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Hiking trail

Ribeauvillé to Kayserberg

Hiking trail · Alsace
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Macs Adventure Verified partner  Explorers Choice 
  • Looking East Towards Germany
    / Looking East Towards Germany
    Photo: Josiah Skeats, Macs Adventure
  • Hunawihr Village
    / Hunawihr Village
    Photo: Josiah Skeats, Macs Adventure
  • Hunawihr's Famous Fountain
    / Hunawihr's Famous Fountain
    Photo: Josiah Skeats, Macs Adventure
  • The 'Dolder' in Riquewihr
    / The 'Dolder' in Riquewihr
    Photo: Josiah Skeats, Macs Adventure
  • Riquewihr's Fairytale Streets
    / Riquewihr's Fairytale Streets
    Photo: Josiah Skeats, Macs Adventure
  • A Sea of Vineyards
    / A Sea of Vineyards
    Photo: Josiah Skeats, Macs Adventure
  • / Descending into Kaysersberg
    Photo: Josiah Skeats, Macs Adventure
  • / View from Chateau du Kaysersberg
    Photo: Josiah Skeats, Macs Adventure
0 150 300 450 600 m km 2 4 6 8 10

Wander through a sea of vineyards interspersed with the romantic villages of Hunawihr and Riquewihr, eventually finishing in the larger village of Kaysersberg.

moderate
11 km
3:30 h
293 m
293 m

Where yesterday’s walk was on the steep and wooded upper slopes of the Vosges mountains, today we remain lower, navigating a path across the tumultuous sea of vineyards with a gentle swell that ripples over the undulating foothills. There is a unique microclimate here as the Vosges mountains shelter Alsace from the predominantly westerly winds – nearby Colmar is the driest town in France! – and allows some of the best white wine, especially of the Riesling variety, to be produced.  

The walk is punctuated by villages that can trace their history back over millennia, and occasionally it can feel like little has changed in that time. With each arrival to a new village comes a shocking lurch back through history as you wander the car-less cobbled streets, pass between half-timbered shops and houses, permeate city walls that once prevented invasions and weathered besiegement, and drink wine that has been honed to perfection over several hundred years.

It is no exaggeration to claim that today, history, geography, culture, nature, architecture and food and wine all blend together to allow a superlative walk.

Author’s recommendation

In a sense the whole village of Riquewihr is a giant open-air museum, however the Thieves’ Tower, Winemakers’ House and Dolder Belfry are all interesting museums which are worth checking out. (See ‘points of interest’ for more information.)

outdooractive.com User
Author
Josiah Skeats
Updated: August 16, 2019

Difficulty
moderate
Technique
Stamina
Experience
Landscape
Highest point
376 m
Lowest point
225 m

Safety information

There are some exposed and unfenced edges throughout the walk; be careful and remain on the path.

There are many 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.

Equipment

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.

Tips, hints and links

Points of Interest

Hunawihr

The 7th century village of Hunawihr is named after Hune, the patron Saint of Washerwomen. The large village fountain is a pilgrimage site, where it is believed she washed the clothes of the poor. In addition to the wealth brought by wine, Hunawihr is rich in construction materials with wood, sandstone, gypsum and clay all obtained nearby.

 

Riquewihr

You will arrive in Riquewihr in the most impressive fashion; after trekking across the surrounding sea of vineyards where the village found its wealth, you will enter through the ‘Dolder’, a mighty gatehouse in the city wall with its portcullis lifted to welcome you in.

You might find the following museums interesting, if you wish to learn more about the area.

The Thieves’ Tower and Winemakers’ House – These two museums are interconnected. The Thieves’ Tower was a prison, where you can explore where criminals were kept, and the grisly methods of torture and punishment. On a lighter note, the winemakers’ house details the wine making process.

The Dolder Belfry – This museum details the thrilling mediaeval history of Riquewihr between the 12th and 17th century, going into particular detail regarding the defence and fortifications.

More information on all museums available here: https://www.ribeauville-riquewihr.com/en/visit/museums.htm

 

Château du Kaysersberg

Standing atop this castle, just above the village of Kaysersberg, you can see cars speeding along a heavily-trafficked road. This road is one of only a few that cuts through the Vosges mountains, which otherwise forms a barrier to the north and south, and thus this route has long been significant. This castle was built by the Roman Empire around 1220 AD to prevent attack from the Duchy of Lorraine which lay west of the mountains.

 

Food and Drink

After leaving Ribeauvillé , today’s route passes through the villages of Riquewihr and Hunawihr, both of which have opportunities to buy food or drink. Riquewihr is the larger of the two and is renowned for great food and wine!

Note that often the village fountains in France are drinking water where you can refill your water bottles, however don’t assume that is the case today – look for the plaque of ‘Eau Potable’ which means it is drinkable, or ‘Eau Non Potable’ which means not-drinkable.

