Do you believe in love at first sight?
It happened to me when I first saw a picture of a stunning little town that was filled with Christmas decors, winter markets, fairy lights and SNOW! I was sold by its beauty and I promised myself that I’ll visit this place someday. A few months later, when I was planning my Europe trip, I saw that the capital of Alsatian wine is only 45 mins away from Basel where I would be staying for two days. That was the perfect opportunity for me to tick this place off my bucket-list on a day trip.
Colmar, formerly known as Columbarium Fiscum, is a fascinating medieval town in the Alsace region, France. Seriously, it looks like a giant park from princess Disney movies. It’s hard to believe that Colmar is a real town with people living and working there. It is well-known for its old colorful half-timbered houses, the famous Alsatian wine, bridges adorned with flowers and quaint cobblestone streets lined up with a number of restaurants, mini markets and boutiques with the prettiest facades.
It is also known as the home of Bartholdi who was a renowned French sculptor and the one who designed the statue of Liberty. In the Bartholdi museum in the old town, you’ll see some of his most important works. Moreover, his handiwork marks the entire town.
Some of the attractions in Colmar
We started with Little Venice which is the heart of Colmar and the face on most postcards. You will see the river Lauch flowing through the arrays of timbered houses, pretty restaurants and scenic bridges.
Next we went to the Fisherman’s quay which is where the fishermen used to live and work in the past. After little Venice, this is the second most photographed spot in Colmar.
Pfister House, built in the 16th century, is one of Colmar’s architectural gems filled with murals and a wooden gallery that reflects the Renaissance style. It is classified as a historical monument.
As a matter of fact, and as creepy it might sound, House of Head (Maison des tetes), built in the 17th century, actually comprises of 106 sculptures of heads. Though rest assure that these are only sculptures carved on the facade of the house. It is considered as a historical monument as well and it now holds a hotel and restaurants.
Unterlinden Museum is home to artworks and pieces from the ancient time as well as some modern art, there you can see the Isenheim Gothic Alter-piece which was sculpted and painted in the 1500s by Matthias Grunewald. You’ll also see a jaw-dropping collection of works by Pablo Picasso, Fernando Lefer and Pierre Soulages to name a few.
Koifhus (Ancienne Douane) is the old custom house and is one of the most important buildings of the town. Previously it was used as both a warehouse to store goods, collect taxes on trade and as an assembly where political decisions were made. At present, this 15th-century Gothic-style building now hosts shops, restaurants and cultural events/fairs.
More to see
Eglise des Dominicains/ Dominican church is now the municipal library of Colmar. It is home to the masterpiece painting realized by Martin Schongauer in 1473.
St Martin’s Church is a roman catholic church from the 13th century inspired by Gothic architecture.
Adolf house is said to be the oldest timber-framed house built around 1350.
Our last stop was the Covered market where they sell fresh local foodstuffs, wines and handicrafts. There is also a mini food-court inside.
Michelin listed restaurants
There are plenty of restaurants in the city including a few tempting collections of Michelin listed bistros namely Auberge de L’Ill, La table du gourmet, L’atelier du peintre, Jy’s, Nouvelle auberge, Maximilien and Rendez-vous de chasse. You can expect restaurants to serve a blend of French and German cuisines including Foie Gras, Pretzels, Pinot Gris, Munster and Tarte Flambee.
In a wrap
As we say ‘beauty with brain’, every nook and cranny of Colmar ooze a rich history, notable cultural heritage, architecture and antiques. A full day is enough to uncover the delights of the town.
Colmar is one of the driest towns of France and it enjoys pleasant weather all year-round. In addition, all the attractions are within convenient walking distance and there are sufficient road signs making it easy to self-explore and cover on foot. I promise, it’ll feel like you are wandering through postcards. I personally reckon you take a tour on the inexpensive little train that takes you around the most important spots of the town with audio commentary briefing you about each building. Alternatively, you can take a boat trip from Little Venice or the bus to explore the area.
Events in Colmar
April – Easter markets
July – Colmar International festival
August – Alsace wine fair
December – Christmas markets
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this post, thank you for dropping by.