Éguisheim, Alsace

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Éguisheim, birthplace of the Alsatian vineyards was classed as one of the Most Beautiful Villages in France in 2003, and has been awarded the National Grand Prize winner for Flowers since 1989.

In 2013, a popular programme on France 2 consecrated it as the “Favourite village of the French people“. Located along the Alsace Wine Route, only 5km from Colmar, Éguisheim is surrounded by a 339 hectare vineyard, whose hills “Eichberg” and “Pfersigberg” are classed among the “Great Wines” of Alsace.


A bit of history

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When looking at a photo of Éguisheim taken from above, it is easy to be amazed by the shape of this medieval city, which was built in three concentric circles around the octagonal Romanesque chateau. It was the birth place of Pope Leo IX (1049-1054), former bishop of Toul who was known by the name of Bruno of Éguisheim-Dagsbourg. This city surrounded by vineyards plunges the visitor into the middle of the Renaissance.


Visit of the old town of Éguisheim

The Grand Rue

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The Grand Rue is lined with old houses with large emblazoned and dated portals, as well as two beautiful Renaissance fountains.

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Éguisheim’s charm is best displayed along the tour of the ramparts. These straight and paved alleyways are lined with old half-timbered houses – some which are surprisingly narrow – very architecturally rich with their balconies, bay windows, pointed gables, and tithe courtyard. As Éguisheim is in Alsace, the magnificent little half-timbered houses are very beautifully decorated with flowers. A 30 minute tourist track is easy to follow thanks to its signage and allows visitors to take a tour of Eguisheim.

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Éguisheim’s Parish Church

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Towards the centre of the village, the St. Peter and St. Paul church with its bell tower built in 1220 and its Romanesque tympanum (13th century) have been classified as a Historic Monument.

The bell tower and the portal are the only remaining features of the building that date back to 13th century. Inside the bell tower, the Romanesque portal is surmounted by a polychrome tympanum representing Christ being blessed, surrounded by St. Peter and St. Paul. The lintel depicts the parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins (13th century) who, one at a time, knock on the door of Heaven.

In the same place is kept one of the only “Vierges Ouvrantes” in Alsace, made from polychrome wood from the 13th and 14th centuries. A “Vierge Ouvrante” (Opening Virgin) or shrine of Madonna, is a sculpture of Virgin Mary which can be opened like a shrine, and shows basically one of three iconographical motifs.


St. Leo Chapel and Place du Château

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The St. Leo Chapel is located at the Place du Château. This is where relics of Pope St. Leo IX are kept, as well as a Renaissance fountain surmounted by the statue of the Pope.

Inside the chapel, the shrine contains a part of the Pope’s skull. Medallions on the archway and the stained glass windows represent the stages of his life (birth, illness and healing by Saint Benedict, Leo as bishop washing the feet of the poor, Pope Leo the reformer and traveller, etc).

Close to the chapel, the Château-Bas d’Éguisheim leans against an octagonal wall characteristic of the 13th century, made up of rusticated stone. More than 2 metres thick in some parts, the wall was surrounded by moats, which were drained in 1835. The city is organised around the château, the roads ordered in concentric circles following the markings of successive fortifications. The château is only accessible through guided visits offered by the Tourist Office.


The Route des Cinq Châteaux  (the Five Castles Itinerary)

The three castles of Eguisheim seen from the vineyards © French Moments

The three castles of Eguisheim seen from the vineyards © French Moments

The village of Éguisheim is overlooked by a series of five castles which are linked by a small tourist road that winds through the hills of the Vosges close to Eguisheim: the “Route des Cinq Châteaux”.


The Christmas market of Éguisheim

At the Christmas market of Eguisheim © French Moments

At the Christmas market of Eguisheim © French Moments

The picturesque Christmas market of Éguisheim is themed on the Alsatian customs and traditions. The Christmas market is hold in two squares in the centre of Éguisheim, and is easily accessible by a shuttle bus from Colmar (la Navette de Noël) during Advent.

Find out more about Éguisheim Christmas Market.


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About Author

Pierre is a French/Australian who is passionate about France and its culture. He grew up in France and Germany and has also lived in Australia and England. In 2014 he moved back to Europe from Sydney with his wife and daughter to be closer to their families and to France. He has a background teaching French and holds a Master of Translating and Interpreting English-French with the degree of Master of International Relations and a degree of Economics and Management.

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