Alsace and the Vosges

Price

£2,275.00 per person*

($3,139.50 USD or $3,935.75 AUD)

£200.00 deposit

£495.00 single room supplement

Dates

There are currently no scheduled dates for this tour, but please contact us if you want to schedule a private tour for six or more people.

Contact Us

“Graeme and Janice are a great team; cheerful & supportive + very well-organised. Excellent!”

-- Sue & John, Boral, New South Wales, Australia

Highlights

  • Cycling along the majestic Rhine
  • Spectacular panoramas in the Vosges mountains
  • Quiet lanes through vines and orchards
  • Charming half timbered and cobbled villages
  • Wine tasting along the Route de Vin
  • Medieval masterpieces in Colmar

Joining the tour

Start

Collection from Strasbourg TGV and Airport, Karlsruhe-Baden Airport

Finish

Onward transfers to Mulhouse TGV and Mulhouse-Basel-Freiburg airports

Collections are from Strasbourg TGV station. Departures are from Mulhouse TGV station; by arrangement we can drop at Basle-Mulhouse-Freiburg airport. 

Cycling level

7 out of 10

Moderate to Challenging

View Gallery

Sitting along the Eastern edge of France, on the left bank of the river Rhine, Alsace has a character and ambience quite different from the rest of the country. From the gothic script on street signs and hotel and restaurant names, to the half-timbered medieval houses, there is a Germanic flavour mixed in with many old French traditions — a unique cocktail.

The tastes of the region are as distinct as the architecture. Strasbourg is famous for its sausages and also for choucroute, the alsatian take on Sauerkraut, made with cabbage cooked in local wine loaded with chops, sausages and other meaty delights. Coq-au vin is made here with local Riesling wine. Pride of place in Alsace goes to foie gras, here served in a pastry crust, and some notable cheeses like Munster made with milk from the Vosges pastures. For a quick snack, try flammeküeche the Alsace pizza.

For liquid refreshment, there is no shortage of choice. The distinctive slender bottles of the region contain wines of some equally distinctive cepages or grape varieties. Gewurztraminer with its golden colour and heady aroma of lychees and passion fruit; complex Pinot Gris with smoky undertones and apricot fruit; delicate Riesling with citrus notes and floral hints; and Sylvaner with notes of fresh cut grass and elderflower. Less well known are the light and cherry tinged pinot noir reds, and the sparkling Cremant d’Alsace. Beer lovers are also catered for — Strasbourg is home to Kronenbourg and Fischer, and a host of artisan breweries are found throughout the region.

The geography of Alsace is effectively in two halves; the Alsace plain is a strip of land running alongside the Rhine from Strasbourg to the swiss border; flat, with fields of vines, wheat and sunflowers, intersperced with orchards growing apples, pears and quince. Rising like a natural border to the west are the Vosges mountains, the round topped peaks here known as ballons. Heavily wooded with chestnut and oak, then pines and mountain ash at higher altitude. The forests provide welcome shade in high summer.

Our tour takes in the best of the sights, sounds and tastes that this fascinating region has to offer. Riding is mixed, with days of flat riding moderately hilly days interspersed with with days of flat riding and will be enjoyed by anyone with a little cycling experience.

To view a map of the Alsace tour route click here

Day 1 - Sunday

Pickups are from Strasbourg TGV station, Strasbourg airport or Baden-Baden airport. A short transfer takes us to the charming village of Ottrott, nestled at the foot of the Vosges mountains. At our hotel in the heart of the village we will set the bikes up making sure that everyone is perfectly fitted.

An excursion takes us into the market town of Obernai with its picturesque market square and the 16th century grain market. Those wanting a harder workout can tackle a climb to the convent of Mont Sainte-Odile — those wanting to conserve their energy can ride up in the minibus and rejoin their bikes at the top! The convent is a site of pilgrimage to the saint who legend has it was born blind, but miraculously was able to see after being baptised. Work on the convent was started in the 12th C, but the visit is as notable for the stunning panoramas as for the convent itself.

Back at the hotel, relax by the pool before a fabulous dinner with local specialities and a bottle or two of the red wine that bears the village name.

