Located along the Alsace wine route, a European trail encompassing many a fairytale town and timber-framed village, Niedermorschwihr has little by way of attractions. Situated somewhere between the much larger towns of Turckheim and Kaysersberg-Vignoble (which, in turn, are both known for their thriving Christmas Markets), instead the charm of this little settlement lies in its secluded nature and surrounding views of swathes of vineyards.
Oh, and the fact that Niedermorschwihr boasts one of the only crooked spires in Europe! Here’s your ultimate guide to the best things to do in Niedermorschwihr, including a brief history and things to know before you go!
A brief history of Niedermorschwihr
The Alsace region has a rich tapestry of history which only becomes clearer after a drive through the Eastern French region. At various points in its existence, the area has alternated in being part of France and as part of Germany. During the middle ages, this particular spot was in part owned by the Kingdom of France and in part by the house of Habsbourg.
The resulting towns and villages of the Alsace are therefore a beautiful mix of cultures and it’s not uncommon to hear German and French spoken in equal measure. Indeed, many restaurants, shops, and Christmas markets display their menus and wares for sale signs in both languages. Despite being in France, you could even largely get by ordering and booking accommodations in German!
As is the case with many other settlements in the region, it’s likely that people have lived on site since Roman times, and perhaps even before. However, the first attestation of Niedermorschwihr itself dates back to 1148 when the Alsace village was listed as Morswilre in a papal bull.
However, the name was eventually change from Morswilre to Niedermorschwihr during the 16th-century to distinguish the settlement from the tiny village of Obermorschwihr, which lies close to Eguisheim and in the shadow of the three castles of Eguisheim. Unfortunately, much of the town was destroyed during the thirty year war, and again during the Second World War.
Though the number of residents in town once numbered around 1000, as of a census in 2016, the number of inhabitants hovers close to 500 and they’re known as Morvilois or Morvilais. If you wish to visit Niedermorschwihr for yourself, then you should know that the easiest way to get there is by car, and the small Alsace settlement lies around 8km away from the picturesque town of Colmar. There is free parking in the centre of town.
Things to do in Niedermorschwihr
Maison Ferber (Confiture Christine Ferber)
The most famous resident to have emerged from Niedermorschwihr is undoubtedly Christine Ferber, who owns a small patisserie shop in the heart of the village. Selling all kinds of local pastries, sweets, and treats, the boutique is best-known for its wide selection of delicious jams!
Visit Niedermorschwihr Church (Église Saint-Gall de Niedermorschwihr)
Situated in the very heart of the tiny town, you can’t miss the towering spire of Niedermorschwihr’s church… Not to mention its crooked nature! The ecclesiastical building has been listed as a historic monument since 1933 and contains a simple interior featuring an 18th-century organ and several stained glass windows.
The bell tower is so unique with its twisted 13th-century spire that it’s the only such example in the Alsace and is one of under a hundred in Europe. In fact, the only other twisted spire I’ve personally visited that’s so twisted is to be found in Devon, England and is ‘the crooked spire of Ermington‘.
Snap photos of the charming houses
Though the village is little more than a few streets surrounding the church, there’s no denying the beauty of the Alsace settlement. For some of the prettiest timber-framed houses in town, visit the street directly below the church, rue des Trois Épis. Full of colourfully painted houses, we particularly loved the blue façade of Chevaliers de Malte.
Go wine tasting
Thanks to its position along the Alsace route, Niedermorschwihr too has a handful of wineries and cellars where you can sample some of the local tipple. Indeed, this part of France is best-known for its sweet white wines. If you’re looking for the ultimate wine tasting experience while in town, then be sure to head to Domaine de l’Oriel.
Eat at a traditional Alsace restaurant
As you might expect of a region where snow isn’t uncommon during the colder months of the year, the typical fare from Alsace is heavy and rich. Meat and cheese are the order of the day and finding vegetarian or vegan options can often be tricky at best. Some of the best rated restaurants in Niedermorschwihr include Caveau des Chevaliers de Malte (whose interior is decorated in a traditional wooden-chalet style) and Caveau Morakopf.
See an old fire hose display
Directly next to the town’s war memorial and on the opposite side of the street to the church in Niedermorschwihr’s main town square, there’s a shelter housing two historic pieces of engineering, both old fire trucks.
While one is a fire pump from 1761 and was used right up until the mid 19th-century, the other dates back to 1859. Purchased in December 1858 for a price of 2,500 francs, the fire pump could jet 35 litres of water with a single throw. The pump remained in use right up until the 1920s.
Visit Les Trois-Épis
Situated somewhere between Turckheim, Niedermorschwihr, and d’Ammerschwihr, the hamlet is alleged to be where a vision of the Virgin Mary appeared to a blacksmith in the 15th-century. In the vision, she was holding three ears of wheat (hence the name ‘les Trois Épis’ and a hailstone).
In time, the spot became part of a pilgrimage route and a priory was founded during the 17th-century, though this was destroyed during the French Revolution. Today, the Pilgrimage Route still exists and in 1968 the church of L’église Notre-Dame-de-l’Annonciation was opened on site.
Head to Turckheim
At just a ten-minute drive away through the vineyards of the Grand Cru Sommerberg, Turkcheim truly is one of the most charming towns that the Alsace has to offer. Set against the backdrop of hills filled with swathes of vineards, highlights of Turckheim include a fortified gate and a number of timber-framed wine houses offering ‘degustations’ (wine tastings)! Visit during the festive season and you can expect to enjoy one of the best Christmas markets in the entirety of the Alsace.