Spotlight on Colmar

May 5, 2017

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Wander into the quiet, fairy tale town of Colmar and find yourself amongst vibrant, medieval architecture. Turreted houses, shuttered windows and timbered walls in candied colours create the very convincing idea that this is the enchanted town from a children’s fable. Founded in the 9th century, it is a community immersed in history, from the origins of the buildings, to the River Launch that fed townspeople and salaried the fishermen for centuries upon centuries.

 

Things to do

  • Follow the narrow cobblestone paths, rich with greenery planted by the locals in the depths of Colmar’s old town. The scenic domains of traditional Alsatian design are apparent in every size and colour.
  • The Unterlinden Museum is a former 13th century Dominican convent and 20th century public bath. Boasting around 200,000 visitors annually it is the most popular museum in Alsace. The museum contains everything from impressionist paintings to modernist artwork, religious pieces and even furniture.
  • South of the centre, where the River Launch meanders its way into the city you’ll find La Petite Venise. Take a boat trip past the beautiful buildings, with many dating back to the 14th Pass the charming fish quay and keep an eye out for otters who will often pay a visit in the summer.
  • Saint Martin’s Church contrasts the traditional houses in the town. Begun in 1235, the church is unmistakably Gothic. Though a reminder of a darker medieval style than the surrounding buildings, the colourful tiled rooves are in keeping with this rainbow town.
  • Born and raised in Colmar, Auguste Bartholdi’s most famous work is New York’s Statue of Liberty. Museum Bartholdi, housed in the sculptor’s birthplace, includes a massive collection of his work. While in Colmar, why not also check out the replica of the Statue of Liberty? You’ll find it on a main roundabout just 10 minutes from the centre.
  • Straight out of a Grimm’s tale, Maison Pfister was built in 1537. The octagonal turret, a break from traditional medieval design, represents the beginning of the French renaissance. The external murals of both secular and biblical description demonstrate a Europe in the midst of a humanist movement, leaning more towards rationalism than the Christian doctrines of the medieval period.

 

Where to eat

  • Fine dining and French cuisine go hand in hand. Nowhere is this better proven that in JY’S. The magnificent building adds to the overall luxury of this restaurant. Dine al fresco in the covered outdoor area with heaters so you can continue to admire the old town. Choose from 3, 4 or 7 course menus based on French flavours such as foie gras and frog’s legs.
  • For a less high-end but no less French experience visit Bistrot Gourmand. Food is served on table mats of brown paper and the table cloths are the timeless pattern of red and white gingham. Menu options are hung from a shutter that rests against the rustic wall outside. Crepes and charcuterie boards with local cheeses and meats are among the popular choices.
  • Although a rural town in France may be the last place you’d expect to find an organic restaurants, serving vegan options on request, you will indeed find it at Restaurant L’Arpege. The menu changes daily depending on the ingredients they have fresh that day. The quaint eatery is housed within a beautiful yellow building and it is clear that a great deal of thought goes into every dish.
  • Boulangerie Patisserie L’Artisane lies in the heart of the old town. The impossibly charming exterior is made all the more inviting by the smell of fresh pastries that catch your attention before you wander in in a sugary stupor. Famous for creating soft, moist Kugelhopf, this patisserie is perfect for any sweet tooths.

 

Where to drink

  • Specialising in absinthe, L’Entracte Absinthe Bar offers a variety of brands and flavours of the famous French liquor. Regularly hosting jazz concerts, it’s a hot spot for local musicians and bohemians. The exterior is as unimposing as any of the towns’ fisherman’s lodges. However, simply step inside and it becomes and underground world of darkened corners and mood-changing lights that illuminate decanters and create a transfixing ambience.
  • If your flavour is inclined towards tea than more potent poisons, head to Au Croissant Doré. The marshmallow pink exterior gives it that emblematic French tearoom character. The interior is no less picturesque. Provincial French furnishings and vintage artwork make it even more distinctively Gallic. Coffee, tea and hot chocolate are paired perfectly with any of the homemade desserts.
  • Retreating the impressive neighbouring buildings, L’un Des Sens hides shyly behind a tree in the courtyard. Though veiled, this wine bar, a coral storybook establishment, is immediately eye-catching. The timbered interior with rich coloured walls create the sense that you’re in a tavern from a fairy tale. There are over 20 wine options by the glass which are accompanied with complimenting seasonal small plates.

 

How to get there

There are 4 routes to Europe from the UK, all of which are 7 hours or less from Colmar. From our ports in Dunkirk and Calais you’re just 6 and a half hours from Colmar. Dieppe and Amsterdam are both 7 hours in the car to Colmar. Make sure to take in the breath-taking scenery from your car as you travel to this stunning town.

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