5 ISSUES FOR £5 Subscribe to France Magazines today click here

Colmar: an insider’s guide

PUBLISHED: 17:05 18 October 2017

The Petite Venise district in the centre of Colmar © Thinkstock

The Petite Venise district in the centre of Colmar © Thinkstock

Archant

The capital of the Alsace wine region, Colmar is renowned for its pastel-coloured, half-timbered houses and bridge-laced canals that will have you thinking that you have stepped into a fairytale. Here is our insider’s guide to the main attractions, restaurants and property in Colmar

Founded in the 9th century, Colmar nestles on the Alsatian Wine Route and is considered to be the capital of Alsace wine with local vineyards specialising in Riesling and Gewürztraminer varieties. The charming town attracts tourists from France, Britain and beyond, all eager to snap photos of the picture-perfect cobblestone streets lined with half-timbered, medieval and early Renaissance buildings. Colmar is also a great place to try the tasty local Alsatian cuisine with popular dishes here including baeckeoffe (a type of casserole), flammekueche (Alsace’s answer to pizza) and choucroute (sauerkraut).

Tourists gather along the picture-perfect Quai de la Poissonnerie in Colmar © CC BY SA 3.0 Tourists gather along the picture-perfect Quai de la Poissonnerie in Colmar © CC BY SA 3.0

WHAT TO SEE AND DO IN COLMAR

Colmar is a place that looks as if it’s been taken straight out of a story book and its old town is best explored on foot. Dating back to the middle ages, Colmar’s historic centre is a maze of winding cobblestone streets lined with rows of colourful, timer-framed buildings.

But if you only had time for one thing in pretty Colmar, make it La Petite Venise. Straddling the river Lauch, this corner of the old town is the stuff of Instagram – impeccably restored, half-timbered houses, many of which come ablaze with geraniums in the summer months, line the river’s edge creating an indelible image.

Nearby lies the Quai de la Poissonnerie, which is equally photogenic. For further examples of the town’s beauty, don’t miss the Quartier des Tanneurs, a network of pretty canals and yet more half-timbered houses. This where tanners once created their leather products, but today the star attractions are the buildings, including the Hôtel des Chevaliers de Saint-Jean, noted for being built in the style of a venetian palace.

In addition to its picture-perfect streets, are fascinating museums. The Musée Unterlinden, housed in a 13th-century religious convent, is the home of a large collection of local, national and international artworks from prehistoric times to the present day. Its most prized possession is the Isenheim Altarpiece, produced by German renaissance painter Matthias Grünewald.

The town’s other main museum is the Musée Bartholdi, which is dedicated to Colmar-born French sculptor, Auguste Bartholdi. He is best known for designing the Statue of Liberty, and here you can find displays retracing his life with the main highlight being a full-size plaster model of Lady Liberty’s left ear.

_________________________________________________

Related articles:

These are the Alsace villages you should visit

Montpellier: an insider’s guide

_________________________________________________

The famous Isenheim altarpiece on display in the Mus�e Unterlinden � Jean-Pierre Dalb�ra CC BY SA 2.0 The famous Isenheim altarpiece on display in the Mus�e Unterlinden � Jean-Pierre Dalb�ra CC BY SA 2.0

EATING OUT IN COLMAR

A great place for a delicious French meal is La Table du Brocanteur on Rue d’Alspach (menus from €12) where you can tuck into dishes such as scallop carpaccio, magret de canard with oranges and cumquats, all served with fruity Alsatian wines.

For something more sophisticated, try l’Atelier du Peintre on Rue Schongauer. This Michelin-starred bistro (menus from €25), with its art-filled walls, serves up seasonal dishes such as roast quail breast fillet with hazelnut cream and fricassee of wild mushrooms with quince, salsify and oregano jus.

HOTELS IN COLMAR

Budget: Hôtel Turenne is a charming hotel located at the entrance to Colmar’s old quarter, with 56 well-appointed rooms, some with views over the historic centre. Doubles from €99.

