I love how easy it is to travel plan using the internet. But sometimes, it is hard to find exact information that I want, even though it seems like it should be easy. That was the case for the Route de Vin/Alsace Wine Route. Even though I looked on the Alsace tourism site and also found one good blog post from a Mom who dragged her family on a 60 km slog (I kid, I kid), I still felt like I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.
There are plenty of guided bike tour companies, but I wanted to cycle on our own. For e-bike rental, we used Le vélo libre, which has locations in Colmar and Riquewihr. It was easy to book online and the night prior, we walked by the pick-up site. So, I felt good about our start in the morning, even though I didn’t have an overall map of the wine route itself. This ended up making navigation a little difficult since the route cuts through the vineyards and only passes by the towns on the very outskirts. So, we had a few times where we went into a town and then couldn’t find our way back to the route right away. We weren’t lost since we had our smartphone maps app, but we occasionally ended up with bike directions that were on roads rather than getting us back to the more scenic, car-free path.
For the e-bike rental, it’s all app-based with a passcode to get inside a room with bikes, helmets, baskets, a bike pump, etc. There are QR codes for finding routes, which we used initially before adding to the trip. The e-bikes were in great condition. The recommended mode gives a bit of a boost, which was much appreciated later in our bike ride. Someone accidentally knocked his into “Turbo” mode, which supposedly causes the bike to malfunction. Well, if “malfunction” means “go up the hill super easily,” that’s what turbo means.
So, logistics aside, we were on our way around 9 am. The forecast was still on the warm side, but the day was absolutely gorgeous. Our first route took us from Riquewihr to Ribeauville. The biking was so easy and fun. I am a big fan of the assist. It makes even mild uphills something I don’t even think twice about while still feeling I am (mostly) under my own power.
We got to Ribeauville, which is very beautiful. Annoyingly, I kept humming two lines of “Be Our Guest” to myself on repeat. But it did make me think of Beauty and the Beast.
While in Ribeauville, I longly looked to the horizon at the Haut-Koenigsbourg castle. I really wanted to go! SMS didn’t really want to commit to the bike ride, but agreed to go to Kintzheim castle in order to have a castle day. If you’re suspecting that I was laying a trap, well, I was.
So, we biked from Ribeauville to Kintzheim. This was where we couldn’t find our way back to the Route de Vin initially. Google maps said to bike along a busy two-lane road, which I didn’t like. So, we backtracked and found the route. Near Kintzheim castle, there was a little road that led up to various parking lots. At parking lot one, there was a packed path/handicap vehicle access that we rode to the castle. There wasn’t much there, but we did see a falcon! We were also much closer to the Haut, so I convinced SMS that we should go to L’Orée de Château for lunch. This brought us further up the mountain and covered lunch, so this was an excellent plan.
We stopped at L’Orée de Château for lunch, another flammkuchen! Thank goodness for the power assist- the hill was starting to get very steep! I also liked the assist because it meant we kept moving at a brisk pace, which kept our time on an actual rode to a shorter time period. Yes, this part of the trip was completely off the Route, so we were sharing the road rather than on a separate trail. But it was worth it for the castle.
After lunch, we biked to the top. We were a little bit tired and thought the view was spectacular. We almost skipped the castle tour. I’m so glad we didn’t! The castle was amazing! There’s a self-guided route that takes a person up to a fantastic tower where the views are even more impressive. The castle is in excellent condition, after an extensive restoration by Wilhelm II who was really into making Alsace more German in the early 1900s.
There were also actual tours, but I’m not sure when/if there were any English tours. There seemed to be a lot of French, German, and Spanish tourists in Alsace. We didn’t hear a lot of English spoken. We mostly got by on my functional, so-so French with some English along the way.
After the castle, we started back to Riquewihr. We rode down the hill along the D1B1 to Saint-Hippolyte before getting back on the Route de Vin. This was the best trail riding of the day, since we navigated the trails to a cheese shop, La Fromagerie-Ferme L`Hirondelle. There wasn’t much to see there other than a cheese dispenser, but it was nice to ride the trails between trails and manage the connections without needing to take any shared roads.
We made it back to Riquewihr and had a picnic dinner, eating some of our cheese purchased the day before and some rolls. We needed a break from the large dinner meals. It was a gorgeous evening and our picnic was the perfect end to an outdoors-y day!