A charming town located approximately 30 minutes from our Rhine River cruise stop in Breisach, Colmar is considered to be one of the prettiest towns in France. Intrigued by this description, and wanting an opportunity to photograph half-timbered houses, I decided to take this optional tour, despite a little bit of rain. This tour did not disappoint.
Colmar was like stepping into the pages of a fairy tale.
Our walking tour, led by a very enthusiastic local guide, took us through the various districts of Old Town. It was quite interesting learning about the various trades that took place in the different districts (for example the Tanning District where leather was made). The town's architecture was amazing (it really did make me feel like I was in a Brothers Grimm fairy tale) and equally interesting in how certain features defined how well off the tenants were. The Little Venice area was most certainly "photography heaven".
We had about an hour on our own after the tour - enough time to get in some additional pictures, explore some of the boutique food shops and sit down for a beverage, but a few more hours would have been perfect. That said, I had no trouble finding their special Munster cheeses, freshly made macaroons and Alsace wines to take back to have on board ship.
Colmar has an interesting history. Founded in the 9th century, the town (and area) has been largely under French control. However, as a result of the Franco-Prussian war, Colmar was annexed by the German Empire between 1871-1919 and incorporated into the Alsace-Lorraine region. It returned to France in 1919 but was re-annexed by Nazi Germany in 1940. It went back under French control in 1945.
The area today is a delightful blend of French and German influences. While I heard mostly French being spoken by the locals, Germany was most definitely represented, predominantly in the area of food, such as the local specialties sauerkraut and flammkuchen (fresh out of the oven below!) being served in the the traditional Winstubs.
Storks are an important part of the Alsace folklore and history, so much so that nests are built on top of the churches for them. We were quite lucky to see this one. While you can't see it in this picture, this stork was feeding his/her babies!
Beautiful half-timbered houses and quaint cobble stone streets and alleys.
Saint Martin Church, built in 1292.
Colmar is the birthplace of sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi, the designer of the Statue of Liberty. His home today houses the Musee Bartholdi (museum dedicated to his work). Another famous sculpture of his is the "Little Vintner".
Loved the architecture and quirkiness!
Colmar was very fortunate in that much of its Old Town escaped damage during the wars. The buildings are well preserved and draw tourists from all over Europe and the world. Half-timbered houses, cobblestone alleys, rich history, amazing cuisine and Alsace wines - a stroll through the town is well worth your time, rain or shine!
Article originally written 5/18/2017.
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