What to do in Colmar, France
Colmar is located in the South of Alsace, it is the city that is on all postcards in Alsace. It is a picturesque city, with every view being a magical postcard photo.
Colmar has a rich history being founded in the 9th Century, like most of Alsace it has changed hands many times with its turbulent history. Lucky enough to be spared from the destruction of the multiple conflicts making it a Gem with lasting Architecture from the 1500s. Being steeped in history, everywhere you look is a beautiful building full of colour and traditional Alsatian history.
Walking around Colmar lets you understand why the creators of Disney's Beauty and The Beast used it as the bases of their Village Life.
There is so much to see in the Old Town of Colmar, so put on your walking shoes, walk down the cobblestone path and enjoy what the city has to offer.
The Musee Hansi is home to original Artworks of Jean-Jacques Waltz, known as Hansi. Hansi created art that defines Alsace today, full of tradition, iconic costumes and culture. Hansi studied at a Art School in Lyon where he became a wonderful Art Nouveau Artist, where there are some of his works in the Musee which opened my eyes further on how skilled he was. But his love for Alsace always brought him home from creating Posters for the Theatre, then to the book 'Mon Village' which depicted Alsatian Life then to the end of his life where he was wanted by the Nazi's for his use of French Propaganda.
This was one of the best Museums I have ever been to in my life. It holds Original pieces from Hansi, a descriptive history on Alsace and how it influenced his work as well as how his Artworks are used today in Modern Alsatian life. All of this is build into a little village with shop fronts inside the Museum, as well as a wonderful gift shop full of traditional souvenirs and Alsatian food.
Maison des Tetes-
The Maison des Tetes known in English as the House of Heads, is decorated in over 100 heads and is a perfect example of German Renaissance Architecture that was built in 1609 by a wealthy shopkeeper. The sculptor Auguste Bartholdi added his touch in 1902 with a sculpture of a Cooper which is the crown of the building. The Maison now is the Headquarters of the Wine Market in Alsace, as well as a Hotel and a delicious Restaurant.
Shop Signs in Colmar are a strong feature throughout the whole of the Old Town. There are many that have been created in modern times to pay homage to this tradition. The highlight of the Shop Signs is how many of Hansi's Original work is still on display throughout the city. All of them showcase the wonderful culture of Alsace.
La Collegiale St-Martin-
The Collegiale St- Martin is the best church in the city. Built between 1235 & 1365 it is a wonderful example of Alsactian Gothic Architecture. Its roof is tiled with a floral pattern and the stained glass windows with wonderful scenes.
The Maison Pfister is a unique architectural building in Alsace. Built in 1537 for a man who made his fortune with the Silver Trade. Maison Pfister became a symbol of Old Colmar, it is on the Rue des Marchands with cobblestone streets full of traditional Alsatian Buildings. The exterior is adorned with a wooden gallery and is covered in fresco paintings that haven't changed since they were painted making you feel like you are on a movie set. Next door to the Maison Pfister is a house with a wooden carving of a Merchant overlooking the whole street.
Follow the Rue des Marchands, it is like stepping back in time and following the route the towns folk once followed.
Koifhus also known as Ancienne Douane, it was the centre of Colmar life. The building was the Customs House, the ground floor being used as a warehouse for goods and collecting municipal taxes. The Great Hall on the first floor was the Council Chamber. It is a beautiful old traditional building in Colmar where you can sense it was the heart of the Town, if you look above the main doorways you can see the Coat of Arms. Koifhus is now used for Theatre Performances, Art Displays and Markets it is a place that will never lose its importance.
La Petite Venise-
La Petite Venise is divided into 3 parts; 1 La Petite Venise itself, 2 the Fishmongers District and 3 the Tanner's District.
La Petite Venise once was lived in by Wine-Producers, Market Gardeners, Fishermen and Boatmen. La Petite Venise is picturesque each building is a Brightly Painted Traditional house draped with flowers. Through the middle of the area is a Canal that leads up into the River Lauch, on the canal there are many boat rides to be had to get a special view of La Petite Venise.
Along the canal there are many Winstubs and Restaurants where you will be able to try the local Alsatian Food such as Tarte Flambee, Choucroute and Riesling Wine. An evening in La Petite Venise is a must to enjoy the tranquil river and the cobblestone streets lite up.
Fishmonger District -
Along the route weaving between the houses is the Fishmonger District, it once was home to the fishermen of Colmar, the fish were placed in pond and sold at market to the people of the town. Along the Quai de la Poissonnerie is the iconic photo of Colmar that everyone knows, but it is home to little hole-in-the-wall restaurants that the locals love, flowers bursting out of the windows and architecture that is some of the most beautiful in Alsace. You can not but stop on the bridge to admire it all.
Further down the way, is the Tanner's District. But before reaching the district the Covered Market is a must stop, it is full of flowers, local vegetables, butchers and patisserie's. It is hard not to buy everything there to make a picnic.
The Tanner's District was home to the tanners of the town, with open balconies to lay out the skins to dry where they would dye the skins in their homes and wash the hides in the river. I wish I could find photos to see what it would have been like. Now days the Tanner's District is full of traditional Winstubs and the Place de l'Ancienne Douane which is used for markets during Easter and Christmas.
There are many different Museums to visit in Colmar such as the Musee Unterlinden which focus' on Medieval Church Art and the Musee Bartholdi which talks about the life of Auguste Bartholdi who designed the Statue of Liberty. You can find a wonderful model of the Statue of Liberty on a Roundabout near the edge of the town on the main route to Riquewihr.
During my trip to Colmar the city played host to an Easter Festival with the highlight being the Easter Markets. During the 2018 Festival there were Music & Culture Concerts, 3 Craftsmen Exhibitions and 2 Markets located at the Place des Dominicains and at the Place de l'Ancienne Douane.
The Markets host stalls with jewellery, crafts of all sorts, Easter decorations and chocolate. Each hut was beautifully decorated in Pastel Colours and Spring Flowers as well as lots of baby spring animals out on display. It is hard not to steal a Bunny to take home. It is a wonderful market, you can feel how excited everyone is that Spring and Easter is coming.
Colmar at Easter time is worth the visit not only for the markets but for all the wonderful Easter decorations draped on the houses.
Where to Eat-
When in Colmar it is a must to eat traditional Alsatian food like Choucroute, Coq au Riesling or Tarte Flambee. Colmar has many great restaurant or Taverns known as Winstub which are a must. For snacks to try out; Bredele (christmas biscuits), Pretzel and Macaron Cakes.
I found 2 great places to eat at where at one I had a wonderful 3 course meal that was light and delicious at the Bistrot des Lavandieres. The second was at a pub James'on Pub where I had a great breakfast, it was full of locals and fresh Croissants.
How to Get There-
Colmar is easily reach via Car, Train and Plane. Colmar has many car parks doted throughout followed by a short walk into the Centre. Colmar is only an hour by train from Strasbourg. Basel EuroAirport is the closet airport to Colmar offering multiple flights from all over Europe, then you can get a short bus (Navette) to the Train Station of St Louis, it is about a 40 minute train trip to Colmar.