Sundgau, Southern Alsace, Cycling Paradise,is a collection of 9 routes (330 km)where pleasure and discovery go togetherin one of the loveliest regionsof Alsace, authentic, mysterious andpreserved from mass tourism.This 1/75 000 scale map, available freeof charge from three Tourist Offices inthe Sundgau, presents 9 cycling circuits,from 25 to 45 km, which includespecial cycle paths and small, quiet,sinuous routes that link up with themain tourist sites.
A small town huddled at the foot of a castle, the borough of the powerful Counts of Ferrette is nestled in the foothills of the Alsatian Jura... This town with a prestigious past will charm you with its narrow and romantic paths that lead to the lofty ruins of Ferrette Castle and the mysterious cave of the Dwarfs, the site of a famous legend.
Everything in the town refers to the history of the Counts of Ferrette who founded the most powerful seigneury, reigning with quasi-sovereign status for nearly two centuries during the Middle Ages. Today, Prince Albert II of Monaco still bears the title of Count of Ferrette because of his Grimaldi ancestor's marriage in 1777 with the heiress of the Mazarins.
Discover this charming little town, its castle, its church and its listed town hall, the Tourist Information Centre, numerous hiking trails, and its hidden Dwarfs' Cave at the foot of an impressive limestone gorge.
Things to do:
- Ferrette Walk, the castle and the Cave of the Dwarfs: 4.5 Km / 2h30. Download Topoguide here
- Discovery tour of the old town and castle: allow between 90 minutes and 2 hours and wear appropriate footwear.
- Castle visit: 45 / 60 min. Pedestrian access 15 minutes from the Tourist Information Centre car park. Good shoes required. Hiking guide to discover the castles of the Alsatian Jura: € 3
- Night Tour of the city and castle, every Wednesday evening during the summer.
- Access to Rossberg Panoramic Tower: 30/45 min round trip from the parking area of the camper van site in Ferrette. Possibility of a larger circuit from Ferrette or Old Ferrette.
- A fun walk is offered to families via the ""Trail and Treasure"" smartphone application.
A Romanesque jewel of the Sundgau, the church dates from 1144. Built by Count Frederic 1st of Ferrette as a burial place for himself and his family. A historical monument, the church is now the oldest in Alsace dedicated to St James the Greater. The pilgrims to Compostela passed through Feldbach, the crossroads of many ancient routes. These pilgrims came largely from the Palatinate, passing via Strasbourg. The restored church was officially inaugurated on 3 July 1977 by Auxiliary Bishop Brand who is now the Archbishop of Strasbourg.
Built in the late thirteenth century, Landskroncontrolled Leimental Valley. Its fate merged withthat of Austrian Alsace. In 1515, it was transformedinto a fortress adapted for firearms. In1648, Landskron came under the suzerainty ofLouis XIV and Vauban carried out significant fortificationworks. In December 1813, at the end ofthe wars of the First Empire, the castle was takenby the Austrians who blew it up in 1814. Listed asa historic monument in 1923, since 1984 the «ProLandskron» association have conserved anddeveloped the site. Guided tours for groups(F -D) by appointment. Free visits all year.
Oltingue was the most populous of the 33 villages of the seigneury of Ferrette before the Thirty Years War. The village has retained the traces of ancient terrace cultivation which mostly involved vines due to the dry conditions resulting from the location of the village at the foot of a hill in the lee of breezes. The Ill river crosses the town which is rich in places to visit.
- The Oltingue Farming Museum: created in the 1970s, it presents collections gathered by Fr Etienne Bilger (1901-1980) in a timbered farmhouse and provides an understanding of how people in the Sundgau area lived before the rapidly changing countryside of the 20th century.
- The church of Saint-Martin-des-Champs: the former mother church of three villages, a listed building dating from the 14th century, it boasts 7th and 8th century tombs and pre-1350 frescoes representing characters from the Old Testament and saints.
- The Church of St. Martin: Built in 1824 by the bailiff of Ferrette, who thought the Saint-Martin-des-Champs church too small and above all too far away, it contains a Callinet organ listed as a historical monument in 1973. There is also magnificent interior furniture.
