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Taxis on wine route

Ottawa, Ontario
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Taxis on wine route

We plan to spend a full day exploring the Alsace wine route while visiting Basel in July. As for now, we plan to visit Riquewhir, Ribeauville, Eguisheim and Turquheim as well as Colmar and if time, the castle and/or monkey mountain near Selestat (I know I need to weed this down). The plan until now was to rent a car but I noticed reading one of my guidebooks that taxis may be readily available. I already checked into the bus routes and that just won't work for us. So, as a family of 5 with two adults and 3 children, is it feasible to take a taxi from place to place instead of renting a car in Basel?

Alsace, France
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1. Re: Taxis on wine route

You are absolutely right about the bus timings not being suitable for your visit. But I'm not happy with the thought that taxis might be readily available. Yes in Colmar (at the station) and perhaps in Selestat, but not in the villages, where you won't find a rank of taxis waiting hungrily for your custom. Most taxi companies would need to be prebooked by phoning a 'home' number.

I also have reservations about how much you'll get done in the day depending on your itinerary, and don't think what you are planning is possible. However you have left out a lot of info about where you are starting from (presumably Basel) and where you are getting back to.

I suggest that you consider asking your Basel hotel if they could get a quote for a day's transportation from your hotel back to your hotel from a local company.

Basel to Eguisheim is approx 1 hour's drive, and you'll need at least an hour here or more - walk the Ramparts (30 mins) Leon IX chapel, the main street and its shops (let's be reasonable!!!) and a coffee and a 'comfort stop' especially for the children! Colmar is a further 20 mins drive, you'll need at least 3 hours for Colmer (Petite Venise, Unterlinden Museum (you CAN'T miss the Issenheim Altarpiece and the children will enjoy the coats of arms and the dolls houses), the Cathedral, the Little Train, and the Toy Museum (musée du jouet)) plus snacks and 'comfort stops', then it's approx 30 mins north to Riquewihr ... (get the taxi to drop you and pick you up at a certain time because the parking can be difficult), main street, Kathe Wohlfahrt Christmas shop, drink and 'comfort stop' if not a wine tasting!, then on to Ribeauvillé - approx 20 mins. From Ribeauvillé to Basel allow approx 1.5 hours.

This should give you some idea of timings. If you wanted to include the Monkey Mountain and/or Haut-Koenigsbourg (and not forgetting the Butterflies and the Stork Centre at Riquewihr) for your youngsters, you'd need to scrap at least two village stops ..... so you'd be looking at Basel to Colmar, then Colmar to Riquewihr and then one or both of the others which look tantalisingly close to the main road, but are infact up in the mountains and are reached by village roads with plenty of S bends thus taking longer than you'd think. (I await being told off by other posters for this, but if you have a Basel-based driver, then s/he also will be visiting these roads for the first time, hence the need to drive carefully.)

Please re-evaluate your timings and your wishes (bearing in mind the ages of your children). I think you could have a lovely day but you won't manage to get as much done as you might wish. Also you haven't said exactly when you're travelling and this may make a difference to your timings ... school holidays, country/public holidays (14 July) and a lot of visitors come to Alsace for short visits in July!

Ottawa, Ontario
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2. Re: Taxis on wine route

LOL. Oh my! Thank you so much for the wonderful information. So, clearly I need to weed things out a bit.

Just to provide a bit of info, we're staying in an apartement in Basel for 5 weeks (July 5th to August 11). During that time we'll be 5 nights in Paris and 6 nights traveling around Switzerland. Otherwise we'll be doing daytrips from Basel. We'll have a Swiss Pass so in an attempt to minimize costs, we only plan two daytrips outside of Switzerland, opting instead to do most daytrips in Switzerland where our travel costs are already covered. Those day trips will likely take place at the end of our trip when our Swiss Pass is no longer valid (we're there for 35days but pass is only good for 30days) Right now, the plan is one day in Black Forest and one day in Alsace.

I really do realize that my wish list is too long. I guess the key stops would be Turkheim (someone has recommended a wonderful winery there), Riquewhir and Ribeauville (perhaps taking the little train in Ribeauville that drives through Hunawhir. I'm not sure what it is about Colmar that doesn't entice me. Everyone recommends it but I just figured that we'd explore Little Venice area and the cathedral. We may change our mind when there. The plan was to save it until the end of the day so that we could explore as we wished before taking a train back to Basel.

Now, that said, I'd also like to see Equisheim if we could. And I think the kids would like Monkey Mountain (probably tired of castles by the end of our trip as we will have seen Versailles, Chilion and possibly Thun and Neuchatel by then).

