Headwater - Contrasts of Alsace and the Vosges Self-Guided Walk

9 days
1'702 CHF
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Trip code: 
Way to Travel:
Walking & Trekking
Min age:

Incorporating both Alsace's Route des Vins and the picturesque Vosges National Park, this 8-night walking holiday showcases the very best that the region has to offer.

Your holiday starts in the heart of the wine country and takes you west through ancient forest and into the Vosges Mountains, straddling the French and German border. Here you'll discover the crumbling ruins of once-mighty hilltop castles and vivid reminders of Europe's wartime past. 


  • Walk along the world-famous Camino de Santiago
  • Authentic medieval villages on the Alsace Wine Route including France's 2nd most beautiful village, Riquewihr
  • Off-the-beaten-track walking in the picturesque Vosges National Park
  • Ancient forest and awe-inspiring hilltop chateaux
  • Sweeping vineyards (some with Grand Cru status) and some of the region's finest wine producers
  • Stay in one of France's oldest Auberges in Ribeauville

Key information

  • 8 Nights, hotel-to-hotel
  • 6 Days walking (Including one optional walk)
  • Headwater wine service 
  • Route notes and maps provided 
  • Luggage transfers between hotels
  • Countries visited: France

What's included

  • All accommodation
  • Continental breakfasts and 6 evening meals
  • Headwater wine service 
  • Route notes and maps provided 
  • Luggage transfers between hotels

What's not included

  • Visas and vaccinations
  • Travel insurance
  • Single supplements
Call for general departures:
056 631 86 64
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.


Days of Walking & Trekking

Peaceful walks mainly through forests, vineyards and meadows but walking boots are strongly advised. Terrain is rocky in places and there are climbs on almost every day but there should be no need of a head for heights.

Day by day breakdown
Day 213.0km/8.0miles
Day 416.0km/10.0miles
Day 510.0km/7.0miles
Day 613.0km/8.0miles
Day 715.0km/10.0miles
Day 819.0km/12.0miles

Responsible Travel

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 


  • Day 1

    Arrive in Ammerschwihr

    Arrive at your hotel in time for dinner. (Staying at Aux Armes de France)

    Meals included: Dinner
  • Day 2

    Ammerschwihr to Ribeauville

    An opportunity to warm your legs up, today starts with a gentle walk to the neighbouring town of Kaysersberg, one of the finest and fastest growing wine areas in the Alsace with beautiful views of the Vosges. After an easy climb to the remains of the town's 13th century chateau, you'll join the world-famous pilgrimage route, the Camino de Santiago, and traverse glorious vineyards to the medieval villages of Riquewihr and Ribeauville. It's worth spending some time in both as the former is France's 2nd most beautiful village whilst the latter is home to some of the region's best winemakers, including the Bott Freres - make sure you stop at the wineries for a tasting! Straddling the French and German border, Alsace is a region steeped in tradition with a lot to offer walkers. This holiday incorporates both sides of Alsace to reveal the sun-soaked, vineyard covered Route des Vins as well as the picturesque, atmospheric Vosges National Park. (Staying at Hotel de la Tour)

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 3

    At Ribeauville

    You have several options today but we suggest spending time in the picture-perfect town of Ribeauville, on the Route des Vins. Explore the brightly coloured streets and squares decorated with Renaissance fountains or pay a visit to some of the most respected wineries in the local area including the Maison Trimbach, Domaine Andre Kientzler, Jean Sipp and the Cave de Ribeauville - the oldest wine cooperative in France. Alternatively, enjoy a walk to the fortified town of Bergheim and discover its fascinating witch-trial past, or perhaps take a bus to Selestat, a city of art, history and exceptional architectural heritage. (Staying at Hotel de la Tour)

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 4

    Ribeauville to Thannenkirch

    Today starts with a fairly steep but thoroughly rewarding climb into the Vosges Mountains where you'll find the majestic ruins of the Three Castles of the Lords of Ribeaupierre - Saint-Ulrich, Girsberg and Haut-Ribeaupierre which offer incredible views over Ribeauville and the surrounding plains. Rejoining the Camino de Santiago you'll arrive in the charming wine village of Rodern, renowned for its excellent Pinot Noir wines and an ideal place for a leisurely lunch and spot of tasting. Continue on to Thannenkirch and enjoy the relaxing spa facilities at your hotel. (Staying at Le Clos des Sources)

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 5

    At Thannenkirch

    You have the opportunity to explore some of the 60km of walking trails which surround Thannenkirch today, but we highly recommend following the well-marked GR5 walking path up to the incredible Chateau du Haut-Koenigsbourg. It's easy to get lost in this imposing chateau which is perfectly located above the Alsatian plains, with the Route des Vins and Germany to the east, and the Vosges Mountains to the west. For something a little less strenuous, you could always spend the day relaxing in your hotel spa. (Staying at Le Clos des Sources)

