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Kaysersberg in Alsace

Posted 07 Sep 2017

France is full of quaint riverside villages, with their patio cafes and painted shutters. Kaysersberg, one of the jewels in the French crown, has just been voted its prettiest village.

Situated in the Loire, it’s a perfect stop-off point on our Alsace Route du Vin cycling holiday. Here are three things you’ll love about this medieval French town.

Vineyard-blue-sky

1. Beauty and grandeur

Kaysersberg is distinctive for its beautiful half-timbered houses dotted with geranium-filled window-boxes. It’s also home to a number of historical buildings, such as the charming Sainte-Croix church which houses an impressive altarpiece by Jean Bongart. Incredibly intricate, the piece depicts religious scenes and is thought to date back to the 16th century.

The grand Château de Kaysersberg overlooks much of the town. Built in the 13th century, it takes the form of a formidable, cylindrical keep with four-metre-thick walls. Admire the unusual and colourful gothic windows of the castle, or take the 100 steps up to the top to discover panoramic views of Kaysersberg.

kaysersberg-village-flowers

2. Epicurean excellence

Good food and wine are very much a way of life here. Be sure to sample some of the Loire Valley's most famous vineyard varieties, including Sancerre. Grown on the left bank of the Loire, Sancerre is known for its dry quality and citrus fruit flavour. After a long cycle, drop in at any one of the cafes and restaurants lining the streets of this medieval town for some authentic Alsatian delicacies.

Begin at the Caveau du Schlossberg to try pork cheeks braised with beer in a Pinot Noir sauce, then tuck into a classic apple strudel with plenty of ice cream. It’s the perfect cycling fuel. Or, head to the Hassenforder restaurant to enjoy a rustic menu surrounded by an authentic 17th-century interior. Here, you can fill up on hearty dishes like Coq au Riesling and duck breast with honey.

Kaysersberg-town-centre

3. Location, location, location

Kaysersberg is situated in the Loire Valley, in close proximity to vineyards such as the riverside Touraine Mesland, which has been growing the juicy Gamay grape since 1838. You'll also be within easy reach of a number of other postcard-perfect villages, such as Ribeauville and Riquewihr.

Ribeauville is just 45 minutes from Kaysersberg by bike, and is one of the oldest towns in the Alsace region, dating back to the Middle Ages. This is the place to lose yourself in historical architecture, as it's still home to three atmospheric and well-preserved castles. Haut-Ribeaupierre castle is the highest and most impressive at an altitude of 640 metres, and features a distinctive round keep. The town also still has a number of original town halls and defence towers, which are now surrounded by lively restaurants, cafes and bars.

Riquewihr is just over an hour’s cycle away, and is well worth a visit; it enjoys a lush and verdant location between the plains of Alsace and the Vosges Mountains. Riquewhir’s narrow streets have remained relatively unchanged over the centuries, and some of the half-timber houses still boast their original 16th- and 17th-century features - take the Nailmaker's House, where male figures have been carved into the posts. Don't miss the Winemaker’s House, which still retains many of the original tools used in the 16th century wine trade.

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