Colmar – The Best of France & Germany?

This year we have been traveling around Europe very slowly and even more randomly – we stay in a country for a month or more, and make up our next step on a whim, often just days before our rent runs out and we need to pack up and leave.

The first week in a new place always tends to go very slowly, and you feel like you have lots of time to plan your next step – but then time speeds up and one day you suddenly find yourself stressing about finding a new place to stay.

These late decisions have often resulted in us not getting to stay in the places we wanted the most, but they have also brought us to some very unexpected places: like Colmar - we didn’t even know that this place existed until about a week before we arrived …

A Peculiar & Cute Toy Town

Colmar is a small town in Alsace region in eastern France, close to the German border.

With wonky half-timbered houses in the colors of the rainbow lining the streets of the maze-like town, you feel like you’ve stepped into a storybook about Hansel and Gretel.

Pretzels hang from the window sills of sausage and jam shops next to French wine cellars with locally produced wine.

The Perfect Road Trip Destination

Colmar is one of the most popular towns along the Alsace Wine Route, which is a must for any wine connoisseur (or wannabes like myself), as Alsace has some of the best white wines in France.

The local wine is delicious, cheap and you can find it everywhere.

The Wine Route is a road trippers dream, simply because it has it all; spectacular landscape dotted with castles and forts perched on the hilltops in the region, small winding roads perfect for cruising, roadside wineries to stock up on local wine bottles and cozy little villages to explore and stop for lunch in.

Driving is the best way to really make the most of the wine route, as it isn’t possible to reach many of the villages by bus.

Don’t worry though, you can easily rent a car from Colmar, and look into getting car hire excess insurance instead of the insurance they offer at the desk as the car rental companies’ own insurances tend to be much more expensive.

Is This Really France?

My French is embarrassingly bad, but I try my best. It turned out that in Colmar, my French didn’t matter – because they always replied in German anyway.

A Swede and a French person in France talking to each other in German – now that’s a scenario I never would have imagined..!

In other words, it’s not at all what I had expected to find in France of all places!

You see an interesting German-French mix everywhere; from restaurants serving a blend of German and French cuisine, bi-lingual signs and the radio alternating between French ballads and Bavarian beer songs.

But these little culture mixes are not actually that surprising considering the fact that Colmar has belonged to Germany twice (1871 – 1918 and 1940-1945).

Historically, the Germans considered the mountains as the natural border between the countries, while the French thought the Rhine River was – the Alsace region was right in between, and who doesn’t want this breathtaking region with its fertile vineyards and adorable villages to belong to them?

Have you been to any towns in the Alsace region?

10 Responses to Colmar – The Best of France & Germany?

  1. JhaypeeG. June 13, 2013 at 4:35 am #

    Both beautiful. :)

  2. Michelle June 13, 2013 at 6:01 am #

    I haven’t been to Colmar but I’ve been to Strasbourg a few times and it’s very similar with the French and German mix. You hear French, German and English everywhere! It’s great since my French is horrible, but my German is decent enough :D

    • Sofia June 16, 2013 at 1:47 pm #

      Haha same here, my German is much better than my French which made it a bit easier. Next time you visit Strasbourg, make a daytrip to Colmar too, it’s worth it!

  3. Becky Padmore June 13, 2013 at 10:33 pm #

    Oh wow, very cute buildings it also reminds me of Strasbourg.

    • Sofia June 16, 2013 at 1:48 pm #

      Yeah it’s similar to Strasbourg, but much smaller, really cute indeed :)

  4. Debbie Beardsley @ European Travelista June 13, 2013 at 11:15 pm #

    I’ve not been to the Alsace but it is very high up on my list of must sees! I’d love to drive the wine route taking my time to visit the wonderful villages like Colmar. Simply beautiful!

    • Sofia June 16, 2013 at 1:49 pm #

      Alsace is very beautiful, I had no idea before I went there. Driving around the area is definitely the best way to experience it!

  5. lola June 15, 2013 at 2:46 pm #

    so pretty. i love it!!

  6. OCDemon June 16, 2013 at 11:14 am #

    What I find great about these sorts of places is that they remind me that no matter how flooded with tourists some countries are, there are still plenty of places that some people have never heard of, and few people visit. Even if you think you’ve seen “everything,” you can still be pleasantly surprised.

    • Sofia June 16, 2013 at 1:52 pm #

      I agree, it doesn’t matter if you’ve been to every country in the world, there will still be plenty of amazing places you haven’t seen, and those small less famous ones are often the ones that give us the best memories.