Visiting Colmar in Alsace, France

By - April 11, 2012 (Updated: November 19, 2014)

Colourful Colmar, France

Colourful Colmar, France

Colmar is, quite possibly, the prettiest town in France. Certainly it is one of the most colourful. Best of all, it’s an easy weekend trip from Belgium.

Andrew and I visited Colmar, in the Alsace region of France, last year on a hot spring day. While we thoroughly enjoyed our visit to the entire region, Colmar was particularly special.

Picture if you can, the Alsatian version of Bruges – traditional architecture, in this case timber-framed, painted in every colour of the rainbow, lots of little gift-shops and canal-side restaurants, and a healthy dose of tourists enjoying it all.

Colmar's Little Venice area

Canals and Colour in Colmar’s Little Venice area

So is it worth braving the throngs of tourists to visit Colmar? We think so, particularly if you are able to visit during the off-season.

Beyond being quaint and picturesque, Colmar has a few other things going for it.

First, Colmar considers itself  the “Capital of Alsatian Wine” and there are a number of shops offering tastings in the Old Town.

The region is particularly good for making wine, due to a microclimate, making Colmar the second driest city in France; another great reason to plan a trip here from rainy Belgium.

Colmar's pretty Old Town is filled with shops to explore

Colmar’s pretty Old Town is filled with shops to explore

The food in Colmar is wonderful. Like the rest of Alsace, it has been passed back and forth between Germany and France, and both cultures have had a positive influence on the cuisine. One of our favourite Alsatian treats is Tarte flambée, or Flammekueche in Alsatian, similar to pizza but crispy and traditionally topped with crème fraîche, cheese, onions, and lardons.

In Colmar’s ‘Little Venice’ neighbourhood, you can enjoy a meal, while sitting canal-side and watching small boats pass by. Add in a bottle of Alsatian wine and some shade from the perpetually shining sun, and you have the makings of a fantastic afternoon.

Our lunch in Colmar

Our lunch in Colmar (clockwise from top) Our view, the restaurant, coffee and macaroons, the covered terrace we sat on, salad with smoked duck and foie gras

For those of you interested in art and history, Colmar was home to the sculptor Frédéric Bartholdi, who designed New York’s Statue of Liberty. You can visit the Musée Bartholdi, in Colmar, and learn about his early life in the city.

For us, the best part of visiting Colmar (besides the food and wine) was just wandering through the narrow streets and enjoying the beautiful architecture.

The tiniest house in Colmar

The tiniest house in Colmar – It’s just the orange part – 2 rooms and 20 square metres!

Timber-frame architecture in Colmar

The typical timber-frame architecture of Colmar

Colmar's Little Venice Neighbourhood

Colmar’s Little Venice Neighbourhood

So if you’re looking for a colourful way to brighten up you weekend, consider a trip to Colmar in Alsace and enjoy a Tarte flambée for your friends at CheeseWeb.

Colmar - Enjoy it for us!

Colmar – Enjoy it for us!

Getting to Colmar, France from Belgium:

Colmar is about a 5.5 hour drive from Brussels (480 km). We included Colmar in a visit to Strasbourg.

You can also reach Colmar by train, with direct connections from either Strasbourg or Basel in Germany.

If you like this, you might like:

Alison Cornford-Matheson
Alison Cornford-Matheson is a Canadian freelance writer and travel photographer and the founder of She is the author of The Foodie Guide to Brussels: Local Tips for Restaurants, Shops, Hotels, and Activities. Alison landed in Belgium in 2005 and, over the years, has become passionate about slow and sustainable travel, in Europe and beyond. She loves to discover hidden gems - be they museums, shops, restaurants, castles, gardens or landscapes, and share them through her words and photos. She has visited 45 countries and is currently slow travelling through North America in an RV, with her husband, Andrew, and two well-travelled cats. You can also follow her work on Google+
Alison Cornford-Matheson
- 5 hours ago


  1. Comment by May

    Alison Cornford-Matheson

    May April 11, 2012 at 21:52

    Wow, looks incredible! Added to my list…

    • Comment by Alison

      Alison Cornford-Matheson

      Alison April 19, 2012 at 14:24

      You should definitely check it out May! It’s lovely!

  2. Comment by Erika

    Alison Cornford-Matheson

    Erika April 30, 2012 at 11:50

    Hi Alison! I am also an expat living in Brussels. These photos are just beautiful. We will be checking this area out at the end of May! Any specific wineries/wineshops worth a visit?

    • Comment by Alison

      Alison Cornford-Matheson

      Alison May 2, 2012 at 18:17

      Hi Erika, I don’t have any specific ones to recommend but there are plenty of places to taste the regional wines in the old town. I’m sure they could point you in the direction of any of the wineries you particularly enjoy. Do let us know if you find some good ones to visit!

        • Comment by Alison

          Alison Cornford-Matheson

          Alison June 11, 2012 at 09:04

          I’m so glad you enjoyed it Erika! We really loved it and hope to go back and spend a bit more time 🙂

  3. Comment by Alexandra

    Alison Cornford-Matheson

    Alexandra May 1, 2012 at 20:36

    Amazing! Alsace has been on my list for a while now, but this little town is new to me 🙂 I want to go to St. Andreas and Cernay particularly.

    • Comment by Alison

      Alison Cornford-Matheson

      Alison May 2, 2012 at 18:15

      I highly recommend it as a lovely stopping spot. It’s touristy in the high season but perfect in the spring!

  4. Comment by Amy

    Alison Cornford-Matheson

    Amy May 3, 2012 at 16:27

    We loved Colmar too! A beautiful little town in one of the most picturesque regions of France. And the food is incredible!

    • Comment by Alison

      Alison Cornford-Matheson

      Alison May 3, 2012 at 16:29

      Agreed! We definitely ate well there 🙂

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