A gateway to the Black Forest, Breisach, a small town on the Rhine River, is perched approximately halfway between Germany’s university metropolis of Freiburg and France’s half-timbered town of Colmar. Though much of the city was destroyed in World War II, you'd never be able to guess. Along winding cobblestone streets, you’ll find pretty pastel-hued houses, shops, and cafés, and a medieval prison tower. Sip the local schnapps made from fermented pears, cherries, or plums, or feast on the distinctive, smoky-flavored ham of the region.
What We Love
Black Forest: The famous Schwarzwald has inspired formidable fairy tales. Although the Grimm Brothers' Hansel and Gretel, Little Red Riding Hood, and Snow White faced danger and darkness, this lush woodland is surprisingly green (the ominous "Black" in its name refers to the dense tree canopies blocking out the light.)
Wine: Breisach’s Geldermann winery gives tastings of its sparkling wine in medieval-era vaulted cellars. Badischer Winzerkeller, one of the largest wine cooperatives in Europe, offers tours of its impressive underground barrels.
Neuf-Brisach: This Alsatian town with star-shaped fortifications is a UNESCO World Heritage site; it was military engineer's Vauban's last construction.
Best Known For
St. Stephansmünster: A Romanesque-Gothic cathedral constructed during the 12th to 15th centuries, is a beloved spiritual haven and an iconic Breisach landmark.
Hofgut Sternen: This Black Forest resort village has a colossal cuckoo clock shop called Cuckoo’s Nest, a glass-blowing factory, and a bakery that specializes in Black Forest cake (a layered confection made with chocolate, whipped cream, tart cherries, and Kirsch liqueur). The tour guides often wear the traditional bollenhut (red pom-pom hat), and nearby a few easy hiking trails beckon.
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Who It's Best For
Nature Enthusiasts: The tranquil countryside around Breisach is dotted with farmhouses, fields, and forests where hiking, biking, and boating attract avid outdoor fans.
No-Rush Revelers: Breisach’s pace, even during high-season summer, is slow and relaxing. You can eat, drink, and toast without the crowds.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
It's Quiet: Breisach is a pleasant place, wonderful for an afternoon’s worth of exploration. But don't expect a wealth of diversions.
Laura Manske is a New York-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has also written for Redbook, InStyle, and Cosmopolitan.