Being located in the center of Europe comes with a string of advantages. One of those benefits is the close proximity of great travel destinations for a weekend getaway, just like the quaint town of Colmar in the Alsace region of eastern France. The last bank holiday here was just a perfect moment for a weekend trip to Colmar in France. Imagine colourful timbered houses, little canals, good white wines, rolling hills, and yummy tartes flambées – welcome to the Alsace!
For me as an avid traveler between Germany and France it was a first time visit to the Alsace region. Unlike my flights from Munich to Paris where you go from clearly Germany to ‘franchement’ la France, the road trip to Colmar was a totally different experience. A 4-5 hours car drive from Munich is all it takes. The transition from Deutschland to la France is very smooth and hardly noticeable. You cross the river Rhine and suddenly you notice French signs. Yet most of the towns and villages have German sounding names.
Colmar is a real gem in the Alsace. The city has a very well preserved city center and a picturesque quarter called ‘Little Venice’ with colourful timbered houses and little canals. As always, be aware that you won’t be the only one admiring those beauties. The world knows about Colmar’s beauty! I spent 3 days in Colmar and thus I haven’t got a whole lot of travel tips for Colmar, but what I saw and what I liked is here for you to use – if you ever decide to visit Colmar in France.
Let’s talk about accommodation first: I was staying at the beautiful ‘La Maison des Têtes’ – a great option if you like a comfy design hotel in the city center. The service is top notch, the rooms were beautiful, and the hotel has a lush and green courtyard in a historic building from the 16th century. From the hotel you’re only a stone’s throw of the most relevant and interesting sights. Close by is the beautiful Unterlinden museum – alas I did not visit it as the weather was just too nice for indoors activities. If you just want a short glance of local art, opt for the ‘Hansi museum’ just opposite of the hotel. ‘Uncle Hansi’ aka Jean-Jacques Waltz was a French artist and activist of Alsatian origin. He is mostly known for his drawings depicting Alsatian life during and after occupation.
The best way to enjoy Colmar is by foot as the city center is not too big and you can visit most sights in the course of a day. Let yourself be drawn in by the atmosphere and divert from the beaten paths. You will find yourself wandering small and winding alleys full of charm. Little Venice is obviously the touristy center of Colmar. Go there and take a boat trip. You will enjoy a lovely 30 minutes ride and get some insights from your boatman. You can board next to the restaurant La Krutenau where you can buy tickets at the bar inside. Once you’re there enjoy a good Alsatian lunch – opt for the local Riesling and a tarte flambée! You will love it!
There are many more good options for food in town. My friend Louise who went there a few weeks earlier recommended the restaurant L’Epicurien. Unfortunately it was closed during my visit. A great place to enjoy a sweet afternoon break, a healthy lunch, or hearty breakfast is the Atelier de Yann. Oh my, their chocolates are to die for! Go order a coffee and you’ll get a divine handmade chocolate praline. I ended up buying a full bag of chocolates afterwards!
I also used the opportunity to visit two close by villages called Eguisheim and Kaysersberg. Both villages have been selected ‘the prettiest villages of France’ in 2013 (the first) and 2017 (the latter). Now this honor comes with a good influx of tourists but both places are charmingly picturesque. They feel like little film sets from a Brothers Grimm fairytale. Both places are a 10-15 minutes car drive away from Colmar’s city center so it is pretty easy to go and visit both places during one afternoon. Here again, let yourself be drawn in by the surroundings and wander around. You will discover little shops, cafés, restaurant. I brought back some traditional ‘Pain d’épices’ (you can also opt for the traditional Kougelhopf cake).
In a nutshell: I can recommend a weekend trip to Colmar in France. It is really charming and beautiful. It feels like a trip back in time. However, maybe you want to avoid big bank holiday weekends as it get can pretty packed. But other than that: Get a bottle of Riesling, a tarte flambée, et profites-en!
Photography by Igor Josifovic