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Alsace and the Route des Vins

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Enjoy beautiful Colmar and its vineyards in the Alsace

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2019 Tour code: CMB19

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Day 1 - London to Colmar

Our journey to Alsace begins at St Pancras International in London, where we meet at our dedicated Departure Office before boarding the Eurostar service bound for Paris. Travelling in Standard Premier Class, a light meal and drinks are served on board during the journey. On arrival in the French capital we connect with our onward TGV service to Colmar. This quintessential Alsatian town captures the true character of a region occupying a narrow strip between the Vosges Mountains and the Rhine Valley. Alsace has changed hands several times and both German and French infl uences can be seen in abundance. The region is France's best-kept secret, by-passed by sun-seekers who race to the Côte d'Azur, but to the delight of gourmets across the country other than Paris, there are more Michelin-starred restaurants in Alsace than anywhere else in France. The region is famous for its cuisine and the world-renowned wines from vineyards along the 'Route des Vins'.

We spend the next six nights in Colmar, one of the prettiest towns in Alsace, with half-timbered and brightly coloured houses sitting on cobbled lanes, at the Best Western Grand Hotel Bristol, located close to the railway station and just a short walk from the beautiful historic centre. On arrival we are welcomed with a glass of Crémant d'Alsace, the local sparkling wine.

  • Dinner
  • Eurostar Meal
Day 2 - Exploring Colmar

Today we enjoy a guided walking tour of Colmar, exploring the main sights with our local guide. The town of Colmar oozes quaint charm, so much so that it seems to have stepped straight out of a Brothers Grimm fairytale. Crooked, half-timbered houses appear to have been forced together to form terraces, with narrow winding streets weaving haphazardly between each block. Small, pretty town squares open up at the end of each street, often filled with a small copse of trees or tended gardens. In just a few moments wandering through the streets you can easily imagine what Colmar was like several centuries ago.

Located just on the French side of the border with Germany, Colmar's local newspaper is published in French and German, while older residents still converse with each other in Alsatian. Our guided tour leads us through the fascinating Old Town, where we see many of the main sights and most important historic buildings, including Pfister House - a beautiful and unusual looking timber-framed building where murals depict scenes from the bible. Our tour also takes us past the Koifhus and the Collegiale Church of St Martin.

  • Breakfast
  • Tour of Colmar
Day 3 - The Route des Vins

Today we discover the quality, distinctiveness and unmatched diversity of the famous Alsatian wines as we enjoy an excursion by coach along the world-renowned 'Route des Vins'. Winding through the foothills of the Vosges Mountains, past endless terraced vineyards, the "wine road" links the small towns and villages - of which there are more than 100 - which produce the highquality white wines for which the region is best known. Our first stop of the day is at Haut-Koenigsbourg Castle, which has a tremendous strategic location on a rocky hill overlooking the whole of the Alsatian Plain. We then stop at one of the wine villages, where we sample some of the fantastic white wines of the area, including Riesling, Gewurztraminer and Pinot Gris, followed by a light lunch, inspired by some of the region's cuisine.

In the afternoon we continue along the Route des Vins, visiting some of the picture-postcard villages through which it passes, including Ribeauvillé and Riquewihr

  • Breakfast
Wine tasting
Day 4 - At leisure in Colmar

Today you are free to explore Colmar and the surrounding region at leisure. Situated between Basel and Strasbourg, Colmar was the final town in France to be released after the Second World War, and insights into the area's history and culture can be discovered at local galleries and museums. The town is also known for being the birth place of Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi, the sculptor of the Statue of Liberty. His former home, now a museum, can be visited nearby. Another option is to take a stroll in Colmar's 'Little Venice District'.

With a more village-like atmosphere, this is the perfect place to discover the city's history at your own pace, as you wander across bridges to the Fisherman's District, a quay of brightly coloured houses bedecked with flowers and built along the meandering canals. The buildings look as though they have come straight out of a fairytale. Alternatively, Colmar is located close to several fascinating cities, including Freiburg in Germany, Mulhouse in France and Basel in Switzerland. Each is within easy reach using local rail links.

  • Breakfast
Day 5 - Strasbourg

This morning we travel by train (Standard Class) to the city of Strasbourg, the attractive capital of Alsace. During our full-day excursion here we enjoy a canal cruise, giving us a different perspective to the half-timbered houses, geranium-filled flower boxes and quaint streets. Strasbourg's historic Old Town is dominated by the spectacular Notre Dame Cathedral, with its famous astronomical clock and stained glass windows that have remained untouched almost since the Middle Ages. The Grande Île, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is the ancient heart of the city, with the vast main square, Place Kléber, at its centre.

Your afternoon is free for you to continue exploring Strasbourg at leisure before we return to Colmar by train. You could visit the stunning Petite France quarter, an area of picturesque half timbered houses, dotted with mills and criss-crossed by canals.

  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 6 - Cite du Train and the Rhine by rail and boat

Today we travel by coach to Mulhouse, where we visit the Cité du Train - the world's largest railway museum. There are six themed areas across the enormous exhibition space, which covers 6,000 square metres, featuring historic engines and carriages, scale models, life-size replicas, videos and special effects. This afternoon we discover the Alsatian Ried and Rhine as we enjoy a popular local excursion on the Chemin de Fer Touristique du Rhin. We begin by visiting a recreated 1880s railway station exhibition in Volgelsheim, before boarding a historic steam train, built at the turn of the 19th century.

We travel through the Alsatian Ried, an area rich in aquatic flora and fauna, before we disembark the train and board a riverboat, cruising leisurely along the River Rhine as perched medieval fortresses watch over us from their nests amongst the vineyeards. Tonight we enjoy a farewell dinner together in the hotel's restaurant, Le Rendez-Vous de Chasse, enjoying some complimentary wine with our meal.

  • Breakfast, Dinner
Rhine Gorge
Day 7 - Return to London

After breakfast this morning, we leave Colmar, travelling by high-speed rail to Paris. We cross the French capital, connecting with the Eurostar to London, where our tour comes to an end.

  • Breakfast
  • Eurostar Meal