Hunawihr is a charming little French village known for its traditional houses, floral vibes, grand views and infinite vineyards.
Explore and discover Hunawihr for yourself!
Table of Contents
🧭 Where is Hunawihr located?
Hunawihr is a small inconspicuous village in the historical region of Alsace, which is now the administrative region of Haut-Rhin in Eastern France.
The region is famed for its uniqueness in France, all due to the German influences and prolonged complicated historical ties to Germany and the German culture. The area borders Germany.
The small village is nestled amidst vineyards along the wine route of Alsace (route des vins d’alsace), a wine terroir recognized for its special climate and soil environment.
Neighboring villages such as Ribeauvillé and Riquewihr, as well as the city of Colmar, are popular tourist hubs known for the local regional architecture, food, and the most excellent white wine in France.
We visited the village, together with all the beautiful so–called fairy-tale villages in the vicinity, on our tour across the southern parts of Alsace. We traveled from neighboring Switzerland to northern France, and Hunawihr is not that well-known but well worth a stop.
These villages and towns, including Hunawihr, Ribeauvillé and Riquewihr are called fairy tale villages because of their colorful houses and unique architecture. They inspired the Disney movie “the Beauty and the Beast”
📜 History and Legends
A hamlet called Hunawihr (spelled ynavir in French) was established about 1400 years in the 6th or 7th century by a Frank Lord, who was known as Hunon. He had taken over the Gallo-Roman villa, which was located at the site of the current church on the hill.
The Franks (today Germans) had taken over the former Roman lands to settle there. The Romans, about 2000 years ago, had tilled the hilly lands for their wine making, and they had turned it into a first-class wine region.
Hunon the Frank, was said to have been a brutal lord, but he was married to Huna, a daughter of an Alsatian duke. She was the total opposite, and she was said to have a heart of gold for the local population.
Huna (aka Hunna, Sainte Hune) would go to the extent of washing the clothes of the sick and poor at the local fountain. Legends also tell the tale that in a poor harvest year she turned the water of the fountain to wine. Therefore, she was proclaimed a saint back in the 16th century.
The water of the fountain is said to contain a high number of minerals. Research believes that the Romans used the properties of the healing waters in thermal baths.
“Huna: wife of Hunon, family of the Etichonides.”, this is what a board in her honor says at the fountain of Hunawihr, which still stands at the same spot as it did centuries ago. The village was probably named after her.
The word Wihr is a suffix to the roman Latin word vilare, which means a rural domain (a village basically).”Wihr is most likely the Alsatian word for village. Originally, Alsatian was the local language before locals picked up the French language.
We filmed a walking tour of Hunawihr so that you can see the fountain, church, and village and if you are considering visiting, this will help to meet your expectations.
🍷 Reasons to visit
Hunawihr has been nominated as one of the most beautiful villages in France by the association “Les plus beaux villages de France” and that for a good reason. Currently, you will find about 156 small villages on this list.
Stunning views of a small 600 soul village and a compact 12th century stone-built church overlooking the surrounding vineyards and homes, make Hunawihr an exceptional village to discover.
Other villages and towns near Hunawihr are better known and much more frequently visited by tourists and tour operators and groups. This includes towns such as Riquewihr, Colmar, Ribeauvillé, Eguisheim and Kaysersberg-Vignoble to just name the major hubs.
People often overlook Hunawihr because the other towns have much more prominent architecture and multicolored houses. They fulfill the picture of what people imagine when they visit the area.
Hunawihr is a bit different but nonetheless beautiful in a way of its own.
Most houses were built with traditional materials from the region between the 16th and 18th century. Wooden beams, horse hair mixed with clay, reinforce the structures of the half-timbered renaissance style buildings. One of the oldest buildings is the 16th century town hall.
Here are some of the main highlights that you shouldn’t miss when in Hunawihr.
The church on the hill is one of the most picturesque buildings in Hunawihr. Located in the south of the village, and surrounded by vineyards, it evokes a timeless feeling of a village far from the busy world we know today.
Built in the 14th century with a fortified cemetery wall, it has been used as a shared church (Simultaneum) by Catholics and Protestants alike. It bears the name Saint-Jacques-le-Majeur.
The church interiors are known for the intricate stained-glass windows, depicting grapes, which honor the viticulture heritage of the village.
Stained windows near the choir are more recent from the 19th century, illustrating Saint Jacques and Sainte Hune. Moreover, a fresco of the saint from the 15th century can be admired in the quaint church.
The church clock hands are in a shape of vine leaves, which just demonstrates the importance of the vineyards.
You get a stunning view of the village and vineyards from the hill, so it’s well worth a stroll up the winding road from the village.
Known as the fountain of the vineyard or the Fountain of Saint Hune, it is located across the vineyards below the church on the hill.
This is the famous fountain from the legends, where the water had been said to have been turned to wine. A small presentation can be found here, telling the little village tale of saint Hune.
I recommend that you take a break at the fountain because they have set up a large picnic table next to the cooling shaded fountain. Vehicles can be parked right next to the fountain.
But the best part is the unparalleled view of the church with the vineyard setting!
Butterfly Gardens and Naturoparc
At the entrance of the village you will find a small butterfly garden and a family friendly animal park, known as Naturoparc. Both are located in the vicinity of each other.
Families with smaller children will appreciate them both. Adults might prefer the butterfly garden, which is a botanical center known for its butterfly diversity.
The Naturoparc is known for its local animal diversity in a natural environment setting. Here you can expect to see a stork, otters and tortoises.
Entry to the Naturoparc is €12 for adults and between €8.50 and €10 for kids. The Butterfly greenhouse charges €9 per adult and 6.50 for kids, children under 5 go in free.
The cave coopertive is a co-op winery and the pride of the village. The famous Rosacker grand crus vinyard belongs to the cave cooperative.
Here you will be invited to try the following grape wine varieties:
- Pinot Gris
- Pinot Blanc
- Pinot Noire
They organize a guided tour to their priced grand Crus Rosacker every Thursday at 3:30 pm in July and August. You can also purchase the wines that you got to taste at the winery.
Tip: Cremant is a sparkling wine, just like a Champagne, but the Champagne is from the Champagne region, while the others across France are called Cremant.
🚗 Getting There
If you are getting there by car or motorbike, follow the national road 83 and take the road towards Riquewihr or Ribeauvillé. Follow the direction towards Hunawihr, the roads are well described.
I think the easiest spot to park is at the fountain of Saint Hune. It’swell located, right next to the fountain and near the church and village. BUT there is no shade, so keep that in mind as it gets extremely hot in the summer.
Public transport isn’t that straightforward in rural France, but you can get around thanks to the Fluo Grand Est Bus system.
For example, from Colmar to Hunawihr it’s a one-hour bus ride via the 68R016 line. Get out at the Lavoire bus stand, located right next to the fountain, to walk 5 minutes to the center of Hunawihr or up to the church.
When did you visit Hunawihr, and when is the best time of the year to explore Hunawihr?
We visited in the peak season in August in summer. It was a hot rainless summer, and therefore I recommend visiting when it’s not that hot. Spring and fall are beautiful seasons to visit, especially fall is grape harvest season.
Is Hunawihr a busy tourist place?
No Hunawihr is not touristy at all, making it a great place to be for all those escaping crowds and longing for more solitude.