Colmar, France, is a beautiful village in the heart of the Alsace wine region of France. This village is famous for many things, such as being the inspiration behind the village in Beauty and the Beast, it was the home of the creator of the Stature of Liberty Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, and is filled with tiny canals, earning it the moniker “Little Venice.” Located about one hour across the French and German border, this small town was full of classic French cuisine, specialty wines, beautiful gift shops, and brightly colored buildings.
Where to Stay in Colmar
We spent our weekend at Hotel Quatorze, and it was a wonderful experience. Everyone in Colmar spoke French, and some spoke a bit of English. However, the hotel staff did not understand English at all. We tried finding a language the hotel staff and I, and after trying Spanish, Russian, and Italian, we finally settled on German (which probably should have been our first attempt since it was so nearby). The hotel staff were incredibly kind, and the front desk worker brought us a bottle of water and a bottle of wine to “apologize for not making the check-in smoother,” which we appreciated so much! While out and around town, we picked her up some macarons, and when we left, she gave me a hug and wished us safe travels. Everyone in Colmar treated us extremely well and seemed happy to gesture with us until we understood one another well enough.
Our room was small but clean and comfortable. The shower (the space my husband is standing in above) was a bit different because it was open air and had no way of covering it, which didn’t matter much to us because we’re married, but still, something to be aware of if you’re visiting with friends or family you’re not comfortable bathing around. The hotel was very conveniently located downtown, and we were able to get around town easily from this hub. Many of the signs are only in French, so if you don’t know the language well, be sure to bring a dictionary or phrasebook. We got around just fine because I took a year of French in college, and while I can’t speak it perfectly, I could read all of the signs and menus well enough.
What to See and Do
The town itself is worth the drive if you’re nearby; it’s simply stunning. I recommend spending time walking around Old Town, shown above. Every building is different from its neighbors, and each shutter has a unique cutout representing the family who originally built the home.
There are several museums, such as the Toy Museum and Musée Bartholdi, as well as performance centers, gorgeous churches, a market, and lots of canals to walk along in the “Old Venice” section of town. La Maison des Têtes, Collégiale Saint-Martin de Colmar Church, Koïfhaus, and a number of other historic buildings and landmarks are shown above and definitely worth checking out too.
Walking around the city is an adventure in and of itself as well, particularly if you’re interested in popping into little shops and cafés around the town and admiring the incredible architecture.
What to Eat in Colmar
The food in Colmar was absolutely delicious! We passed by an outdoor macaroon stand, and the owner called us over to try a fresh, warm macaroon that she had just made, and they were positively heavenly! Enticed by her delicious creations, we purchased a small bag and enjoyed them while strolling along the canals, as well as a few other treats for the hotels’ staff, who had been very kind to us. The crêpes featured above were out of this world! Soft, warm, light, and fluffy, and filled with deliciously sweet strawberries and hazelnut cream, I could have eaten 50 of them.
At Restaurant La Soï, we ate flatbread pizzas called Tarte Flambée and salads with fresh fish, pictured above. Chez Hansi, Les Bateliers Restaurant, and Le Fer Rouge were all delicious as well! We couldn’t have visited one of the most famous wine regions in the world without sampling some local vintages, so we headed to Cave Wolfberger for wine tasting, which was so enjoyable and allowed us to explore the country via their specialty wines. If you visit the Alsace wine region, a wine tasting experience is an absolute must! The bakeries scattered around town were constantly baking up fresh bread, pastries, and desserts, and I highly recommend ducking into a few. There’s nothing quite like fresh, hot French bread!
Safety & Language
Colmar felt very safe, and while the locals didn’t speak much English, they were all very kind to us and listened to my attempts to speak French with polite interest, and a few people even pointed out places we should check or eat at. The language barrier wasn’t insurmountable, and the sights in the town were well worth the weekend trip. If you don’t know any French, definitely bring a dictionary and phrasebook with you, or use a translation app like “Converse,” because most people here speak several languages, but not English. In fact, I checked into our hotel in German and ordered one of our meals in Spanish because I didn’t understand the specific questions they were asking me in French, so we tried other languages until we found one that worked for everyone. If you know other languages, you will be able to get by more easily than if you would if you only speak English.
I would recommend planning a day or two to see everything in this village. Strausberg is another lovely small town nearby, so if you have a weekend, you could plan to spend one day in each city.
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