After the long winter period, we all want to dream of warm sunny days. With the return of the warm weather on the horizon, the need to get away from everyday life is becoming more and more pressing. Let’s plan a getaway in rural Alsace! Here are a few ideas for taking it easy in the northeast French province of Alsace to inspire you.
An Escape to rural Alsace
Let’s leave aside the busy cities and look for peaceful places in rural Alsace that are ideal for rest and tranquillity.
The Northern Vosges
The Northern Vosges (Vosges du Nord) offer magnificent and exotic landscapes in a triangle between Bitche, Saverne and Wissembourg. Covered by pine forests, these Petites Vosges are not very high (less than 600 m) but often steep.
Dominating the cool valleys, pink sandstone structures emerge here and there in fantastic silhouettes. They could be mistaken for the ruins of the castles that still stand above the dark coniferous forests.
This is the land of glass and crystal whose factories have made the region’s reputation: Meisenthal, Saint-Louis-lès-Bitche, Wingen-sur-Moder…
Today, the Northern Vosges belong to the Vosges du Nord Regional Nature Park, founded on 30 December 1975, on the initiative of the Alsace and Lorraine regions.
The historic town of Kaysersberg marks the entrance to the green valley of the Weiss, whose road leads to the Col du Bonhomme (949 m), which links Alsace and Lorraine.
The Kaysersberg valley is also synonymous with the Val d’Orbey, the Welche country where Alsatian is not spoken. Indeed, this Romanesque-speaking territory includes some very French place names: Orbey, of course, and Lapoutroie, Pairis, Labaroche and the Calvaire Pass.
In terms of nature, you can appreciate this mid-mountain landscape with its fir forests, its pastures and its high altitude lakes (Lac Noir and Lac Blanc).
Relatively far from the main tourist routes, the Doller valley is located in the southern Vosges. The Doller flows through a succession of green meadows, interspersed with fir and beech woods.
The small capital of the valley is Masevaux, a town of 3,000 inhabitants nestled between the Sudel and Rossberg massifs.
I have often walked the valley from Sentheim to the Ballon d’Alsace, and I advise you to visit the lakes of Sewen and Alfeld at the end of the valley and the heights of the Baerenkopf.
The northern side of the valley gives access to the Hundsruck pass, the Rossberg and Thanner-Hubel massif, not forgetting a series of Vosges lakes: the Lac des Perches and the Grand and Petit Neuweiher lakes. A nature escape in rural Alsace guaranteed!
The Alsace Vineyard
The Alsace Wine Route is one of France’s most beautiful tourist routes. Inaugurated in 1953, it crisscrosses the vineyards of Alsace over 170 kilometres, from Marlenheim in the north to Thann in the south.
Some of these villages are surrounded by medieval ramparts whose fortified gates still control access (Bergheim, Kientzheim, Rosheim, Turckheim). Magnificent wrought iron signs complement the charm of the main streets. Sometimes, narrow streets are lined with beautiful Renaissance half-timbered houses.
Their porches with arched arches lead to a hidden inner courtyard. Here and there, the roofs serve as a support for storks’ nests. In summer, you can refresh yourself at the old fountains, often located in the shadow of ancient parish churches.
These wine-growing towns compete in the exceptional flowering of their monuments and buildings.
Let’s not forget to mention the hundreds of ruined castles that stand on the hills below the Vosges (Haut-Kœnigsbourg, Ribeauvillé, Kaysersberg, Andlau). These relics of the past still keep watch over the surrounding area, faithful to their post!
To finish this selection of 10 sites that inspire escape in Alsace-Lorraine, I will take you to the Sundgau.
Here is another area little-known by tourists. Indeed, more visitors to Alsace think of Strasbourg or the Wine Route when Alsace is mentioned to them.
If you are looking for the most beautiful countryside in Alsace, the Sundgau will suit you! It is south of Mulhouse, east of Belfort and west of Basel. The Alsatian Jura mountains close the horizon to the south, marking the border with Switzerland.
The Sundgau has everything to please. It is rustic without being wild. A hundred or so neat and tidy villages are scattered across the countryside, their church spires betraying their presence between fields, orchards and forests.
Find out more about Alsace
We have a number of articles about Alsace on the blog:
- What you need to know about the Alsace region
- Why you should visit the Vosges mountains
- Discover the scenic Alsace Wine Route
- Discover the Sundgau region in Alsace
- 50 beautiful Photos of Spring in Alsace to cheer you up!
- The 40 most beautiful fortified city gates of Alsace
- The Glass and Crystal Route in Lorraine
- Discover Alsace in French on our blog Mon Grand-Est 🇫🇷
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