Thank you for the advice on taxis. That's too bad that they're not so readily available. I like the idea of asking for a day driver from Basel. Since we're not staying at a hotel, I'm not sure how that would work. Perhaps the tourist information center would know of one. I really don't relish the idea of driving. It would limit the wine tasting but also, I can't drive a standard transmission so dear hubby, who is actually the one that likes wine, would have to be the driver. Plus, the price of a one day rental from Basel isn't cheap... and we'd probably have to rent for two days, since we won't get it back by the end of the day when they close.

Alsace, France
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3. Re: Taxis on wine route

If you have the possibility to do so, I'd suggest the following.

Day 1: Early train from Basel to Colmar (approx 1 hour).

Pick up pre-arranged rental car from Avis at the train station - say at 8 am.

Drive to Eguisheim - 15 mins south max (VERY easy drive).

Park in the main car park and stroll in to the centre (2 mins). Very few people will be there - a bonus.

Walk round the ramparts, do the other bits. Have a coffee and perhaps a nice cake (Edel's patisserie next to the fountain in the centre of the village is a good bet ... or have a late French breakfast).

Drive to Turckheim - approx 20 mins, explore the centre and buy things for a picnic lunch.

Drive (2 mins) to the Staub factory. Take the tiny road down the side to the stork park and kids playground. Let the kids let off steam and enjoy your lunch.

Now have a moment to taste some wine.

Drive to the Route du Vin and head north. Go to Haut-Koenigsbourg Castle.

Spend a night in the area of Ribeauvillé, perhaps having a short look here ... PERSONALLY (before I get shot down in flames) I don't think it's particularly special but worth a short look unless you want to go shopping .... there is a nice hotel at Thannenkirch with a pool so the kids can let off steam.

Day 2. Early departure for Riquewihr - if you can arrive before the rest of the visitors say before 9 am you'll have the place to yourselves almost. Allow an hour max.

Head up to the Monkey Mountain and 'go ape'! Allow an hour or two for this. There's a café where you can get an ice cream or a coffee. Don't bring food into the monkeys!!! It's not good for them and they're cheeky and can make a grab for it!! You'll be given special popcorn and be told how to give it to them by the caretakers.

Now make your way back to Colmar - probably use the A35 to save time. Drop off your car at Avis and spend a couple of hours looking at Colmar. Given the ages of your children perhaps you can content yourselves with exteriors of most places and take the little train if you get back in time. The 1900 carrousel and play area in the Champs de Mars gardens might help cheer up the little ones if they're fed up with 'culture', and there's a kiosk that serves child-friendly snacks!

Take the train back to Basel and to your accommodation.

That's just another thought that came to me from your reply .... so it's a case of train between Basel and Colmar and back, 2 days car hire with simple local roads, and one overnight.

Ottawa, Ontario
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4. Re: Taxis on wine route

Thank you Alsacienne!

We may end up doing two days but its unlikely we would stay overnight. Just an expense thing since we'd still be paying for our apt in Basel as well. I appreciate the two day plan though because it would work well if we do end up doing two days.

If we end up doing one day only, which would you head to first Riquewhir or Equisheim? I was thinking Riquewhir because I've heard so much about the overwhelming number of tourists that arrive there mid day. Is Turkheim less busy that Equisheim and Riquewhir?

Alsace, France
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5. Re: Taxis on wine route

Oh dear. It's so hard to choose. Perhaps Riquewihr especially if you can get there before 9 am. Turckheim is much more of a working village/town that serves as a dormitory town for Colmar, that doesn't get as much of its income from tourism. Tourists arrive in Riquewihr at all times, and before 9 or after 4 is probably the best time for Riquewihr. Eguisheim is less busy than Riquewihr.

It's hard to answer about the order of your visit because you will need your own wheels for both. Sufficit to say that Riquewihr is NORTH of Colmar (approx 35 mins) and Eguisheim is SOUTH (approx 15 mins). Sorry not to have given you more than my opinion, but hope your plans are starting to take shape.

I do understand why you'd not want to 'double book' accommodation, but it is only for one night and would make all the difference to your time in Alsace ...........;

Atlanta
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6. Re: Taxis on wine route

On the issue of additional cost for staying a nite in Alsace - well, you've come this far, and the cost of a one nite family room is probably not much more than the cost of another day trip's transportation. I'd recommend dropping Haut Koenigsburg because there's not much for kids to see, it's a wee bit out of the way, it can be crowded (esp on week-ends). Turckheim and Eguisheim are very laid back and pleasant, Riquewihr is touristy because it's a pretty walled town and, you know, there's a reason tourists go there. The kids would like the little tourist train in Colmar (and it's a good way to get oriented and save your tired legs). For that matter, you can take a little boat ride (arrange through Colmar tourist office).

Alsace, France
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7. Re: Taxis on wine route

If I remember correctly for the Colmar boat trip you just need to turn up at the departure point which is the bridge on the rue Turenne in Petite Venise between the tarte flambée restaurant and WIstub Brenner.

