Driving Tour: Route des Vins d'Alsace

  • Start Marlenheim
  • End Colmar
  • Length 87km; one to two days

Weaving through lyrical landscapes, this road trip takes in the best of the vine-strewn Route des Vins d’Alsace.

From the gateway town of Marlenheim, a well-marked lane leads through bucolic countryside to medieval Molsheim, centred on a square dominated by the step-gabled Renaissance metzig (butcher's shop). Continue south to Rosheim, where the striking Romanesque Église St-Pierre-St-Paul raises eyebrows with its, ahem, copulating gargoyles! Step inside for a moment of quiet contemplation before swinging south to pretty, half-timbered Obernai to explore the market square and château-topped vineyard trail.

Views of the forest-cloaked Vosges unfold as you meander south to the sleepy hamlet of Mittelbergheim, pausing to taste the local grand cru wines at award-winning Domaine Gilg. Even higher peaks slide into view as you cruise south to cellar-studded Dambach-la-Ville, embraced by 14th-century town walls, and catch your first tantalising glimpse of the turrets of 900-year-old Château du Haut Kœnigsbourg. After detouring for astounding views from the castle ramparts – which reach to the Black Forest and Alps on cloudless days – rewind time roaming the cobbled streets in half-timbered Bergheim. Curving alleys hide cosy winstubs (wine taverns) in tower-speckled Ribeauvillé nearby.

You'll definitely see storks in Hunawihr at the NaturOparC; come in spring to coo over hatchlings. Allow time for serendipitous strolls in fairest-of-them-all Riquewihr – pure fairy-tale stuff with its procession of half-timbered houses painted pastel colours as bright as the macarons sold by its patisseries. Contemplate the Renaissance town hall and the house of Nobel Peace Prize–winner Albert Schweitzer in riverside Kaysersberg, then wend your way south to little-known Katzenthal for organic wine tasting and vineyard walks at family run Vignoble Klur. Wrap up your tour with culture and Michelin-starred dining in canal-woven Colmar, the enchanting Alsatian wine capital and birthplace of Statue of Liberty creator Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi.