Europe off the Beaten Path!!

Alsatian wine is usually white wine made from grapes and has a fruity flavour. The distinctness is on account of specifically written words "Vin d'Alsace" indicating Wine from Alsace which distinguishes it from the wine grown in Burgundy and in Bordeaux. 

On the Route du Vin expect to pass vineyards, castles, quaint little villages and lots of character

Bartholdi - the Creator of the Statue of Liberty gifted by France to the USA in the 18th century was born in Colmar

Numerous cafes adorn the side walks of Colmar. 

day 2 in colmar - route du win (the alsatian wine route)

Experience the Alsatian wine route. If you can drive yourself, do so, else plenty of companies offer tours on the Alsatian Wine Route. Pass by charming little towns on the way. The first on the route from Colmar could be Kayserberg - another charming medieval town and the birthplace of Dr. Schweitzer. 

​Next - check on the famous castle of Haut Koenigsburg in Orschwiller. But definitely stop for an elongated lunch or coffee break in Ribeauville, one of the most charming villages you would encounter on the Route Du Vin. Especially check out the renaissance fountains. Time permitting visit, Riquevihr also known as the "Pearl of the Vineyard". Time permitting also visit Obernai - north of Colmar. Do not forget to sip on the fine Alsatian wine on the way. 

 two day itinerary in colmar - day 1

The first day in Colmar can be spent by spending time in its Old Town. The best way would be to start with Little Venice. A 30 minute boat ride along La Petite Venice gazing at the colourful half timbered buildings and cafes would be a wonderful way to start in Colmar! (Cost of Boat trip is Euro 6 per person)

​For lunch head to the Koifhus (Old Customs House). The Koifhus is German for Old Customs House. Its here 500 years ago that the League of Trading Cities was formed. However today it houses a fine restaurant by the same name as well as many local exhibitions. The food at Koifhus (the restaurant) is lovely in fine medieval time architecture with its pretty little courtyard and many buildings. 

After lunch one has a couple of options - head to the Musee d'Unterlinden (Unterlinden Museum) -  a fine museum for art works by Grunewald as well as Schoengauer. Depending on your orientation, one can easily end up spending more than half a day here itself.   (Cost of admission including audio guise is Euro 8 per person)

The evenings can be relaxed. Spend time in the old town and experience its relaxed atmosphere. Sit in a cafe, indulge in local Alsatian wine experience and experience the magic of Colmar under lights!

accommodation in colmar

Colmar is an exception to the French cost of living. In other words it is possible to stay in Colmar relatively cheap when compared to any other destination in the country. Hotels are available in plenty and range from Euro 40 for a 2 star property to Euro 100-120 for a 4 star property. 

​In addition to the hotels, locals also let out their apartments and for a tourist this could mean cost savings in addition to staying in better location. Most of the apartment rentals are situated near the old town and hence optimising the location of stay. Also, average apartment rentals cost Euro 60-70 per night for a couple proving to be much cheaper than the hotel options. 

travel to colmar and orientation

A direct train from Paris to Colmar on the TGV zipping through the countryside would take approximately 3 hours and cost as little as Euro 25 if booked 2-3 months in advance. However it would also make it out of bounds for someone aspiring to make a day trip to Colmar from Paris. However, if coming from Strasbourg, the direct train ride takes close to 30 minutes and costs Euro 13. The nearest major airport from Colmar is Geneva and a trip from Geneva to Colmar may cost close to Euro 72 per person necessitating a change at Basel. 

Once in Colmar, the first structure to welcome you will be the Grand old railway station - Gare De Colmar. Opened in 1907, it is one of the best designed railway stations in France located right at the edge of the old town of Colmar. Buses are cheap and provide good access to all parts of Colmar. 

Colmar's old town is of great historic significance and houses the old Customs House, The Bartholdi Museum - a museum dedicated to Bartholdi, who designed the Statue of Liberty, the St. Martin's church - a fine baroque church, the Unterlinden Museum - a fine museum containing art works by Gruenewald and Picasso. While the old town of Colmar is definitely not small, it is surely walkable. 

ABOUT colmar


WhereEastern France
WhyAlsatian Wine, history, sculptings, art, canals and dollops of natural beauty!
For whomWhite wine connossieurs, history and culture lovers
How long
2-3 days
Best seasonApril - October but good in Christmas
Likely cost per personEuro 175-200 (Rs 12,000 - 16,000)


colmar ON A BUDGET


Approximate cost per person (2 days)In EuroIn INR
Accommodation (4 star hotel)806,400
Food504,000
Internal Travel262,000
Sightseeing504,000

**Prices and exchange rate as existing as at August 2014

COLMAR, ALSACE, FRANCE


stone paved roads garlanded by a colourful canvas of half timbered houses on the banks of a beautiful canal providing the right ambiance in a romantic setting! sounds familiar? throw in history dating back 1000 years, statues mushroomed throughout the city designed by bartholdi (DESIGNER OF THE STATUE OF LIBERTY), a world class music scene, a thriving arts scene and arguably the finest wine experience in france. as a tourist, you cannot go wrong in colmar, the jewel in the crown of alsace, east of france. 

nestled deep in the east of france, in alsace province, about an hour south of strasbourg, lies colmar, one of the most under rated tourist destinations in the whole of europe. while an integral part of france and an important contributor to its prosperity, colmar is largely german speaking, largely on account of the province of alsace changing hands frequently between the german and french powers over a 400 year span starting the 15th century. one of the extremely few cities to remain untouched by the bombings of the second world war allowing the city to retain its medieval charm.

the gateway to the route du vin (the wine route) - an unmissable experience when in alsace, well connected to the rest of france via the tgv and even the german black forest, a historical masterpiece, fine churches and cathedrals, intricate sculptings, a thriving musical experience, colmar is one of europeunexplored's strongest travel recommendations to experience europe off the beaten path! 

The Village of Ribeauville - a must do when in Colmar and on the Route Du Vin

Kayserberg - the first town from Colmar on the Route Du Vin

Gare De Colmar - built in 1907 is the first welcoming sight in Colmar standing at the edge of the old town. 

The Koiffhus - Old Customs House is a fine building which at one time housed the office of the League of Trading Cities. Today it has a restaurant and houses many different exhibitions in Colmar. Must see in Colmar. 

The magical experience of the boat ride in La Petite Venice. 

Half timbered houses are a peculiar characteristic of Colmar. Most houses have ground floors made of stone and the upper floors from timber

Proximity to the Vosges mountains meant plenty of timber distinctly used in all houses in Colmar. Also frequent flooding of the Rhine meant timbered houses were easier to knock down and be carried away. 

In olden times the colour of each house revealed the profession of the family occupying it. For instance a sculptor would use a different colour while a mason would use another. 

music, ARTS AND ARCHITECTURE in colmar

Colmar's prosperity in the middle ages meant money for art, architecture and music. It is this facet of Colmar which completes its offering as a tourism destination for people of any orientation. 

Bartholdi, the creator of the Statue of Liberty was a native of Colmar. Bartholdi's sculptures are all around Colmar and hardly a street would pass where you may not see his impressions. A staunch patriot, while from Colmar, Bartholdi spent much of his life in the interiors of France as his life span also coincided with the time when Colmar was under German rule. At the edge of the old town, not far from not far from La Petite Venice is the Bartholdi Museum where one can see his many other works. Even today, Bartholdi is the superstar of Colmar and local people are proud of his association with Colmar.

​Arts is Colmar's other claim to fame. Artists such as Martin Schoengauer, German by birth and artist by profession, who lived a significant amount of his life in Colmar in the 15th century completed most of his works in Colmar. One of his best works - Madonna in a Rose Garden ​is available for view in the Unterlinden Museum which also houses works by Colmar's other major artist - Grunewald. 

Grunewald was also German by lineage and his works greatly inspired the German renaissance. Find his works as well in the Unterlinden Museum in Colmar. 

Music is an integral part of Colmar. Singers of various pedigrees sing in the open air concerts in Colmar. In addition, numerous concerts are held in Colmar each year, of the highest quality. 

LA petitE venice

At the other edge of Colmar lies Little Venice or as the locals call it - Petit Venice. A small but beautiful canal passes through the old town transporting a tourist albeit for a few minutes to the magical city of Venice in Italy. With timbered houses on both sides of the canal and the numerous cafes providing the ambiance, a boat ride on Petit Venice is the outright best experience in Colmar. While a 30 minute ride on the Venetian gondolas may not cost lesser than Euro 60-70 in any season (for the boat), a 30 minute boat ride on the canal in Colmar costs only Euro 6 per person. The guides speak French, German as well as English and provide a great perspective of the historical and cultural significance on Colmar.  While definitely not comparable to the original experience, the boat ride in Colmar is not to be missed. 

Located near the German border, Alsace's claim to fame is its famous white wine growing areas as well as the Alsatian wine route

A boat ride on Petit Venice is a must do in Colmar!

about alsace and white wine

After Ile-de-France (a province which also houses Paris), Alsace is the most prosperous region of France. Alsace is an industrial region of France known for its steel and heavy industry. However, bordering the Vosges mountains as well as the Rhine river and hugging the border of Germany, Alsace is also a tourists' delight. 

For a tourist, arguably, Alsace is France's best wine growing region. The wine of Alsace is made from grapes and is seeped in Germanic traditions. i.e - fruity or dry white wines as compared to the other major wine growing region of France - Burgundy which largely grows the red wine or Bordeaux - again wine made out of grapes but possibly slightly inferior. Alsatian wine would in most instances have the specific marking of "Alsace" on the bottle and thereby create their own distinct identity. Unknown to most, Alsace is also one of France's most prolific beer growing regions. 

history of colmar

Colmar has been in existence for more than 1000 years. Colmar found its prosperity as an important centre of trade. Later on wealth multiplied as Colmar joined the Decapole (or the league of trading cities) and made newer riches in the leather business. In the 19th century however, Colmar and Alsace started making wine and the manufacturing and processing businesses took a back seat. Today while industry still exists, Colmar is primarily known as an important stop on the wine route (Route du Vin). 

As time went on, Colmar became the flashpoint between the Prussian and the French empires. A casualty of the numerous wars, Colmar changed hands repeatedly between the German and the French empires right since the 16th century and particularly between 1871 and 1945. Consequently the Colmar of today is an interesting blend of German and French cultures. Despite being an important centre of trade and contributor to France's prosperity, the German influence is significant. Today more people speak German than French in Colmar. Also, the typical German way of life in terms of colourful half timbered houses, tightly bounded city centres and undisturbed old towns have  found their mark in Colmar as well. 

  Contents
  1. About colmar
  2. about alsace and white wine
  3. history of colmar
  4. travel to colmar and orientation
  5. LA petite venice
  6. music, ARTS AND ARCHITECTURE in colmar
  7. accommodation in colmar
  8. day 1 - colmar
  9. day 2 - route du vin (the alsatian wine route)
  10. ​europeunexplored's travel tips to colmar