Where fairy tales come to life …
Ever wanted to step foot into a beloved fairy tale? Well, have I got the answer for you! In the North-Eastern corner of France, bordering Germany, one can finally step foot into a real-life fairy tale village. Now I can’t make any promises on finding your prince charming here, but who knows.
Colmar is the Alsatian wine capital, sitting on the Alsatian wine route. The town is renowned for its architectural landmarks, museums and its charming old town. The preserved traditional houses, spectacular cuisine and world class wines really do make this country town a must visit any time of year.
How to Get There
Although Colmar has its own airport it is not served by many flights. The closest airport to Colmar is EuroAirport Basel Mulhouse Freiburg. The airport is served by frequent services from a multitude of cities across Europe.
From EuroAirport you have two main options to reach Colmar
1. Car Hire
Hire a car and drive yourself the short, forty-five minutes to the charming French town.
Cost of hire varies, take a look at rental options here.
If car hire is not an option for you, don’t stress you can still easily make your way to Colmar. FlixBus runs four services daily between Basel EuroAirport and Colmar with costs ranging between €9 and €20. Journey time averages between sixty and ninety minutes. Pre-purchasing tickets online will get you the best price.
Tip: When exiting the airport, ensure to take the French Exit as the bus departs the airport from the French side.
Where to Stay
There are many accommodation options within the town of Colmar, however it is dominated mostly by hotels. I tend to stay more in hostels when I travel, so with limited options in that department I veered towards booking an Airbnb.
I had a wonderful experience staying in an Airbnb, just a short 5-10 minute walk from the old town centre. I rented a beautiful room from my host Edouard and would 100% recommend staying at his modern apartment.
What to See & Do
Little Venice & The Fishmonger’s District
Explore the small, winding streets of Little Venice on foot. Discover the beautiful coloured houses, delightful restaurants and charm of the small region. Although there are no gondolas like in Venice, Italy, you can still go for a cruise along the canal. Jump on a small boat and cruise along learning about the town’s history and see the city from another angle.
Canal cruises cost €6 and the return journey takes 25 minutes.
Find this wonderful market in the Fishmonger’s District. With local produce for sale and a selection of cafe's this market is one not to be missed. Why not order some traditional cuisine and sit out on the terrace over looking the canal and colourful houses of the Fishmonger District?
Alsatian Wine Tour
Online you’ll find many wine tours operated by tour companies. I personally found these to be quite expensive, so I have an alternative for you. Pick up a map of the Alsatian Wine Route from the Tourism Office and then make your way to Lulu Cycles. Hire yourself a bicycle and ride through the vineyards for a self-guided, nonrestrictive tour of the divine wine region. Read more about my Solo Wine Tour here.
Full day bike hire from Lulu’s will cost you €10.
The Koïfhus is the former customs house located in central old town. It is built in gothic and renaissance style.
Built in 1537, this medieval house is the first sample of renaissance architecture in Colmar. A symbol of old Colmar, the Pfister house became such a monument due to its double storey corner oriel, wooden gallery and mural paintings, representing secular and biblical scenes.
Where to Eat
Colmar is home to a large portion of Michelin star restaurants, which can make going out for a spontaneous dinner a little complicated. Travelling solo, I didn’t think that finding a table for dinner would be difficult, especially given that the town is rather small. However, I was sorely mistaken. The majority of restaurants that I came across were Michelin starred and required a reservation, even for one. I did however manage to find a couple of restaurants which didn’t require reservations (these were not Michelin star).
A modern and elegant café located in old town Colmar serving a combination of modern and traditional Alsatian cuisine. My visit took me to enjoying a light breakfast in the beautifully styled café. A delightful hot chocolate was the perfect autumn warmer after an early morning start. And it was accompanied, by easily, the best Pain Au Chocolat I have ever had!
A cosy tea room located within old town, it the perfect fit for a morning treat. Le Boudoir boasts an extensive tea menu with numerous infusions that you could simply spend all day just trying all their wonderful creations. They also offer a menu of sweet treats and savoury snacks. Why not try their traditional Kugelhopf with a delicious tea or coffee to start your morning?
Simply put, this is where you will find the best pastries in town. Try their unbeatable macarons, I have never had better.
Marché couvert de Colmar
Colmar’s covered food market is a great place to enjoy some lunch. Although small, the market features local merchants selling high quality produce including fruits and vegetables, bakery goods, fish and meats. In addition to the merchants, one can find a few cafés to dine at. I dined at La Terrasse du Marche and enjoyed myself a traditional Tarte Flambée, accompanied of course by an Alsatian Riesling. Tarte Flambée is a traditional Alsatian dish made from thinly rolled bread dough topped with créme fraiche, onions and bacon. Essentially it is a local take on pizza, and my goodness it surely is delicious.
Find this humble café opposite the Koïfhus in old town. Perfect for a spot of lunch on a day of exploring the wonderful town of Colmar. Sit outside and take part in some people watching or alternatively enjoy your meal in their cosy restaurant. Their menu features mainly burgers, sandwiches and salads but also includes some traditional tastes. I tried their Currywurst, a German dish of pork sausage with tomato curry sauce.
An Italian restaurant located in the old town, serving largely Italian dishes but also offering traditional Alsace cuisine. The cosy restaurant serves up delicious homely dishes with friendly service. I tried the Baeckeoffe, an Alsatian casserole dish literally translating to ‘baker’s oven’. The dish is created with a combination of potatoes, onions, beef, pork and mutton all marinated overnight with juniper berries and Alsatian white wine before being slow cooked in a ceramic casserole dish. It was absolutely divine and enjoyed thoroughly with some local Alsatian wine.
Brasserie Schwendi Bier u Winstub
Find this pub style restaurant in the old town, nearby La Romantica. Visit for a simple, yet hearty meal and traditional cuisine. I enjoyed some traditional spätzle and chicken and partnered it with a local Alsatian Apple Cider.
If you were interested at dining at one of the Michelin Star restaurants have a look here and make a reservation before you travel.
Colmar has been voted Europe’s best hidden gem (2015), been listed as a Top Place to Go in the New York Times (2016) and boasts one of the Top 10 Christmas markets; What’s not to love? The towns popularity is ever growing so get there before it loses its untouched, small town charm.
So, what are you waiting for? Book your visit to Colmar now and explore this stunning town!