A few weeks ago, my sister came to visit me in Mulhouse for the first time in the almost three years I've lived here. She's been to Paris for a few short trips, but she'd never ventured into eastern France. I was so, so excited to be able to share with her the region I call home. During our trip, I saw Alsace through fresh eyes.
I've spoken about it before, but Mulhouse isn't exactly the premier tourist destination for Americans wanting to explore France. When you think Alsace, you usually think Strasbourg Christmas markets and the lush Wine Route passing by Colmar. However, with Mulhouse as a home base, my twin and I were able to experience the beauty of the region and avoid huge crowds and super high costs.
One thing you should know about me is that I'm a planner. So, I used Notion to create a very detailed itinerary for each day of my sister's trip – activities, transportation, food, costs, and more. Some of these plans required a car, but not all. Read on to discover our daily schedule!
Day One - Travel Day
I recommend flying into the Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg EuroAirport. It's a little over a half-hour drive from Mulhouse, or a few stops on the train.
Day Two - Centre-Ville
Take a day to explore downtown Mulhouse! The centre-ville, including the colorful Place de la Réunion, boasts lovely architecture, stunning street art around every corner, and lots of green spaces.
Take advantage of the good shopping, along the Rue du Sauvage, for example. I recommend Yves Rocher for beauty products. The center of town is really easy to get around – we walked along the canal and hopped on the tram (1€40 per trip).
There are so many good restaurants in Mulhouse. I wanted to impress my sister with a gorgeous interior, so we headed to Volfoni for lunch, even if there are better Italian restaurants around (Bacio, Pizzeria Panettone...). We shared a tasty fried eggplant pizza, and later that afternoon, we stopped at Le Bocal for some delicious patisseries.
Day Three - Wine Tasting
We woke up bright and early for a wine tasting in Eguisheim, a small medieval town near Colmar that has been named one of the "Most Beautiful Villages of France" for many years in a row. The circular ramparts of the city are surrounded by bright green vineyards.
After walking around town, taking pictures and visiting the Chappelle Saint-Léon, we settled in at Pierre-Henri Ginglinger and started sipping on the over 300-year-old domaine's organic wines (they began fully organic practices starting in 2001). We left several bottles heavier: a Grand Cru Gewurtzraminer, a Riesling tradition, and a Crémant d'Alsace, to be exact.
On the way to lunch, we visited the Trois Châteaux for a stunning view of Alsace, and ended up at the women-owned Restaurant Bellevue in Gueberschwihr for a very tasty lunch (I had the pintade). My sister couldn't even finish her jarret de porc, and here is where she started to understand the very meat-heavy Alsatian diet.
On the way home, we drove past the Lac de la Loach, the Grand Ballon (the highest point in the Vosges), and the Vieil Armand, a war memorial commemorating a bloody WWI battle.
Finally, that evening we hit up one of the most popular bars in Mulhouse, the Gambrinus, for dozens of beers on tap and lively conversation, with plenty of friends coming and going. Oh, and my sister's first tarte flambée!
Day Four - Vosges Hike
We strapped on some good walking shoes and headed out to the Auberge du Molkenrain, a ferme auberge in the Vosges Mountains. There are dozens of these inns in the region, and they all offer hearty dishes made from local ingredients.
And when I say hearty, I mean it. We ate tender beef stew, the impossible-to-pronounce Roïgebrageldi (a traditional dish made of potatoes, onions, and lots of butter), and some of the best lettuce I've ever tasted. By the end of the meal, we could barely move. But we still had room for fresh blueberry pie!
After stuffing ourselves, we drove to the Lac de Kruth. We spent the afternoon exploring the lake by paddle boat and hiking up to the ruins of the Château de Wildenstein, which offered a stunning view of the lake. The hike was steep but way worth it.
Day Five - Relax
Of course, we took a day to relax. Exploring quiet and calm Riedisheim, a sort of "suburb" of Mulhouse, and enjoying a barbecue with friends.
Day Six - Thermes
We grabbed ingredients for lunch at the Marché de Boboli in Riedisheim, and went for a picnic. I originally wanted to sit and relax at the Parc Alfred Wallach, but once we arrived we found that it was closed for renovation. So, we went a few meters away to the Forêt Waldeck, a nearby forest great for walking.
That afternoon, we drove to Badenweiler, in Germany (just a 30-minute drive away). The resort town's main attraction is the Cassiopeia Thermes, or thermal baths. For 19€, we spent three hours in the baths, which features indoor and outdoor pools, jacuzzis, ice baths, whirlpools, saunas, and more. It was a really special experience, especially for my swimmer sister.
I forgot to book to eat at the Markgräfler Winzerstube in town (I had been dreaming about their potato soup for weeks), so we sat down at the Hotel Restaurant Post a few meters away, instead. The menus were only in German, though, so the meal was a bit of a surprise. Luckily, the traditional Badenweiler Flädlesuppe (a consommé base with strips of crêpe), was a pleasant one.
