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Best things to do in Colmar
Nestled in the heart of the Alsace region, Colmar is a hidden treasure waiting to be discovered by avid travelers. While Paris may steal the spotlight, this enchanting town offers a unique and unforgettable experience for those seeking a blend of history, culture, and unparalleled beauty. With its vibrant half-timbered houses, winding canals, and a delightful fusion of French and German influences, Colmar is a destination that should not be missed. In this blog post, we will delve into the captivating wonders of Colmar, exploring its charming old town, world-class museums, mouthwatering cuisine, and delightful seasonal festivities. Prepare to embark on a journey through time, where fairytale-like streets and a rich heritage await your exploration.
Stroll Through the Old Town:
Step into a storybook setting as you wander through the cobblestone streets of Colmar’s Old Town. Immerse yourself in the architectural splendor of the well-preserved buildings, which date back to the medieval and Renaissance periods. The half-timbered houses, adorned with colorful facades and blooming flower boxes, create a picture-perfect ambiance. Lose yourself in the labyrinthine alleys, where each turn reveals hidden gems—charming boutiques, cozy cafes, and local artisan shops. Be sure to explore the captivating district of Little Venice, where canals meander through the town, offering idyllic views and postcard-worthy photo opportunities.
Discover the Unterlinden Museum:
For art and history enthusiasts, a visit to the Unterlinden Museum is a must. Housed in a former 13th-century Dominican convent, this renowned museum showcases a remarkable collection of artworks spanning centuries. The highlight is the Isenheim Altarpiece, a masterpiece created by Matthias Grünewald. Allow yourself to be captivated by the altarpiece’s intricate details and emotional power. Beyond this iconic piece, the museum features an array of exhibits, including medieval sculptures, archaeological artifacts, and thought-provoking contemporary artworks. As you journey through the halls, you’ll be transported through time, gaining insights into the region’s rich cultural heritage.
Delight in Alsatian Cuisine:
Colmar is a culinary haven that tantalizes taste buds with its delectable Alsatian cuisine. Influenced by both French and German traditions, the local gastronomy is a delightful fusion of flavors. Indulge in signature dishes such as choucroute garnie (sauerkraut with sausages and charcuterie), tarte flambée (a thin-crust pizza-like dish), and baeckeoffe (a slow-cooked meat and vegetable casserole). As you savor these culinary delights, pair them with exceptional wines from the renowned Alsace wine region. Local wineries offer wine tastings, allowing you to explore the unique characteristics of Alsatian wines, particularly the exquisite white varieties. Colmar’s charming restaurants and wineries provide the perfect backdrop for a culinary journey you won’t soon forget.
Experience Enchanting Seasonal Festivities:
If you have the opportunity to visit Colmar during the holiday season, prepare to be enchanted by the city’s magical atmosphere. Colmar is famous for its charming Christmas markets, which transform the town into a winter wonderland. As December approaches, the streets come alive with festive decorations, twinkling lights, and the scent of mulled wine and gingerbread. Explore the markets nestled within the old town, where wooden chalets offer a wide array of unique crafts, traditional treats, and local specialties. Immerse yourself in the joyful ambiance, as carolers serenade visitors and the spirit of Christmas fills the air. Don’t miss the opportunity to taste regional delights like bredele (Alsatian Christmas cookies) and vin chaud (hot mulled wine) while basking in the enchanting atmosphere.
Indulge in Outdoor Adventures:
Colmar’s proximity to breathtaking natural landscapes provides ample opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts. Discover the picturesque Alsace Wine Route, a scenic journey that winds through vineyards, rolling hills, and quaint villages. Rent a bike and pedal along this idyllic route, immersing yourself in the beauty of the countryside. If hiking is more your style, venture into the nearby Vosges Mountains, which offer a range of trails suitable for various fitness levels. From leisurely walks through forests to challenging mountain hikes, the Vosges Mountains reward explorers with panoramic views and a chance to reconnect with nature. Whether you choose to bike or hike, outdoor adventures in and around Colmar will leave you with unforgettable memories.
Immerse Yourself in the Bartholdi Museum:
For art enthusiasts, a visit to the Bartholdi Museum is a must-do in Colmar. This captivating museum is dedicated to the life and works of the renowned sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, who was born in Colmar. Step inside his birthplace, which now serves as the museum, and explore the exhibitions that highlight Bartholdi’s artistic journey. Admire his sketches, sculptures, and photographs, gaining insights into the creative process behind his iconic masterpieces, including the Statue of Liberty. The museum provides a fascinating glimpse into the life and legacy of this visionary artist, offering a deeper appreciation for his contributions to the world of sculpture.
Visit the Saint-Martin Church:
Colmar is home to several impressive churches, and the Saint-Martin Church is a true architectural gem. This Gothic-style church, with its soaring spires and intricate windows, is a testament to the town’s rich history and religious heritage. Step inside to admire the beautifully ornate interior, featuring vaulted ceilings, stone carvings, and an awe-inspiring pipe organ. Take a moment to appreciate the quiet serenity and spiritual atmosphere of this sacred space. The Saint-Martin Church is not only a place of worship but also a cultural and historical landmark that showcases the remarkable craftsmanship of the past.
Explore the Toy Museum:
Delve into the world of childhood imagination at the Toy Museum in Colmar. This delightful museum houses an extensive collection of toys from various eras, offering a nostalgic journey through playtime history. Discover vintage dolls, antique teddy bears, miniature trains, and a wide array of interactive exhibits that will bring out your inner child. The museum showcases the evolution of toys over the years, providing a fascinating insight into how children’s play has evolved. From traditional wooden toys to modern gadgets, the Toy Museum captures the essence of joy and innocence, making it a must-visit for visitors of all ages.
Take a Canal Cruise:
Experience the enchanting beauty of Colmar from a different perspective by taking a canal cruise. Hop aboard a charming boat and leisurely glide along the canals, allowing the town’s picturesque scenery to unfold before your eyes. Marvel at the reflection of colorful buildings on the water’s surface and soak in the tranquility of the surroundings. A canal cruise provides a unique opportunity to appreciate the architectural charm of Colmar while enjoying a leisurely and romantic excursion. Sit back, relax, and let the soothing rhythm of the water transport you to a state of pure bliss.
Explore the Unterlinden Gardens:
Adjacent to the Unterlinden Museum, the Unterlinden Gardens offer a tranquil retreat in the heart of Colmar. Take a leisurely stroll through these beautiful gardens, which feature meticulously manicured lawns, vibrant flower beds, and serene pathways. Find a quiet bench and bask in the serenity of the surroundings, or bring along a picnic to enjoy in the shade of the trees. The Unterlinden Gardens provide a refreshing escape from the bustling streets, allowing you to connect with nature and appreciate the natural beauty that Colmar has to offer.
In conclusion, Colmar, with its architectural splendor, world-class museums, delicious cuisine, seasonal festivities, and charming outdoor spaces, offers a multifaceted experience that caters to all interests. From exploring the cultural heritage of Bartholdi and the Unterlinden Museum to immersing yourself in the charm of the old town and indulging in Alsatian delights, every moment spent in Colmar is filled with wonder. Whether you’re cruising along the canals, visiting sacred churches, or reliving childhood memories at the Toy Museum, Colmar invites you to create unforgettable memories in this hidden gem of France. So, plan your visit, embrace the unique atmosphere, and let Colmar captivate you with its rich history, captivating art, and undeniable allure. Your journey to Colmar is sure to be a remarkable one. Bon voyage!