As Europe is slowly starting to open up after the border lockdown, I could not miss the opportunity to travel abroad. With just 2 hour driving distance from Zurich, picturesque medieval houses, and the general mood of eternal summer joy, Colmar in the heart of Alsace wine country was the ultimate choice.
What do I do there?
I cannot say there are any unique sights in Colmar. The point of coming to the city is to roam these streets lined with iconic half-timbered buildings, enjoy the flowered decorations, sip wine, and stuff your belly with delicious local foods.
The reason why Colmar is nowadays all over Instagram is this place called The Little Venice.
If you ask me, the only thing The Little Venice has in common with the actual Venice is a possibility to take a boat tour on the canals.
The largest landmark of the city is a large Gothic church. There is really nothing special about it, neither on the outside nor on the inside. No need to search for it on purpose, the town is so small that you are definitely not going to miss it.
That is basically it, but the architecture is stunning, with most of the buildings dated 16th-17th centuries (worth coming over just to roam these streets!)
Alsace the wine country
Colmar is located right in the middle of Alsace, the region of France well known for its white wines (mostly Riesling, Gewurztraminer, and Pinot Gris). There are plenty of wine stores around the center, and, if you are as lucky as I am, you might even get to visit a free tasting 🙂
Don’t be shy – go ahead and try some – there is enough wine for everyone here: grape plantations cover the fields and the hills and stretch to the horizon…
Alsace cuisine is a mix of German, French, and Swiss dishes. Basically that means that the food is tasty and that it is a lot. No really a lot, check this out:
Looks normal, you say? A salad plus a main dish, right? Wrong! This is just one third of a single menu entry (salad included).
As for where to eat – Colmar is a touristy city, so don’t worry, you will find something (check out off-traffic streets, avoid obvious tourist traps – well, you know the drill).
If you seek to bring some stuff back home, there is a covered market. It is rather small but features all the primary exports of the region: olive oil, truffles, and, of course, cheese.
So that’s it for Colmar. Not much, huh? Don’t worry, for this town is just one among multiple dozen villages and settlements around Alsace. They are really easy to reach by car from Colmar, and some are even close enough so that one can bike there.
One of such nearby villages is Eguisheim, yet another Instagram hotspot. Thanks to the lockdown, it was nearly empty when we visited (I can imagine it can get crowded in these tiny alleys).
There are many and many more such romantic medieval villages around. In one day that we were in the area, we only got to see Eguisheim. Depending on your schedule, you might or might not want to check out the others (from what I understand, it would just be more of the same). If you are up for it, then basically any village that ends with -heim would do.
Alsace is amazing, and I am not just saying this because I got so drunk when I visited (and maaaan, I am not ashamed to admit that I did). The cities here are basically what one would imagine a fairy tale medieval village could look like. In fact, many of them were even featured in the fantasy series “The 10th Kingdom” from the far 2000 (recommended to anyone whose heart is longing for some magic).
A day was enough to get an impression, but I can totally imagine staying in the area overnight to try more tasty food and tasty wines, take it slow and enjoy the outstanding architecture all richly decorated with colorful flowers.