Farm inns: a gourmet journey to the heart of Alsace’s traditions

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On the heights of the Munster valley: discover the world of farm inns, for a gourmet journey through nature!

Experience the magic of Christmas at one of Alsace’s famous markets. Stroll through the flower-filled streets of Riquewihr. Climb up to Haut-Kœnigsbourg castle. Explore the famous wine route or stroll between the bridges and canals of Colmar’s Little Venice. These are just some of the experiences that will make your stay in Alsace unique.

But above all, Alsace is famous for its gastronomy. In addition to its famous sauerkraut and tarts flambées, discover the world of farmhouse inns! In the heights of the Munster valley, let yourself be transported to a gourmet paradise, right in the middle of nature. But be warned, you won’t get away without a few extra kilos…

Farm inns: a traditional gourmet journey

Imagine an exceptional view, accompanied by a delicious meal based on local produce… A unique, gourmet experience offered by Alsace’s famous farmhouse inns. While they’re all the rage in Alsace today, they’re above all a story of traditions and customs dating back more than ten centuries.

A tradition steeped in Alsatian history

In the past, valley farmers would herd their cattle in small summer farms planted on the high thatches of the Vosges crests, to let the animals enjoy the fragrant pastures. These mountain farmers are known as marcaires, a word derived from the Alsatian dialect  » Malker « , meaning « he who milks the cows ».

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Photo credit: Facebook – Vallée de Munster

The Vosgienne is the region’s emblematic breed. In addition to its milk, perfect for making the famous Munster cheese, it also contributes to the upkeep of natural areas by enhancing the landscape and combating overgrowth.

With the development of hiking trails and the creation of the Vosgien Club in 1872, the first visitors finally ventured to the heights. The marcaires got into the habit of welcoming these hikers with drinks and farm produce (bacon, cheese, etc.). This was the beginning of the farmhouse concept.

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La Transhumance – Photo credit: Facebook – Vallée de Munster

Today, the marcaires of Alsace perpetuate the tradition of taking their herds up into the mountains in summer, through the famous transhumance. For this decisive moment, the cows and their beautiful bells are cleaned, brushed and trimmed.

Today, farmhouse inns have expanded, developed and modernized, sometimes even offering a complete overnight experience. Let us take you on an authentic gourmet journey!

And what’s on the menu?

All farm inns have their own specialities, but the one you’ll find almost everywhere, and that everyone agrees on, is the famous marcaire meal.

Your taste buds won’t forget the unique, melt-in-your-mouth taste of Roïgabrageldis, the star item on the menu. This specialty, pronounceable only by Alsatians (and even then), is a preparation based on potatoes stewed for several hours in a pot.

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Marcaire meal – Cooking Roïgabrageldis – Photo credits: Famille Matter | Facebook – Massif des Vosges

But be warned, you’d better be very greedy. After all, these potatoes, accompanied by smoked collard and salad, are only the main course on the menu. Before that, you’ll be treated to a hearty homemade soup, followed by the traditional salad pie (a meat dish cooked and served in a pastry shell).

And before dessert, it’s time for a tasting of the farm’s cheeses. As well as the famous Munster cheese, star of the region, other specialities such as Bargkass and Tomme des Vosges will delight cheese lovers.

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Munster cheese – Photo credits: Facebook – La Maison Du Fromage Vallée De MUNSTER

Finally, don’t miss the Siaskass! This traditional dessert is made with fresh cheese of the day, sprinkled with Kirsch brandy, cream and sugar. Alternatively, indulge in cottage cheese, blueberry or other seasonal fruit tarts.

The Route des Crêtes: breathtaking panoramas

But to find these famous farmhouse inns, you’re going to have to get a bit higher… Head for the Route des Crêtes! Prepare your lungs for a breath of fresh air.

An exceptional natural area…

The 73 km Route des Crêtes is accessible from the Munster valley. From hairpin to hairpin, you gently leave the valley behind, giving way to a parade of breathtaking panoramas. Welcome to the heart of the Massif des Vosges, the boundary between the Alsace plain and the Lorraine plateau.

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Hohneck summit – Photo credit: Camille Nagel

This natural paradise is brimming with wonders: hautes chaumes lawns, forests, peat bogs, high altitude lakes… A precious heritage that is protected and part of the Ballons des Vosges Regional Nature Park.

…possible to explore in all seasons

Outdoor enthusiasts won’t know where to start. Summer and winter alike, the massif has no shortage of charms and activities. Hiking, climbing, mountain biking, paragliding, skiing, snowshoeing… so many ways to discover these beautiful mountains.

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Hohneck sunset under the snow – Summer on the Route des Crêtes – Photo credit: Camille Nagel

If you’re lucky enough to visit in autumn, you’ll discover a landscape covered in shimmering colors. The most impressive part is when the mist takes over the valleys. While the towns and villages are buried in fog, the sun shines brightly from the mountain tops.

An ocean of clouds takes shape before your eyes, a magical sight. If the sky is clear enough, you may even catch a glimpse of the Alps in the distance.

