The Most Beautiful Village in all of France
Well, at least one of them.
It was named one of the most beautiful villages in France by the association Le Plus Beaux Villages de France.
And it’s not hard to see why.
Riquewihr (pronounced Ricky-uh-vee-yuh) dates back to the 8th century when it was founded by a Frenchman named Roche. The original name was Roche Villa, hence the pronunciation. And as this area flip flopped throughout history between Germany and France, the spelling is actually German, as is the main language for most of today’s residents.
This is one of the most well preserved medieval towns you will ever see despite the fact that it has seen multiple wars and even a recent fire. It is absolutely breathtaking.
Riquewihr is surrounded by vineyards on one side and the Vosges mountains on the other. I’m so jealous of the people who live here. I mean, really. How could you ever have a bad day when you’re constantly surrounded by such beauty? And even though the village is rather small – at least the center area – it never gets old.
The first time I went to Riquewihr was also my husband’s first time. I had never heard of the place, and neither had he. But my father-in-law knew it very well and suggested it to us as a day trip. I didn’t look it up before we went, so I had absolutley no idea what to expect.
I was totally in awe. I had never, in all of my life, seen anything like this.
Except maybe in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.
I’m not ashamed to admit that I actually forced my poor husband to listen to the Beauty and the Beast soundtrack through most of this trip. And all subsequent trips.
I read somewhere that Disney used the villages of the Alsace region as inspiration for Belle’s village. Now, whether that’s true or not, I really don’t know. But I certainly wouldn’t be surprised if that was the case.
What doesn’t come through in these pictures is the smell. Oh, the pastries! As you walk through the streets, you are overwhelmed at every turn with the most delicious aromas. Fresh crepes, breads, cakes, and chocolate everything.
We ate so many pastries that we weren’t able to eat dinner. And we were totally fine with that.
The only thing that could make this village any more picture perfect would be snow.
As for what we actually did while we were there – we mostly just explored all of the little side streets. We ate a whole lot of French desserts. And, on a different trip, we took a mini-train ride up through the vineyards. I really enjoyed that because you get such a great view of the surrounding landscape.
It’s funny, the village is so small, and it seems like there are only a handful of things to do, so you would only ever need to visit it once. But, there is so much about Riquewihr that is impressive and unique and idyllic even, that you actually can’t take it all in with just one visit.
There isn’t a whole lot of information about Riquewihr online (especially in English), but there are tons of reviews on TripAdvisor. And there are some helpful tips on their website. They also have a Christmas Market every year. I haven’t been to it yet, but you can bet it’s on my bucket list!
I would recommend driving into Riquewihr by car – regardless of which direction you’re coming from – so that you can take your time and even stop for pictures. I thought the drive through the Alsace region, along the foot of the mountains, was almost as pretty as the village itself.
I mean, it’s not the greatest picture, but….