Day Seven - Mulhouse Food Scene
I took my sister to my favorite watering hole, Le Nid, for lunch – we both had the salmon avocado bagel. This café has never let me down! Friendly service, tasty food, and adorable décor.
Then, in the evening, we had some drinks and smash burgers at the fun (if overpriced) Babylone Beer Bar, set up inside and outside an old circus tent by the canal in Mulhouse. They've got pool, darts, ice cream, and more. It's a solid choice for a night out under the stars.
Day Eight - Our First Museum
There are plenty of museums to visit in Mulhouse, but my trips often revolve more around food. Luckily, this day featured both. We kicked things off at the Marché de Riedisheim, which is a perfect example of a super local farmer's market. Then, the Musée de l'impression sur étoffes, a museum focusing on Mulhouse's rich history as a giant of the textile industry. They've got a great gift shop, by the way!
That evening, after chilling in the Parc Steinbach, we finally went to a spot I've been wanting to test for a long time. Jalmogoyo, a Korean BBQ restaurant, did not disappoint. We didn't get the KBBQ, but my sister got a delicious dish with seafood and tteokbokki, and my tofu jigae was great, although my nose was running from the spice. This was a great change from the aforementioned carnivore Alsatian diet.
Day Nine - Strasbourg I
Strasbourg is a must-see, so we took the train about an hour to the region's biggest city. After a croissant and coffee at Café Bretelles, we walked around Petite France (Place Kléber, les Ponts Couverts, etc.). Our lunch consisted of some of the best crêpes I've ever had at the Le Moulin du Diable Crêperie (we both tried la Complète, along with some tasty cider).
We walked in the blazing sun to Rivétoile, a shopping mall, for some shopping (Pull and Bear, Stradivarius, Bershka...). Other shops in the centre-ville included Avril and Pylones. We then checked into our AirBnB and cooled down before dinner.
I chose a fairly recently opened restaurant in the Krutenau neighborhood for our evening meal. Bazart is based on a really cool concept – the menu is a surprise! Even when the dishes are served, they won't tell you what's in it. You have to guess! For three glasses of wine and four courses each, we paid just 100€ total. We finished the night at a Strasbourg staple, Académie de la Bière, for some drinks and music.
Day Ten - Strasbourg II
Our second day in Strasbourg began with a tasty breakfast at Madame Julia, before our boat trip on a bateau mouche. It was pretty cool, especially going up and down in the "boat elevators" along the canal. It was also great to see the European Parliament from the water. I don't know if I would do it again, though.
To close out our trip, we sat on the quai with bretzels and bubble tea (from Osmanthus), listening to music and enjoying people-watching in the shade.
When we finally got off the train home, we relaxed for a bit before spending the evening at La Gargote, an outdoor natural wine bar at Motoco, an event space and collection of art studios housed in a former textile factory. The wines and tacos (served up by Tandem) were amazing, and so were the vibes.
Day Eleven - Art Basel
We took advantage of living so close to Switzerland to head by train to Art Basel, the famous international art festival. It was really interesting, and we saw some very thought-provoking art, but it was also very big, very hot, and very expensive. We refueled with some snacks and cheesecake at La Manufacture before an awesome walk around the Basel Old-Town, up to the Münsterplatz and church with a beautiful view of the river.
Day Twelve - Vintage Pop-Up
I was constantly on the lookout for events in Mulhouse while my sister was here, so we went back to Motoco for the Keep it Vintage pop-up thrift shop. I didn't find anything, unfortunately, as a lot of things were stained. But then we spent the afternoon playing ping pong and tasting natural wines back at La Gargote! We got Indian takeout from Le Mantra for dinner.
Day Thirteen - Work Day
My sister and I both had some work to finish up (I had 40 pages of my thesis to write), so we spent the day at a café called Le Temps d'une Pause. My only complaint was the lack of AC on a very, very hot day!
Day Fourteen - Fête de la Musique
More work today, but this time at Omnino (you already know about my love for this café). We had savory sandwiches and an ice cream cookie one! My sister and I also shopped for some gifts, including at the Maison Alsacienne de la Biscuiterie and at the Caves Jacques Baumann.
Then, I got to show my sister how the town transforms for the Fête de la Musique. We walked all around the centre-ville with friends, checking out the different, very varied stages and musicians that had popped up in different squares and streets in Mulhouse. We got to see the scene in the nearby Altkirch, too. It was a really special way to end the trip.
Day Fourteen - Travel Day
Sadly, I had to say goodbye to my sister at the airport. But I know it's only a "see you later."
So, in our two weeks together in Alsace, my twin sister and I got to experience three different countries, a handful of different towns, a French music festival, an international art festival, countless delicious meals, lots of good beer and wine, scorching temperatures (thanks, la canicule), several bodies of water, and much, much more. Above all, we made some really special memories that neither of us will ever forget.
What else would you have done in Mulhouse during this trip? Tell us all of your recommendations for the region so we can start planning our next vacation!