This extraordinary 3-country trip begins by focusing on the tiny Alsatian "Plus Beaux Villages" of France during their spring splendor. Using the Rhine as our inspiration and guide, we’ll delve into the black forest of Germany, luxuriate at an award-winning spa, and get to know the locals in the splendidly charming city of Freiburg, the ancestral home of our trip leader. We’ll end this magnificent excursion in the art-filled town of Basel, Switzerland staying on the banks of the Rhine.
Here's a day-by-day itinerary for the trip.
Take the train to Colmar from Paris or Zurich (or whichever city you fly to internationally). Arrive and check into the charming central Hotel Colombier Suites where we’ll be staying for our first two nights. Transfers from Strasbourg will be available if that's more convenient.
This afternoon we’ll trip the old town of Colmar and visit the expansive and impressive food market, picking up a snack or two en route.
We'll meet again in the lobby around 7pm after having some time to refresh and relax. We’ll have a short get-to-know-you session over drinks discussing what adventures are in store for the week. Then we’ll head out for a local meal at the Wistub Le Cygne, where we’ll feel properly welcomed to Alsace!
Dinner and drinks
Colmar & Kaysersberg, France
This morning after breakfast at our hotel, we’ll head out to visit the WWI Memorial Museum in Le Linge, including the battle fields and trenches with our knowledgeable guide. Here we’ll learn a little bit about the complex history of the Alsace region.
After, we’ll explore the charming village of Kaysersberg with our local guide Benoit. We’ll savor a wine tasting with lunch with a well-known female vintner. In the late afternoon we’ll head back to Colmar for some rest and relaxation and to shop and explore on your own.
Tonight, we’ll enjoy a meal of Flammekueche - delicious Alsatian-style Pizza - in the nearby darling village of Eguisheim with some local beer.
Wine tasting and lunch
Today we depart for Freiburg, Germany where we’ll stay for the following two nights at the Hotel Columbi.
Freiburg is where Katrin’s family is from. After checking in, we'll take a tour of the town and Katrin will show us some of her favorite shops in this small but terribly charming and sophisticated German town. Or, if you prefer you can relax and have a swim at the hotel’s indoor pool and spa.
Tonight, we’ll be sampling some local German delicacies at a historic beer garden.
As today is market day in Freiburg, Katrin will show us the market as well as the main cathedral which dates back to 1,200 AD – both are situated on the picturesque central square.
After the traditional lunch of a sausage at the famous stall on the cathedral square, we’ll partake in a local wine tasting.
During your free time this afternoon you may want to visit the Augustiner Museum, home to an impressive collection of paintings from the Middle Ages as well as the Baroque period.
This evening we’ll head off to visit a beautiful cloister and walk through the vineyards and dine on the best pork/veal Schnitzel you’ve ever tasted. (Choices for vegetarians are available).
Freiburg & Oberried, Germany
After breakfast, we’ll head up into the mountains and to visit a luxurious spa, Der Oschberghof. Enjoy a massage or other treatment (one of which is included in trip, but feel free to pamper yourself with more)! After our spa time, we'll sot for a nice lunch outside on the terrace (weather permitting). On the way back to Freiburg we’ll stop in at a cuckoo clock factory that has many wonderful treasures for sale.
This afternoon is at leisure with an optional walk led by Katrin.
Finally, we’ll enjoy a sumptuous meal with wine back at our hotel.
Today, en-route to Basel, we’ll stop at the Vitra Design Museum with a campus full of architect designed buildings by the likes of Gehry, Tando Ando etc.
We shall lunch at the Beyeler Foundation designed by Renzo Piano, one of the most important museums in Europe and afterwards visit the beautiful collection and gardens.
Once in Basel, we'll check-in to the delightful and beautifully designed Krafft Hotel overlooking the Rhine River.
We'll have time to explore Basel a bit before dining on some Swiss classics in central Basel.
Today after breakfast we’ll enjoy a lovely boat ride along the Rhine River.
Then we’ll take a short trip to the Old Town with a stop into the ancient cathedral of Basel built over 1000 years ago.
Free time this afternoon: Optional Visit to the Kunstmusem with its collection of old masters through to contemporary artists. Or you can spend time on your own shopping and exploring Basel.
We’ll dine this evening at a grand yet charming Swiss classic and celebrate our wonderful week together treasuring the lasting friendships we’ve made.
Today after breakfast at our hotel, it's time to say, au revior, auf Wiedersehen. It will be sad to say goodbye to this lovely part of the world, and the new friends you've made. But you'll have memories for a lifetime!
To start your journey home, we'll drop you at the train station or airport in Basel. You should train or fly from Basel to the most convenient international city (probably Paris or Zurich) for your flight home.
On the edge of the river, in the heart of Colmar's "Little Venice", the Colombier Suites exudes the charm of a traditional, half-timbered Alsatian house. Dating from the 18th Century, it combines tradition and modernity.
The Colombi, situated on the outskirts of the picturesque historic area of Freiburg, is the perfect starting point for a stroll around the city.
The historic Hotel Krafft has stood prominently on the banks of the Rhine since its founding in 1873. But the design is anything but fuddy-duddy, its chic and terribly gorgeous.
A 25-year resident in her adopted Paris. Katrin has turned from a career as an international literary agent to sharing her passion for travel and art. She speaks 5 languages fluently and when not guiding visitors in France, is an active translator in the film industry. She's always keen to find the perfect view, the ideal bistro and hidden gem to make the trips she leads seamless and memorable.
Rhine. The river that, somewhere out there, has broken free
With vineyards and castles, medieval towns and buzzing cities, the Rhine region has some of the most spectacular and in-demand scenery. Make your way down the river (moving south to north, as the river flows) and enjoy sightseeing excursions as you go.
Everything stated in itinerary above including most meals plus wine or beer with dinner
All meals including some wine or beer with dinner
All trips, tastings and museum entries as indicated
All transport in the three countries by van + a boat ride
A spa treatment at the Black Forest hotel and spa.
Your international flights & trains to and from the start and finish of the trip.
All personal souvenir purchases
Any museum entries that you wish to go to during your down time
Additional spa treatments
Extra wine or beer beyond what is offered
Travel and Medical Insurance (required)
Katrin is a delight. The Design museum was so interesting. Colmar village center was charming. The variety and quality of meals was amazing. Freiburg was delightful. Derryl Z., Alameda CA, USA
2022 Post-trip survey response
I just loved visiting the churches and learning about the towns - when they were built, and how the amazing churches are still standing throughout the years. Yubia J, Kansas City, MO, USA
2022 Post-trip survey response
You are going to want to fly in Charles De Gauthlle Airport or the Zurich Airport and take the train to Colmar.
The trip officially starts on the afternoon of March 15th, but if you are traveling across an ocean to get to Paris, you may want to consider arriving a day early so you have time to relax and get acclimated to the local time zone. If you do decide to arrive early, please let us know and we will take care of booking your room for you and make sure that you are kept in the same room as you will be in when the trip starts.
We will have a zoom call about 6 weeks before the trip starts to discuss all that information and give you a packing list.Here is a great website that we love that will help you with packing and travel trips.
The weather in May is moderately chilly with a gentle breeze, with average highs of 65°F (19°C) and lows of 45°F (7°C).
Your trip leader will be Karin Hodapp. Karin is a 25-year resident in her adopted Paris. Katrin has turned from a career as an international literary agent to sharing her passion for travel and art. She speaks 5 languages fluently and when not guiding visitors in France, is an active translator in the film industry. She's always keen to find the perfect view, the ideal bistro and hidden gem to make the trips she leads seamless and memorable.