rowing boat for its narrow street and charming canal views.

Massif des Vosges – Vosges mountains

To the west of Colmar, the enchanting forests and softly rounded pastures of the Vosges Mountain range are often cloaked in mist and make a great subject for photography at any time of the year. With secluded lakes and refreshing views, the mountain range is a fantastic adventure playground. You’ll find this a great base for walking adventures and mountain-biking where you can experience varied landscapes and summit nature trails. Driving the Route des Crêtes, an 89 km road in the Vosges Mountains that passes through the Parc Naturel Régional des Ballons des Vosges ensures idyllic views. Hike up to the peak of Grand Ballon, the highest point in the region at 1424 metres for breath-taking panoramas.

Wherever you choose to visit in Alsace, you will not be disappointed with its scenic splendour, architectural delights, and wonderful half-timbered houses.

Jeremy Flint is an award-winning professional photographer and writer specialising in travel, landscape and location photography. His work is published extensively in National Geographic Traveller Lonely Planet and Country Life amongst others. He is a five-time finalist in Travel Photographer of the Year, Association of Photographers Discovery Award Winner and National Geographic Traveller Grand Prize Winner.

This article was first published in The Good Life France Magazine

All rights reserved. This article may not be published, broadcast, rewritten (including translated) or redistributed without written permission.

Scroll to Top