Colmar is so pretty that it doesn’t feel real. Cobblestone streets run next to canals lined with half-timbered houses in shades of rose, sky blue, lemon, peppermint, and apricot, many dating back to the 14th century.
The olde worlde buildings are distinctly Germanic, but they feature elegant French shutters. It can be hard to remember you’re in France, but locals speak French and the bakeries are full of croissants and pain au chocolat.
Locals are proud of their attractive homes, decorating them with pots of geraniums, colourful shutters, wrought iron lamps and signs, and often even more bizarre adornments.
The most picturesque area is Little Venice, a short but incredibly cute canal.
Colmar’s historic centre is pedestrianised and compact.
At 7 am on my morning run I had the streets to myself and even at 10 am the streets were fairly quiet. The afternoons are much busier, mainly with older holiday makers from France and Germany following the Alsace wine route, but the crowds never felt overwhelming.
Despite its small size the town features two huge 13th century churches, Gothic Saint Martin (often mistakenly called the cathedral) and Protestant Saint Matthieu.
The centre is full of classy boutiques and shops selling local gourmet products—white wine, cheese, sausages, chocolates, salted caramels, jars of sauerkraut, and bretzels (salty or sweet pretzels). The covered market is a good place to pick up picnic supplies.
We didn’t think it was possible, but the quiet village of Eguisheim is even cuter and prettier than Colmar. The colourful, half-timbered houses are similar to Colmar’s, but the narrow cobblestone streets run in concentric circles around the central square. The flower displays are even more extravagant and some of the 16th century buildings tilt precariously.
Following your whims is never a bad idea when it comes to travel. Colmar is one of the most picturesque towns we’ve visited. A fairytale land that doesn’t feel quite real.