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Kaysersberg and Eguisheim in Alsace

by Roberto
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Alsace is a fascinating area of France tucked away in the east of the country. The capital of the area Strasbourg, contrasts with the rolling vineyards of the region. Tucked in along this wine route also are a string of impeccable Alsace villages, with Kaysersberg and Eguisheim as two of the leading attractions for visitors. In addition both have recently been awarded the esteemed title of favourite French village.

Wowed by Colmar, we still dragged ourselves away from the wine capital of the Alsace. The car we had rented for Switzerland was therefore a blessing. Actually we rented it from France, cause Basel airport is in France. However no more on that as I’m even confused thinking about it. But a blessing nonetheless. The villages of Alsace had not been on out itinerary but a quick extension of our car rental, and all of a sudden they lay very much in our path.

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Table of Contents
Which Alsace Villages should you visit?
Alsace Wine Route
Alsace Wine Tasting Map
Eguisheim
Kaysersberg

Which Alsace Villages should you visit?

We choose to be selective of which villages to visit as our time in the region was limited. Of the many beautiful villages that line this most aesthetic of rural routes, two stood out above all as impeccable examples of archetypal Alsace villages. They were Kaysersberg and Eguisheim. Kaysersberg is France’s favourite village in 2017, and Eguisheim in 2013. But it wasn’t accolades that drew us there but photos of their beauty on the net. They don’t have the monopoly on aesthetics but they are in the lead. The castle overhead Kaysersberg sealed the deal. The road taking you to the villages from Colmar is that perfect picture of France from my mind, through rolling hills of vines and villages. Above the route stands the Vosges mountains, and the area is designated a regional national park. It all comes together in the Alsace Wine Route.

Alsace Villages

Alsace Wine Route

The Alsace Wine Route has existed since 1953. A 170km route, it passes 70 villages, and many more vineyards. Around 100 of these offer wine tasting experiences. It’s above all a trip where you need to make sure you aren’t the designated driver. If you didn’t know much about Rieslings, Muscat, Pinot Blanc and Gewurztraminer before Alsace, rest assured you will after. Alsace wines tend toward the sweet side, with Germanic influences and also strong influence from Tokaj in Hungary.

The area around Colmar is known as the Terre et Vin au Pays de Colmar. As the Grand Cru wine path, quality is guaranteed and in this area for instance, Winery Adam Pierre., Maison Joseph Cattin, Cave de Turckheim and several others offer a great tasting experience. The villages of Kaysersberg, Riquewihr and Eguisheim also fall on this route.

For a blow by blow guide to the Alsace wine route, the official site, Alsace-Wine-Route.com is a great resource.


Alsace Wine Tasting Map

To help you grasp an idea of the Alsace Wine Route this is the map which is available from the above website. With so many villages and even more vineyards, the route is treat for all of your senses.

Alsace Villages
Source: Alsace Wine Route

Eguisheim

As fortune would have it, I was the designated driver so wine tasting didn’t fall into the remit of this road tip. Plus we toured the villages in the morning, to try and avoid the crowds, and wine is also best avoided in the morning. I learned this the time I didn’t refuse prosecco with my breakfast in Italy. Anyway enough about that.

Eguisheim is an Alsace village of 1782 people, renowned for the quality of its wine and having being selected as France’s favourite village in 2013; an accolade which is quite prestigious. It’s streets are arranged in a concentric way, around what used to be a castle at its heart. The ruins of more overlook the village from the hills above, and are known as the Three Castles of Eguisheim.

Eguisheim is only 15 minutes drive from Colmar, and arriving we found Parking Eguisheim on the outskirts of the village. It’s €3 for the day so both convenient and cheap. The subsequent short stroll to the centre was enough to raise my excitement levels, with intriguing buildings lining the route such as the town hall.

Alsace Villages
Eguisheim Town Hall
La Ferme du Pape hotel, Eguisheim
The artful exterior of La Ferme du Pape hotel

Le Pigeonnier

Undoubtedly the most photographed place in Eguisheim is Le Pigeonnier, or the pigeon house. Located on the intersection of Rue du Rempart Sud and Rue de l’Almend-Sud, we did more or less stumble onto it as our route took us that way. It pays to arrive early in the day though, as everyone wants a piece of this beauty. Even at 10am we had to wait a while to get our shot. I don’t feel I did its cuteness justice. At the rear is a lovely well, delightfully decorated with flowers.

Le Pigeonnier, Eguisheim
Le Pigeonnier – Eguisheim’s most famous street
Eguisheim
Le Pigeonnier

Eguisheim half-timber houses

Of course the village doesn’t disappoint with its half-timbered houses, which are best found by wandering the concentric streets of its centre. They are all pedestrianised. What impressed me most were the flowers which decorated so many of the streets. Above all Eguisheim really is a pleasure

Most of the houses were built from the 15th century onwards. They were originally covered in soot, and it wasn’t till the 17th century that windows were enlarged, and the pastel covered frontage added to the houses of wealthier inhabitants. This idea was abandoned in the 18th century, in favour of cement frontings. Luckily the identity of Alsace was reclaimed in the last century with paint bringing colour back to the streets.

Storks

I may be a sucker for storks. These are some talented birds, as seen by the way they build huge nests in the most unusual of places. Storks are another feather in Eguisheims cap. They can be seen soaring above the town, and where you have storks of course you have those wonderful nests. Churches are their favourite in Eguisheim however, with two nests perched atop the Saint Pierre and Paul church, and on the St Leon Chapel. They may not bring babies but those birds do bring me happiness to see them.

