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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.

Typical landscape of the Northern Vosges © Jessie Emslie - licence [CC BY-SA 2.0] from Wikimedia Commons
Typical landscape of the Northern Vosges © Jessie Emslie – licence [CC BY-SA 2.0] from Wikimedia Commons

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.

The ruins of Fleckenstein in the Northern Vosges © French Moments
The ruins of Fleckenstein in the Northern Vosges © French Moments

 

This is the land of glass and crystal whose factories have made the region’s reputation: Meisenthal, Saint-Louis-lès-Bitche, Wingen-sur-Moder…

The Rock of Dabo © Gzen92 - licence [CC BY-SA 4.0] from Wikimedia Commons
The Rock of Dabo © Gzen92 – licence [CC BY-SA 4.0] from Wikimedia Commons

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.

Falkenstein Castle © Motherly - licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons
Falkenstein Castle © Motherly – licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons

 

Val d’Orbey

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.

Photos of Spring in Alsace - Kaysersberg © French Moments
Kaysersberg and the Weiss River in Spring © French Moments

 

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.

Higher Vosges near Orbey © French Moments
The Higher Vosges near Orbey © French Moments

 

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).

Photos of Spring in Alsace - Vosges © French Moments
The Vosges in Spring © French Moments

 

Doller Valley

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.

Photos of Spring in Alsace - Vosges © French Moments
Photos of Spring in Alsace – the massif of Rossberg, Vosges © French Moments

 

The small capital of the valley is Masevaux, a town of 3,000 inhabitants nestled between the Sudel and Rossberg massifs.

The Doller Valley © French Moments
The Doller Valley © French Moments

 

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 Ballon d'Alsace (1247 m) © French Moments
The Ballon d’Alsace (1247 m) © French Moments

 

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!

Photos of Spring in Alsace - Vosges © French Moments
Spring in the Vosges © French Moments

 

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.

Alsace Wine Route itinerary © French Moments

 

Between the mountains and the plains, the route passes through numerous villages and towns, the most famous of which are Obernai, Ribeauvillé, Riquewihr, Kaysersberg, Eguisheim and Colmar.

The vineyards of Niedermorschwihr © French Moments
The vineyards of Niedermorschwihr on the Alsace Wine Route © French Moments

 

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.

The fortified gate of Bergheim on the Alsace Wine Route © French Moments
The fortified gate of Bergheim on the Alsace Wine Route © French Moments

 

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.

Alsace Wine Route - Dambach-la-Ville © French Moments
The roofs of Dambach-la-Ville on the Alsace Wine Route © French Moments

 

These wine-growing towns compete in the exceptional flowering of their monuments and buildings.

Riquewihr © French Moments
Riquewihr © French Moments

 

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!

Wine lovers' tips: Alsace Wine Route near Turckheim © French Moments
Wine lovers’ tips: the Alsace Wine Route © French Moments

 

Sundgau

To finish this selection of 10 sites that inspire escape in Alsace-Lorraine, I will take you to the Sundgau.

The village of Heidwiller in the Sundgau © French Moments
The village of Heidwiller in the Sundgau © French Moments

 

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.

Photos of Spring in Alsace - Ferrette © French Moments
A farm near Ferrette © French Moments

 

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.

Sundgau near Dannemarie © French Moments
The landscape of the Sundgau in the vicinity of Dannemarie © French Moments

 

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.

Mon Grand-Est
Pond in the Sundgau © French Moments

 

Find out more about Alsace

We have a number of articles about Alsace on the blog:

 

Book your accommodation in Alsace!

Looking for accommodation to stay in the historic region of Alsace? Click here to consult the accommodation offers or browse the map below:



Booking.com

 

I hope you enjoyed reading this article about rural Alsace. If so, please share it with your friends on Facebook and/or Twitter!

About the 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. He has a background teaching French, Economics and Current Affairs, 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. Pierre is the author of the Discovery Course on the Secrets of the Eiffel Tower and the Christmas book "Voyage au Pays de Noël".

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