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An autumn Sunday at Hohneck, the valley shrouded in fog – Photo credit: Camille Nagel

See chamois in the wild: the emblem of the Vosges Massif, this wild animal attracts many passionate hikers in search of the most beautiful shot. Today, chamois are very present in the massif, and are easy to spot around the summit of the Hohneck.

Our tip: for the best chance of success, go early in the morning or at sunset!

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Chamois in the Massif des Vosges – Photo credits: Shutterstock – Ludo KOOS | Chris NatureSauvage | Frank Fichtmueller

After a beautiful hike on the crests, what could be better than a good traditional meal in a farmhouse inn? No matter which route you choose, you won’t be able to miss them! But some of them are quite hidden.

Although there are many farm inns, all of which are equally good, we’ve put together a small selection for you to discover below. So strap on your stomachs and let yourself be transported into this gourmet universe!

The Kahlenwasen

From Munster, head for the Petit Ballon to discover the Kahlenwasen farm inn. The Lochert family welcomes you all summer long to an idyllic setting in the middle of the mountains, where you can enjoy the marcaire meal and other delicacies such as fondue au bouillon.

To make your pleasure last longer, you can even buy farm products (cheeses, charcuterie) to take home with you.

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Photo credit: Shutterstock – LENS-68

And if you want to take the experience to the next level, be prepared to spend the night at the Kahlenwasen. It’s hard to beat the unusual and authentic. Imagine waking up to a breathtaking panorama. Nothing will stand in the way of the mountain’s tranquility except the gentle melody of bells hanging from cows’ necks.

Auberge du Schantzwasen and reindeer farm

The Auberge du Schantzwasen welcomes you to the heart of the Massif du Tanet, summer and winter alike! In fact, the inn is located right in the middle of the Tanet resort: a rather small ski area, which is what makes it so charming. From the Schantzwasen’s terrace, relax and enjoy breathtaking views over the Munster valley, the Black Forest and the Swiss Alps.

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Hind stew and Spaetzle – Auberge du Schantzwasen in winter – Photo credits: Camille Nagel | Tourisme-alsace

You can also spend the night at the inn in mountain-style accommodation, for a truly authentic stay! In the kitchen, typical dishes are revisited to offer you refined, authentic, regional fare.

Here, for example, you can sample the Munster Strudel Croustillant: a delicious combination of Roïgabrageldi, lardons, caraway, grated apple and Munster cheese, all wrapped in a brick pastry. Traditional dishes are also served, such as Fleischschnaka or Spaetzle with meat.

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La Ferme aux Rennes – Schantzwasen – Photo credits: Facebook – La Ferme aux Rennes

To make your Schantzwasen experience unforgettable, head for the reindeer farm! Located close to the inn, it invites you on an educational journey to meet these mythical animals. Depending on the season, between 30 and 40 reindeer are kept in a natural reindeer park. Are we in Alsace or Lapland?

Auberge du Schupferen

The Auberge du Schupferen is a treasure we’d almost like to hide… if only we could find it! Like the Schantzwasen, it nestles in the heart of the Massif du Tanet. Accessible only on skis or snowshoes in winter, a forest path takes you there in summer.

Unlike other farm inns that have chosen to expand and modernize, the Schupferen family is careful to preserve its tranquility in an exceptional setting that has remained unchanged for decades. A small inn where it’s best to book in advance, for the chance to enjoy simply delicious food.

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Plate of warm goat’s cheese – Auberge du Schupferen – Photo credits: Camille Nagel

The menu offers a choice of two dishes. Traditional Fleischschnakas are often served. Other meats too, such as beef gros sel, served on a huge platter with vegetables and potatoes. The quality of the products is grandiose, and the price more than reasonable (no more than 13€ for a very hearty dish).

But above all, our hearts go out to the « hot goat’s cheese » starter. And with good reason: the cheese used is our own, so it couldn’t be fresher or more local. If you come at the right time, you can even meet the goats that roam free and return to the inn at the end of the day.

The Steinwasen

To find the Steinwasen farmhouse inn, you’ll have to take a stony path from the crest road. The best way to get there is on foot, after a pleasant hike that will give you the appetite you need to devour the specialities served.

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View from the Steinwasen – Roïgabrageldis – Photo credit: Auberge du Steinwasen

In a warm and authentic setting, the Matter family welcomes you all summer long to their farmhouse inn with its breathtaking view over the Munster valley. Marcaire, omelette paysanne, charcuterie platter, Munster cheese and Bargkass from the farm, Siaskass… enough to fill your stomach!

Looking for something a little out of the ordinary? Book your night in the farm’s accommodation: a gypsy caravan overlooking the valley. Wake up peacefully in this exceptional setting, taking the time to breathe in the pure mountain air.

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The Steinwasen caravan – Photo credit: Auberge du Steinwasen

To round off this unique experience, you’ll be served a hearty farmhouse breakfast. If you’re lucky, you’ll even be able to enjoy it in the sun on the terrace with its panoramic view!

Did all these traditions make your mouth water? Now you know a little more about the Alsatian specialities that can be tasted right in the middle of the mountains in farmhouse inns. A not-to-be-missed stopover during your stay in Alsace!