When it comes to France, the Alsace is often forgotten as a holiday destination (and wine making region), with people opting for the more obvious areas of Champagne, Bordeaux and the Loire Valley. But the Alsace has some of the most beautiful villages in France and produces some fantastic wines, including the region’s sparkling wine – Crémant d’Alsace. Many of the villages host annual or biannual Alsace wine festivals, which offer the perfect excuse to try lots of wines and get to know the locals.
One of the great things about visiting this area is that you really can experience life like a local and there are still many untouched villages to explore. I have family in the region, so have been lucky enough to visit on many occasions, and it’s somewhere I love to return to.
Bike tours are very popular too, companies such as Bicyclette Go offer customised tours, where a guide will take you through the villages, stopping for Alsacian food and wine tasting, spending each night in a different place.
Wine Festivals in the Alsace
A great way to experience the Alsace is to visit during one of the wine festivals. Most villages have a bi-annual festival, where everyone gathers in the village square and celebrates with the local wine.
My family live in Vœgtlinshoffen, a village 20 minutes outside of Colmar, that celebrates its fête du Vin in July. The population of the village is only 550, and nearly everyone in the village knows each other, which really adds to the atmosphere. A stage is set up in the square and the fountain is emptied to become the bar, where the local vignerons (winemakers) sell their wine, ranging from 7 euro to 20 euro a bottle (bargain).
The night starts with a few competitions – usually involving wine, and ends up with everyone dancing to a live band in the square, and no fête du vin is complete without the arrival of the mayor on a donkey!
It really is such a fun way to meet the Alsacian people, taste local wine and experience a lesser known area of France.
Another village definitely worth visiting is Eguisheim, the next village to Vœgtlinshoffen. It was named the Village préféré des Français» (Favourite French Village) in 2013. It’s famous for the storks that live on the church steeple and for the winding streets leading into the centre of the town.
And if you still aren’t convinced – it’s worth visiting the Alsace just for the Tarte flambée – the Alsacian pizza covered with crème fraîche, thinly sliced onions and lardons – Yum!!
Getting to the Alsace
It’s easy and cheap to fly to the Alsace for a weekend, with lots of operators flying to both Strasbourg (north) and Basel Mulhouse (south). (You can often get flights for as little as £10 each way!) It’s worth hiring a car to get around as many of the villages are very small with limited public transport.