Day 2 - Monday

We start the day off riding through vineyards and one of the most picturesque villages of the region, Heiligenstein, before climbing into the lower wooded slopes of the Vosges mountains. An excursion on foot takes in the atmospheric ruined Spesburg castle hidden in the forest.

Dropping through the woods we come to the pretty town of Andlau for coffee. The route then follows the Route du Vin as it winds in and out of the forests of the Vosges foothills. There is a climb out of the Lieprevette valley to the Château du Haut-Koenigsburg (a big climb, there is an optional minibus transfer to the top!) From the gardens of the Chateau the stunning panorama takes in the Black Forest across the Rhine to the east and all around, ruined fortresses on the summits of the Vosges mountains.

A glorious descent brings us down to the plain before a short ride to our hotel for this evening in the charming village of Ribeauvillé nestling amongst the vines. The village is a fabulous place for a stroll before dinner, with timber framed houses, cobbled squares and 13th century church.

Day 3 - Tuesday

More stunning landscapes today, but a shorter distance to recover (a little!) from yesterday’s excursions. The first section is a short but steep climb (don’t be ashamed to walk!) followed by a descent into to perhaps the most picturesque of them all, Riquewihr. Looking just as it did in the 16th Century, set amongst vineyards, it is the home of the Dopff winemaking family — noted for sparkling Cremant. Keep an eye out too for the stork-wheels — cartwheels mounted horizontally on the roofs of houses to encourage storks to build nests (and thereby to bring good luck and fertility to the village) After rolling through the wine villages of Kientzheim and Ammerschwirr there is another climb to the spa town of Trois Epis. The effort is rewarded by sublime views and a regal picnic lunch.

A second reward is 13km of stunning downhill riding to the village of Turkheim – home to one of the best reputed wine co-operative in France. Naturally we will be sampling a wide selection of the output – which includes all of the varietals of the region.

After our tasting, there is a short and easy ride (thank heavens!) to our stopping place for the next two nights, the wonderfully Alsatian town of Colmar. Not to be missed in Colmar are the Unterlinden museum with some wonderful Rhinish art and the magnificent Retable d’Issenheim — a 24 panel alterpiece painted by Matthias Grünewald at the beginning of the 16th Century.

Our hotel has one of the finest restaurants in the town, serving Alsacian specialities with a refined elegance.

Day 4 - Wednesday

No packing today as we are staying in Colmar; today there are options for a longer or shorter ride , The ride takes us through the vines to a series of beautiful picturesque villages; stop for coffee in gorgeous Eguisheim, then climb past the ruined towers of the three castles above Husseren-Trois-Châteaux. Those who want a shorter day can head for home to spend more time in Colmar; otherwise we continue through cobbled Gueberschwirr into the vines then descend to the market town of Rouffach for lunch. Rouffach has a marvellous 11th Century church and a 13th Century tower, known as the Tour des Sorcières (Witches’ Tower) which was used as a prison.

The afternoon ride is flat across the plains of the River Rhine before returning to Colmar through the hunting forests that lie to the east of town.

We eat out at the renowned Maison des Têtes restaurant.

Day 5 - Thursday

A flatter day today as we cross the Rhineland plain to arrive at the river. On the way we visit Neuf Brisach. This 17th Century fortification was built by Louis XIV’s military architect Vauban, and the 8-pointed star structure is still intact. From Neuf Brisach a series of dedicated cycleways brings us to the river. After crossing the river to enter Germany, we follow a riverside track, stopping for a picnic and to dip our toes if it’s a hot day!

Back in France, an easy afternoon ride brings us to our hotel in the village of Ensisheim. Ensisheim was the site of a neolithic settlement – a skeleton found at a burial ground on the outskirts of town

A half hour in the hotel sauna and a dip in the pool or would be a great way to get rid of the dust of the road before dinner in the hotel’s stylish restaurant.

Day 6 - Friday

Our last day in the saddle brings a challenge for those who are up for it – a climb up to 1,343 metres to the Grand Ballon. Don’t worry if the climb doesn’t appeal – the minibus can take the sting out of it!