My opinion is that HK castle IS suitable for casparjj's children ... plenty of steps in towers, suits of armour and weapons, a garden within the castle, and when I was last there (not that long ago) there was a children's audioguide tour. It will certainly help keep them active, and fire their imaginations! The Monkey Mountain would also be good for them, and I've already mentioned play parks in Turckheim and central Colmar in a previous post.

But a night in Alsace is really a necessity to get the best out of this region if you want to see so much in such a short time. There are reasonable hotels, and there's always the Youth Hostel in the Mittelhardt region of Colmar or the Maison Martin Jund.

Ottawa, Ontario
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8. Re: Taxis on wine route

Thank you both. I really am starting to lean towards staying overnight but we'll have to see how things go. I'm thinking the week of Aug 5th. Is there any chance we'd be able to book a location the day before or is this something that we should plan in advance? Also, you've both mentioned places to stay in Colmar... what about a smaller location? Is Colmar a better place for one night?

Wihtout knowing what we'll actually see at Chilion, its hard to know whether its worth our time to visit HK castle. Is it similar to Chilion and the castle in Neuchatel or is it sufficiently different that it would warrant a stop? It truly is on the bottom of my list of 'to do's so it will be the first to be axed if time doesn't permit.

Can anyone advice on whether there is a special train ticket that covers Basel and the Alsace region? I know that Germany has the Badum-Wurremburg (sp?) ticket that is only 35euros or so which covers Basel to and from the Black Forest for five people. Is there something similar for Alsace?

Alsace, France
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9. Re: Taxis on wine route

I'm afraid I don't know about the Swiss châteaux you mention ... shame on me! However HK is a relaxed stroll without needed guided tours. If you are fully 'castled out', I recommend that you replace it with the Monkey Mountain - Montagne des Singes.

You MUST prebook accommodation. And unfortunately you can't usually hire a self-cateringlodging just for one night in high season here. You might be best off looking for a chain hotel where you can have three beds in one room and two in the other ... perhaps the Etap Hotel in Colmar might be a good idea.

The little villages are certainly no cheaper and whilst there are probably some very nice proprietors who are great with kids, I can't think of any, and the villages are often 'boutique' style accommodation with fancy prices .... though I do hope someone will chime in with some ideas. Colmar has a lot that is kid-friendly overnight .. two pools, two cinemas, playparks, nice safe streets to stroll on and get a late night coffee or icecream sundae etc. It also has McD and KFC as well as plenty of pizzerias if your children are craving home food too!! Do you have any 'advantage points' with any particular hotel group? I did suggest Colmar Youth Hostel too.

I don't think there's a specific Alsace train pass, but what you're hoping to see is not well-served by rail and will tie up your time quite tightly, and make the day stressful as to whether you'll make your next connection. You would do well to go to Basel Mulhouse Airport, and collect a prebooked car from the FRENCH SIDE ... (take the 50 bus from Basel train station to the airport and walk through to France on level 3 before collecting your car from level 2 on the French side .... saves money and time, plus the hire fees are likely to be less.) There are all the major rental agencies .... see euroairport.com/en/…car-hire.html for details.

Please remember that 1 August is the Swiss National Holiday and you might need to review all your travel plans in the light of this. 5 August is in the middle of the school holidays here and there is no special reason why this period should complicate your plans. However, 15 August is Assumption Day and is a public holiday not only here but elsewhere in Europe so do check your travel plans if you are in Europe on that day, as it may mean you'll have to consider changes!

Ottawa, Ontario
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10. Re: Taxis on wine route

Thank you Alsacienne! It's amusing, everyone says you must see Chilion Castle in Montreux yet you live so close but have never been. I expect its like me, living in Ottawa for 10 years now and never having been to Toronto, 4 hrs car ride away :-)

We actually do have quite a few advantage points for several hotel chains. I'll look into what is available in Colmar. I'll also look into the youth hostel.

Thank you for into re the train pass. I actually was just thinking of using it from Basel to Colmar and return, thinking it would be less expensive than individual tickets for everyone in the family. Too bad it doesn't exist.

hmm, car rental. You mention getting it at the airport. Any reason not to get it directly in Colmar? Then again, I guess if the tram goes to the airport, it would indeed be cheaper to get it there than get train tickets to Colmar and then rent a car. We had considered renting in Basel as well but it really did seem expensive. I'll have to look into the rental companies at the airport. I hadn't actually considered it, thinking it was pretty far out of our way.

I appreciate the info on dates. We plan to stay in Basel for July 31 and Aug 1 because of Swiss National Day. And unfortunately, we will have returned to Canada by August 15th (returning on the 11th).