Georges Duhamel wrote in 1931, that Colmar was the “most beautiful town in the world.” It has also been known at the most Alsatian town in Alsace. It is undoubtedly an exceptional town, offering its guests a unique glimpse of over 1000 years of European history.
City of art, history and heritage
- The old town contains superb examples of Middle Age Gothic architecture, such as the Collegiate Church of St. Martin, St. Matthew’s Church, and the Church of the Dominicans. Witness art in a pure and stark form, on a grand scale.
- Some of the civic buildings also reflect the architectural splendor of the Middle Ages in Colmar, including the Adolph House, dating from the second half of the 14th century, or the “Huselin zum Swan” house, on rue Schongauer.
- The Koïfhus (Old Customs House) was completed in 1480, and is the oldest public building in the city. At the time, it played a central role in the economic life of Colmar. Mentioned for the first time in 1370, the building was used to deposit and transit all goods imported to Colmar.
The Renaissance is omnipresent in the old town:
- The famous Pfister house (1537), a symbol of Colmar, is one of the most beautiful bourgeois homes to survive to modern day.
- The “House of Heads” (1609) owes its name to the 111 heads and grotesque masks adorning its façade, evoking the “golden age” of traders, demonstrating the wealth of the bourgeoisie Colmarian merchants.
French classicism also endows Colmar with beautiful buildings:
- The Palace of the Sovereign Council, with its stunning neo-classical façade dates from 1771.
- The Old Hospital (1744), with its sober and balanced proportions, has since 2012 welcomed the new Municipal Media Library.
Roaming the streets provides an opportunity to admire the numerous beautiful signs, the brilliantly colored rooftops, or a relaxing stroll down the quai de la Poissonnerie (banks of the fish merchant shop). Once the center of fishing, and fish merchants, this picturesque area now bears the title of “Little Venice”.
Among all their delicacies, there are a few classics worth mentioning: foie gras (invented in Strasbourg in 1780), baeckeofe (a dish composed of three marinated meats, with potatoes in white wine), the inevitable sauerkraut, Rhine stew, coq au Riesling, gingerbread, Kougelhopf (sweet dough with raisins macerated in kirsch), and of course Munster cheese.
Along the 170 km (~105 mile) “Route des Vins”, you’ll be invited to explore a region where life is an artform. From Marlenheim to Thann, take time to discover the sould of “la Route”. Meet the winemakers, taster their wines, lose yourself in the streets of the medieval cities, away from the masses. Stroll the grape vine paths, enjoying the beautiful panorama, that for just a moment, is all yours.
Light and History
The first city in France to establish an operation of this magnitude, in 1997 Colmar was awarded the special prize from the Académie des Arts de la Rue, for this truly extraordinary achievement. 1100 points of light, controlled by a computer through a fiber optic network, are cleverly scattered throughout the city, creating an original light show throughout the year. Varying in intensity and color, it recreates the contours and color of the town, like a magic paintbrush.
The town is illuminated at nightfall every Friday and Saturday throughout the year, and every evening during major events and festivals, including the International Festival, The Regional Alsace Wine Fair, and Christmas in Colmar.
Holidays and Events
- Colmar Spring Festival (March-April): Two Easter markets await visitors, nestled in the most beautiful and historic Colmarian places.
- Folk Music Evenings (May-September): Tuesday evenings from 8:30 to 10pm, in the Old Customs House square, folk groups present traditional dances, accompanied by songs from the vast Alsatian folk repertoire.
- Colmar International Music Festival (July): Quoted by the New York Times as one of the top 10 festivals in Europe, this festival annually honors a specific musician, instrument, country, or culture.
- Christmas Markets (November-December): wherever you go, the ornately decorated houses and buildings fill the streets with the sweet scent of orange and cinnamon. At nightfall, marvel at the countless architectural treasures from the Middle Ages to the 19th century. A beautiful “light path” leads visitors to the discovery of five Christmas Markets: Places des Dominicains, Place Jeanne d’Arc, Place de l”Ancienne Douane, Place des 6 Montagnes Noires, and Koïfhus. Each market is nestled in an idyllic setting, with its own identity and treats to savor.
Visit the city
- Guided tours: A well qualified tour guide/interpreter who knows the city inside and out, is available through the Tourist Office of Colmar.
- Boat rides: Take a tour of “Little Venice” and the Quai de la Poissonnerie the original way. Aboard a flat bottom boat, you’ll discover the charm of this truly authentic place.
- By train: Two companies offer train ride tours, to help one discover the charm and heritage of Colmar in an original, and fun way. The trip is about 7 km (~4.5 miles), and tours are available in 14 languages.
- By carriage: Board a horse drawn carriage to explore picturesque Colmar just like the days of old, taking you back in time.
- By bike: Enjoy a leisurely ride through Colmar and the surrounding areas, simply by renting a bike.
- TGV East: 2 hours 50 minutes from Gare de l’Est in Paris
- TGV Rhine/Rhône: 3 hours 20 minutes from Gare de Lyon in Paris, 5 hours 10 minutes from Marseille
- Strasbourg-Entzheim International Airport: 60 km (~37 miles)
- Karlsruhe/Baden-Baden Airport: 120 km (~75 miles)
- Bâle-Mulhouse International Airport: 59 km (~36.5 miles)
- Zürich International Airport: 155 km (~96 miles)
- Paris Charles de Gaulle International Airport: 2 hours 50 minutes by TGV train direct
Office de Tourisme de Colmar
32 cours Sainte Anne
Tél.: +33 (0)3 89 20 68 92
Fax : +33 (0)3 89 41 76 99