Home CountriesFranceAlsace The Gem of the Alsace Wine Route – Riquewihr

The Gem of the Alsace Wine Route – Riquewihr

written by An Eternal Escape May 10, 2018
The Gem of the Alsace Wine Route – Riquewihr

There is something so rustic and enticing about traveling in rural Europe, that in a way they are too attractive and tempting to be resisted. The European countryside encloses the soul of this continent and displays its beauty and worth in an authentic and ingenious way. Every time I set out to pick up a place to visit in Europe, more often than less, it results in a village or a province untouched by mass- tourism. Riquewihr, a small province in North-eastern France, with only 1300 inhabitants, is one such destination. Known as the “gem of the Alsatian wine-route” or “Route des Vins d’Alsace”; it falls right in the middle of the famous wine route in Alsace and attracts around 2 million visitors a year.

 

Riquewihr in France, a romantic medieval city on the Alsace wine route, still protected by its impressive city walls

Riquewihr’s layout and structure have not changed since the Middle Ages

You must be wondering how a small town with just a few hundred residents can engage guests around 800 times its size. Well, like every time, the answer lies in its history and the willingness and devotion of its people to keep their quondam alive. With only a single main street of Rue Charles de Gaulle in the village, Riquewihr is packed full of the wealth of the Alsatian Renaissance. The charm of the town resides in the excellent state of its preservation, which seems to stand still since the medieval times.

Riquewihr in France, a romantic medieval city on the Alsace wine route, still protected by its impressive city walls

Rue Charles de Gaulle in Riquewihr with Alsacian beauty

Some History Behind:

Magnificent houses dating from the 15th and 16th century boasts Alsatian architecture at their best. These medieval houses were built when the city was at the peak of its prosperity, from the sale of its splendid wines which were loved and raved since the middle ages. Such was the craze for these wines, the village was saved & rescued from devious landowners and mobsters by German King Rudolph of Habsburg in 1269; to the extent of promoting the status of a wine-growing region to a town and fortifying the area to keep the riches within and protected.

Riquewihr in France, a romantic medieval city on the Alsace wine route, still protected by its impressive city walls

Colorful alsatian medieval houses in the main street of Riquewihr, France

With buyers like the major Hanseatic League cities and the Holy Roman Empire themselves, a double fortification was constructed in the 13th century, along with elevating the town’s standing to a capital for ten years; this was the Golden age for Riquewihr. Wealthy merchants and wine-growers built houses to match their status and left behind a legacy adored by tourists till date.

Riquewihr in France, a romantic medieval city on the Alsace wine route, still protected by its impressive city walls

Beautiful houses in Riquewihr dating from the 15th & 16th century

Beautiful Architecture:

Typical of the Alsatian architecture, houses in Riquewihr showcase the half-timbered frame, but stands out from the contemporaries, with the extensive use of Sculpted half-timbering and Oriel windows; adding elegance and grandiose to the streets.

Riquewihr in France, a romantic medieval city on the Alsace wine route, still protected by its impressive city walls

Colors of Alsacian houses – light shades of baby blue, pale yellow, mauve, faded turquoise and light green

Riquewihr in France, a romantic medieval city on the Alsace wine route, still protected by its impressive city walls

People in riquewihr live in charming half-timbered houses, each one a different hue of the rainbow

Don’t get all lost in the treasures of the main street. Venture through the side-alleys and courtyards that reveal many intricate details of its golden past.

Riquewihr in France, a romantic medieval city on the Alsace wine route, still protected by its impressive city walls

Explore Riquewihr off the beaten track…

Riquewihr in France, a romantic medieval city on the Alsace wine route, still protected by its impressive city walls

Lift your eyes and you will see so many wonderful architectural details…

Riquewihr in France, a romantic medieval city on the Alsace wine route, still protected by its impressive city walls

leave the main street and Discover the hidden and secluded streets of Riquewihr

Riquewihr in France, a romantic medieval city on the Alsace wine route, still protected by its impressive city walls

Not sure these little streets are even 100 meters from the main street of Riquewihr…

Notice the unmissable medieval guild signs throughout the town; each of which has a story to tell. These hanging emblems of the erstwhile era are striking and enhance the experience of a leisurely stroll through the cobblestoned paths.