No such worries at the start of the day as the route takes flat cycle tracks through the villages of Feldkirch and Böllwiller, before arriving at the village of Hartmanswiller with it’s fortified cemetery dating from the 15th C; the church and it’s graveyard were fortified as a place of refuge for the the villagers from bands of brigands following the Wars of Religion.

The intrepid can then embark on the climb to the summit of the Grand Ballon – ride as much or as little as you like, then get into the minibus when you’ve had enough of emulating the heroes of the Tour de France. A fantastic picnic will be awaiting you at the top, no matter how you have chosen to get there!

After lunch is literally all downhill as we speed through sublime landscapes down to the village of Thann. Thann is renowned for its richly decorated collegiate church with coloured roof tiles and intricate fretwork gothic spire. After a coffee and maybe a cake, the route returns to flat cycle tracks to our final destination, the impressive city of Mulhouse. Boasting a pedestrianised medieval quarter, a fine arts museum, and a superb automobile museum in the Schlumpf Collection, it is worth an extra night at the end of your tour if you are not in a hurry to get home!

Dinner will be a last feast of Alsace specialities to send you on your way!

Day 7 - Saturday

Time to exchange e-mail addresses with your new cycling friends before transferring to Mulhouse TGV or Basel-Freiburg-Mulhouse airport for onward journeys.

Not all cycle vacations are the same. Compare what is included in a French Cycling Holidays bike tour:

  • Flexible collection from local airport or train station
  • Quality Trek bicycles
  • Quality helmets (if required)
  • Water bottles (to take home as souvenirs)
  • Detailed riding instructions and colour route maps
  • Charming 3* and 4* auberges, inns and hotels
  • Buffet style breakfasts with croissants, pastries, meats, cheeses and cereals
  • Gourmet dinners for all 6 nights of your holiday
  • Fine wine (or soft drink alternative) with all evening meals and coffee to follow
  • 2 experienced bilingual guides with each tour
  • Delivery of your luggage to your hotel room each day
  • Entry fees to attractions and historical sites
  • Morning onward transfers
  • An unforgettable experience!

We try to include as much as we can within the price, while keeping things as flexible as possible. With the explosion of low cost airlines and the easy access to the TGV rail system from the UK, we believe that it is more economical and convenient for customers to arrange their own travel to the region. Links to the airlines and railway companies can be found in frequently asked questions.

Transfers

We provide the transfers to and from the local airports and the nearest TGV stations, and other locations by arrangement. If you have driven down, we arrange secure parking for your car and return you to it after the tour.

Hotels

We stay in very comfortable hotels, mostly 3*, occasionally 4*, and very occasionally superior 2* hotels which we choose if they have charm and comfort above their rating. All rooms have en-suite shower or bath facilities.

We select our hotels for their character as well as their facilities, and avoid chains in favour of independent privately run hotels.

Prices are based on two sharing in twin or double rooms. Singles are available on request. Where possible, we choose hotels with swimming pools as there is nothing quite like a dip after a day in the saddle!

It is sometimes necessary to change accommodation for reasons of room availability, minor adjustments to the route or upgrading the hotels. We will always endeavour to use hotels of an equal or higher level of comfort/facilities to those shown – please contact us to check for the most up-to-date information regarding your particular tour.

Meals

All evening meals are included, and we carefully select the restaurants for cuisine and ambience, and favour those with a strong regional flavour.

All meals include a starter, main course and dessert, some will have an additional cheese course. We are happy to arrange for our restaurants to cater for specific dietary requirements and allergies etc.

We do not include lunch, as the costing of these is beyond our control, but where route and weather allow we organise picnics; these feature copious salads, cold meats, cheeses, crusty bread, fruits, etc, and a choice of drinks; we ask for a contribution for the costs of the consumables, which usually works out at 8 or 9 euros per person per picnic. Where route or weather does not allow a picnic, we recommend suitable cafés and bistros.

Bikes & Equipment

We provide lightweight alloy framed Trek ‘hybrid’ touring bicycles with 27 indexed gears, fully equipped with lock, pump and toolkit (although our guides will generally be on hand to fix punctures and minor mechanical problems).

