Colmar, France is one of those colorful picturesque towns you see on lists on many travel websites that say “Colorful Towns to See Before You Die”. Now I know why. It was by far one of the most colorful towns I have ever seen and ever corner offered a new surprise and was even more beautiful that the last, if that is even possible!
It is very similar to Strasbourg which also borders Germany and France. For hundreds of years, the Germans and the French have fought over this beautiful valley, leaving behind architectural influence from both countries.
Colmar was one of the towns that managed to escape damage during the big wars: the French Revolution, WWI and WWII. Upon entering the outskirts of Colmar, you come to a round-about with a replica of the Statue of Liberty. You might find this odd, but actually, it is the birth place of Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi who sculpted the original Statue of Liberty which sits in New York.
We got lucky and ended up right smack in the center of the Old Town of Colmar! Upon coming up from the parking structure, you immediately walk into the Old Town Square. We were ravishingly hungry, we walked 10 feet and plopped down at the first restaurant we came upon, which just so happened to have many variations of Flammkuchen also known as Tarte flambée in France which is like a thin pizza with a sour cream sauce and loaded with onions and you can add bacon and cheese. So I did!
We strolled through the alleys and found one of many Pâtisseries in Colmar and sampled some delicious French deserts. There is a difference between Macaroons and Macarons. Macarons are a delicious French sweet-meringue filled with a jam sandwiched between two biscuits. Macaroons are a coconut-like cake. So naturally, being in France and all, we had to buy some of these Macarons and try them! They look like little colored hamburgers!
Beautiful different colored wood timbered buildings lined alley after alley. Colmar is by far one of the most colorful towns I have ever visited. I loved every single street and alley we walked through and each was more colorful than the last. It made every picture postcard perfect!
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We eventually found our way to St. Martin’s Church and had a look inside and outside, which was built between 1234 and 1365. Like most towns, the church was situated pretty much in the center of town and was a constant Northern Star to guide us as we walked through town.
A short distance from the St. Martin’s Church is the Maison Pfister which was built in 1537 and is an example of the German Renaissance influence in France. Considering that at several points Colmar had been under the control of either Germany or France, there is a lot of architectural influence from both countries in this town!
The most enjoyable and most beautiful part of the entire trip was in and around “Little Venice” which connects Colmar with small canals. This was by far the most picturesque part of town and should NOT be missed!! There were many cafés and restaurants to sit down and enjoy the views while watching people flow by on one of the canal boats. We sat down at a café and enjoyed a Colmar beer under the shade right along the canal.
You can take a cheap leisurely cruise down the canals if you’re brave enough to figure out the French. We didn’t know if we were standing in the line to pay, standing in line to show your ticket or generally just standing around wondering what the heck everyone else is doing. The man selling the tickets was a very animated French man who made me giggle when he said “Thanks for you” instead of “Thank you”. The boat tours are very small and only for 30 minutes. You just cant go to Colmar without doing a boat tour! So we did! While on our canal boat tour, we learned that the window shutters with hearts carved into them represented women who were available for marriage.
We got very lucky with the weather because two minutes after we got off our boat tour it started to rain on us. So we headed in the direction of the French covered market called Marché couvert. But first we stopped at a very beautiful part of town with colorful buildings. There was a time when they colored their houses either red or blue to signify the difference of religion: Protestant or Catholic. Then it no longer mattered so everyone painted their house a different color.
Along our canal boat tour we also rode past the Marché couvert de Colmar (Covered Market) which is open every day. After floating past it we decided to walk back and have a look inside. In the past, merchants used to bring their goods to the market via the canals, but in modern days, this is no longer necessary. We found all sorts of French cheeses, wines, salami, meats, pastries and more inside. What else would you expect from a French market!?
All day we had been dodging the rain and finally after our canal boat tour, it started to pour. So we found a beautiful three arched building with beautiful flowers hanging off the side of the balcony to hide under. So did a bunch of other rain drenched tourists! At this point, we decided we had come and seen everything we came to see when the weather was still beautiful that we could head out.
On our drive back to Germany, it was like driving through the land of rainbows! For about an hour, rainbows laid ahead of us in the distance getting closer and closer and then receding just to reappear somewhere else. It made for the perfect ending to a great day!
If you’re interested in visiting France and are looking for more information, I highly recommend using the DK Eyewitness Travel Guide or the Lonely Plant Travel Guide! Without these guides, I would be lost! These are my travel Bibles!
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