Traverse picturesque vineyards, shady woodland and three authentic villages with ancient histories, as you walk from Kaysersberg to Turckheim.
There is a stark contrast between the vineyards, arranged into ordered rows and so green it hurts your eyes, and the villages, composed of boldly coloured houses and a disorientating labyrinth of streets. This keeps the walk exciting, ever-changing, and ensures you enter each village with a child-like sense of awe, as if seeing an Alsatian village for the first time.
The walk passes through three authentic villages - Ammerschwihr, Katzenthal and Niedermorschwihr – where people live according to the demands of the winemaking process. You will find locals in the vineyards, bent-double and nursing their precious vines. You’ll find then in the villages producing the wine, in the cellars hosting degustation (wine-tasting) sessions, and lastly, in the restaurants or their homes, enjoying the wine themselves!
Turckheim is an interesting place to spend the night, not least because it still retains its tradition of a watchman strolling the streets at night. Go outside at 10pm and you will hear an Alsatian melody drifting between the houses, and see the shadowy figure patrolling the streets. Traditionally his role was to check candles and fireplaces were extinguished - a fire in these close living quarters would be catastrophic - but today he just hopes to bring a smile to the tourists!
As you spend much of the day walking through Kaefferkopf vineyards, why not stop for a glass of this grand cru-awarded wine? As you sip this intense wine, bear in mind its 700 year history to reach the product you drink today!
There are some exposed and unfenced edges throughout the walk; be careful and remain on the path.
There are several stretches where you must walk on the road as there is no pavement. Walk on the left side facing the oncoming traffic unless there is a sharp left bend, in which case you should cross to the outside edge to allow drivers the maximum time to see you.
Some of the path is along rocky steps; be careful as these may be slippery, especially when wet.
Sturdy hiking boots and a waterproof/wind-break layer are required. Walking poles will be a big advantage on some of these ascents and descents.
Ensure your phone is fully charged; if you doubt the battery will last throughout the hike, it might be beneficial to bring a power bank.
Make sure you bring enough water. It is recommended to drink 0.75 litres per 1 hour of hiking in hot weather.
Be sure to bring plenty of sun-cream and a healthy respect for the sun.
Points of Interest
The Borgeois Tower, Ammerschwihr
Many of the villages you pass through only exist because their defensive fortifications allowed them to survive the region’s turbulent history. They weathered invasions where neighbouring villages didn’t. As you enter Ammerschwihr you will pass the formidable ‘Bourgeois Tower’, built in 1535 and a central component of the village’s defence.
History come very much to life in Turckheim. You will enter the village through one of the three town gates, which were previously the only way to enter. Traders from Switzerlands, witches due to be executed, and many tonnes of grapes (and litres of wine) have passed through these gates over the years. If you are staying the night in Turckheim, don’t miss the night watchmen who strolls through the village in the evening, dressed in traditional garb and singing Alsatian songs – historically, his primary function was to check candles and fireplaces were extinguished to prevent a fire in these close living quarters, but today he just hopes to bring a smile to the tourists!
Much of the land surrounding Ammerschwihr is Kaefferkopf vineyards. This is one of 51 grand cru vineyards in Alsace, meaning it has been recognised as producing the most superior of French wine. Kaefferkopf is unique for two reasons; Firstly, 71.65 hectares are delimited to produce it, which makes it one of the largest areas for a grand cru in Alsace. Secondly, the first recorded mention of Kaefferkopf dates to 1338, which gives it one of the oldest histories (though it didn’t officially become a grand cru until 2007, which makes it the youngest in Alsace!).
More information available here: https://www.vinsalsace.com/en/grands-crus/kaefferkopf/
Food and Drink
Make the most of the abundance of high-quality food and drink available today. You will pass through the villages of Ammerschwihr, Katzenthal and Niedermorschwihr after 3, 5.5 and 8 kilometres respectively. You won’t struggle to find a gourmet meal or refreshing glass of wine in any of them.