The Alsace region of France borders Germany and is home to the Vosges mountain range. The area is steeped in history, and offers opportunities to take in Alsatian architecture, culture, and regional cuisine. For your trip, we have suggested options for lodging, things to do, and places to eat. Because planning a trip is so personal, and because we were not sure if the dog needed to be able to participate in all activities, we erred on the side of providing many suggestions to give you options when planning.
To make visualizing where things are located easier, I have provided a map of where many attractions are located.
Cities and towns in the region are fairly accessible by train, and dogs can travel by train as long as the rules are followed, including paying a pet fare. However, to access the countryside and for more flexibility in travel, it may be best to rent a car.
Itinerary and lodging
Some travelers prefer to have one home base for the entire trip, while others prefer to move around. For accommodations that are willing to host pets, there are excellent choices in both Strasbourg and Colmar. There are also AirBnB options available that say they host pets, but you need to correspond directly with the host to see if they can accommodate your particular situation. AirBnB is less traditional, but enables access to an entire apartment, house, or chateau. Rates for all accommodations are quite reasonable in the winter because it is low season.
In Strasbourg, the Cour du Corbeau hotel or the Hotel Rohan both come highly recommended. Both accept large dogs and have availability during your trip, although the Cour du Corbeau is not available one night of the trip.
Finally, there are three (1, 2, 3) AirBnBs in the countryside that accommodate pets that seemed like good choices. All are the entire apartment or chalet, and offer an opportunity to be immersed in the local culture. Please be aware that using AirBnB means you would be staying in private homes which is different from the usual hotel experience, but can be very comfortable and rewarding.
Sightseeing and Things to Do
While you have expressed interest in non-touristy things, there are a few highlights that seems like "can't miss" items. In Strasbourg, the Cathedral de Notre Dame de Strasbourg is famous and looks beautiful. La Petite France is a UNESCO Heritage Site and worth a walk around, although visitors caution that it is expensive to eat here and the food is not great.
Similarly, walking around the historic neighborhoods of Colmar is a good activity, weather permitting. Old Town and Little Venice both have historical buildings, cobblestone streets, and plenty of 16th century landmarks.
Although not out of the ordinary, several museums in the area looked interesting. The Cite du Train is a railroad museum that boasts a large collection of trains and an excellent tour. There is also an Automobile Museum with a large private collection of cars. Neither of these activities could accommodate dogs.
Walking and Hiking
It is winter in Alsace, with daytime highs predicted to be in the 40s and nighttime lows in the 20s in the cities, and even colder temperatures at higher elevations. Therefore, hiking is possible, but best limited to shorter trips with indoor options nearby. Here are two hiking resources (1, 2) that show local hiking routes, as well as some background on hiking in the region. The starts for a couple recommended hiking paths are shown on the map.
No trip to Alsace is complete without some wine-focused tours and tastings. The region is famous for its white varietals, including Riesling and Gewürztraminer. Wineries are everywhere, especially along the Alsace Wine Route. Two recommended wineries stand out in the region. Domaine Josmeyer brings together art (with wine labels featuring local artists) and excellent white wines. Domaine Weinbach is built on the site of a former monastery, and features white varietals the region is famous for. Please note there is no information on whether dogs are allowed at these wineries. It appears that some tours in France do allow dogs, but many do not. Again, there was no information specific to the Alsace are wineries.
Alsace features a unique regional cuisine, which blends French and German elements. In addition to the hearty regional cuisine, there are fine dining restaurants highlighting the best of European cuisine.
1741 is a Michelin starred restaurant in Strasbourg with reservations available during your trip. The dishes are expensive, as one can expect from a Michelin starred restaurant, but based on reviews, the food is worth the price. Some featured chef specials include lamb, scallops, truffles, smoked eel, lobster, and fois gras. Previous visitors recommend booking a table early as they fill up quickly.
In Colmar, Le Petit Bidon comes highly recommended. It is considered a family restaurant and is not as expensive as other options on this list. Most diners who have left reviews ate at Le Petit Bidon for lunch and enjoyed dishes such as pumpkin soup, local fish sauteed in fresh mushrooms, grilled lamb, and for dessert, chocolate-coffee mousse.
Don't miss an authentic fromagerie, featuring soft raw milk cheeses aged in a cave outside Colmar.
France, like much of Europe, is very dog friendly, and pets are often allowed in cafes and restaurants. Although no information regarding dogs was found on the websites for these specific restaurants, it is likely that they could accommodate a well-behaved animal. However, it is always recommended that you call first to ensure your dog can accompany you for lunch or dinner.
The Alsace region of France features history, food, wine, and outdoor activities sure to keep you busy on your trip. I hope this guide is helpful and you have a wonderful time!