Saverne travel guide

Cities and towns

About Saverne

Saverne in Alsace Lorraine is famous as the town of the unicorn and for the magnificent Château des Rohan that stands beside the canal.

On an important travel route in Roman times, Saverne was once known as Tres Tabernae Cesaris (Caesar's three taverns) because of the three taverns positioned here on the way to the Lorraine plateau from the continent. Today, it is on another important travel route with the Marne-Rhine canal, connecting the rivers Marne in France and Rhine in Germany, flowing through the town. Saverne's symbol of the unicorn dates back to the Middle Ages and legend says that a unicorn dipped its head into the Badbrünne fountain, which thereby received healing properties, and pilgrims in the Middle Ages would visit the fountain to sample some of the water. A statue of the unicorn stands proudly on the Grand Rue, Saverne's main street. However, Saverne's history has not always been so fantastical and war has played a large part in its more recent history as it became part of Germany during the Franco-Prussian War but was reclaimed by France at the end of WW2. Situated at the foot of the pass over the Vosges mountains, the Col de Saverne, Saverne is the perfect base for a holiday outdoors hiking and cycling. Goethe immortalised the Col de Saverne in his autobiography after he fell in love with the beauty of this mountainous region.

The town's biggest landmark is the Château des Rohan. Once the home of the bishops of Strasbourg, it now houses the Saverne Museum, a cultural centre, a primary school and a youth hostel. Nearby is Cagliostro tower where the famous Italian adventurer and alchemist Cagliostro once lived at the invitation of the Prince of Rohan.

Saverne has some lovely Romanesque churches as well as a synagogue which was built in 1900 but restored in 1950 after it was destroyed by the Germans during WW2. Near Square Latouche where the war memorial is located are the last remants of the medieval ramparts. There is also a semaphore tower, or optical telegraph, just outside the town which belonged to a line of 50 towers communicating between Paris and Strasbourg, which were created by inventor Claude Chappe. Get your hiking boots on or jump on your mountain bike and explore the area with cycle paths, mountain biking trails and over 200km of paths through the countryside and up the Vosges mountains. Pass many other castles with the Haut-Barr castle perched above Saverne and known as the 'eye of Alsace', and the ruins of the Ochsenstein, Greifenstein and the Little Gerdolseck and Big Gerdolseck castles. Walk up through the Col de Saverne to Prince Charles' Leap, a rocky escarpment from which, according to legend, the Prince of Rohan leaped from in order to escape pursuers. Traces of his horse's hoof prints are engraved in the rocks nearby. Along the Col de Saverne you will also find two fabulous gardens - the Rose Garden, la Roseraie, and the Botanical Gardens, the Jardin Botanique du Col de Saverne. The Rose Garden contain over 550 different varieties of roses and hosts the International Contest of New Roses every year in June.

Saverne has some wonderful shopping for those interested in arts and crafts,as well as clothes shops, souvenir stores, and shops selling regional food. The weekly market on Grand Rue is also great for picking up some local foods such as cheeses like Munster, fresh asparagus and cooked meats such as bluetwurst and knack, both local types of sausage. Try some traditional Alsatian cuisine at a winstub, a local friendly tavern, where you'll find specialities such as sauerkraut (fermented cabbage) often served with wädele (ham shank), tarte flambée (a type of thin pizza covered with cream, onion and bacon lardons) and baeckeoffe (a potato dish simmered in Alsatian white wine with pork, beef and lamb) on the menu alongside wines and beers of Alsace. 

Why visit Saverne?

  • Château des Rohan
  • The Vosges Mountains
  • The Castles
  • The Gardens

Overview

  • Country: France
  • Region: Alsace Lorraine
  • Department: Meurthe-et-Moselle
  • Population: 12,000
  • Coordinates: 48.744418,7.361672

Coordinates shown are based on the WGS84 system, please check driving directions before departing.

Nearby attractions

The beautiful Taverne Katz, with its amazingly ornate façade, is one of the most interesting buildings in the town. Built in 1605 for Henri Katz who was the chief tax collector, it is a spectacular example of a medieval timber...

Château des Rohan, also known as Château Neuf, is a Neoclassicist monumental building in the city of Saverne. The 140 metre wide façade of red vosges sandstone is considered to be one of the most impressive examples of its...

The 'Roseraie de Saverne' is a beautiful rose garden with around 1500 different species, located in Saverne, the City of Roses. First set up over 100 years ago by the rose breeder, Louis Walter, the garden hosts a rose...

The grass-roofed Vauban Dam is a weir built by its namesake between 1686 and 1700 on the river Ill. Several stories high, it houses sculptures in its main level and a panoramical terrace on its roof.

Places to visit nearby

Strasbourg in Alsace Lorraine is a cultured and artistic city on the German border that is at a crossroads of Europe.

Nancy in Alsace Lorraine is a beautiful city set amidst the Alsace countryside with a stunning historic centre.

Montbéliard in Franche Comté was once the property of the dukes of Württemberg, sitting in peaceful countryside on the Swiss border, and is the home of Peugeot cars.