I often wondered, when I looked at the photographs of towns like Colmar, what does it feel like to live there, do their inhabitants, living in those fairy tale houses, walking those fairy tale streets, really live lives as if in fairy tales?
I have chosen to travel to Colmar one lovely spring, when awakening of nature made the magic even greater. Situated in the heart of French vineyards, on small rivers that run through whole city in canals, it reminded me of Venice, even more because that is where I came from to this city. Maybe that is exactly the reason they call one part of this fairy tale town Little Venice, “La Petite Venice”. And I really felt as if I was walking through the streets of miniature Venice. Beautiful architecture, enchanting colors, houses as if they were made of chocolate, made me delighted. Local inhabitants greet tourists with joy and smiling faces and the expression of rapture on their faces, confirmed my belief that they truly live in their own private fairy tales.
This charming town of only around 60.000 inhabitants is situated on the borders of three countries: France, Germany and Switzerland and probably because of the influence of all these countries, it accepted their different customs, creating its own culture with elements of all other surrounding cultures. With its historical heritage over thousand years old, it has become protected area of world heritage and culture some twenty years ago. It is renovated and restored to keep his traditional look, so that it can “take” every visitor into some ancient, happy, untroubled times, practically, in fairy tale.
What also make this city interesting to tourists are extremely creative craft products, souvenirs bearing the sign “made in Alsace”, and you will certainly not leave the town without at least one of them. Alsace region is well-known by storks and you will surely find some stork-gift that will make your dear ones at home happy.
Colmar is the” capital” of vineyard Alsace, and not only that you will definitively try some specific, special vines in this town, while sitting in some café, but you will also surely supply yourself with couple of more bottles of quality vine of this area before you leave. And back home, while you are drinking them, you will think with nostalgia about Colmar, thinking, maybe to come back here again, to see its magic around Christmas and New Year. They say that in that time of year, this place really looks like out of this world .You must definitely try famous chesses, but also great pastries, whose delicious smell will lure you into bakeries, while you are walking these lovely, colorful, streets. Food is something that usually leaves the greatest impressions from our travels, because it intrigues all our senses, and here, the food will definitely complete your special feeling, which, I would say, cannot be compared with anything else.
You can walk safely through pedestrian zone, sightseeing and admiring this city which has been protected during World War II and its houses have been preserved exactly as they looked like when they were built, centuries ago. Tours by train are also very interesting. It can speed up your sightseeing, although there is no exactly need for that, but it will enable you to see the town through some other dimension.
You can also tour the city in the little boat drifting through the channels, and then see the city from some other, third dimension. Little Venice will delight you, especially when you see how much care and attention is put into keeping authentic look of the city. It is an adventure to remember.
Something that is also very interesting in Colmar is big covered market, full of fruits and vegetables, cheese, pastry, delicatessen, typical for this area and variety of craft products, where you can truly feel spirit of this region, with cheerful salesmen offering their products with broad smile on their faces. Although the prices are not very accessible, from our point of view, you won’t be able to resist to by at least something from these merry Alsace merchants.
Unterlinden Museum covers the period of over 7000 years back in history and if you can spare some time to visit this great museum, you can have your own history lesson-from prehistoric times to modern artists like Monet, you can also see the process of wine making in middle ages, you can see how craft and artistic workshops looked like and changed their appearance through history in this part of the world.
Old Custom House is one of top things that you should see. In the middle ages, when Colmar was strategically important trade center, this building was the place around which everything important was happening. On the road that leads to it, there is square surrounded by small wooden merchant houses, which was a place of gathering and where festivals were held through centuries.
Colmar-no matter in what time of year you decide to visit it, you cannot go wrong, because you will get your own piece of magic there and feel the beauty of carefree and cheerful life and it will remind you how you can create similar kind of magic in your everyday life. Fairy tales are real. Colmar proves it.