Alsace is the quintessential winter destination with its fairy tale like villages, especially with a dusting of snow. Museums are less crowded, menus reflect the season with robust and tasty dishes and there’s not much that beats enjoying a glass of wine in a cosy café. We look at some of the best things to do in winter in Alsace…
Wine tasting and delicious dishes.
When the grape harvest is over, the vine leaves have all blown away and the wind whistles through the vineyards – you might be surprised to know it’s a good time to visit some of the best wine growing regions in France including Alsace. Many vineyards are open for tastings in winter and wine makers have more time to chat. Alsace is famous for its luscious white wines such as Riesling and Gewürztraminer, perfect winter whites. Follow the vineyard trails on the designated Route de Vin and enjoy numerous wine tastings. Find out more about the Alsace Wine Routes: alsace-wineroute.com/en
Local specialities are numerous and the influence of neighbouring Germany is strong. Choucroute (sauerkraut) is served everywhere as is baeckeoffe, a meat and wine stew and flammekeuche a delicious thin crust pizza with sour cream. Finish with kugelhopf or birewecke. This bread style cake is filled with dried fruits and spices – and a lot of Kirsch.
Base yourself in the enchanting village of Riquewihr if you like tiny villages in the countryside. With quaint half-timbered houses, wine bars and fabulous restaurants, it’s a jewel of a place. It’s not a big town but it is incredibly pretty, like a fairy-tale come to life. Wander the old town streets and you’ll believe you’ve woken up in the world of Hansel and Gretel. It’s a great base for touring the countryside (you’ll need wheels, public transport isn’t an option).
Take a wine tasting in Riquewihr: Domaine Dopff open year-round (dopff-au-moulin.fr), the first winemaking house to produce Crémant d’Alsace.
Wine and dine: Au Trotthus. Chef Philippe Aubron cooks up a storm in this beautiful, cosy building next to the Dolder Tower, a 13th century landmark. The dishes are beautiful to look at and seriously delicious. His apple pie and home-made ice cream is probably the best you will ever taste. (trotthus.com).
Stay at: Hotel L’Oriel in an ancient building, right in the centre. It’s so pretty it looks as if it’s made out of gingerbread! The hotel bar is great to relax in with a glass of wine and in winter this cosy nook is just about perfect.
What to see near Riquewihr
From here it’s easy to tour the area. Just a short drive away, Ribeauville is magical. And, don’t miss enchanting Eguisheim, voted favourite village of the French in 2013. Colmar is a must-see. This biggish city has a sensational old town, known as “little Venice” thanks to the canal that criss crosses it, lined with gorgeous old houses in every pastel shade there is. Strasbourg is less than an hour’s drive away.
Head to Kaysersberg for a taste of yesteryear. This lovely little village was voted favourite village of the French in 2017. Or climb the hill at Koenigsbourg, where you’ll find an extraordinary chateau with stunning views, it is atmospheric and fascinating. Here you’ll really get a feel for how tough winters were in days gone by!
You could even head for the Vosges mountains for a spot of skiing.
If you want more activity, especially at night, then base yourself in Strasbourg, the capital of Alsace. In the winter the frosted cobbled streets are enchanting. There’s plenty to do, the restaurants are superb, and, the museums are super cosy!