Colmar, France is so fairytale-like it was apparently the inspiration for Belle’s village in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. A mesh of winding cobble streets and canals, quaint, colourful, half timber houses lining waters edge and enclosing odd shaped squares with Bartholdi fountains. There is a covered market, an array of museums and The Tanners District and The Fishmonger District on the edge of Little Venice with its beautiful bridges and canals.
Many shops and restaurants are housed in these ancient buildings, I came across a beautifully ornate and decorated doorway, and we all know I love a fancy doorway. Inside was what we used to refer to as the ‘pound shop’ but due to inflation has now become the ‘two euro shop’, located in what was once the Farmer’s Meeting House.
With a history, often tumultuous, going back to before Charlemagne, walking through the streets of the old town is like stepping back in time. Located on the North Eastern side of France, in the Alsace region, it has more than a passing German influence in its architecture, culture, food and even language as it was ruled by Germany for over 50 of the last 150 years. In fact this whole region is considered a cultural exception in France.
Having spent a rainy day exploring the town of Colmar, the following day the sun came out to play and although it was a bit windy and the Eisheilige (a traditional cold snap in mid May) had descended, we decided to take Tadhg and Treasa our trusty e-bikes for a spin along the beautiful Colmar Canal. We biked passed swans and duck families and all along the canal we could hear the distinct call of a nearby cuckoo. We biked and geocached our way passed fields and flowers and through villages. We were having so much fun that we ended up being out longer than we had planned so we bought some random picnic bits in a small village shop and ate it sitting in the local park.
When we got back underway we eventually found our ourselves in the fortified town of Neuf-Bisach, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, built in a grid pattern, with a large square in the middle, inside three layers of ramparts in a mostly octagonal shape. It once guarded the border between France and the Holy Roman Empire and subsequently Germany, it is quite the sight.
Our time here in the Alsace region has come to an end for now, we hear that Colmar’s Christmas Market is quite a Winter Wonderland and one for my bucket list, the perfect excuse for a return visit. I am sense a ‘return visit’ theme developing here.