When I planned our trip to Europe, I was just going to be my Wife and I. It was our way to spend the Avios we earned during Iberia’s Promotion. However, when Delta had a flash sale to Europe we decided that we take Stephanie’s mom to the trip too. Stephanie’s mom always wanted to travel, but as a single mom of three she never had the time or money. We also decided to invite my mom along too. To make this trip work alongside our previously booked trip we had to meet up with our moms in frankfurt a day after we landed in Europe. This gave us one day to in Colmar, France.
Colmar, France is a Little town, it’s a quiet village. Every day like the one before. A little town, fully of little people. Waking up to say… Bonjour! Bonjour!
If you close your eyes and image what Belle’s provincial French town from Beauty and the Beast looks like, you would get Colmar. Heck, while we were walking around in the morning, a baker with a tray of cookies leaned out the window and said Bonjour, and offered us a sample. You can’t get any more Beauty and the Beast than that. It is rumored, but never confirmed, that they town from Beauty and the Beast is based on colmar.
Colmar is located in Southeastern, France. It is less than an hour from the borders of both Germany and Switzerland. Given this, it has a very unique feeling because you can really see both the German and Swiss influence.
Where to Stay
Colmar is a small town and one of Europe’s best kept secrets. This being said it is easy to find a hotel at an affordable rate. When we spent one day in Colmar we stayed at the Kyriad Colmar – Central Station hotel. It is a small basic hotel, but a steal at $47 a night. However, we visited during the off-season, but even in the peak summer season this hotel will run you only $70 a night. If this hotel is not your cup of tea or is completely booked. Given the size of Colmar, there isn’t really a bad place to stay as everything is pretty walkable, but ideally the closer to city center the better.
One Day in Colmar Itinerary
It is easy to see everything Colmar has to offer in one day. So don’t be in a rush in the morning, sleep in, relax, and get your stay started off on the right foot.
When looking for a hotel in Colmar don’t bother seeking one out that has breakfast included. If you are only in Colmar for one day eating breakfast at a hotel in Colmar is a mistake. Just take a few steps outside in Old Town and you will know exactly why. The smell of baked goods, fills the air and the sweet smell will make you crave everything any anything that the local bakeries have to offer. There are no shortage of amazing baked goods in Colmar, let yourself get lost as you wander between Pâtisseries sampling the best the town has to offer.
Glig — 60 Grand Rue, 68000 Colmar, France
Lorber – 44 Grand Rue, 68000 Colmar, France
Richon — 8 Rue Stanislas, 68000 Colmar, France
If you prefer a more traditional Sit Down breakfast, check out Bistrot Gormound. For less than €10 euro you can get a breakfast that includes cured meats, cheeses, bread, crepes, local made jam, juice, and coffee.
Late Morning/Early Afternoon
While exploring these bakeries, you will have walked past some of the major sites in Colmar, but now it is time to fully explore them. You should head directly to La Petite Venice. La Petite Venice (Little Venice), is the picturesque main canal surrounded by brightly colored houses running through Old Town. The view here is stunning. Stop, take some selfies, and go to the Footbridge of Saint Pierre.
From here you should take a boat tour. This 30-minute tour will take you on a relaxing ride small 8 boat, through the main canal in Colmar. The view from the water surpasses any views that you will get from the bridge, and make your vacation pictures spectacular. They offer this tours in English, German, and French. Your guide will provide you with the history of Colmar and the Alsace region which will inform your one day in colmar. These tours run from March-October and are a steal at €6/person.
Once you have completed your tour, head to the Marche Couvert (Covered Market). Originally built in 1865, the covered market stands at the intersection of the three main streets in old town and the main canal. This allowed local artisans to easily transports their locally grown goods by cart or boat to the market. Built out of bricks and iron this building is authentic to Colmar’s transition to the industrial era. After being reopened in 2010, this market is now home to the best in locally produced foods. As you still may be full from breakfast, treat this as a light lunch. Sample some cheeses, cured meats, bread, jams, and sweet treats. There is no real shortage of great food in Colmar. If possible, the best time to visit is on a Thursday as they have additional stalls set up outside the market, and you get the fully experience.
Late Afternoon/Early Evening
Even though you only have one day in Colmar, there is no need to overextend yourself. This is a great time to take a short break if you need it. There is not much public transportation in Colmar, so you have to get around mostly on foot. So you may be getting a little sore and tired. Once you are rested it is time to head to Saint Martin’s Church. This church, which took 130 years to build, stands out from the small brightly colored fairytale buildings due to its massive size and gothic architecture. This church (I am not sure what it takes to gain cathedral status, but it is pretty big) is absolutely beautiful with its rust and green patterned roof and its gray, yellow, and red bricks. The Church is open 8am-6:30 PM and has on display some of the best examples of religious artwork in France.
Once you are done exploring Saint Martin’s, continue your day in colmar by putting your map and phone away and go explore Colmar’s old town. It is absolute beautiful place that seems to be untouched by the passage of time. Every street is beautiful. Any turn you make you just have to think to yourself WOW! how is this real? It felt as if I was an immaculate amusement park, exploring a world of fantasy. Immerse yourself in it. Go and explore some of the local shops, stop at a cafe and sip on some local wine, or have some unbelievable chocolate at a local chocolatier. Stop and admire some of the most popular buildings in Colmar, such as La Maison des Têtes (house of heads). Quai de la Poissonnerie (Fisherman’s Dock), the Tanner’s Quarter, or the Eglise des Dominicains (Dominican Church). You could easily do this for hours, but eventually you will be ready for dinner.
There are a lot of restaurants in Colmar, but most of them are extremely small and have limited seating. It is best to call ahead and make a reservation. When we were there we were looking for an affordable to place to have some Tarte Flambee. Tarte Flambee is the Alsace region’s answer to pizza. Tarte flambee is bread dough rolled out into a thin rectangle, covered generally with creme fraiche or fromage blanc and covered with thinly sliced onions (sound familiar). The place known for the Best tarte flambee in the city is La Soi. Not only do they offer great tarte flambee, but they are extremely affordable nothing on their menu is over €10. We wanted to eat at La Soi, but it turns out even in February you needed a reservation.
We ended up eating at a restaurant down the Street Le Fer Rouge. The food at Le Fer rouge was also extremely good, but was significantly more expensive, about €20 a person. I do regret not getting to try Tarte Flambee, so do yourself a favor call ahead and make reservations.
When to Visit
We visited clomar in February. This is the middle of winder and the offseason in Colmar. This was actually pretty great for one thing, no crowds. Almost everywhere we went on our wanderings in colmar there were very few other tourists out. This made for great pictures, and made our time in there extremely peaceful. That being said, because we visited in February it is quite cold some tourist attractions like the boat tour are closed. Based on our conversations with people there, the best time to visit is early spring, especially around easter. Colmar is full of decorations at Easter and the weather is great, but the high tourist season has not quite started. It is supposed to be the perfect mix of that peaceful vibe and beauty.
Don’t let the busy season scare you away. Colmar is beautiful all year. As one of the best kept secrets in Europe, even its busy season is not too crowded.
Have you ever wanted to live in a fairytale? Do you love Beauty and the Beast? Do you love wandering a town that smells like fresh baked bread? If you do Colmar is a place that should not be missed. This little provincial french town is one of a kind, and does not feel like anywhere else in the world. You will lose yourself in the beauty, fantasy, and whimsy that is Colmar, France.