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Barr and its treasures

Alsace is an outstanding historical and cultural region par excellence in eastern France, close to the German border. It is famous for its gastronomy and rich architectural heritage, with towns such as Strasbourg and Colmar, as well as Obernai, Sélestat and Barr.

 

Barr is a typical Alsatian town in the Bas-Rhin department, around 30 kilometres south-west of Strasbourg. Its history dates back to Roman times. It is best known for its role in the production of quality wines. Located on the Alsace Wine Route, Barr is known as the Wine Capital of Alsace, with the oldest wine fair in Alsace dating back to 1906 and its historic “Fête des vendanges”, the biggest in Alsace since 1952, which traditionally takes place on the first weekend in October. Barr is also the birthplace of Alsace’s first Gewurztraminer vine.

 

It was also the scene of many historic events, notably during the Thirty Years’ War and the French Revolution. Today, Barr is an ideal destination in Alsace for its charming cobbled streets, half-timbered houses and surrounding vineyards.

 

The name “Barr” is thought to be of Germanic origin, deriving from the German word “bar”, meaning “bare” or “empty”, and by extension “open”, “bare” or “cleared” land, a name given by immigrants from across the Rhine.

Take time to admire its picturesque half-timbered houses and its charming historic town centre, which has been remarkably well preserved. There are plenty of places to visit in the town, including the Protestant church of Saint-Martin, the Hôtel de Ville, the many fountains, the Rue Neuve, the Sentier des Amandiers and the Folie Marco museum. There are also plenty of vineyards to explore in the surrounding area.

 

Here are some of Barr’s treasures:

The Protestant church of Saint-Martin

The Protestant church of Saint-Martin is a religious building whose origins date back to Merovingian times. Its 12th-century Romanesque tower is a listed building. The church is famous for its beautiful facade adorned with Romanesque sculptures, and for its bright, elegant interior, with its organ, stained glass windows and Baroque-style altar. It is dedicated to Saint-Martin, the town’s patron saint, and is a remarkable example of Alsatian architecture.

The Town Hall

The Town Hall is a listed building in the town centre. It was built in 1640 in the Renaissance style, on the ruins of a former fortified castle, of which a large section of wall remains. The building has a beautiful façade with ornamentation in pink sandstone.

Kirchberg Hill

The hill of Kirchberg, or “church hill” in Alsatian, is a locality that owes its name to the Saint-Martin chapel on its summit. It is famous for its vineyards, and in particular its famous Grand Cru du Kirchberg, one of the 51 Grand Cru vineyards in Alsace, cultivated since 1760. The hill is also a popular walking spot for nature lovers, offering hikers a panoramic view of the town of Barr.

The vineyard

Barr is truly a “town in the vineyards” with a long history and tradition. Barr’s vineyards are mentioned as early as the 8th century in a document from the Abbey of Fulda, and by the 16th century, Barr had become a major wine-growing town with almost 600 wine-growers. The Barr vineyards are renowned for their Alsace white wine appellations, notably Riesling, Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer. The vines are planted on particularly steep, sunny slopes, benefiting from a deep terroir and a semi-continental climate conducive to growing wines of excellent structure, freshness and aromatic intensity.

The fountains

Barr has a number of old fountains, each more beautiful than the last, scattered around the town’s various squares, including The Fountain of the Child with a Conch on the Place de l’Hôtel de Ville, dating from 1876, the Gaensbrunnel fountain (or “goose fountain”), the town’s oldest, dating from 1857 opposite the Folie Marco, the Roescheneck fountain, attached to a house in the rue des Boulangers and fed by water from the Kirchberg, the Stockpflugbrunnen fountain since 1860, not forgetting the Pommes de Terre fountain, built in 1873 and located in the square bearing the same name just a few metres from the “Chez l’Alsacien” bed and breakfast.

Rue Neuve

Rue Neuve de Barr is one of the oldest streets in the town. Dating back to the Middle Ages, it was the first to be rebuilt following a major fire in the 17th century, hence its name.
Today, rue Neuve is a pedestrianised street in the town’s historic centre that is particularly pleasant to explore on foot. Admire its many colourful half-timbered houses, and be sure to stop off in one of the private courtyards accessible from the street. This remarkable courtyard is organised around two houses typical of the region, with a devil’s head and an angel’s head carved into the wood to ward off evil and protect the house.

The Folie Marco Museum

The Musée de la Folie Marco is the epitome of the Alsatian art of living, housed in this grand historic residence with its beautiful 21-window façade, now a museum of decorative arts. The building was constructed in the 18th century by Louis-Félix Marco, bailiff (or officer of justice) of the Seigneurie de Barr, who gave his name to this holiday home “in the leaves” (from the Latin folia). You’ll discover Alsatian bourgeois furniture from the 17th to 19th centuries, from the Renaissance to the Restoration, complemented by collections of earthenware, porcelain, pewter and local souvenirs. And don’t forget to take a stroll through the 2,400 m² garden, a haven of peace in the heart of the city, with its many plants and species well worth a visit.

The Clos de la Folie Marco, run by Domaine Hering since 1962, is now the largest closed vineyard in the heart of the city.

Barr, a welcoming and lively town: its shops and gastronomic venues: restaurants, bakery, tearoom, etc.

Barr is a great place to live. We discovered it on many walks along the vineyards. We were captivated by the half-timbered houses lining the cobbled streets, where we love to stroll from charming boutiques to gourmet restaurants, the local market and the winegrowers where we now buy our favourite wines, the footpaths leading from the town, through the vineyards and then into the forest on the heights of the town to the castles of Andlau, Spesbourg and Landsberg, which hold no secrets for us.

Come and join in the fun!

Alsace is a region renowned for its friendliness, warm welcome and gastronomy. The inhabitants are proud of their culture and traditions, and are often happy to share them with visitors. Alsace’s villages are often very picturesque, offering an authentic and friendly atmosphere. The region is also famous for its wines and cuisine, whose specialities are often served in traditional restaurants called ‘Winstubs’.

In Barr, you’ll find everything you need for the best dining experience, from a local Alsatian bistro serving delicious tarts flambées to a Michelin-starred restaurant.
To start with, just opposite our gîte “Chez l’Alsacien”, push open the doors of the Pâtisserie Oster, a true Barroise institution since 1904, which will delight your taste buds. Choose from a range of succulent pastries or stop off in the tearoom.

The surrounding castles

A little further on, on foot or by bike, you can also discover three different castles typical of the region: Andlau Castle, Spesbourg Castle and Landsberg Castle.

Andlau Castle (or Haut-Andlau) is a medieval castle located high above the town of Andlau. It was built in the 13th century and is now in ruins, but large parts of the castle are still standing, including its two characteristic round towers and a pointed-arched gateway. Historical, fun, sporting and educational tours are organised here. Visitors can explore the ruins and enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding vineyards.

Continuing on is Spesbourg Castle, a lovely walk that takes you there. This medieval fortress dates back to the 13th century. It is built on a hill overlooking the village of Andlau and offers a panoramic view of the surrounding area. It is also in ruins, but there are still walls and towers that show a glimpse of its original architecture.

Finally, you can also visit the Landsberg castle in the hills above Heiligenstein. This medieval castle was built in the 12th century and is famous for its impressive square keep.

As you can see, Barr has plenty to offer for a unique stay in Alsace.

But Barr has plenty more treasures to offer lovers of the gentle Alsatian way of life. Be curious and let yourself be surprised…

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