Colmar is a very small city in France, 50km away from Alsace’s capital – Strasburg – and its population is around 70.000 inhabitants. I went there last month with my family right after our quick visit to Paris. The plan was to stay there for two nights, one day to visit Colmar itself and the next to visit Strasburg. Although one day is more than enough to get to know the city, we ended up staying there during both days (ok, my mother and I decided to visit Strasburg during the afternoon of day 2, it took only 20 minutes to get there by train, but my father and my grandparents stayed in Colmar the whole time. I even thought about writing a post of Strasburg, but I’ll have to leave it for the next time I visit the city as this time we spent just 3,5 hours there).
Nestled among vineyards, its traditional houses, canals, floral displays, amazing cuisine, famous wines and charming accommodation make Colmar an outstanding microcosm of Alsace – showcasing its lifestyle, conviviality and hospitality – the key features of its unique, exceptional welcome.
But let’s go back to Colmar. The main attraction in the city is the city itself. It’s one of the places that the best thing to do is to walk around and get “lost” while exploring it. But of course, there are some specific things you can do there.
- Have a canal cruise in a canoe in the picturesque neighborhood of Petite Venice.
That’s the main attraction of the city and its postcard. The name goes after the many canoes there that remind of Venice gondolas. The cruise takes half an hour and costs 7 euros for each person. You can buy the tickets in the restaurant right next door to the smallest pier I’ve ever seen. It’s a little bit hidden, but I am sure you’ll find it.
- In the historical centre you’ll find houses that were built in 1350 – that’s so fascinating to me! Fun fact: the residents can paint the facade of their houses with whatever colour they want as long as it’s not the same color as the house next to it. There you can have a mini audio-guided tour on a small “train” around the city, which takes 45 min and costs 8 euros. It’s final stop/departure is in front of the library, nearby the Unterlinden Museum. You can find more information about it here. I don’t think it’s much worth it unless you’re with elders or child.
- Visit Saint Martin’s Church, built between 1235 and 1365.
It has a Gothic architecture although it has been restored several times. In 1982 during the most recent restoration, foundations of a church from the year 1000 and traces of extensions from the 11th and the 12th centuries were found!
- Take a look at Koïfhus.
It’s a house from 1480, placed at the confluence of the Grand’Rue and the rue des Marchands, two of the main roads in the medieval city. It was once a local building and had a double function: the ground floor was used as a warehouse and as a place of taxation for imported and exported goods and the first floor was used for the meetings of the deputies of the Décapole. Today many manifestations and public activities take place here.
- Take a look (or buy or eat) at Market Hall.
It is in the way to old town, right after you pass the fishmonger’s district. There you’ll find fruits and vegetables, butchery, cheese dairy, bakery and pastry, fishmongering and other terroir delights.
- Walk along fishmonger’s district, where professional fishermen and boatmen of Colmar once lived. There you’ll find the cutest colored houses in the city!
- Check the Pfister house out, built in 1537.
It’s the first example of an architectural renaissance in Colmar.
- Have a coffee or a cheesecake at Pâtisserie Salon deThé J-C Clergue, at Place de La Cathedrale.
It’s not famous (at least not that I know), but I ate there and everything was so delicious that I couldn’t miss recommending it to you!
There are also many museums and churches, but as I said earlier, in my opinion, the nicest thing to do in Colmar is to walk without a specific destination (that reminded me of that famous quote “life is about the journey, not the destination” – I don’t know who said that but I’ve always heard of it and I think it applies so well when exploring Colmar!).