For carrying the items you might need during the day (camera, wallet, windbreaker etc.) we fit a capacious handlebar bag which also features a large map pocket. These clip on and off the bike in a flash so that you can always take your valuables with you when off the bike.

The bikes are meticulously maintained and we keep a wide range of sizes; female specific saddles are also available. We do not provide helmets automatically, as we find people prefer their own if they want to wear one, and sizing and fit is quite personal; however we always have helmets available for use. We also carry rain-capes should they be required (but hopefully not!). For certain tours we also have available 27 speed drop-handlebar race-style bikes, and tandems may also be available on certain tours by special request. We hire these locally, and charge on the additional cost. 

E Bikes

For nearly all of our tours an e-bike - electrically assisted bicycle - is an extra-cost option. These bikes apply a 'multiplier' to the level of input provided by the rider, the level of assistance can be adjusted for the terrain. This can be useful if there are members of your party have very different levels of bike-fitness and experience, as hills that look daunting suddenly become easy with an e-bike.

Please contact us for details.

 

Guides and Backup

There will be two guides on every tour; one cycling with the group and one in the minibus which will follow the group. The bus carries all luggage not required for the day's ride and will always be available for anyone at any point during the day. If for instance you want to take a day off the bike, or if a particular day seems a little hard, the bus will take you for as long or as little as you wish it to.

Everybody is provided with detailed route maps for each day, and both guides are easily contactable by mobile phone. The guides are enthusiastic experts on the local area and will be able to sort out any problems or special requests that you might have.

Auberge L’Ami Fritz, Ottrott-le-Haut

A traditional Alsatian auberge in the heart of the village dating from the 18th Century, its Weinstub restaurant is one of the most popular in the region for its Alsatian dishes with a modern twist. The 3* Ami Fritz has very comfortable rooms all furnished in individual styles.

ami Fritz

Hotel de la Tour, Ribeauvillé

Situated in the pedestrianised centre of this beautiful village, the preserved exterior of the 3* belies the rooms which are large, comfortable and equipped with all modern conveniences. All around the hotel on the cobbled streets are cafés, restaurants and shops; a short walk as the sun sets takes us to a superb dinner in the village.

La Tour

Hotel le Maréchal, Colmar

Built in 1565 on the towns fortified walls, the 4* Maréchal is a jewel of charm and elegance. Outside the doors you step straight onto the cobbles and canals of the old quarter; at the hotel the fabulous L’Echevin restaurant has terraces overlooking the waters that give Colmar the nickname ‘Venice of the North’.

Mareschal

Domaine du Moulin, Ensisheim 

Boasting a sauna, hammam and indoor pool, the 3* Domaine du Moulin is the perfect spot to recover from a day on the road. Take a glass on the terrace with swans and ducks on the lake in front of the hotel, before a memorable dinner in the hotel’s restaurant.

Moulin Ensisheim

Hotel du Parc, Mulhouse 

The grand 4* Hotel du Parc in the centre of Mulhouse brings back the era of the roaring twenties with it’s huge rooms and art deco furnishings. A cocktail in the piano bar is a perfect way to toast the end of the tour before dinner in a superb Alsacien restaurant in the old quarter.

Parc mulhouse

It is sometimes necessary to change accommodation for reasons of room availability, minor adjustments to the route or upgrading the hotels. We will always endeavour to use hotels of an equal or higher level of comfort/facilities to those shown – please contact us to check for the most up-to-date information regarding your particular tour.

Below we answer all the most common questions that you might ask before choosing a French Cycling Holidays tour. If you have any further questions then please get in touch. We look forward to hearing from you.

How fit do I need to be?

Anybody who is reasonably active should be able to take part and enjoy our tours.

The tours have different levels of physical exertion — whilst the Loire Valley tours and Bordeaux tour are easy going; the Normandy, Provence Roman Heritage, and Burgundy tours are a little more strenuous, whilst and the Provence Lubéron, Dordogne and Languedoc tours require a reasonable level of fitness.