Riquewihr in France, a romantic medieval city on the Alsace wine route, still protected by its impressive city walls

Guild signs or emblems in Riquewihr, left over from medieval tradition are eye-catching rewards

 

Riquewihr in France, a romantic medieval city on the Alsace wine route, still protected by its impressive city walls

These shop emblems are usually made in wrought-iron and often gilded in a medieval tradition that values visual literacy when few could read or write but everyone could easily recognize emblematic signs

Of particular interest are the emblems designed by the famous Alsatian Caricaturist Hansi; works and life of whom are exhibited in “The Hansi Museum”, a must visit. These signs not only illustrate the business of the craftsman but also are built to add some intrigue and humor; little artworks in themselves.

Unlike other nearby Alsatian villages, Riquewihr showcases inner courtyards with elaborate old wells and fountains. The ramparts and double fortifications built in the 12th century still exist and are part of the town’s many attractive features.

The most famous landmark and identifying feature of Riquewihr being the 6th-century watchtower also known as the Dolder stands gloriously at one end of the town and offers a bird’s eye view of the neighboring vineyards. The watchtower now converted to a museum takes you through the journey of the city through the centuries.

Riquewihr in France, a romantic medieval city on the Alsace wine route, still protected by its impressive city walls

The famous watch tower in Riquewihr – Dolder

The Famous Wines of Riquewihr:

Well, talking of the vineyards, we should probably be talking about the exquisite wines that Riquewihr has to offer. You didn’t think it was so popular just because of its historical gems, did you? With the texture and sophistication of French wines, if you are promised a fabulous collection of aromatic white wines; it’s a deal very hard to pass. True to its name, Riquewihr is a major contributor to the special wines that call Alsace, its home.  Some notable names include Riesling, Pinot Gris, Muscat, and Gewurztraminer. The elongated dry, sunny and warm temperatures of Riquewihr create extended ripening periods for the grapes, leading to its extremely complex flavor and smell. Combined with the secret recipes of each wine-grower, wine-tasting in Riquewihr becomes an interesting adventure for wine-lovers too.

Some worthy mentions are:

(a) Vin d’Alsace HORCHER 

(b) Hugel et Fils

Tired of the houses and the museums, Riquewihr Tourist department offers many wine trails and walking paths around the town. This trail, not only passes through the vine-covered hills of Schoenenbourg but also, presents a beautiful angle to the medieval town. The stone-walled town of Riquewihr appears as a small bunch of cardboard boxes in the midst of green hilly slopes.

Riquewihr in France, a romantic medieval city on the Alsace wine route, still protected by its impressive city walls

The charming town of Riquewihr during Christmas in December

Riquewihr in France, a romantic medieval city on the Alsace wine route, still protected by its impressive city walls

View of the Dolder from the main street

Time to visit:

Riquewihr is an all-year-round destination with special events and festivals waiting for you in each season. With my favorite time being the summers, when all the balconies and facades are blossoming with the colorful geraniums and petunias; Advent and Christmas,  bring a distinct charm to the town. The dazzling Christmas lights that illuminate each street and every house of the town make for an enchanting medieval holiday experience.

Riquewihr in France, a romantic medieval city on the Alsace wine route, still protected by its impressive city walls

Beautiful December look of Riquewihr

How to visit:

The compact size of the town and the ease of access through public transport make Riquewihr a top choice for anyone visiting Alsace. It can be visited as a day trip from nearby cities like Colmar & Strasburg or as part of a village-hopping tour of the Alsatian wine-route. Opted by many, hopping the villages close together in the Alsace wine-route can serve as a good option too.

Link to the Public transport and rental car information

Check here, For Eguishime, another beautiful postcard village in Alsace.

My recommendation:

To get a more intense experience, stay overnight in Riquewihr. This provides you with a chance to experience the quaint streets of the town; either in the early morning (like we did) or in the late afternoon when the day-trippers are gone, and a local charm enwreathes the entire village.

