I don’t know that Colmar is actually a “hidden” gem, though it is most certainly a gem. It’s not as well known as other French cities, however, such as Paris, or Nice, or even nearby Strasbourg (the principal city in the Alsace). Whenever I told people I was going to Colmar, I always had to explain to them where it was and why it was so special.
Almost a year ago, I discovered this little town via, wait for it…Pinterest. Yep, true story. So after discovering this charming little town, I decided I was going to go there one day, and I had no idea one day would come so soon. Tucked away in the Alsace wine country, near the Swiss and German border in France, is this wonderful little town, founded in the 9th century and completely untouched by WWII.
My entire Euro vacation this year was planned based on my desire to come to this darling little town. I decided to fly into Zürich, and do a day trip to Colmar, as it is just a couple hours away by train. You can also fly into Basel or Strasbourg.
When you walk out of the train station, there is nothing recognizable in the small city that appears to be “Colmar,” the town straight out of a fairytale book. Luckily there is a sign when you walk out towards the street, that points you to the “Centre Ville,” the City Center. So just turn left onto that main street, and keep walking until you run into what you expected to walk out into upon exiting the train station.
Once you get there, your mouth will drop a little as you feel like you’re walking through Fantasy Land in Disneyland, only to realize that this is for real and not a fantasy. Voltaire once roamed these streets!!
There is a little green train and a little white train you can take around town on a little town tour, but also make sure you walk the town. Every corner you turn is a picture perfect painting. There are plenty of cafes and brasseries, so grab an outside table and get in some good people watching. Not to mention, you will be pleased with the array of both French and German cuisine.
St. Martin’s Church is a massive cathedral in the old town, and the architectural detail is mesmerizing, as many of Europe’s cathedrals are. It’s especially ginormous, next to the quaintness of all the other surrounding buildings, as if it were the city’s guardian. The grand Baroque organ case inside is absolutely amazing. I walked all around it with my head tilted up practically the whole time. I can't even fathom what it took to build such cathedrals in the 13th century...amazing.
There are also museums you can visit, though I did not venture into any, so I cannot tell you how they are. I think just wandering the streets is plenty to see. Little Venice is as picturesque as any postcard you’ve ever seen. There are also tons of fun shops to poke your head into. As you stand amidst the colorful and historic buildings, and you remember what you walked out into from the train station, it almost feels as though this was made just as an attraction. But when you remember that this is no attraction—this is living history. It’s quite magical. I don’t really know how else to describe it. You just have to experience it for yourself.
If you have time, make your way to one of the fine vineyards. After all, you are in wine country when you’re there.
BIG LOVE & HUGS