I couldn’t go to Alsace without a visit to Colmar – I’ve read so much about this place over the years and was really excited to be finally going…
We drove into the town and to be honest I was a little disappointed. After the beauty of towns like Riquewihr, St Hippolyte and Ribeauvillė amongst others, and – having seen plentiful photographs of Colmar and its splendid architecture I was surprised to find myself navigating heavy traffic in a very modern city!
We managed to park pretty easily in a municipal car park and followed signs for the Tourist Office. On the way there were a couple of nice buildings but nothing like what I’d imagined, it seemed very much a normal, modern, urban place. I made my way to the tourist office, grabbed a free town map and set off to find the sites which I’d read about – the Rue des Tanneurs, Quai des Poissoniers and Musée Bartholdi (the sculptor who designed the iconic Statue of Liberty).
As I walked it became evident that on entering the town of Colmar you go through the new area and then suddenly, you come smack bang into the old town… the place of dreams of numerous photographers the world over and it is really stunning.
It’s not quite as fairy-tale as Riquewihr, and there are modern infringements that I didn’t notice in Ribeauvillé, the road was being repaired on the famed Quai des Poissoniers which made photos a bit more of a challenge but it was an amazing place. Everywhere you go there are historic reminders, fantastic architectural detail, the wonderful tall buildings in muted colours, stained glass windows, magnificent flower displays, ironwork on grand doors. sneaked into someone’s front garden to get a look at an amazing balcony and there was a plaque saying that Voltaire had lived there at one point.
The architectural details are everywhere, you’ll have to look all around and up the tops of buildings not to miss anything.
It is very busy in the summer months in Colmar and also at Christmas when the whole town goes crazy for Noel, with fabulous decorations, Christmas markets and quite possibly a dusting of snow.
Colmar grew and grew on me as I walked around and took it in. Don’t be fooled by the modern exterior, head for the old town with its restaurants and bars, lovely covered market (daily) that on a Thursday extends into the streets around. To really appreciate this town, you’ll need to walk without rushing, giving you plenty of time to pop your head round the door of the boulangeries to ogle the cakes, and to look up as you go because the details on the old buildings are extraordinary and the hanging baskets are a joy.
Colmar is a fairy-tale looking town with a modern vibe.