Eguisheim
View of St Pierre et St Paul church through the village

Place de Château St Léon

Grand Rue runs through the village to the centre, which is found at Place de Chateau St Leon. Originally the castle once stood here, but all that remains now are some walls, and the church of the castle. In the centre of the square is the St Leon Fountain, a medieval fountain which had a statue of St Leon added in the 19th century.

St Leon is Eguisheim’s most famous citizen. Born in 1002 he rose through the Catholic Church to become pope. His birthplace was the castle that predated the one whose walls we see today.

Alsace Villages
St Leon Fountain
Alsace Villages
Church of St Leon castle

St Leon Chapel

St Leon is further commerated in Eguisheim by this small chapel. The chapel for me is the Eguisheim’s main draw. For instance there’s the storks floating overhead. In addition the nest atop the steeple. Then the painting of the crucifiction adorning a nearby wall. After that the flowers that line the small path to its door.

The chapel was commissioned in 1885 and the keep of the castle that remained was destroyed. The church was finished by 1895, and contains the relics of St Leon. The ceilings, walls, and alter are decorated in stunning tiles and murals. The interior is tiny but perhaps all the better for it. It exudes charm. Entry is free.

  • St Leon Chapel Eguisheim
  • St Leon Chapel Eguisheim

St Leon Chapel Eguisheim
The interior of the St Leon chapel

Eguisheim’s local website is an excellent source of more information on the village.

Leaving Eguisheim behind we moved to Kaysersberg after that. Kaysersberg would prove to be a much bigger village and also a much longer drive. Lying to the north-west of Colmar, it took us around 30 minutes to cover the 15km drive. But we didn’t complain, the vine covered hills are a delight and we lamented not having more time in the region.


Kaysersberg

Kaysersberg-Vignoble as it has been known since 2016, is a village of some 4677 people. Lucky people. Again it’s pedestrianised, but a string of car parks encircle the town. We parked in one at Rue de la Flieh, which was also was around the €3 mark. It’s a short stroll into the centre, of less than five minutes. That’s if you don’t stop to take photos of houses like this irresistibly cute one on Rue de l’Oberhof like I did for instance.

Kaysersberg
A house so typical of Alsace Villages

Kaysersberg has a long central street (rue du General de Gaulle) with a good number of cafes and gift shops. It’s the ideal place to people watch and enjoy a crepes and coffee, as we for instance did at Kaysers Bier Brasserie. By this time late morning the village was already busy.

Do I need to mention that half timber houses and buildings are again the attraction? I don’t think so. Kaysersberg’s are as quaint as any before. Do not miss the extraordinary beauty of Maison du Faller-Brief from the 1590’s and also Boulangerie Loewert from 1739 on Kaysersberg’s main street.

What not to miss in Kaysersberg

Pont Fortifie

Kaysersberg has a charming location on the banks of the River Weiss. The shallow river flows through the town and over some very passive cascades at Pont Fortifie. These are the best views in the town, and probably the best I saw in the whole of Alsace. We took a walk down by the river bank, and the rich colours of the summer flowers also lent an extra level of enchantment to the village

Kaysersberg
View of Pont Fortifie
Alsace Villages
Kaysersberg
View from the River Weiss banks

Finding the gingerbread man

Well this one speaks for itself…

Alsace Villages
Don’t jump gingerbread man

Eglise de l’Invention de la Sainte-Croix

The church of the Holy Cross is a romanesque structure from the 13th century. It quite plain from the outside with the exception of its bell tower. Inside the church is quite dark, and the one thing that immediately strikes you is the size of the crucifix over the alter. The 4.5 metre crucifix from 1582 dominates the church. At the base are statues of John and Mary. It’s the church’s principal sight, but the altar area from the 16th century is of more interest. Well worth a minute or two of your time and entry is free.

Alsace Villages
Magnificent altar of the church

Hotel de Ville de Kaysersberg

The Town Hall of Kaysersberg is a renaissance era building and dates from 1604. It is quite different from the usual Alsatian buildings surrounding it, and presents as a curiosity.

Kaysersberg Town Hall
Kaysersberg Town Hall

Kaysersberg Castle

Did you say castle Kaysersberg? If anyone knows me, then you’ll know I can never say no to a castle. This one overshadows the town and is a fifteen minute hike up via steps. It was relatively tough in the heat, but as you reach the summit, it is most definitely worth it. Not so much for the castle though!

The castle was built around 1200 and consists of external walls, a courtyard, and a central defensive tower. It is notable for its small dungeon in the base of the round tower. But as with outside the castle, the one hundred steps to the roof provide the greatest attraction.

That attraction is the views. Surrounded by vineyards for as far as the eye can see, and with the rooftops of Kaysersberg down below, its exhilarating. The village is as delightful from above as within, with the churches tower the most distinguishing feature.

  • Alsace Villages
  • Alsace Vilages
  • Alsace Villages

For more on the town of Kaysersberg, I suggest their local website.


If these Alsace Villages have enticed you to the area, then may a suggest a look at Colmar. The capital of the Alsace wine route, its a glorious city of architecture, culture and good food. And the subject of my two most recent blogs.

50 photos of Colmar

Top cultural things to do in Colmar


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