Do you know the Ried d’Alsace? It is a natural region located in the Alsace plain, east of
. You may not have heard of the Alsatian plain yet, it is often less known. However, there is not only the Wine Route to visit in Alsace! Let me tell you more and give you some ideas of what to do in the area…To get off the beaten track in Alsace!
The region of the Grand Ried, a refuge of biodiversity
Let’s start with a mini-course of Alsatian geography to situate you all that. Alsace is located between two mountains: the Vosges in the west and the Black Forest (in Germany) in the east. They formed one and the same mountain 65 million years ago, but their breakage gave way to our beautiful Alsace. From west to east, we now have the Vosges, then the hills under the Vosges (the famous Vosges Piedmont hosting the vineyards of the Wine Route), then the plain of Alsace and finally the Rhine (natural border with our German neighbors).
The ried, which means reed, designates by extension a region made of flooded meadows and lush forest (the Rhine forest in this case). The Grand Ried designates the part of the ried located in the plain between Strasbourg and Colmar, in central Alsace. The ried of Alsace is a very interesting region but still very unknown to the tourists.
Why interesting? Because the Alsatian ried is a remarkable refuge of biodiversity, an area where you can observe many animals, walk through an amazing and preserved nature (the flooded meadows of the ried in winter offer quite unique panoramas!), but also find excellent local products and do nice activities (including ecotourism outings).
So, shall I take you? Here are some ideas of visits, activities and things to do in the Ried d’Alsace (non-exhaustive list, as always, but which will be completed as I discover more!).
Take a boat trip on the Ill with the Ried boatman
The flat-bottomed boat trip is a must in the Ried. This unusual visit allows you to discover, at the slow rhythm of a boat, its so particular landscapes as well as its fauna, its flora, its history and even its legends! Click here to read my article about my boat trip with the Batelier du Ried.
Do an activity at the House of Nature, the Ried and Central Alsace
The Nature House in Muttersholz is an interesting place. For its building, already, designed to integrate into its environment. For its gourmet distributor, which allows you to buy delicious local products at any time (ried tomme, bear garlic pesto, ried apple juice, honey, jams… A treat!). For its Sensoried barefoot trail, too, which I also tell you about in this article.
But also, and this is probably the most important, for the numerous nature outings that are proposed. The Maison de la Nature is indeed a very dynamic place and a key player in Alsace in the field of ecotourism and environmental awareness.
For example, you can go and see the deer in the Illwald with a guide, take a walk on the theme of edible plants and learn how to cook them, participate in a basket-making workshop, a permaculture course, go and listen to the bellowing of the stag… In short, there is a vast offer that changes every month!
Marvel at the Abbey of Ebersmunster
Here is a place that you probably don’t expect to find on your trip to the Ried: the small, peaceful village ofEbersmunster is home to theAbbey of Saint-Maurice, a splendid abbey church dating from the 18th century and richly decorated in the baroque style. Wow effect guaranteed! Click here to read the dedicated article.
Discover the making of beer at the Brasseurs du Ried (and eat a piece!)
In Alsace, we have a certain beer culture, and there are some very good micro-breweries in the region. The brewery Les Brasseurs du Ried is one of them: it produces delicious craft beers and opens its doors to visitors who want to discover how beer is made.
As a bonus, the Brasserie du Ried has a Bierstub and a Biergarten where you can take a break to enjoy a beer with a tarte flambée, for example, inside or in the garden. It’s a place I love!
Admire fallow deer in the Illwald reserve
If you want to observe fallow deer in the wild, go to the Illwald reserve, which hosts the only community of wild fallow deer in France. Incredible, isn’t it? It will be necessary to be patient, to be discreet and to have a little bit of luck: we do not see them every time.
Drink a tea in the Zen atmosphere of the Jardins de Gaïa
Les Jardins de Gaïa is an Alsatian company specialized in organic and fair trade teas. Their teas are excellent and, good news, it is possible to buy them directly in their store, but also to take a break in their Tea House. The tea house of Les Jardins de Gaïa is a very pleasant zen place, especially in fine weather because of the beautiful terrace. In addition, activities are regularly organized, such as tea ceremonies. A nice place!
Walking barefoot in Sensoried
SensoRied is a free barefoot trail located at the Maison de la Nature in Muttersholtz. A great activity to do with your family! Click here to read the dedicated article.
Taste a matelote of the Ried
The ” matelote du ried” is a typical Alsatian speciality of the ried. It is composed of several freshwater fish (pike-perch, pike, eel, tench, perch, trout…) cooked with a white wine sauce and accompanied with noodles. It has become rare to find them but I recommend an excellent address: the restaurant Les Deux Clefs in Ebersmunster.
Take a walk with a greeter
A greeter is “a host, who voluntarily accompanies visitors passing through his town”. They are inhabitants who have the heart to share, through a stroll, their love for the territory. Sélestat has a good network of greeters, and among them two inhabitants of the ried!
Arsène and Robert, two friends from Muttersholtz, are in love with the landscapes of the ried, which they walk almost daily. They offer to take you for a walk with them: you will walk along the paths of the ried while enjoying anecdotes about life in the area. Really nice!
Take a bike ride
Cycling is the best way to discover a territory! And as the Ried is quite flat, you have no excuse, it’s easy 😉 I suggest you here a bicycle loop in the Ried which is about 40 km long, or 3 hours of cycling, and which will make you discover the landscapes as well as the built heritage, without forgetting the lakes for a refreshing swim! Not a bad program, right?
Buy excellent local products at the farms
You can really findexcellent local products in the ried: what a treat! In addition to the practical distributor of the Maison de la Nature that I mentioned above, here are a few quality addresses (non-exhaustive list of course!):
- ThePeterFarm in Muttersholtz is a farm with the Demeter label, which works according to the principles of biodynamics. You can find excellent fruits and vegetables, but also bread, dairy products, apple juice…
- Les Saveurs du Ried in Holtzwihr, producers of fruits, vegetables, jams and fruit juices. All organic.
- The Durr Farm in Boofzheim, a farm of breeding and polyculture which proposes to the sale of cheeses, dairy products, delicatessen and meat. All organic as well.