Start

Place de la Hôtel de Ville, Ribeauvillé (251 m)
Coordinates:
Geographic
48.195081, 7.318894
UTM
32U 375072 5339349

Destination

Church of Saint-Croix, Kaysersberg

Turn-by-turn directions

0.00km – Start in the Place de la Hôtel de Ville, facing the Hôtel de Ville. TURN RIGHT, to walk towards the clocktower and bank. Before passing under the clocktower, TURN LEFT onto Rue Klobb. Remain on this road for 450 metres.

0.47km – TURN LEFT at a small roundabout, and then CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON at the crossroads after 20 metres. Remain on this road for 1.5 kilometres, following signs to Hunawihr.

2.00km – Just before reaching a bench, and at a crossroads with a gravel road on your right, TURN LEFT to head downhill. After 200 metres, TURN RIGHT at the crossroads. You will see from the map that we are not taking the most direct route through the villages, however we believe this to be the more scenic option. Of course, feel free to explore the villages yourself too!

2.30km – At a T-junction with a ‘Stop’ sign, TURN RIGHT to walk along Rue du Nord. As the road forks after 100 metres, BEAR LEFT onto the cobbled road of Rue Saint­-Jacques, then TURN RIGHT at the ‘Stop’ junction after another 50 metres.

2.50km – You are standing by the fountain where Hune, the Patron Saint of Washerwomen is believed to have washed the clothes of the poor – it is after her that the town is named. BEAR RIGHT to continue heading slowly uphill, then after 200 metres TURN LEFT onto Rue de Riquewihr. There is also a cycling signpost to guide you. Remain on this road for 1.4 kilometres.

4.10km – CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON ignoring a right turn (with the cycling signpost) and a left turn. You will pass through a No Entry sign with the exception ‘sauf riverains’ – except residents.

4.50km – TURN LEFT at the T-junction to head downhill on a cobbled road, and through the Dolder (the mediaeval gatehouse) to enter Riquewihr. Pass through the village, being sure to take your time to wander the narrow alleys and to stop in a restaurant for food and/or wine.

4.80km – As the street widens and you reach the Tourist Information Office, TURN RIGHT to walk along Rue de la 1ere Armée.

5.10km – CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON at the crossroads. After 100 metres, just before the road bends left, TURN RIGHT onto the gravel road of Rue du Cormier. Ignore the nearby paved road with the cycling signpost.

5.40km – CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON as the gravel road reaches a paved crossroads, heading slightly uphill and following the footpath sign to Kaysersberg. After 100 metres as the main road bends right, TURN LEFT onto Rue de l’Oberberg.

6.00km – CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON as the road becomes dirt and winds through vineyards.

6.10km – BEAR LEFT then BEAR RIGHT to continue following the dirt road through the vineyard. From this point you can follow the footpath icon of a green cross on a white background, which will lead to Kaysersberg.

6.60km – CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON at the crossroads.

7.10km – TURN RIGHT as the dirt road joins a paved road. You will immediately crest the hill and begin descending. After 300 metres, after passing a tree on your left, TURN RIGHT onto the dirt road, and then immediately BEAR LEFT as the path forks to continue downhill.

7.70km – As the dirt path returns to the paved road, TURN RIGHT to continue downhill.

7.90km – As the main road bends sharply left, and with a crucifix statue on the corner, TURN RIGHT onto the dirt road that heads uphill towards the woodland. Ignore a left turn after 150 metres, and then after a further 150 metres, TURN LEFT as the dirt road bends sharply and heads uphill.

9.10km – BEAR LEFT from the rocky track onto a grassy downhill slope, following the green cross icon. After 200 metres of steep descent this path will become paved.

9.40km – As the track forks, TURN RIGHT to head uphill on the dirt road. After 100 metres, BEAR LEFT as the path forks to head directly for Château du Kaysersberg. There are green cross icons at both junctions to guide you.

9.90km – CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON heading towards the Château. Ignore the downhill, paved turn on your left, even though it has the green cross icon.

10.40km – Upon reaching the Château it is worth climb the spiral staircase of the tower to enjoy a wonderful view of Kaysersberg. Looking west you can see all the way to Germany. Afterwards, BEAR RIGHT to climb several steps, and then as the path forks, BEAR LEFT to pass around the castle, keeping it on your left, and follow the steps downhill and into Kaysersberg.

10.60km – As you emerge at the bottom of the steps, TURN LEFT to walk along the cobbled road, (** if you are staying ay Hotel Les Remparts TURN RIGHT, rather then left) passing through the arch and into the historic centre of Kaysersberg. CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON along this road for 400 metres, ignoring all side roads. You will eventually finish at the Church of Saint-Croix.

Arrival by train, car, foot or bike


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Difficulty
moderate
Distance
11 km
Duration
3:30 h
Ascent
293 m
Descent
293 m

Statistics

: h
 km
 m
 m
Highest point
 m
Lowest point
 m
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