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 6

    Thannenkirch to Lapoutroie

    After breakfast, we'll transfer you (25 mins) to the start of your walk in Aubure - you might want to pick up some supplies in Thannenkirch or Aubure as there are plenty of scenic picnic spots on today's walk! Descending on ancient forest paths you'll enjoy superb views towards Hachimette and Lapoutroie, as you make your way to Freland, home to the Maison du Pays Welche museum, a fascinating insight into the history, traditions and customs of the local people. Quiet lanes and footpaths lead you to the idyllic mountain village of Lapoutroie and your hotel, Les Alisiers, where you'll find a wonderful restaurant with panoramic views over the Vosges! (Staying at Hotel Les Alisiers)

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 7

    At Lapoutroie

    Today's optional walk is a memorable one. You'll follow the Tete des Faux walking trail through atmospheric forest, passing old WWI bunkers and infirmaries now reclaimed by nature, to the remains of the front line between France and Germany. It was atop the summit of the Tete des Faux that the two sides engaged in a bloody stalemate just 30 metres from each other during the First World War - the graveyards for each are currently listed as national historical monuments. You may wish to walk down to Le Bonhomme for a spot of lunch afterwards, before walking back to Lapoutroie. (Staying at Hotel Les Alisiers)

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 8

    Lapoutroie to Ammerschwihr

    It's all about the idyllic scenery today, starting with an undulating woodland walk down to the little village of Orbey, nestled in the picturesque Vallee de Kaysersberg - here you'll find several cafes and shops where you can stock up on provisions for the day! Atmospheric woodland and pretty meadows take you to the little mountain village of Labaroche and on to Trois-Epis, the perfect place to pick up some traditional Alsatian pastries. Perhaps enjoy them with a superb view over the Vosges, after a walk up to the Galtz Monument just outside the village! Don't miss the striking hilltop remains of the Chateau du Wineck in Katzenthal before winding your way through the vineyards back to Ammerschwihr; how about a spot of wine-tasting to celebrate your walking achievements? (Staying at Aux Armes de France)

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 9

    Leave Ammerschwihr

    Meals included: Breakfast
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Essential Info




There are no specific health risks.

Eating and Drinking

Continental breakfasts and 6 evening meals.

Although traditional Alsatian cuisine is originally a peasant cuisine featuring potatoes, cabbage, beef and pork as the main ingredients, there are now some 30 Michelin starred restaurants in the Alsace region, offering visually spectacular and delicious, locally sourced, dishes. With two ‘starred’ restaurants in Kaysersberg, one in Riquewihr and one in Ammerschwihr, along with several others featured in the Michelin guide, there is plenty of top quality dining to choose from along your route.
Alsatian cuisine features a lot of different pies, long simmered or stewed dishes like the traditional baeckeoffe (a blend of 3 meats - representing the three religions present in Alsace: beef for Catholics, pork for Protestants, and lamb for Jews - and potatoes, cooked for almost a day in a terracotta terrine sealed with bread dough). There is also the famous tarte flambée (flammekeuche in Alsatian dialect), a thin dough covered in cream, chopped onions and diced bacon.


Alsace offers an ideal climate for walking, with pleasant temperatures and high levels of sunshine. The warmest month to visit is July, with an average temperature of 20oC. The region is much drier than some of the neighbouring regions, Colmar is France's second driest town. The wettest month to visit is May, so remember your waterproofs.

Is this trip for you?

Activity level: Leisurely/Moderate

This is a self-guided tour, as such there will be no group or tour leader and you are free to complete the walks at your own pace. Please bear in mind that although this is a self-guided holiday, the atmosphere in the hotels tends to be quite social and they will sometimes place walkers together at breakfast and dinner. We have suggested that 8yrs is the minimum age for this trip, but as it is self-guided and you will be leading your own family we will ultimately leave this decision up to you.

You'll enjoy idyllic walking through fragrant pine forest and sprawling vineyards as you hop between the storybook villages and towns so typical of the Alsace region - think narrow streets filled with colourful, half-timbered houses and shops selling traditional, local wares (make sure you look out for the delightful Christmas shop in Riquewihr)! Connected by the world-famous Camino de Santiago, the places you visit are home to some of the region's finest wine producers and you'll have plenty of opportunity to stop for tastings.

Tearing yourself away from the Route des Vins, you'll head west into the Vosges Mountains, where you'll discover secluded woodland hermitages and the remains of once-grand hilltop castles. Here you have some truly inspiring 'rest day' options. A walk up to the incredible, C12 Chateau du Haut-Koenigsbourg affords mesmerising views across the entire Alsatian Plain as far as the Black Forest, while following the Tete des Faux walking trail you'll pass abandoned WWI fortifications and witness the remains of the former front line between France and Germany. A bit of light relief then as you return to the vineyards and make your way back to idyllic Ammerschwihr. 

Call for general departures:
056 631 86 64
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.



All of the hotels we've picked for you offer great local cuisine along with superb wine lists! Your hotel in Ammerschwihr is only a short walk from several wine cellars in this typical Alsatian village whilst the hotel in Ribeauville dates back to the 17th Century and was formerly used in the family's winery business. In Thannenkirch your hotel is nestled beautifully at the foot of the Taennchel Mountain, with an indoor swimming pool and spa; while your hilltop hotel in Lapoutroie boasts an impressive restaurant with panoramic views over the Vosges.

Call for general departures:
056 631 86 64
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

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Dates & Prices

An overview of flight options

Exodus is committed to making joining our tours as easy as possible, wherever you live. We generally only block book seats from London, but this certainly does not mean that you need to fly from there. Depending on the route and airlines available, there will usually be various options available for those who want to fly from their local airport.

This page aims to provide a useful overview of the options available to our clients. However, the best flight arrangements should be tailored to your personal requirements, so please contact our Sales team for expert advice.


What kind of options do I have ?

1. We can book for you: Flights from anywhere in the world - not via London  

Depending on the route, this may be direct or via an overseas hub like Amsterdam, the Middle East or elsewhere. On short haul routes there may be direct flights with low cost airlines, charter flights or scheduled airlines. Exodus can book most, but not all, of these for you. The most appropriate airline may be different to that which we use for the group flight from London, but many people now travel on different airlines and meet up with their fellow passengers at the destination.

Pros Cons
  • May be the most direct route
  • Often the extra fare compared to the London flight is minimal.
  • As you will be in the hands a single airline for your entire journey, the airline will be responsible for your bags and your connections.
  • You may not be able to join the group transfers. However, we can usually arrange private transfers, or book your flights to try and coincide with the group transfers. See notes on transfer arrangements below.


2. We can book for you: Connecting flights from your local airport to London

Exodus can book connecting flights to London so you can join the group flight there. Connecting times will be followed according to airline advice, or as requested by clients. There are two types of fares we can use for this option: a 'through-fare' or a 'published fare'.
a) A 'through-fare' is where you will be in the main airline's care throughout. You change planes, but your bags are checked all the way through to your final destination. 

b) A 'published fare' ticket is completely seperate from your onward ticket from London. It is usually cheaper than a through-fare but will need to be paid for and issued as soon as it is booked. This can be a problem if your tour has not yet reached minimum numbers. On 'published fares' neither airline is aware that you have connecting flights, so Exodus is responsible for timing your connection, not the airlines involved. The tickets are also usually non changeable and non refundable.

Pros Cons
  • Depending on the fare type, Exodus or the airline is responsible for flight connections.
  • Through fare tickets can be expensive.
  • On a published fare, tickets must be issued immediately; tickets on published fares can be very difficult to change if onward flight times change; bags are not checked though to your final destination.
  • Published fares are non-refundable.


3. Booking some or all of the flights yourself

You can also book connecting air travel yourself, either to London, or all the way to the start point. There may be certain airlines or routes we don't have access to, so this is always an option. However, if you make your own travel arrangements you become liable for any delays, cancellations or missed connections, and Exodus is not required to offer refunds if you have trouble reaching the start of your trip.

Pros Cons
  • You might find cheaper fares, or routes not available to Exodus.
  • You are responsible for any delays or missed connections, and the cost of the tour is not protected should you miss your flight be cancelled.


 Notes on transfer arrangements

Sometimes it is possible to travel on a different airline to the group flight from London. Where this is the case, we need to think about ensuring you meet up with the group with minimum extra cost and hassle.

  • On certain trips, it is easy to arrive on a different flight and still meet the group at the hotel with time in hand. We can usually arrange private transfers (at extra cost) or offer advice on taking a taxi to the start hotel.
  • On other trips (especially in Europe), the transfer meets the group flight and then travels some distance to the first night's accommodation. Where this is the case, our Sales team will try to arrange flights that arrive before (and depart after) the group. However, we do have to make it clear in your final documentation that if your flights are delayed, the transfer cannot wait for you. While Exodus or our local operators will do what we can to help you reach the start point of the tour, any additional costs must be paid by the client. 


Next steps? 

Call our Sales team on: 0203 733 0698

Email your query: [email protected]

Call us on 056 631 86 64