Located in the foothills of the Vosges Mountains and surrounded by Grand Cru vineyards, the tiny village of Riquewihr offers big rewards to the traveler who enjoys history, culture, gastronomy, and stunning scenery. Riquewihr, with its cobblestone streets and colorful half-timbered houses, has served as the backdrop for many Instagram moments. Surrounded by ancient defensive walls, Riquewihr is a fairytale come to life.
To explore Riquewihr, begin at the north end of the main street, Rue General de Gaulle. There you’ll find a tourist office where you can pick up a map that lists all of the buildings of significant interest with a little history of each –– most can be found along the main street. The tourist office is located about midway along this street.
Riquewihr is a walled city. The original defenses were built in the 13th century. Later, in the 16th century, a second outer wall was added. Today part of the second wall is gone but the inner wall remains. The gate is located on the south end of Rue General de Gaulle. There are many winemaker houses built into the walls.
Riquewihr is noted for the best collection of structures built entirely of stone (rather than the more common half-timbered style). A stone house meant you were well to do, probably a merchant or winemaker. In fact, Riquewihr has more stone houses than any other city or village in Alsace! Additionally, it ranks third in Alsace for the number of heritage buildings it contains. One especially nice example is the Schickhardt house, built in 1806. Today it is a shop selling lovely crystal objects.
Across the street at #13 Rue du General de Gaulle is a lovely coral-colored house, which is actually two houses! On the left is a doorway that was once a gate. Above the doorway, you can see a year: 1565. The house also has an oriel (bay window), which allows more light inside. This was surely the former home of a very wealthy merchant!
At the end of the street is the Dolder Tower built in 1291. The tower is an iconic monument in Riquewihr, built into the original defensive wall. Today it is a museum where you may discover the history of Riquewihr from the 13th to the 17th century.
There is so much to see, I recommend getting the map and spending at least a couple of hours to truly discover the architecture and history of Riquewihr.
Pro Tip: If you’re tired, you can opt for the little tourist train, which runs from April through October.
Wine Tasting In Riquewihr
Riquewihr is part of the Alsace Wine Route and is famous for its Grand Cru vineyards.
Two of the top winemakers in Riquewihr are Famille Hugel and Dopff au Moulin. Famille Hugel has a tasting room on the main street, very easy to spot. Dopff au Moulin is near the north entrance of the village but outside the walls. You’ll recognize it for the sign paying homage to the windmill that used to dominate the property.
Pro Tip: You can also hike through the vineyards to nearby the villages of Zellenberg and Kientzheim.
Gastronomy is a big part of the culture of Alsace. In Riquewihr alone, there are about 30 restaurants! There is even a Michelin star restaurant, La Table du Gourmet.
The cuisine of Alsace is a combination of French and German influences. Some dishes you must try are tarte flambé, foie gras, spaetzle, kugelhopf, quiche, pretzels, and Muenster cheese.
Riquewihr is a good place to pick up regional food items as gifts. You’ll also see many objects with hearts and storks on them. The stork is a symbol of Alsace and many stories and legends surround them. One legend is that if you see a stork flying above your house, a baby is on the way.
Alsace is also known for Christmas markets and Riquewihr has a Christmas shop that is open year round. This is a beautiful shop and the perfect place to buy yourself something that will forever remind you of your trip.
Pro Tip: The streets can be challenging because the cobblestones are uneven. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes. A walking stick might also be handy for balance.
Stay In Riquewihr
Most people come to Riquewihr just for the day. While it is certainly possible to have a wonderful meal, taste some wine, and admire the winemakers’ houses in just one day, if you can spend the night, you will have the town to yourself. After dinner, almost all of the tourists leave and you’ll be able to walk the village without the crowds. You will surely imagine you are living in the town.
Pro Tip: This is a nice time to try some night photography, too. You’re guaranteed to get some shots with no people in them!
Travel To Riquewihr
Visiting Riquewihr is very easy by car. It is only 30 minutes from Colmar, the second-largest city in Alsace. You’ll need to park outside the ancient city walls.
If you’re arriving in the Alsace region by air, I recommend using the airport in Basel or Zurich. However, you can also fly into Frankfurt or Paris.
And if you’re curious, France contains many quaint cities and towns that rival the lure of metro places like Paris: