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Colmar: The Prettiest Town in Alsace

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Colmar is one of the most beautiful towns we have ever seen. Its cobblestone streets and walkways, flower-lined canals, sidewalk cafes, and ancient half-timbered houses make it a photographer's dream.

Think Disney's Beauty and the Beast meets real life. Colmar is such a pretty village that it could be Belle's home town.

Prettiest street in Colmar, France

France's Alsace region was never on our radar until we saw our Rhine cruise itinerary. We hesitated to sign up because it was an optional excursion (read: additional cost), but we went for it anyway. As we saw it, it might be our only opportunity to visit.

Read more: What Is on a Rhine River Cruise Itinerary?

Colmar is not on the Rhine river, so our tour began with a bus ride through Alsace. It was nothing like Strasbourg, the region's capital city. Alsace is full of centuries-old villages and half-timbered homes, but none were as pretty as Colmar.

Once in town, enjoyable walk through Colmar's medieval streets. Our tour guide brought us by all of the important sights and explained about the history of the city. The culture in this region has been shaped by wars between France and Germany. Alsace is a coveted piece of real estate so Colmar has alternated between calling itself French or German for centuries.

The logical result is that it has morphed into unique blend of the two cultures. They may be a part of France on the map but the architecture looks German. Their language on the other hand? It's neither. The locals now speak their own distinct dialect, Alsatian.

Tangent: Come to think of it, there are Alsatian dogs, too. But we didn't see any while we were there.

This is why I think Colmar is the prettiest town in France.

Medieval street signs in Colmar

Back in the day when almost everyone was illiterate, shopkeepers created a different way to indicate what they sold. They made little wrought-iron brackets to hang up over the door. I like how this modern-day barkeeper is keeping with the theme.

You can see a couple of the signs hanging in this photo. One's much older than the other. 🙂

I have to confess that a lot of it was interesting I have forgotten most of what she told us. I was quite distracted by the ancient half-timbered houses.

Half-timbered houses in Colmar, France

No one builds homes like this anymore.

As if that wasn't enough to enchant me, the occasional clop of horse-drawn carriages really added to the town's charm.

Horse-drawn carriage in Colmar

What to see in Colmar

After our tour, we set off to explore the town. Take a look at Wikipedia's list of Colmar's main sights and you'll see that this is a city that needs a lot of time to enjoy. Don't stop by for a day, or even just one night. If you do, you'll leave thirsty for more, as we did.

This was the birthplace of Bartholdi, who designed the Statue of Liberty, and his home is open to tourists. If we had had more time I would have loved to visit but there was so much to see that we couldn't bring ourselves to spend so much of our time in one place.

Another major attraction is a 13th century Dominican religious sisters' convent. It is the home of the Unterlinden Museum and the 500-year-old Isenheim altarpiece.

Église Saint-Martin in Colmar, France

After the tour we spent our time wandering through back streets and visiting various food establishments. In other words: practically drooling in a chocolate shop and discovering aromatic cheeses that we'd never known existed.

Local (Alsatian) cheeses … are you drooling yet?

We also made it a point to pop into a wine shop to see what they had on offer because Colmar is situated along the Alsatian Wine Route and calls itself the “Capital of Alsatian Wine.”

Have you ever been to a place as pretty as this?

Inspired?
Colmar was just one of our Rhine River cruise ports. I have a whole collection of stories about our trip that you'll also enjoy.

See

For more photos, see our Colmar photo gallery.

Read

Click here for a link to our stories about other nearby destinations.

Written by Linda

Linda is multilingual and has been to over 50 countries. Her insatiable love of travel, cuisine, and foreign languages has inspired her to create As We Saw It with her husband Dan, a professional photographer. Her goal is to make travel easier for others and to offer a brief escape to another land.

20 thoughts on “Colmar: The Prettiest Town in Alsace

  1. Hi, thank you for sharing your beautiful photos and stories. So beautiful! I am planning a river cruise with Viking next year i was just wondering how much did you pay extra for the Colmar excursion.

    1. We can’t recall how much we paid for Colmar, Raihan. Anyway, it was a few years ago and their prices likely have increased since then. On Viking’s Grand European Tour in 2015, the excursions ranged somewhere between $35-$65 per person.

  2. We need to return to France so we can see more than Paris. It’s definitely a country we would like to explore at length. I love the story behind the wrought iron hanging signs outside of each business!

  3. We had an excellent wine tasting in one of the family run wineries along the wineries along the Alsace wine route and stopped at Colmar on the way back – a very enjoyable excursion on our Rhine River Cruise

    1. Well, Alsace used to be Germany, does that count? As for the cheese, thankfully our cruise ship had a never-ending supply of local cheeses on the buffet. And yes, we did eat our fill!

  4. Colmar is a beautiful little town! We were there on a Sunday, so it was practically shut up, but beautiful nonetheless. I love your photos!

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