Things to do in Colmar
City of Colmar, Alsace, France © tourisme-colmar.com
Colmar is a charming city, nicknamed the « countryside town » because of its small number of inhabitants. It is located in a strategic area, near the German and Swiss borders, in between the cities of Strasbourg and Mulhouse in Alsace. You will be seduced by the typical neighbourhoods of this town, with its traditional Alsatian colored houses, and its numerous historical monuments. It is not without reason that it’s often qualified as the « most Alsatian city of Alsace ». Moreover, the city has a rich cultural, historical and architectural heritage to discover in a few days throughout the year.
There are many reasons to visit Colmar. Here is a selection of places to visit in Colmar and its region.
The old town
This large pedestrian area is the heart of local life : museums, historical and religious monuments, restaurants, cafés, shops … Enjoy a walk through its coblestone streets with half-timbered houses and interior courtyards hiding beautiful surprises.
The Old Town © jtb.co
During your walk, you will undoubtedly come across the Maison Pfister, a beautiful example of the architectural revival, one of the symbols of the old Colmar. Have a look at its mural paintings and its double wooden oriel.
The Maison Pfister © pinterest.fr
To continue your visit, go to the Koifhus, the most outstanding public monument of the city. Also called “Old Customs House”, this historical building used to be the administrative and economic headquarters of the city. Built in 1480, he originally had two main roles : administrative services and court upstairs, and customs services and warehouse downstairs. The building’s role has changed a lot over time. Today, it hosts public events and activities. Enjoy its decorated stained glass windows, the sandstone balustrade and the Renaissance style stairs.
Koifhus © tourisme-colmar.com
The collegiate church Saint-Martin was mainly built during the 14th century. You will be amazed by its impressive gothic architecture. It was built on the remains of an even older basilica. Its unique Renaissance style tower is crowned with a bulb bell tower which gives to the building its characteristic shape. This church was built with yellow sandstone, so that it has stunning colors at dawn and dusk.Actually, sunlight meets portal sculptures, creating shadows and golden glow on the building.
Saint Martin’s church, Colmar © canalblog.com
An other must see religious monument is the Dominican Church. Located on the Dominicans square, this massive church is a nice heritage of the Mendicant Orders’ typical architecture. It was build at the end of the 13th century and belonged at that time to the Dominicans of Colmar. You will feel a sense of majesty when you will enter this imposing building and see high arcades. Its huge wooden vaulted ceiling is enlightened by pretty 14th century stained glass windows. It houses the inescapable masterpiece of the Alsatian painter and engraver Martin Schongauer “Madonna in Rose Garden”, made in 1473. Nowadays, it has become a place of worship and hosts temporary exhibits. The entry fee is 1,50€ for adults.
Madonna in Rose Garden © tourisme-alsace.com
Close to the church, you can see the “Maison des Têtes”. This majestic and very original house was built in 1609. It has more than 100 wincing masks sculpted on its facade, in a late German Renaissance style. Today, it is a chic hotel and restaurant.
Maison des Têtes © tourisme-colmar.com
To go further in your tour in the Old Town, you can visit the Unterlinden Museum. This prestigious and world renowned museum is one of the most visited in France. It is housed in a former Dominican Couvent and its cloister was built in the 13th century. It has a rich collection of paintings and sculptures from Middle Age to Renaissance and houses the famous Issenheim Altarpiece, the masterpiece of the German painter Grünewald. You will also find contemporary works of major artists of the 20th century such as Picasso or Monet. The full price entry is 13€.
Musée Unterlinden © eurojournalist.eu
Alsace vineyard near Colmar
If you visit Colmar, nicknamed “capital city of Alsatian wines”, you should meet local winemakers to discover their wines and winemaking process. Actually, Colmar is located in the heart of the Alsatian Wine Road, one of the oldest and most attractive Wine Road in France. Known worldwide, it contributes to the celebrity of Alsatian wines. It is a touristic itinerary including typical villages, vineyards and wine cellars to discover. The road extends over more than 170 kilometers from Thann, southern gateway of the vineyard, to Marlenheim, in the north (near Strasbourg). It gathers about 300 wineries and about fifty Grands Crus appellations. If you love to ride bicycles, there is a dedicated road all along the itinerary, a very pleasant way to discover the vineyard in shiny days.
The Alsace wine road © vinsalsace.com
Many cultural, wine and gastronomic events are organized throughout the year nearby the route. For example, the SlowUp takes place every summer. It is a 30 kilometers tour closeby the Wine Route, which is closed to the motorized transports on that special day. It is a great opportunity to discover in an original manner the region and its landscapes. A marathon also takes place every year in the Alsatian vineyard.
SlowUp Event on the Alsace wine road © francevelotourisme.com
The vineyard of the region has exceptional soils and weather for vine growing. About fifty Grands Crus appellations are located in Alsace. They are exclusively made with “noble” grape varieties of the region, among which we might quote Riesling, recognized as being one of the best white grape varieties in the world, or Gewuztraminer, the most famous variety in Alsace. These grape varieties give birth to high quality white wines. Alsace is also the region of Crémants, sparkling white wines. The Crémants d’Alsace AOC represents a quarter of the Alsatian wine production.
Numerous wineries, mostly organic or even biodynamic, are to be discovered in the region. Here is our selection of wineries to visit in the area of Colmar.
Wineries near Colmar
To begin, you can visit the Domaine Emile Beyer, located in the village of Eguisheim, 20 minutes by car from Colmar. Eguisheim was designated as the most beautiful French village in recent years. It is an incredible typical Alsatian village surrounded by hills with vines and where houses have a snail-shaped arrangement. You will find there all the charm of Alsatian architecture with half-timbered houses. The Domaine Emile Beyer winery is located in a traditional local house. This winery gathers both tradition and modernity. There, you will be able to discover its historical cellars, no longer used but still open for visits, and its modern tasting room. This room is a great place to taste the winery’s Riesling and Pinot Noir wines ranges, which are often quoted as some of the best red wines of the region.
Domaine Emile Beyer winery, Eguisheim
The domaine Kuentz-Bas lies a little further to the south, in a small village named Husseren-les-Châteaux. This winery is converted to biodynamic farming and offers a very complete tour with detailed explanations on the different steps of winemaking process, from vine growing to bottling and labelling. You will be impressed by its extraordinary cellars storing century-old barrels where wine is still being aged today. The outside of the winery is very charming with its traditional Alsatian style. You will find there excellent value for money wines.
Domaine Kuentz-Bas winery, Husseren-les-Châteaux
The domaine Rieflé Landmann winery is located in Pfaffenheim, 25 minutes by car from Colmar. You will discover there the Alsatian vineyard from a particular perspective. Actually, the winery will explain you why they compare winemaking process to human life and also give you explanations on various topics such as the influence of mythology and religion on the Alsatian vineyard heritage. After this visit, you will no more see viticulture in the same way again.
Domaine Rieflé Landmann winery, Pfaffenheim
In the north of Colmar, you can discover the Domaine Jean-Baptiste Adam in Ammerschwihr, in the heart of the Alsatian Wine Road. This winery makes biodynamic wines. There, you can visit on your own its beautiful cellars with century-old oak barrels and explanatory panels to guide you. Don’t hesitate to taste there a Crémant (sparkling white wine) and of course its famous Grand Cru Kaefferkopf.
Little Venice (Petite Venise)
This picturesque district close to Turenne Street where the Lauch river flows, is one of the most romantic and pleasant places of the city. The name of this district comes from the presence of typical Alsatian houses on both sides of the river. There are many boat trips on the river that let you enjoy calm and serenity and see the reflection of colored houses in the water . This district is located at the crossing point between Tanner Bridge (Pont des Tanneurs) and Saint Pierre Bridge (Pont Saint-Pierre) where there is a magnificent view on the river. You will pass through Fishmonger’s dock (Quai de la Poissonnerie), where fishermen used to sell their fishes in the 16th century.
Little Venise © diana-hr.com
You will also get the chance to discover the big covered market in the Little Venice district. This market is open from Tuesday to Saturday and gathers about twenty merchants offering various fresh quality products. You will find there everything you need : butchery, bakery, cheese dairy, fishmonger’s, flower shops… Built in 1865, the building is made of iron bricks, cast iron and steel frame, symbolizing the leap into the industrial age.
