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 and specialty wines, beautiful gift shops, and brightly colored buildings.
Where to Stay
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 odd, 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. 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 phrase book. We got around just fine, because I took a year of French in college and can’t speak it well, but I could read the signs and menus well enough that we were able to survive haha).
What to See
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 a different color than its neighbors, and each shutter has a unique cutout that represents the family who built the home originally. 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!
What to Eat
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 delicious sweet strawberries and hazelnut cream, I could have eaten 50 of them.
At Restaurant La Soï, we ate flat bread 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 breads, pastries, and desserts, and I highly recommend ducking into a few. There’s nothing quite like fresh, hot, French breads!
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. I would recommend planning a day or two to see everything in this village. Strausberg is another small town that was nearby and also beautiful, so if you have a weekend, you could plan to spend one day in each city!
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