The Alsace region of France is one of the most beautiful in the country. There, you’ll find endless, escalating vineyards sprinkled with 13th century castle ruins and multicolor timber-framed villages. As you wander the streets of these villages, you will find yourself peeking up at the rooftops to watch the nesting storks and admire the brightly-colored facades. If these villages look like they come straight out of a fairytale, it’s because they do. Riquewihr, Ribeauvillé, and Eguisheim are all said to have inspired Belle’s village in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. Though nearly every village in Alsace will leave you in awe of its magic, this article compiles a list of the 5 most beautiful villages in the Alsace region. This way you can make sure to hit all of the most picturesque locations in one visit!
Where is Alsace?
Alsace is the northeasternmost region of France, nestled between Frankfurt and Stuttgart, Germany. It’s most famous for its architecture, wines, and potteries. The capital of Alsace is Strasbourg, home to one of only three European parliaments and one of the best Christmas markets in Europe.
How to get there?
There are many major airports located near Alsace: Frankfurt (FRA) in Germany, Zürich (ZRH) in Switzerland, and of course Charles de Gaulle (CDG) in Paris. The easiest way to reach the Alsace region of France is to take a train to Strasbourg. From there you can either rent a car or use busses and easily travel through the quaint Alsace villages along the wine route. If you are road tripping and making a pit stop in Alsace, make sure to check my other European guides for all your European road trip inspiration.
When to visit?
There is truly no bad time to visit the Alsace villages. They’re gorgeous in the spring and summer when flowers take over bridges, terraces fill up with tourists, and the sun shines over the Rhine River valley. Shoulder season offers fewer crowds, lower accommodation prices, and a coat of warm colors over the Vosges Mountains in the fall. Of course, winter is unbeatable with magical Christmas markets throughout the region.
Read also: One Perfect Week in the Vosges Mountains
How long to stay?
I recommend dedicating at least one day to each Alsace village to truly appreciate all of its hidden corners, talented artisans, and delicious foods. Of course more is always better, but if you are on a time crunch, know that it is possible to visit all 5 in 2-3 very busy days.
What to eat?
Alsatian specialties include Flammekueche, wine, cheese, and gingerbread cookies among many others. Any time I visit Alsace, I make sure to get an authentic Flammekueche, which consists of a thin layer of dough covered in French sour cream, bacon bits, and onions. Multiple variants exist with wild mushrooms or added cheese. Chances are you won’t stop at one flammekueche during your stay, so you might as well try them all!
Wineries and cheese factories (fruitière in French) also abound in Alsace. Make sure to stroll through the local shops not to miss out on the many delicacies available in the region. All of the Alsace villages mentioned below are home to talented local artisans who share their craft and sell their products in house. You cannot visit Alsace without indulging in its many delicious treats.
Where to go?
I have visited Alsace on more than one occasion and gathered for you the 5 most picturesque villages in the region. Located less than 15 minutes away from each other, they can be reached by car or by bus and are best explored on foot as most city centers are for pedestrians only.
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Our first stop took us to Ribeauvillé – pronounced Ree-bo-vill-ay. I highly encourage you to visit this quaint Alsace town during the weekdays for fewer crowds and better parking conditions. We made the mistake of visiting during a holiday weekend in May, and parking was a nightmare. Once we left the car, we had to navigate a horde of tourists making their way up the main street.
I recommend parking your car at one of the free parking lots near the tourism office. Free parking is indicated by a green P in the town’s brochure. Ribeauvillé’s most famous structures include:
- Auberge à éléphant (Elephant inn)
- Église du couvent (Couvent Church)
- Tour des Bouchers (Butchers’ tower)
- Maison Siedel (Siedel House)
- Place de la Sinne (Sinne Marketplace)
- Maison Dissler (Dissler House)
- Place de la République (Republic’s marketplace)
Most of the sites listed above are located along the Grand’Rue, making for an easy stroll down Ribeauvillé’s main street. However, I highly encourage you to get lost in the side streets, which are much calmer and no less full of surprises. I particularly recommend the Quartier Pittoresque. As you make your way up Grand’Rue from the tourism information center, keep an eye to the left for signs indicating the direction to the picturesque quarters.
With buildings dating as far back as the 13th century, Ribeauvillé is full of history. I recommend going on a guided tour of the city to learn more about its rich medieval heritage.
As you wander through the charming streets of Ribeauvillé, you’ll notice several castles on the surrounding hilltops. These castles – Castles of Ribeaupierre, Girsberg, and St Ulrich – are referred to as the 3 Castles. It is possible to hike a loop around the 3 castles starting at Jeannelle Passage near the Place de la République.