Covered market © alsaceavelo.fr
Auguste Bartholdi is one of the most famous inhabitant of Colmar as he was one of the most successful sculptor of the 19th century. He designed the New York Statue of Liberty. Besides, at the northern entrance of Colmar, there is a copy of this statue, “Miss Liberty” in an Alsatian version. With its 12 meters height, it is the highest replica of the original statue. At night, the Statue’s lightning offers a spectacular experience.
Schwendi fountain of Bartholdi, Place de l’Ancienne Douane © tourisme-colmar.com
Several Bartholdi works are exhibited throughout the city, and especially in the Bartholdi Museum. This museum is located in the birth house of the sculptor. At the entrance, you will see Bartholdi’s bronze statue “The World’s Great Bases” (Les Grands Soutiens du Monde). Inside the museum, you will find sketches, models and photographs of his main monuments. An entire room is dedicated to the Statue of Liberty, with a preparatory draft of it. The full entry price is 6€.
Bartholdi museum entrance © colmar.fr
This museum is located in the middle of the town center and has a collection of over 1000 toys from 19th century up to present day, coming from the whole world ! This museum will appeal to both children and adults. It will take you on a journey through time and space to discover the evolution of toys over time. There is a wide range of exhibited toys, from Barbie dolls to robots, board games, video games and Legos. You will necessarily find the toys you used to play with, a nostalgic move to your childhood is guaranteed ! Moreover, temporary exhibitions on different topics, and entertaining and interactive animations such as puppet shows are offered there. You can also play with several games as well. The entry price is 5€ for adults.
Toy museum © pinterest.com
Parc du Champ de Mars
Located in the very heart of Colmar, this park called the “Green Lung” lies between the Champ de Mars Boulevard (Boulevard Champ de Mars) and the Republic Avenue (Avenue de la République). Enjoy this pleasant haven of peace to stroll with your family or friends throughout the year. In winter, a skating rink is created there, as well as a Christmas firs market and Christmas animations.
Parc du Champ de Mars © tourisme-alsace.com
The Ancient Carousel of 1900 installed in the park, will seduce you with its wooden horses, fairy tales carriages, twisted ramps and reproductions of 1900 posters, describing the life in Colmar during the time of its construction. In its ancient style kiosk, “The Carousel Delights”, you will find everything for your and your children’s happiness : Crêpes/pancakes, waffles, artisanal ice cream, candies… to be savoured in a festive atmosphere.
Carousel 1900, Parc du Champ de Mars © e-monsite.com
Events in Colmar
Lots of events take place in Colmar throughout the year, attracting many tourists. The city is enlightened every Friday and Saturday evenings and during important events. Stunning illuminations are displayed on buildings focusing on 4 different topics : water, air, earth and fire. They highlight architectural details of the city.
Mise en lumière © tourisme-colmar.com
During Christmas time, there is a magical atmosphere in the city with its five Christmas markets, the illuminated and decorated Old Town. Each Christmas market is like a small village, with its specific characteristics and atmosphere. You will find in Little Venice a Christmas Market for children where they will be able to enjoy toys, rides and animations. The one at the Jeanne d’Arc square (Place Jeanne d’Arc) is mainly dedicated to Alsatian gastronomic traditions.
Christmas market Colmar © sejours-liberte.com
The International classical music Festival is an other important event in Colmar, taking place every summer since 1979. The artistic director of the festival is the Russian musician Vladimir Spivakov. The festival pays tribute every year to a someone who played an important role in music history. In 2017, the festival was dedicated to the famous French orchestra conductor Michel Plasson. This festival is a great melting pot of French, Russian and American musics.
Colmar international classical music festival Colmar © wikimedia.org
Last but not least, the Alsatian Wine Fair is one of the oldest and the most atypical events in France. It welcomes about 350 exhibitors and over 250 000 visitors every summer since 70 years. It is of course a meeting place for wine producers and wine lovers, but also a place of celebration : dance shows, concerts, cabaret, cook shows, outdoor theater …
Alsatian wine fair © pointecoalsace.fr
We wish you a nice discovery of Colmar and the Alsatian culture !