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Hiking trail

Thannenkirch to Ribeauvillé

Hiking trail · Thannenkirch
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  • Ribeauvillé Restaurant
    / Ribeauvillé Restaurant
    Photo: Josiah Skeats, Macs Adventure
  • / Ribeauvillé at Sunset
    Photo: Josiah Skeats, Macs Adventure
  • / Woodland Walk
    Photo: Josiah Skeats, Macs Adventure
  • / Château du Haut-Ribeaupierre
    Photo: Josiah Skeats, Macs Adventure
  • / Château du Girsberg
    Photo: Josiah Skeats, Macs Adventure
  • / Château de Saint-Ulrich
    Photo: Josiah Skeats, Macs Adventure
m 800 700 600 500 400 300 200 6 5 4 3 2 1 km

An easy stroll through woodland between Thannenkirch and Ribeauvillé passes the ruins of three medieval Châteaux that providing an insight into the history of the region, and allow sublime views across the Alsatian Plain.

6.6 km
2:15 h
170 m
393 m

Having left Thannenkirch the path immediately enters woodland and begins a barely-noticeable ascent. As you gain height you begin to feel that surely a good view lies just beyond the thick blanket of trees that teases you and blocks all viewpoints. Only dappled patches of sunlight fall through the canopy and reach the woodland floor allowing a welcoming refuge of shade on those hot summer days.

As you burst above the trees to step atop the first hill you are greeted with an inviting vista of the Alsatian Plain which stretches all the way to Germany, though often lost in the hazy horizon. A green fabric ripples over small undulating hills, studded with vineyards and dotted with villages. The ruins of Chateau du Haut-Ribeaupierre stand prominent and conspicuously on this hill, offering a prized 360° panorama; this is the first of three impressive Châteaux you will pass as the path descends to Ribeauvillé.

Ribeauvillé is a mesmerising village to arrive in with a kaleidoscopic historic centre where the houses, shops and restaurants explode with bold colours. Wander the winding cobbled streets trying to absorb all the over-stimulating sights, sounds and smells of a modern-day village in Alsace, or just sit down and let it all come to you!

Author’s recommendation

Walk the length of the pedestrianised street that runs through Ribeauvillé. Each twist and turn reveals something new and unexpected. User
Josiah Skeats
Updated: August 15, 2019

Highest point
630 m
Lowest point
221 m
Best time of year

Safety information

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.

Tips, hints and links

Points of Interest

Three Châteaux

Three Châteaux punctuate the latter-half of this walk, those of Château du Haut-Ribeaupierre, Château de Saint-Ulrich and Château du Girsberg.

Château du Haut-Ribeaupierre

This is the first tower you will come to, and also the highest one with a complete 360° panorama. It was built during the 13th century to warn locals in case the French King tried to invade Alsace. Later, it was repurposed to scout for forest fires.


Château de Saint-Ulrich

The second castle is the most intact and undoubtedly the most eye-catching. It features an intriguing blend of Gothic, Romanesque and Renaissance characteristics, which will particularly interest architects. From the 11th century, until the 16th when it was abandoned, this château was the main residence for the powerful Ribeaupierre family.


Château du Girsberg

The third and final Château is impressively built atop a rocky outcrop which would have provided an extra level of defence. It was built in the 13th century and abandoned 400 years later in the 17th century.



Ribeauvillé was previously the seat of the Lords of Ribeaupierre. A leisurely amble around Ribeauvillé reveals this village’s enchanting and lengthy history, with a medieval wall and guard-towers still in place.


Food and Drink

There is nowhere to get food or drink between Thannenkirch and Ribeauvillé, so be sure to bring enough food and drink provisions for the duration of this walk – approximately 2 hours 30. Around the three Châteaux there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy a picnic, otherwise you can aim to reach Ribeauvillé in time for lunch.


Church of Saint-Catherine and Mairie (Town Hall), Thannenkirch (475 m)
48.228617, 7.305301
32U 374144 5343098


Ribeauvillé Square and Mairie (Town Hall)

Turn-by-turn directions

0.00km – Start facing the prominent Church of Saint-Catherine in Thannenkirch, and with the Mairie (Town Hall) and Post Office behind you. TURN RIGHT to continue along the main road heading away from the village, ignoring a minor road on your left after 20 metres.

0.25km – As the road bends sharply left, BEAR RIGHT onto the gravel road to pass through a car park, and follow a sign for Ribeauvillé.

0.63km – BEAR LEFT as the track forks to choose the less steep path. After 120 metres, BEAR RIGHT to leave the gravel road and head uphill on a muddy footpath. At both junctions there are signs for the ‘GR5’ which goes to Ribeauvillé.

1.20km – CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON to cross over a set of vague vehicle tracks and then follow the footpath as it contours along the wooded slopes of the hill.

1.50km – BEAR RIGHT as the footpath joins a gravel road. Ahead you will see a tree with the footpath icons on it.

2.50km – As the gravel road bends sharply left, BEAR RIGHT onto the gravel tracks that head uphill. You must ignore the left turn which is signposted to Ribeauvillé and Bergheim. The right path has two icons - a red rectangle and red castle – which you can follow.

2.90km – At a staggered crossroads where there may be large logpiles, TURN RIGHT and then TURN LEFT. You can follow signs to GR5 and 3 Châteaux. This path will continue heading uphill.

3.40km – BEAR LEFT from the gravel road and onto a narrow footpath, following a sign to Les Châteaux, and the red rectangle and castle icons.

3.70km – TURN LEFT at a T-junction, following the red icons. CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON, ignoring a left turn signposted to Ribeauvillé after 10 metres, and a right turn after 20 metres.

3.90km – You will pass below the rocky ruins of Château du Haut-Ribeaupierre on your left. You can take a short detour from the path to get a closer look at the ruins and to finally enjoy a clearing in the trees that provides a view to the Alsatian Plain. Please note that access is considered dangerous and forbidden to Château du Haut-Ribeaupierre (though a well-established path ignores this sign and strolls directly into the ruins), but you are free to explore the next two Châteaux.

4.00km – CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON to head away from the Château. This path will begin winding downhill. It is rocky in a few places and may require you to use your hands to assist you.

4.50km – As you reach a picnic bench with the second Château de Saint-Ulrich directly ahead, it is recommended to follow the narrow path ahead to explore the ruins and enjoy the views. Afterwards, return to the picnic bench and TURN LEFT, following the sign to Château du Giersberg, and the icons of a red castle and a yellow cross.

4.70km – Once again it is recommended to take a short detour into the Château du Giersberg. Shortly after passing the third Château, and a picnic bench, BEAR RIGHT as the path forks to head downhill on a narrow, muddy path, signposted to ‘Ribeauvillé Direct’.

5.10km – TURN RIGHT at a T-junction. After 100 metres BEAR RIGHT then after another 100 metres BEAR LEFT. At each junction continue heading downhill and following the signs to Ribeauvillé. The path will soon begin descending through vineyards.

5.90km – TURN LEFT as the cobbled path reaches a T-junction. After 100 metres, BEAR RIGHT to pass through a car park, and then after 50 metres TURN RIGHT to walk along a road towards Ribeauvillé.

6.20km – At a stop junction, TURN RIGHT to pass the Church of Saint Gregory on your right. Follow this road through the pedestrianised historic centre of Ribeauvillé, ignoring all sideroads. After 300 metres, CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON passing under the clock-tower and finish in the village square.


all notes on protected areas

Arrival by train, car, foot or bike

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6.6 km
170 m
393 m


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