Sunday, September 17, 2017

Western Europe: France - Route des Vins d'Alsace

When in Europe, look up, look down and look back
Never mind that I am not a big alcohol drinker, Route des Vins d'Alsace (Alsace Wine Route) was amazing. The day before I ventured to the Route des Vins d'Alsace, it suddenly strike me that my French level is embarrassingly non existence that I didn't know how to pronounce the name of the beautiful little towns that I wanted to visit. Thank goodness for Google and internet, my search title was "How to pronounce Riquewihr and Ribeauville". Not sure why I didn't think of googling earlier!

After stopping by the TI to reconfirm on the bus to take, I took Ligne de Haute Alsace #106 to Riquewihr, getting on bus stop Place Scheurer Kestner. Return ticket from Colmar to Ribeauville costs €6.40. I almost missed the bus because I waited at the wrong bus stop but luckily I realised in time to dash to the right one. I think everybody on the bus were tourists but it also appeared that a good majority of them speaks French! I found that out when I pressed the bell to get off thinking we were reaching but was told by the bus driver we were not there yet. Of course, I didn't understand him and some kind Japanese ladies very promptly translated it for me.

The Dolder
The whole route des Vins d'Alsace stretches 170 km from Marlenheim, 21 km west of Strasbourg to southwards to Thann, 46 km southwest of Colmar. First stop, Riquewihr.


Riquewihr is about 15 km north of Colmar with a bus ride of about 30 minutes. It is flanked by Vosges foothills to the north and south. The name Riquewihr initially came from "Richo villa",  named in the 8th century by a vineyard owner named Richo. As time passed, "Richo villa" became Riquewihr. Riquewihr is indeed one of the "Most Beautiful Villages in France" (Plus Beaux Villages de France) as described by a local travel brochure.



I intended to pop by the TI office before I start my walk to the next town of Hunawihr but I was a little late. By the time I moseyed my way to the TI office, I just managed to catch the staff locked up the office for a 2 hour midday break. Later I found out that the offline map that I pre-downloaded on maps.me app showed the walking route on Alsatian Wine Route to Hunawihr, exiting via La Porte Haute/Upper Gate then take the Rue du 5 Décembre on the right.


I didn't have a sit down lunch but opted to try kougelhopf, something I could nibble while I walked. I bought a plain one, unfortunately I found them prettier than they taste though.

Armed with my kougelhopf, I began my walk to Hunawihr. The whole walk, I've only met a grand total of 2 couples on bicycles, 3 cards passing by and none on foot. Maybe the hot sun put off anyone planning to walk but it was an excellent way to see this part of the country.



It was an easy walk, just a slight uphill right after departing Riquewihr and quite impossible to get lost as there were not many confusing turns. After about 30 minutes walks I reached Hunawihr. Hunawihr is a contrast to Riquewihr with absence of souvenir shops or flocks of tourist, it definitely feel like a housing area.


Hunawihr is recognisable with the church in the heart of the vineyards. I walked through the village and continued on to the second half towards Ribeauvillé. After a short walk after leaving Hunawihr, I turned back and took the above shot. This village definitely made the second half of the walk a very beautiful and photogenic.


I took a little longer on the second half compared to the first, mainly due to many photography stops and I might have taken a few too many wrong turns while navigating myself in the vineyard. Like this...



Haha but I did arrive at Ribeauvillé. 

First view before I walked into the village center.

It looks like there is a stork nest at the top of the pointed roof eh?
It looked like Ribeauvillé is a popular destination, likewise Riquewihr but it is a bigger village so it doesn't feel being overcrowded. There are also quieter pockets around the grounds.






If you missed the storks in Gengenbach, look up in Ribeauville. White storks (cigognes) are Alsace's most beloved symbols as they are belived to bring luck (as well as babies). I even saw one on the ground at Riquewihr whilst I was on a bus!


Side note: Why are language classes so expensive? :(

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