What To Do In Colmar, France?

What to do in Colmar, France? Well, let’s see what we can discover about this area. Firstly, it’s located in the Alsace region of the northeastern part of the country near the German border, and with its flower-lined canals, cobblestone streets, and medieval architecture, it seems like a fairy tale setting.

What To Do In Colmar France

This picturesque old town has many interesting attributes with buildings dating back to the 14th century. The bright-colored structures scattered about the town have a special significance with each color signifying the profession of its inhabitants.

What To Do In Colmar, France? — Learn a Bit of its History

This area was mentioned by Charlemagne when he chronicled the 8th-century Saxon Wars. In 1226 Colmar attained the status of a free imperial city.

In the 15th century, it became part of an alliance of ten (10) imperial cities in the Holy Roman Empire until the late 17th century. In 1632 the town was occupied by the Swedish army which held the town for two (2) years.

The town was conquered by France in 1673 and held until 1679. It was then annexed by the German Empire in 1871 and incorporated into the Alsace-Lorraine province. After World War I it was returned to France.

Annexed by Germany in 1940 it returned to France in 1945.

Some Relevant Facts

  • the Colmar Treasure consisting of precious items that were hidden by the Jews during the Black Death of the 14th century was discovered here in 1863
  • the Grand Est region is the merger of three local regions: Alsace, Lorraine, and Champagne-Ardenne
  • located on the Alsatian Wine Route it is considered to be the capital of Alsatian wine
  • the population of Colmar is approximately 70,284
  • the climate is Oceanic which produces summers that are warm and hot while the winters are very dry and cold
  • the area is populated with several canals from the Lauch River and was formerly the Fishmonger’s District, Quai de la Poissonnerie, and is now called “little Venice” (la Petite Venise)
  • eight (8) centuries of French and Germanic architecture comprise the buildings of this town
  • Colmar Airport is the small regional airport that services the area and offers connections to nearby major cities
  • the town hosts the annual international summer festival of classical music
  • Colmar is an affluent city supported mainly by the tourist industry but it is also the home of several large companies
  • each year the town hosts the it is
  • a Japanese cultural center was established by a local Japanese boarding school in 1991
  • the town is full of streets and alleys that open into small squares that were used by merchants and traders centuries ago
  • Colmar and the nearby French towns have a very distinctive culture as it is a combination of German and French

What To Do In Colmar, France? — Let’s Find Out

  • The Toy Museum of Colmar — games, cars, puppets, and dolls are plentiful at this museum. Once a movie theater, the exhibits offer information on each toy’s history dating back many years. Video and board games, Barbie dolls, as well as vintage teddy bears, make this a wonderful experience for both children and adults. On the second floor, there is a half-mile train display.
  • Unterlinden Museum — this museum covers close to 7,000 years of history from prehistoric to the present day. There are exhibits on ancient mosaics, Alsatian cultural artifacts, Medieval winemaking, and works from well-known artists such as Monet. The Isenheim Altarpiece, a two-sided painting, is the centerpiece of the museum as it dates back to 1515. The area where this centerpiece is located was once a Dominican Convent with a chapel and open courtyard. There’s also an underground gallery with more contemporary pieces of art.
  • The Wine — Alsace wines are named for their grape varietals and in the summer there are wine tastings at the wineries. Domaine Karcher is a well-respected family winery. A great way to check out the nearby towns is by taking the Alsace Wine Route. A little over four miles (7 kilometers) away is Eguisheim, once named France’s favorite town, it has thirty-three (33) wineries most of which have free tastings. Many folks do the tour by bike.
  • The Tourist Train — there are two (2) trains within the city, one is green and the other white. Every half hour they make a loop around the city and it’s a great way to view all the attractions.
  • The Statue of Liberty — the sculptor, Bartholdi created this 39-foot replica of the Statue of Liberty. It is located two (2) miles from the center of town.
  • The Parks — near St. Matthiewu’s Church is Square de la Montagne Verte with plenty of green grass, sculptures, and benches where you can relax in the very heart of the city. Closer to the train station is a larger park, Champ de Mars, which is one of the most popular parks in the city. The children enjoy the carousel and playground while the adults hang out around the fountain. It’s a great place to mingle and meet the townspeople.
  • The City Center — all of the attractions within the city are identified with signposts making the area seem like an open-air museum. The half-timbered homes are the highlight of this area. The Customs House was the center of the trade industry in the Middle Ages. The city plaza is the host to fairs, festivals, and wine tastings. One of the oldest structures, The Adolf House, was constructed around 1250.
  • The Pfister House — constructed in 1537 the Pfister House stands out as a dramatic display of the wealth of that era. On the ground floor is a wine store.
  • Christmas Market — the historic center becomes the Christmas Market during this time of year with Christmas trees, decorations, cooking demonstrations, carnival rides, and an abundance of lights illuminating the area. It runs from the last week of November to December 30th. There are plenty of treats, mulled wine, and hot chocolate.
  • Musee Bartholdi — now a museum, this was the home of Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi, a local artist who created many sculptures, fountains, and other large pieces of art. Within the museum are the family’s living quarters with personal items and furniture.
  • Cuisine — there are many outdoor cafes along the Grand Rue and bars and restaurants in Place de l’Ancienne Douane. Many restaurants have outdoor seating with wonderful views. Cafe de la Lauch is a great place to relax for tea or coffee. The Alsatian cuisine has a strong German influence with their variety of pretzels, potatoes, sausage, and sauerkraut. Alsatian Baeckeoffe is a favorite local dish (casserole of a variety of vegetables with onions, potatoes, and meats). Rosti is also a favorite dish as well (oven-baked cheese and potato dish). Other dishes include spatzle, poulet au Riesling (chicken prepared in Riesling wine), foie gras, quiche, and plenty of Munster cheese and tarte flambee. Thin-crust pizza is a town favorite as well. In the center of town near the Customs House there are many good options for restaurants. Also, there are three (3) Michelin-starred restaurants in the city as well.
  • St. Martin’s Church — located right in the center of the city it was built between the 13th and 14th centuries. This Gothic-style building with its 13th-century stained glass has many precious treasures and artifacts.
  • The Covered Market — this red and orange building, located at the edge of Petite Venise, has a variety of produce from about twenty (20) merchants. There are cafes here where you can sample the dishes of the day and they are a great place for lunch.
  • Petite Venise — Little Venice is a must-see when in Colmar. The half-timbered buildings and sherbert-colored homes and businesses along the canal give it a fairytale quality. In the Middle Ages, this was the commercial hub of the town with tanners, fishmongers, and butchers using the water to power their businesses and move goods around. Stroll the area checking out the shops and sample the local charcuterie and Alsatian biscuits. The decorations along the canal change with the season with lights and trees during Christmas and flowers in the Spring. Take a ride on a flat-bottomed boat and get a great view of the old town from the canal.

What To Do In Colmar, France? — So Many Things

What To Do In Colmar, France

As mentioned above this is a most fascinating part of the world, and there is much to do and see. The culture of this city with its German and French influence adds to its mystery and intrigue.

Any time of the year is a good time to visit. In the spring you have the Easter markets. In July stars from the classical music genre take part in the Colmar International Festival, and in December you have the Christmas markets which are some of the most popular in Europe.

There are also concerts, wine tastings, and cultural celebrations throughout the year. The quietest months are November and January with a few businesses closed in January.

There are a variety of places to stay in Colmar from hotels to vacation rentals. Hotel Saint-Martin is in the center of the city, Le Colombier is in the middle of Petite Venise, and La Maison des Tetes is a 5-star hotel located in a historic building.

All in all, this is a city filled with much history and an incredible culture. Consider putting this on your destination list for your next trip to Europe.

Happy travels,

Joseph William

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What To Do In Colmar, France

6 thoughts on “What To Do In Colmar, France?”

  1. What a fascinating place! It has to go on my bucket list…especially as I just read a book set in Venice, Italy, and find the canals so picturesque and just begging for exploration.

    Your article is quite thorough, and gives so many good suggestions for discovering more about Colmar. The museums would be one of my first destinations, but my camera would find many wonderful pictures of the old architecture. We just don’t have enough of that in the U.S., as we are still such a young country. Going back in imagination enlarges our perspective, and enriches our outlook on life. Thanks for writting this article!

  2. Hi Joseph,

    Colmar, France looks like such a beautiful place to visit.

    I think this needs to take a bit longer than a weekend away. I love learning about the history of places like this and also what the night life would be like.

    I am going to share this article with friends and family and I guarantee before the end of the year, a few of us will have been here.

    I will let you know what we think of the place when we visit, and if we have any questions then I’ll let you know.

    Thank you for sharing and keep up the great work.

    All the best,


  3. Thank you so much for this great review on Colmar. I was looking into some things to do while I’m staying in the city this spring! I’m going to bookmark this page and start to Google some of the tips you’ve mentioned here! Can you tell me a bit more about the easter markets? Are there some typical markets for that area?


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