For nearly all of our tours an e-bike - electrically assisted bicycle - is an extra-cost option. These bikes apply a 'multiplier' to the level of input provided by the rider, the level of assistance can be adjusted for the terrain. This can be useful if there are members of your party have very different levels of bike-fitness and experience, as hills that look daunting suddenly become easy with an e-bike. Contact us via the contact page if you would like more details.   

The Sports tours are aimed at enthusiast cyclists who might want to bring their own road bikes. However, the rides are not races and there is no time limit - and there is always the minibus if things get too tough!

We would nevertheless recommend that anyone who has not taken any regular exercise for some time to consult their doctor before considering any activity based holiday. Bear in mind that a little regular riding before coming on a cycling vacation will always be a benefit to the experience.

How do I get there?

We pick up and drop off from the nearest international airports and TGV/railway stations to the start of each tour. (We can drop at a nearer airport or station by arrangement if more convenient for you and logistically possible). This gives everyone the option of making their way by the most economical or convenient means. The major options are:

Flying from the UK

Ryanair flies into following airports:

Nimes (for the Provence tours and Languedoc tours; Ryanair also fly out of Beziers and Montpellier for the Languedoc tour); Bergerac (for the Bordeaux tour), Dinard for the Normandy tour, Grenoble for Alpine trips and Pau (for the Classic Cols tour)

Ryanair operates out of Liverpool, London Stansted and London Luton Airports amongst others.

Easyjet flies into Montpellier (for the Provence tours) and out of Bordeaux (for the Bordeaux tour); it flys into Geneva and Lyon for Alpine tours and also out of Nice for the Alpine Raid.

British Airways prices can be reasonable if booked in advance — BA fly into Bordeaux for train transfers to Bergerac (Bordeaux tour), and Marseilles (Provence tours).

If we do not pick up from the airport itself, we will advise on rail connections from the airport to our pick-up points.

Rail for visitors from outside Europe / those already in France

The TGV can be an exceptionally quick way of reaching many French destinations from the UK and from Paris for those flying from overseas or UK regions.

The Eurostar SNCF (French National Railways) TGV websites may be useful. As a guide, London St Pancras to Avignon via TGV takes approximately 6½ hours; Tours takes 4 hours. From Paris Charles de Gaulle airport, the point of arrival for most intercontinental flights, Tours is 1½ hours by TGV, Avignon (for Provence) just over 3 hours.

Brive-la-Gaillarde is 4 hours from Paris by rail for the Dordogne tour. We are more than happy to advise on rail options — please contact us. Internet sales from the French SNCF site ( www.voyages-sncf.com sites are possible but are in French; the approved agency for the US and Canada is RailEurope ; however we are happy to advise and help with the French website.

Driving

This may be a good choice if your French Cycling Holiday is part of a longer stay. We will arrange secure parking for your car at or near our first hotel, and return you to your car at the end of the trip. (Note - this service may not be available on certain long distance sports tours - please check with us). The major ferry and crossing companies from the UK are Eurotunnel, P&O, Brittany Ferries, LD Lines, Speedferries and SeaFrance.

If it is more convenient for you to hire a car Europcar in our experience have the best rates for rentals where the drop-off is at a different location to the pickup.

However you choose to travel, we are very happy to help you sort out your itinerary.

What kind of pedals do you use?

Pedals are obviously fairly important on a cycling tour! We stock the following kinds:

Flat – i.e. no special cleats or grips, these pedals can be used with any kind of footwear. If you do not regularly use special pedals or cycling shoes, we recommend standard trainers/sneakers to wear while riding.

SPD/flat – we also have pedals with one side flat and one side an SPD cleat. This is the standard Shimano SPD compatible system; two bolts and the small cleat pictured on the shoe with the yellow sole. These cleats are ideal for cycling tours as the cleat is usually recessed into the bottom of the shoe. The pedals are visible to the right of the picture.

SPD/flat style pedals

Flats with cages – we have a small number of flat pedals with cages & straps – again if you are not used to this, we wouldn’t recommend starting a tour with them!

