Riquewihr is classified as one of the most beautiful villages in France (Les Plus Beaux Villages de France Association) and it certainly lives up to the accolade. Located in Alace, Eastern France it is on the Rhine River border with Germany and shares a culture of history and heritage with its near neighbour. It is also on the famous Alsace Wine route and close to other well-known tourist sites such as Colmar, Ribeauvillé, and Chateau Haut du Koenisgsbourg.
History of Riquewihr
The little town was originally fortified by the Lords of Horbourg at the end of the 13th Century but they sold the city in 1324 to the aristocratic family of Württemberg. In the 16th Century Riquewihr was converted to Protestantism and it’s from this period in history that many of the buildings date. The town was known as a Winzerdorg – a “wine village” and has for centuries been a trading hub for Alsatian wine – it continues to serve that function to this day. The town prospered greatly from the sale of wines and the buildings reflect its heyday.
Situated between the Vosges Mountains and the Plains of Alsace this medieval town has managed to preserve its authenticity and is rightly known as “The Gem of the Alsace Vineyards” and is a living open air museum in its own right. Typical Alsatian architecture of the 16th Century besieges the senses, half-timbered buildings, oriel windows, beautiful inner courtyards, elegant fountains and ancient wells. It’s a romantic and dramatic place with the vineyards on the mountain slopes seen from alleyways just creeping down to the gates of the village, views of castles on craggy summits and wine tasting venues galore. The layout and structure are unchanged from the 16th Century and the buildings have been preserved so well that even the modern appliances of life are not obvious.
From spring to autumn the village is a riot of colour and flowers and in the winter it has a unique atmosphere which combines the magic of Christmas with local traditions.
There are numerous hotels and restaurants which reflect the town’s popularity with tourists – particularly day-trippers. In the evenings it’s quieter and a wonderful place to savour the atmosphere in one of the ancient old buildings which now serves as a restaurant and to wander the cobble stone streets with hardly any traffic
Top things to do in Riquewihr
The half-timbered houses – stray off the main road down little alleyways and appreciate the beautiful architectural details everywhere
The Dolder – 13th century defensive gate into the walled town
The Thieves’ Tower and former prison of Riquewihr (steep stairs for access)
Au Trotthus restaurant in a 16th Century winemaker’s house
Wine tasting – there is plenty of choice, wander from one producer’s cellar to another to try and buy
Don’t miss the Chateau du Haut Koenigsbourg just 10 minutes’ drive from Riquewirh
Try one of the other local villages such as Ribeauvillé, Kaysersburg, St Hippolyte and Bergheim on the Alsace Wine Route.
The Hansi Museum – dedicated to the works of JJ Waltz, a famous artist of the early twentieth century, painting naive illustrations of Alsatian society.