WANT EVEN MORE FAIRYTALE VILLAGES IN ALSACE?Between the towns of ribeauville and riquewihr, you’ll find hunawihr. hunawihr is a quaint little alsatian village perched in the vineyards and really worth the 7-minute drive or 30-minute walk it will take you to get there. It is also home to a butterfly garden and many wild storks.
When we arrived in Riquewihr, it was packed with tourists under a menacing sky, so we snapped a few pictures but didn’t linger. Instead, we chose to come back a few days later around 9am and had the entire village to ourselves!
Riquewihr is much larger than Ribeauvillé, so it will take a little bit more walking to get to all the sights. However, most of them are located along its central street, Rue du Général de Gaulle. Here you’ll find a link to the village’s official brochure which includes a map and tons of great info.
I recommend parking at parking des vignerons and entering the city either through the town hall arch or the Cour du Château near the post office.
Riquewihr is home to some of the most ornate and brightly-colored facades of all Alsace villages, but here are a few of my favorite locations:
- Post office
- Le “gratte-ciel” (Skyscraper)
- Place des 3 Églises (3 Church Marketplace)
- Au Dolder Restaurant
- Sinne Fountain
- Dolder Belfry
- Medieval Walls
Fortified in 1291 and again in 1500, the village of Riquewihr has prospered through the centuries thanks to its very profitable viticulture. Surrounded by vineyards to this day, this village is still reputed for its wines and home to tons of artisan-owned stores. You’ll also find fresh Muenster cheese caves, local painters, bretzels, and so much more. As you leave the city, make sure to stop at Le Chalet right inside the town hall arch for some decadent ice cream.
I am obsessed with water. Whether it be lakes, waterfalls, swimming holes, picturesque creeks, I’m a sucker for it all. Which is probably why I am such a fan of Kaysersberg – literally translating to Emperor’s Mountain in German. The Weiss river winds through the village of Kaysersberg offering gorgeous views of its timber-framed homes along the glistening water. It might make it my favorite village in all of Alsace.
To make sure you miss nothing of the stunning views in Kaysersberg, here are my top favorite photography spots in town:
- Constantine Fountain
- Fortified bridge of 1514
- Rue Charles de Gaulle
- Alte Holzbrücke
- Rue des Forgerons
As mesmerizing as the old town of Kaysersberg is, you can’t miss the views on the outside. One of my favorite things we did in Kaysersberg was to walk out of the city walls and hike up to the ruins of Kaysersberg castle for unbeatable views over the village and its surrounding vineyards. Click here for Kaysersberg’s official map.
Though I love Colmar, it is a big town. It’s much larger than the other villages mentioned in this article and thus a lot busier. Urban folks might love how vibrant Colmar is, but both times I’ve visited, I found the city to be extremely overcrowded. Therefore, I recommend visiting off season (avoid July and August if possible) and during the weekdays.
Without further ado, here are the official Colmar tourist map and my favorite locations in Colmar
- Quai de la Poissonnerie (Fishmonger’s District)
- Little Venice
- Rue Turenne Bridge
- Place des Six Montagnes Noires (Six Black Mountains Marketplace)
- Rue des Marchands
- Pfister House
- Collégiale St Martin
If you’re interested in taking a boat tour through the canals, which I highly recommend, you may be interested in purchasing Colmar’s city pass, which includes a boat tour, a tourist train visit, and free entry into many museums.
The city is gorgeous in any season, but it is really worth a stop in the winter when it’s all decked out for the holidays and Christmas markets flourish on every corner. If you’re able, make sure to visit Colmar in December for an even more magical experience. But the truth is, all Alsace villages mentioned in this guide deserve a winter visit. If you’re headed to the Alsace villages during Christmas time, make sure to tack Strasbourg onto your list as it is home to one of the very best Christmas markets in Europe.
Eguisheim is the most preserved of the villages we visited. The layout of the city is a testament to its medieval past, and its southern ramparts will be sure to remind you of a certain Belle’s Provincial Life. Try resisting waltzing through the street with a woven basket, but we know it will be tempting.
The village’s tourism office suggest a loop around the medieval walls of the old town and through its most quaint streets and marketplace. This map details its path, among wish the following sights which you should absolutely not miss during your visit of Eguisheim:
- Southern Ramparts
- Northern Ramparts
- Place du Château (Castle’s Marketplace)
- Église Saints-Pierre-et-Paul (St Peter and Paul Church)
Eguisheim is also one of the villages where we saw the most storks, Alsace’s bird. Their nests are perched atop houses and churches, and you can watch them fly high above the village or feed on the ground quite frequently.
This concludes our guide to the 5 best villages in Alsace. If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments below!
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