We will be delighted to see you around this year! But when? When is the best season to visit? The answer is difficult since it depends on which are your personal points of interest. But what about seazing the opportunity of a Winter break? You will experience Alsace off the beaten track, only known by the local and some connoisseurs.
Winter – from January until end of March – is the season of traditional Alsace. January, February and March offer plenty of discoveries for those who know how to look and approach closer. Riquewihr is an uncomparable base for exploring all of Alsace.
Following the Crib’s trail and discovering more Nativity scenes …
First of all, during the month of January you will have a kind of extension of the magical Christmas atmosphere through the Nativity scenes and Crib trail which remains in place until end of January. This was always a tradition in Alsace.
World class museums almost for you alone …
Then, always in Winter you will have the museums for yourself (no crowd, no waiting time). After the Christmas magical time follow the track to some major masterpieces of medieval art depicting the Nativity and related stories including the adoration of the Magi. The Unterlinden museum in Colmar is one of the major museums in France with masterpieces like the Retable d’Issenheim. Museums in Strasbourg including the famous musée de l’Oeuvre Notre-Dame which is tighly bound to the history and construction of the cathedral are a must go and only an hour away. Overlooking the plain of Alsace and the Rhine, the Haut-Koenigsbourg is a spectacular medieval castle open all year round. And in Mulhouse there are the MUST visit museums for automobile and train. All of them are world class places to visit.
Just walk off the beaten track or … stay on the path.
Depending on the weather (might be cold but also sunny and some years with beautiful snow) some nice walks are awaiting you. No need to go far away: within half an hour driving there are plenty of incredible places to explore. Even without a car actually. Just walk out of Riquewihr through the vineyards towards Kaysersberg or Ribeauvillé and come back with the bus. And one recommandation: open your eyes widely. And take some binoculars with you.
Illuminated landmarks wake up at dusk …
At dusk you will admire some beautifully illuminated churches and other landmarks all over the region.
Follow the winemaker in the vineyard or into … the cellar!
The wine cellars are open also in Winter (and it never rains inside!) and the winemakers will have some time to spend with you.
Treat yourself at a traditional winstub or a pâtisserie
Winter is certainly the best time to enjoy the warmth of the traditional Alsatian restaurants and winstubs. Most of the restaurants working only for tourists will be closed but apart from their well deserved yearly holidays the best restaurants are open. Because the locals like them too. In the afternoon, there is a tradition to stop at a coffee or tea shop or most of the time at a “pâtisserie – salon de thé” to have a cup of coffee with a piece of delicious cake.
Carnival time in the Rhine valley
End of February and beginning of March is the time for Carnival. An old tradition in the valley of the Upper Rhine, southern Germany and Switzerland, carnival is the time of the year when the reign of bad spirits of the cold and grim winter period is over and these spirits are symbolically being hunted down and expelled. During some 2 weeks, a number of very colourful events are to be experienced. See the updated Carnival page for the current year here.
In brief, in Winter you will not get the warmest temperatures outside but cheaper rates and meet only connoisseurs for some very special events.
2 Comments Add yours
Thank you Helen. I try my best to share what I am experiencing myself in Alsace and I am really happy to learn you appreciate it. I am discovering new things myself every day. When I had the opportunity to take that picture of the Austrian / Italian Alps with the church of Rouffach in the foreground I realised suddenly how and why the history of Alsace happened as it did. Some days the eye is just reaching the far end of the natural region built by the mountains and the Rhine. The Alps you see on that picture are just where the source of the Rhine is, several hundreds of kilometers away. In the Middle Ages the Italian merchants came that same way with their products obtained from the oriental countries, crossing the Alps and then our narrow region called Alsace and continuing north towards the Netherlands. The Rhine being a natural backbone of more than 1200 kilometers!
I am so happy that you have this blog, I love the Alsace and it always makes me feel so delighted and relaxed when I read your articles about everything that is happening there. The Alsace has a wonderful community spirit, one which we would all love to be a part of. You certainly live in one of the most beautiful parts of France.