Riquewihr in France, a romantic medieval city on the Alsace wine route, still protected by its impressive city walls

Early in the morning or late in the evening is the best time to capture Riquewihr like this.

We visited Riquewihr during the Advent and it was absolutely magical. I completely loved the feel of this quaint and eye-pleasing French village.

A Memory to share:

An account very dear to me during our visit to Riquewihr was the day following our arrival into the town. We woke up early in the morning to catch the town at its quietest possible. The streets were still lighted up and the Christmas lights were glittering in every house, which made it look lovely. It had rained a few hours before, that made the cobble-stoned paths shine beautifully. Suddenly the whole town seemed very different than the previous evening. Slowly we could hear the movements in the houses and the exhausts in the kitchen started pumping white smoke. The smell of burning wood started filling up the lanes. Shops started gearing up for the day’s tourist to arrive. The whole feel of the town was slowly sinking in; as we saw the town waking up before us. We could now observe all the behind-the-scenes affairs of the town. Like, a single main bakery was serving as the bread and pastry source for mostly every restaurant and B&B; Big barrels of hot mulled wine and soups were getting pushed straight out of the kitchens and stalled on the streets; busy shop owners grabbing their morning coffees from that one special local cafe in the town. The special part was, even in the midst of all this rushing and sprinting, our presence in the streets was duly acknowledged by the locals with pleasant smiles and greetings. We almost felt like a part of the system and there was an instant connect with the place. We had our breakfast and the morning coffees, as you might have guessed, from the best place that the town had to offer and there was an equal welcoming gesture to receive us. The overall warmth in the place was completely dimming the wintry chill of that December morning.

Riquewihr in France, a romantic medieval city on the Alsace wine route, still protected by its impressive city walls

The Postcard look of Riquewihr early in the morning

Riquewihr in France, a romantic medieval city on the Alsace wine route, still protected by its impressive city walls

Strolling early in the morning in Riquewihr

Even though this experience is not adding to the typical details expected from a blog, I think it was essential on my part to still share it, to portray the authenticity and originality of small provincial places like Riquewihr, which are also seen in the items, produce and the food they vend.

Small towns like Riquewihr, always give me that scaled-down taste, which is often hard to find in the big cities. A more intimate talk with the shopkeeper that extends beyond the item you are buying; Lunch-only Cafes with local delicacies written and rubbed daily on a blackboard, streets ending in a courtyard with chit-chatting locals, eager to start a conversation with you.

Riquewihr in France, a romantic medieval city on the Alsace wine route, still protected by its impressive city walls

Riquewihr- the gem of Alsace Wine route

These are those insightful and ever-lasting experiences that I yearn from my travel and they enrich me with priceless memories. This is “My kinda travel”!

 

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38 comments

Labdha May 10, 2018 - 3:37 pm

Such beautiful pictures and detailed insights,can easily explore it through your eyes.

Reply
An Eternal Escape May 10, 2018 - 3:39 pm

Thank you so much labdha..

Reply
Swayam May 10, 2018 - 3:50 pm

Beautiful lines and beautiful pics..loved it..

Reply
An Eternal Escape May 10, 2018 - 4:58 pm

Thank you swayam..

Reply
Shaswat May 10, 2018 - 3:53 pm

Really awesome collections ..

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An Eternal Escape May 10, 2018 - 4:58 pm

Thank you so much .

Reply
Lipsa May 10, 2018 - 5:09 pm

You have captured the splendid architecture so we’ll🤩

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An Eternal Escape May 10, 2018 - 5:44 pm

Glad you liked it dear…

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Shuva May 10, 2018 - 5:19 pm

When ever i go through your blog, I feel wondering in a wonderland with all its charm n magic that bounds u again n again. It was indeed a treat to see those beautiful fairyland street through your eyes. Listed as a to do in my bucket list.
Keep posting more..kudos to u..

Reply
An Eternal Escape May 10, 2018 - 5:43 pm

Thank you so much Shuva….

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Dhruba May 10, 2018 - 5:57 pm

Superb pics. Riquewihr looks so beautiful in ur pics . Keep posting such experiences .