Mid-range: Best Western Grand Hôtel Bristol is situated right next to the town’s TGV station, and comes with 57 nicely furnished rooms, a fitness centre and a spa. There is also a brasserie serving traditional Alsace dishes accompanied by regional wines. Doubles from €149.

_________________________________________________

Related articles:

10 alternative city breaks in France

Alsace: regional food and drink

_________________________________________________

Colmar in Alsace © David Espin / Fotolia Colmar in Alsace © David Espin / Fotolia

LIVING IN COLMAR

If living in a medium-sized French town within an idyllic vineyard setting sounds appealing, then Colmar is the town for you.

The capital of the Alsace Wine Route, Colmar has a population totalling just 67,000 inhabitants and retains a strong ‘country town’ atmosphere. It is located just half an hour away from Germany and Switzerland and boasts excellent rail links to both these countries and other parts of France.

Perhaps the town’s greatest calling card is its climate. Sheltered by the neighbouring Vosges Mountains, Colmar enjoys an extremely dry microclimate, and it is the second driest town in France with just 550mm of rainfall per year.

BUYING PROPERTY IN COLMAR

The good news is that property is cheaper than the French national average. However, like many other French towns and villages, properties located in the historic centre will be more expensive. In Colmar’s fairytale old centre you can find quaint, little houses starting from €250,000. If you like the idea of more space and the beautiful Alsatian vineyards as your backdrop, then head to the suburbs where the average house price is €210,000.

_________________________________________________

Related articles:

Alsace-Champagne-Ardenne-Lorraine region guide

Albi: an insider’s city guide

_________________________________________________

Article by France Magazine France Magazine

More from Travel

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Looking for a new route for your next cycling holiday to France? On the ‘Trail of Two Cities’ route you can cycle from London to Paris and discover many beautiful towns and villages along the way

Read more
Cycling in France
Thursday, June 14, 2018

There are 14 villages on the shortlist to win the title of ‘France’s favourite village 2018’ – explore them all and vote in our poll to let us know which one is your favourite

Read more
Monday, June 11, 2018

In a patchwork of landscapes, the Upper Valley of the Aude boasts unspoilt countryside and a protected natural environment, which is perfect for hikers and nature lovers looking to escape the crowds of Carcassonne

Read more
Friday, June 8, 2018

Cycling through the Loire Valley past vineyards and châteaux, dressed in vintage clothes and riding a retro bike… what’s not to love about the Anjou Vélo Vintage?

Read more
Cycling in France
Thursday, June 7, 2018

Need ideas for this summer holiday in France? There are plenty of routes for a multi-activity trip in the Maurienne valley in the French Alps

Read more
French Alps
Tuesday, June 5, 2018

From recycling schemes to public parks and green spaces, a number of French cities are making an effort to become more environmentally friendly. According to a report these are the 10 greenest cities in France

Read more
Pays de la Loire
Friday, June 1, 2018

From famous gardens in Antibes and Nice to less well-known jardins in Menton and Mandelieu-la-Napoule, there are plenty of remarkable gardens to visit along the Côte d’Azur

Read more
Provence-Alpes-Cote d Azur
Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Explore Europe on a CroisiEurope river cruise and discover sunlit vineyards, vibrant cities and fascinating places...

Read more
Boating in France
Friday, May 25, 2018

Fancy something a little different during your next trip to France? Visit one of France’s many weird and wonderful museums

Read more
Culture and attractions
Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Soothe aches and pains and take in beautiful architecure with a visit to these spa towns renowned for their thermal waters

Read more
Short breaks
Subscribe today

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

France Forum

Questions about France? Visit our free France forum to get help and advice from thousands of other Francophiles and expats. Topics include: property, tax, law, travelling, pets, education, healthcare and much more.

Join the forum

Most Read

Join us on social media

France magazine
Living France magazine
French Property News magazine

Enter our competitions

Win books, DVDs, travel and even holidays in France in our great competitions! Take a look at our latest competitions…

Enter now