Colmar in the heart of Alsace is one of the major trip treats you can help yourself in this part of Europe. Go and have your Beauty and the Beast moment!
I know that many see Colmar as a winter destination because of the famous Christmas market, a rival to Strasbourg! But believe me, it’s worth visiting is spring or summer as well.
Let’s discover together what should be in your to-do list for it.
1. Walk through Parc du Champ de Mars
If you arrive by train, probably the Champ de Mars Park is the first attraction you see. It’s a nice green area with green grass, lindens, and during our visit there was a wonderful food market with the stalls serving cuisines of all around the world.
2. Spot Fontaine Bruat (and General Rapp monument)
There are two monuments in the Champ de Mars Park worth your attention both made by a famous resident of Colmar and the crest of the Statue of Liberty, Auguste Bartholdi. Those are the General Rapp monument and Fontaine Bruat.
Admiral Armand-Joseph Bruat is an important figure of the 19th century for the French – and he was born in Colmar. The fountain was opened in 1864, destroyed during WWII, and then restored in 1958.
3. Visit the St. Martin’s Church
St Martin’s church, or Église Saint-Matthieu, is one of the most important religious buildings of Colmar.
Its gorgeous reddish tower and tiled roof have been dominating the city for almost 1000 years: it was constructed around 1234-1365. Walk inside for its somber interiors to admire the stained glass and the organ.
4. Don’t miss Presbytère Protestant de Colmar
Presbytère Protestant de Colmar is a very photogenic church in the centre of Colmar which dates back to 1606 – it is located not far from St Martin’s church.
Old hospital and a lovely park with blooming wisteria are located nearby too!
5. Admire the Dominican church
Dominican church’s construction began in 1277 when Dominicans were called to Colmar and was completed in the 14th century. It showcases famous La Vierge au buisson de roses (1473) by Martin Schongauer.
However check the hours in advance of your visit: the Church was closed for several hours during lunchtime and we didn’t manage to go inside – but we enjoyed the market on the square very much anyway.
6. Explore the Unterlinden Museum
The Unterlinden Museum in the first place is a magnificent architectural gem: it’s located inside a 13th-century Dominican convent. It was used as public baths at the beginning of the 20th century. Go here to see the Isenheim altarpiece.
7. Fell in love with Petite Venise
Petite Venise, or the Little Venice, is probably the prettiest and no doubt the most loved by tourists part of Colmar. Just imagine the Notting Hill houses but those are a few centuries-old Fachwerk houses by the water side. And to make it more magical, there are lots of fish in the stream of river Launch too!
Little Venice is the area where butchers and fishmongers lived, and you can walk along the Quai de la Poissonnerie dating back to at least the 14th century, or take a cruise along the river.
Tanner’s District, or the Quartier des Tanneurs, dating back to the 17-18 centuries was located here too. The whole area was renovated in 1978-1981.
8. Have your moment at Fontaine Roesselmann
The 19th century Fontaine Roesselmann with the stature of Bartholdi again is another gorgeous landmark to see in Colmar. Located in the Little Venice area, it commemorates Jean Roesselmann, a local hero of Colmar famous for fighting for the liberty of the city from the Bishop of Strasbourg with the support of the future emperor Rudolf of Habsburg.
9. Pop into the Covered Market
The Covered market would make a lovely spot on your way to or from Little Venice. It dates back to 1865, and inside you can find a few dozen of stalls with ready-to-eat food, local produce, and flowers and plants.
10. Walk along the Grand Rue
Grand Rue as the name suggests is the Main Street of Colmar! If not for the crowds and tourist groups, it could be easily mistaken for some fairytale street like the one in the Beauty and the Beast (although some say that cartoon’s provincial town was modelled after a German city called Eguisheim).
Follow its cobblestoned path to see some great architectural pieces – and there are lots of eating and shopping opportunities there too! And on the other notes: the other streets of Colmar are no less picturesque too just less crowded.
11. Learn about Bartholdi
Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi is one of the most famous sculptors of the 19th century: he’s the creator of the Liberty Enlightening the World, or the Statue of Liberty as we know it, gifted to the US from France. Also, he’s behind the Lion of Belfort and the Vercingetorix in Clermont-Ferrand, as well as a number of monuments in the US.