- The St Brice Chapel: first mentioned in 1361, partially rebuilt in 1669, it is isolated and is situated in a clearing 3 km northeast of Oltingue village. St Brice was once a renowned centre of pilgrimage, in 1576 appearing on the map of Alsace under the name of St. Brixi. In 1567 a hermitage stood near the chapel, now replaced by a farmhouse that attracts many tourists in summer.
- The big tree trail from the carpark of St Brice's Chapel
Ensconced in a haven of greenery, MorimontCastle was recorded for the first time in 1183 andcontrolled the upper valley of the Largue. It wasdestroyed during the Thirty Years War by Frenchtroops. Tour the ramparts, the 7 watchtowersand an exceptional vaulted basement of dimensionsthat make it unique in Alsace. There is acircular route around the castle. Group tours (FD)by appointment. Visit free of charge all yearround.
You cannot pass through without tasting its authentic cuisine made with the very best local produce. Around 30 restaurant owners in Sundgau, are eager to share their traditional know-how and together have founded the "Sundgau, Fried Carp Route Association". This route has been awarded the title of "Remarkable Gourmet Site" (just like the famous wine route in the Alsatian vineyards), a title which is awarded by the French National Council of Culinary Arts. A sign-posted trail has been set up in Sundgau. We hope you have a pleasant stay and excellent gourmet eating in Sundgau.
A typical Sundgau village which has added the award of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and the interprofessional Office of Fruit, Vegetables and Horticulture to its long list of prizes, Hirtzbach is proud of its four flowers. Recognized on a national and a European level for the quality of its blooms, it is undoubtedly a good place to live. Follow the course of the stream (the Hirschbach) and you will find beautiful half-timbered houses and an alley of 100-year-old lime trees. While strolling in Charles de Reinach Park, you can see the last icehouse in the Sundgau area, amazing vegetation and Reinach Castle. St. Afra Chapel and the parish church are full of artistic and architectural remains including a painting by Gutzwiller, a fresco by Limido (at the church) and a 15th century pieta (in the chapel). Don't miss the Festival of Nature, a big two-day street party during the first weekend in August which brings the entire village to life and attracts around 10 000 people to Hirtzbach for exhibitions, craft stalls, street entertainment, folk music and fireworks to close the festivities.
The town is home to the Sundgau Museum and the Rhine Centre for Contemporary Art which are open throughout the year.
St Morand Priory, Notre Dame Church, the ancient walls of the city and other medieval remains reflect the cultural and architectural diversity to be found there. Many guided tours for groups and individuals are available on request. You will also find a tourist map with QR codes to discover the city on your own, available from the Tourist information Centre.
A modern town with an original spirit and strong dynamic commercial base, part of the association Altkirch Traditions, it also organizes many varied cultural events including the Enchanted Forest in December, the Short Film Festival in spring, the Festival of Music and Sound'Go Festival in summer, concerts and other happenings supported by lively local associations.
Free guided tours of the city are held each summer and you can also discover Altkirch and its surroundings through small hikes.
- Around the Schweighof Breitholz 10 km / 3h
- St Morand 5.5 km / 2h
- The heights of Altkirch 8 km / 2:30
For families, there is a fun ride to discover Altkirch (4 to 12 years old)!
On Thursday morning from 7am to 1pm, big market throughout the town center
Saturday morning from 7am to 12pm, small farmers' market, Place Xavier Jourdain
St. Catherine's Fair: the last Thursday in November, big fair throughout the town
For families, there is a fun ride to discover Altkirch (from 4 years to 12 years)!
On Thursday morning from 7am to 1pm, there is a large market spread throughout the town center
Saturday morning from 7am to 12pm, a small farmers' market, at Place Xavier Jourdain
St. Catherine's Fair: the last Thursday in November, a big fair throughout the city
The floral village of Friesen, in the Valley of the Largue, has maintained fifty wood-framed buildings, the construction dates of which range from 1497 to 1878: corbelled houses, traditional farms, fountains, monobloc farms, timbered houses, forges, etc, are all on show.
A guidebook, available from the Tourist Information Centre proposes an easy walk through the ancient floral streets to discover this unique heritage including the oldest known half-timbered house in Alsace.
The clever geometry of the traditional timbered Sundgau house, the result of a construction technique developed over five centuries by the guild of carpenters, reveals itself here. The old farmhouses, adapted to modern life, have retained all their charm while geraniums provide the final touch to the picture.