Other – we do NOT stock any other pedal systems. If you use any other kind of pedal, you are very welcome to bring your own and our guides can fit them to your bike for the week. However, we would advise against racing-style pedals such as the Look Keo, Shimano SPD-SL or similar, as these tend to have a large, protruding cleat on the sole of the shoe which makes walking around visits or lunch stops (or even nipping into a public toilet!) quite uncomfortable and dangerous. Sports tours are a little different as there are much longer days and less off-the-bike walking – a choice is ultimately up to you though!

Can I use my own bike?

We are happy for anyone to bring their own bikes. However, the budget airlines charge around £50 each way and packing and carriage can be a hassle. Our Trek bikes are of a high standard, and our customers usually express pleasant surprise at the quality of the machines, so it might be a better option to bring your saddle and/or pedals which we will be very happy to fit. In any case there will always be a backup bike should you have a mechanical problem. Please feel free to call us for advice on bike transportation.

What should I wear?

The main thing that people who are not regular distance cyclists worry about is a sore behind. This is not as is popularly thought due to too-hard saddles, but friction between skin and garments. This is why professional cyclists wear skin-tight lycra shorts with padded inserts. Many people feel a bit self-conscious in this sort of gear and your local cycle shop will have a range of padded undershorts which can be worn under normal clothing, or regularly styled shorts with sewn-in padded liners. Otherwise, lightweight comfortable clothing (tee-shirts, shorts, trainers) is ideal, with something warmer like a fleece just in case. As we will be dining well, you might like to take something presentable (but not formal — no-one on a French Cycling Holiday stands on ceremony!) for the evening meal.

How many people on each tour?

As well as being an active holiday, sampling the best that France has to offer, we believe that our trips should be an opportunity to meet people and make new friends. Our groups are limited to a maximum of 16, which is the largest number that we can give a personal service to, and a minimum of 6 people, which we feel is the number needed to achieve a group spirit. If we cannot achieve this number, we may cancel the tour giving a minimum of five weeks notice.

What weather are we likely to encounter?

We time our tours so that the weather should be ideal for cycling for each tour. For that reason we have our Provence and Languedoc tours in the late spring and early autumn, rather than in high summer when it can be too hot to cycle comfortably after 10 a.m. The Loire Valley, Dordogne, Bordeaux and Burgundy tours are more temperate, which is why we concentrate these tours in July and August. We cannot guarantee the weather, but it would be very unlucky to have more than one wet day on any of the tours.

Are there any age limits?

There is no specific upper age limit — the only constraint is a reasonable level of fitness. Children between 10 and 16 are welcome as part of family groups. We do not recommend these tours for children under 10.

Do I need travel insurance?

We require all participants to have travel insurance with full medical cover. It is part of the conditions of our tours that participant should provide evidence of suitable cover. If you have any questions about the cover required please contact us for advice.

What financial protection is in place for my booking?

In accordance with “The Package Travel, Package Tours Regulations 1992” customers of French Cycling Holidays Limited will be indemnified in respect of their net ascertained financial loss sustained arising from the cancellation or curtailment of the declared trip travel arrangements arising solely from the event of the financial failure of French Cycling Holidays Limited.

This insurance has been arranged by Towergate Chapman Stevens through Hiscox Insurance Company Limited.

“It was an amazing week; Janice and Graeme were amazing. Awesome food, awesome people, and awesome sights. We enjoyed the whole event – definitely would book again.”

Yvonne & Jim, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada


“A memorable trip – I felt a sense of accomplishment. Fun, great guides, amazing dinners & picnics, a great group of people, lovely hotels – what more could we ask for? And, of course, beautiful villages of France.”

Sharon, Yuba City, California


“All the restaurants did a fantastic job at providing alternatives for diet requirements – much appreciated. Selections were excellent and the picnics were superb! We had a great time.”

Kim & Andrew, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada


 “Excellent trip. Janice and Graeme are very easy-going and flexible and accommodated our large group very well. They have excellent knowledge of foods, wine and cycling.”

Sarah & Jeremy, Chicago, Illinois

Downloads

Alsace Tour Map

Gallery