Presenting some popular activities, attractions and places to visit in Alsace, at all times of the year in the region.
Come December, every Alsatian village opens its Christmas market, an enchanting tradition begun in 1570 with Strasbourg’s Christkindelsmärik, one of the largest Christmas markets in Europe, a veritable festival of lights, craftwork, food, drink and good cheer.
For winter sports lovers who prefer small, family-oriented resorts to the ant hill of the Alps, try the Alsatian Vosges are a godsend. With 170 ski lifts and 1,000km of marked trails, enjoy at your own pace Alpine and Nordic skiing, snowshoeing, as well as dogsledding, snow kiting and more.
Visiting the Hautes Vosges is a thrill in itself, but adventure sports lovers find there are many more extraordinary sensations to be had in Alsace. With its magnificent natural scenery, the Vosges are ideal for anyone enticed by paragliding or rock climbing.
With 2,500km of bicycle trails, all designed to avoid busy roads and to provide breathtaking vistas, Alsace has myriad routes from north to south and from the Vosges to the Rhine.
Le Château du Haut-Koenigsbourg
An architectural wonder at 800m altitude, the view from this 12-century fairytale castle is stupendous. Abandoned in 1633 after being besieged and burned by Swedish troops, in 1899 Prussian emperor Wilhelm II restored the castle to its former glory. www.haut-koenigsbourg.fr
Château de Kintzheim
With its hilltop position and dominating aspect, Kintzheim has a storied past, frequented by French kings all the way back to Charlemagne, who is known to have spent Christmas here in 775. The current 12th-century castle survives as the home of La Volerie des Aigles, a sanctuary for endangered birds of prey. Visitors may attend daily flights. www.voleriedesaigles.com
Château du Haut-Barr
This château fort dating back to 1100 is a window into the region’s tumultuous history. Built on a sandstone ridge 460 metres above the valley of Zorn and the plain of Alsace, it was known as ‘the eye of Alsace’ for having once controlled the vital pass below. www.tourisme-saverne.fr
Route des Crêtes
This stunning 89km scenic road, running across woodland and the ridge of the Vosges Mountains, was once the Franco-German border. Today, it’s a drive through the clouds. For those without a car, a shuttle service runs sightseers up in July and August. www.navettedescretes.com
Route des Vins d’Alsace
The 170km wine route from Thann to Marlenheim is the oldest in France, inaugurated in 1953 with an automobile rally. Today, drivers take their time, weaving past picturesque villages and a rich diversity of viticultural and wild landscapes. www.la-route-des-vins-alsace.com
With sparkling crémant, fragrant Muscat, refreshing Sylvaner, full-bodied Gewürztraminer, noble Riesling, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir, Alsace has a plethora of wines to try. Visit Hugel et Fils’s large tasting room in Riquewihr, or take a tour with www.parenthese-vigneronne.com
From spring to autumn, wine festivals are held across Alsace, from the traditional village wine fair every spring in Ammerschwihr (April 29, 2017), to Colmar’s major summertime event, the Foire aux Vins d’Alsace (July 27 to August 6, 2017), with 250,000 visitors. www.foire-colmar.com
Each season offers something to see and do in Alsace. For more information about the Christmas markets, world-class art and heritage museums, wine tours, art and music festivals, and many more fun activities for 2017, see www.tourisme-alsace.com
From France Today magazine