The museum was opened in 1922, and his sculpture named Les grands soutiens du monde − 1902 is located in the museum courtyard. And he was born in Colmar on Rue Des Marchands where now you can visit his museums and learn more about his life and his sculptures! Some of them you can see around the Colmar.
There is also a Bartholdi path around the city which is marked with metal triangles with the Statue of Liberty image located right on the pavement!
12. Fell in love with Maison Pfister
Maison Pfister with its pretty turret and colorful frescoes is a gem of the Renaissance architecture of Colmar (I’m talking about some others below). It dates back to the first half of the 16th and was built for the merchant and hatter named Ludwig Schurer. The name comes from the family that restored the house and lived there from 1841 to 1892.
13. Explore the Maison Adolph
Maison Adolph is another architectural must-see in Colmar. It’s located just behind the St Martin’s church on Place de la Cathédrale – and probably it’s one of the oldest buildings you can see in Colmar because it dates back to 1350! Note the gothic features of this house and the 16th-century lion heads on the well nearby. Note that currently the area is under the renovation.
14. Find Koïfhus
Koïfhus is another building you can’t miss around the city: it dates to 1433-1480 and it used to be the Customs House. The Federation of Ten Free Cities of Alsace used to meet here too up to the late 17th century.
The turret and the tiled roof were added during the restoration of the late 19th century.
15. See La Maison des Têtes
La Maison des Têtes, or the House of the Heads, is really what you expect it to be: it’s a palace with 106 stone different heads or masks on the facade – and all its windows are different too! Originally it was built in the 17th century for Anton Burger, the merchant and the mayor of Colmar. At the top of the building, there is a city symbol – the Tonnelier de Colmar – by Bartholdi and dating to 1902.
Another Renaissance building to see in Colmar is the Maison des Chevaliers de Saint-Jean dating to 1608.
16. Play at the Musée du Jouet de Colmar
The Toy Museum, or the Musée du Jouet de Colmar, is a place for you if you’re interested in antique toys, the history of toys, or if you’re visiting with kids. The museum is located in the former cinema and has a few different zones.
There is an activity area where children can try some games, an exhibition area with trains, railways, teddy bears, dolls, etc dating from the 19th century up to the 90s, and a shop.
17. Take a ride on the Carrousel
We love a good Carrousel ride (and we’ve almost become carousel experts now since the birth of our baby having tried the merry-go-rounds in Paris, NYC, London, and Pescara!), and Colmar has not one but two carousels for you!
One is located in the Champs de Mars and dates to 1900: it’s the largest wooden carousel in the whole of France and it can get really busy. We opted for the smaller carousel in the very city center at the Place de la Mairie: it’s less buddy and equally beautiful – and the tokens can be used on both carousels.
18. See the Schwendi Fountain
Schwendi Fountain near the Koïfhus is probably one of the most famous fountains of Colmar – and it dates to 1898. It’s dedicated to Lazarus von Schwendi, a 16th-century military hero who defended Château du Hohlandsbourg.
And why does he hold a vine in his hand? Well, it seems that he also introduced Pinot Gris, or Tokay, grape to this region which is the base for all Alsace wine! The statue was designed by Bartholdi.
19. Try local delicacies…
There are a few gastronomical experiences you must have while in Colmar! Munster cheese is one of the specialties – you’ll see a few shops on your way through the city specialising specifically in dairy products.
Another must-try is Tarte Flambée – this is something similar to thin crispy focaccia (I must apologize to all my French followers for this analogy but it really helps) loaded with different toppings, savory or sweet. We went for the Norwegian in Colmar and then had something very similar with cheese, meats, and onion in Basel. Pretzels and different sweet goodies such as nougat are also in you must-try list!
20. …and Alsace wines
And if you’re into wines, Colmar is a great location for sampling Alsace wines such as Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Muscat, and Pinot Gris! You can just go to a restaurant with a good wine list or if you have more time, pop into the Domaine Robert Karcher et Fils.
21. Look for the storks
Finally, look for the storks, the symbol of Colmar! Those birds are told to have nests on the roofs however sadly I didn’t spot any, just the toy versions.
You might also likely other blogs about France:
- Photoshoot in Paris: the basics
- Paris: festive edition 2021/2022
- Remembering Notre-Dame de Paris
- Christmas in Nice
- Loire Valley
- Trip to Champagne region
- Laurent-Perrier Domain
- 15 facts about champagne
Hope you liked my blog,