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An Eternal Escape May 10, 2018 - 5:58 pm

Thank you so much uncle.. I will do…

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Ananya May 10, 2018 - 6:28 pm

I loved this blog. It summarises everything so well: the history, the present and what should travellers look forward to during their stay.

I have to say the half timbered houses are very similar to the ones built during the Tudor period in England, although Riquewihr definitely has more colour on the pallet.

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An Eternal Escape May 10, 2018 - 6:33 pm

Very true Ananya… All of these Alsatian villages have a more pastel pallet to their buildings… Would love to visit the ones in England soon… Thanks and feel glad..

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Sharad May 10, 2018 - 6:29 pm

Amazing narration, beautiful pictures, keep posting such blogs

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An Eternal Escape May 10, 2018 - 6:34 pm

Thank you so much, Sharad…

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Shruti May 10, 2018 - 8:03 pm

Beautifully captured and written. Keep up the good work, gives people travel goals..!!

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An Eternal Escape May 11, 2018 - 7:55 am

Thank you so much Shruti…

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Ashirbad May 10, 2018 - 9:54 pm

This looks wonderful ! Your photos are amazing too..😊

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An Eternal Escape May 11, 2018 - 7:55 am

Thank you so much Ashirbad..

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Shakti May 11, 2018 - 1:49 pm

Great place. Added to my travel list. Thank you for such a detailed information. Will ask for more when I will plan my travel. 🙂

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An Eternal Escape May 11, 2018 - 2:03 pm

Sure anytime.. Would love to. Glad you liked it..

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Ritika May 12, 2018 - 10:26 am

Lovely write up with amazing pictures.Great job.

Reply
An Eternal Escape May 13, 2018 - 11:09 am

Thank you Ritika..Glad you liked it.

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Chaitra May 12, 2018 - 5:43 pm

Beautifully captured and well written 😍😍

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An Eternal Escape May 13, 2018 - 11:10 am

Thank you Chaitra..

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Saif May 14, 2018 - 9:02 am

We always make it a point to read you and your traveling experiences on your blog. Though its seldom that we succeed in managing ourselves to communicate our appreciation, yet we always enjoy stopping by. I am sure, many readers would share the same thoughts with me on this, hence the ‘We’!
The snaps you have shot are as splendid as the Rural EU! As always, awesome roundup. Enjoyed it. Thank you.

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An Eternal Escape May 16, 2018 - 5:04 am

Thanks so much Saif for your reply and response regarding the blog.. Really appreciate it….your words are the biggest motivator for me..

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Natasha May 15, 2018 - 9:18 pm

Beautiful writeup with breathtaking pictures..adding this to my next winter holidays:)

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An Eternal Escape May 16, 2018 - 5:06 am

Thank you so much Natasha… I hope you do… You would love it…

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Lidia May 17, 2018 - 2:12 pm

Dear Roshni,
I can imgine that you loved to visit this gem of the middle age, Riquewihr in France. Your photographies are so profesionally and your text is worth to form part of a travelbook! Thank you to invite me to see it all! It seems like I’ve been there already:))

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Jeni May 18, 2018 - 2:27 pm

Amazing pictures! Very detailed writing and You have covered all the aspects..

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An Eternal Escape June 21, 2018 - 4:37 pm

Thank you so much, Lidia, Riquewihr was indeed a pleasant surprise for us. I hope someday these writeups become part of a Travel book. You are always welcome. I hope you enjoyed the other blogs too.

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An Eternal Escape June 21, 2018 - 4:38 pm

Thank you so much Jeni.

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mandakini sahoo June 28, 2018 - 1:06 am

All pictures are beautiful,wonderful n fantastic Every picture says the beauty of nature. Awesome click.

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An Eternal Escape June 28, 2018 - 6:45 am

Thank you so much…Yes, it’s true…Nature is beautiful…and so different in each and every place…Exploring makes us richer than we are…

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Small Towns in France | FluentU Travel Blog August 20, 2018 - 6:09 pm

[…] Route, a popular highway for foodies and oenophiles alike. Tourism brochures say that this is “The Gem of the Alsace Vineyards” among other similar […]

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An Eternal Escape September 20, 2018 - 11:45 am

Thank you so much for reading the article. I hope you like it.

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