Wander into the ravishing town of Colmar Alsace, France’s “Little Venice”
According to millions of people, two of the most romantic cities in the world are Paris and Venice. But, did you know that France has a city called mostly known for its “Little Venice” as well? It is Colmar in Alsace.
The city is distinguished for its well-preserved old town, architectural landmarks, museums, situated on the Alsatian Wine Route, and considers itself to be the “Capital of Alsatian Wine”
You may have already heard about the city of Colmar Alsace before since I’ve mentioned it in my previous post. Yes! You’re right, Colmar can be found in the Haut-Rhin department, France’s famous wine region, Alsace. The third-largest commune in Alsace after Strasbourg and Mulhouse.
Colmar as the Alsatian city of Alsace
Colmar offers a romantic Alsatian city destination to its visitors. Its beauty incites lovers to visit its romantic streets covered with large half-timbered houses and canals (French-style little Venice), floral displays, amazing cuisine, and famous wines make it a key for sweetheart/lovers’ destination.
As the capital of the Alsacian wines, Colmar situated near the vineyards between the Vosges and the Rhine giving its visitors an inspiring glimpse of 1000 years of European history.
With its 70,000 inhabitants, Colmar maintains a ‘Country Town’ atmosphere. And delights visitors to its “Made in Alsace” products, from food to accessories, decorations, and other artisan hand made products.
Its historical center is categorized as a protected area. And has benefited from restoration and continuous enhancements for more than 20 years.
Our One Day Tour in Colmar
The first time I’ve heard the city called Colmar was way back years ago. It was from an Asian News on TV, a Chinese series was filmed around the area of Colmar that’s why it became a well-known tourist destination.
Honestly? I had high hopes of visiting this city, I was expecting a charming and delightful city that would make me visit it over and over again.
Checking upon arrival in Colmar Alsace, it was with Hubby and my mother in law. We park the car at the Parking Place Rapp, located near Square Hansi. From there, we started walking to get to the center area of Colmar.
Thus, I was expecting to see some timbered houses in this area and yet I haven’t seen one yet. After a while, we entered into a small route heading the way to a souvenir shop, and there, I saw some half-timbered houses grinning to me, saying, “here we are” (haha).
We continued roaming around until we arrived at the Dominican Church. This church dates back to the first half of the 14th century. It is an important example of the mendicant orders architecture, even if the Dominicans arrived in 1278, were temporarily driven out of the city in 1330.
Wandering in this square is one of the magical moments in Colmar Alsace. Here, you can see the narrow streets filled with half-timbered houses like in Obernai.
They are magnificent! I begin to take some photos on my right and my left, I just can’t stop clicking that shot (take a picture) button.
Thinking about how these Alsatian cities resemble each other, it’s just crazy, right? I thought this was the end of the ravishing view of Colmar, but when I continued walking, I saw more and more of this magnificent sceneries, and it was fantastic!
Advancing further, Mom-in-law and Hubby are busy looking at some souvenirs to buy. While me, busy taking photos with my new photography phone lens – Bomgogo Govision L6 Combo 8 in 1 HD Lens Kit. Check it out, if you love to take photos from your phone, whilst on your travels.
St Martin’s Church
We go on forward, and the next spot to see was St Martin’s Church. The church square was packed with crowded people and there’s even a Marché (Market) on the area.
I just take some photos and vlogging at the same time, while people were looking at me, cause I’m taking with my phone’s camera.
St Martin’s Church was built between 1235 and 1365. It is an important example of Gothic architecture in Alsace. The tower was replaced three years later, by the original lantern bulb which gives the Church its characteristic silhouette.
During the most recent restoration, foundations of a church from the year 1000 and traces of extensions from the 11th and the 12th centuries were found. Inhabitants of Colmar consider Saint Martin’s collegiate church as their cathedral.
House of Arcades
After roaming around the city, we’ve decided to take a break. It was around 1:00 pm time for food. We have found this place, a restaurant Brasserie Restaurant des Arcades located in the street of Grand Rue.
It was a straight street that leads you to see the famous gingerbread house from the postcard.
The building that the restaurant situated was the Former Protestant presbytery (House of arcades). The House of Arcades is a German Renaissance style designed by the architect Albert Schmidt.
He was also the architect of the house called the House of the St. John’s Knights and The House of Heads, the author of this building on the Grand Rue.
House of Arcades is unique because it is bordered at each end by a scrolled gable and an oriel window.
Our Lunch Break
For our lunch, I ordered a pizza with mushrooms and ham. Hubby had some hamburger patty with fries and salads. Mom-in-law had also pizza but with ham and cheese. If you’re looking for a simple lunch and not a sophisticated one, this restaurant would fit you.
Maison Au Pèlerin
Finally, after our lunch break, we went to this beautiful timbered house. It’s called Maison au Pélerin, located on the 25th of Grand Rue street. I could say that it is one of the most beautiful houses that you would encounter in Colmar.
The color of the house surely makes it different from others. A slightly reddish and pinkish matte color and it’s elegant designed timbered style makes alluring.
Taking photos of the Maison au Pélerin took me a while, yes, believe it or not. I stayed for about 5-10 minutes, just to take a solo photo of the house not including the crowded tourists around it.
Travel tips: Another thing that you should know, is that this place is one of the crowded places in the city. So be sure to take care of your personal belongings.
Koïfhus or the former Customs House according to its history had a strategic place at the confluence of the Grand’Rue and the rue des Marchands (two of the major roads in the medieval city)
Reading about the information of Koïfhus, it is the older public local building and had from its creation a double function. The ground floor was used as a warehouse and as a place of taxation for imported and exported goods.
The floor was used for the meetings of the deputies of the Décapole, the federation of the 10 imperial cities of Alsace, which was created in 1534.
Koïfhus was occupied by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry from 1870 to 1930 and by a catholic boy school and an Israelite school in the late 19th century. Today, it became a place where manifestations and public activities take place.
The Fishmonger’s district
Strolling around the historic areas of Colmar Alsace, now it’s the time to show you some of the gorgeous and starstruck landscape of the city. We start at the fishmonger’s district or Quai de la Poissonnerie.
This place is where most of the professional fishermen and boatmen of Colmar lived. They were in a powerful corporation. The caught fishes were stored in fish ponds or sold in the fishmonger’s district.
Since it’s a very known place, your first nemesis would the tourist roaming around here. If you are a photographer, you know that it’s gonna be a chaotic day for you. So better come here before sunrise to get a wonderful uncrowded perfect postcard photo.
La Petite Venise
Colmar may not be the capital of the Alsace region, but, it has proven a lot to its tourists and visitors. With its attractive cobblestones, narrow streets surrounding with vivid half-timbered houses. Another features to be proud of is their Little Venice.
It is the name given to the course of the River Lauch in Colmar. Since, there are houses on both sides of the river, which serves the southeast of the city.
This district starts behind the Koïfhus, goes through the fishmonger’s district, to the bridges Turenne, and Saint-Pierre. It is therefore at the beginning of the Krutenau.
One of the ideal ways, to visit the Little Venice of Colmar Alsace is of course, by its boat trips. This boat trip will bring you through the residential Maraîchers district with a duration of 30 minutes.
The boat slowly streams over the water, granting you enjoy the scenery of the timbered houses from both sides of the river.
End of the Boat Tour
As far as I know, there are two areas of the starting boat trip in the Little Venice, first is at the La Krutenau and the other one from Rue de la Herse just alongside the St. Pierre Bridge.
The boat trips company near the bridge is Sweet Narcisse. From their details, the prices for the boat tour guided is 6 euros per person and free admission for children under 10 years old.
And if you are curious about our tour, No, we didn’t take the boat trip. We had a bunch of reasons, but, I’d love to take one next time. We went for a drink instead and continued to stroll in the city.
Travel tips: You can go to the small street (Rue de la Herse) leading to the Sweet Narcisse boat trips starting point. And there, you can take wonderful photos of the boats and the river.
Other Places to visit in Colmar Alsace
Visiting, the whole Colmar city, in one day, maybe feasible but, on our rhythm of the tour, we weren’t capable of visiting every inch of the city. There were tons of interesting and historic places to visit still, so if you are planning to visit this Alsatian city, make sure to make your plan ahead of time.
Some of the places that I would recommend you visit – Voltaire’s Residence, Adolph House, House of Heads, The Pfister house, St. Peter’s Chapel and many more.
As for museums, here’s some that you have to check out: the Unterlinden Museum, Toy Museum, Natural History and Ethnography Museum, The Hansi Village & Museum, and Museum of the Municipal Factories.
Travel Guide Colmar Alsace France