Colmar: Explore This Fairytale Village in Alsace, France

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We visited Colmar on a whim. I saw a photo of this small town in the Alsace region of France, close to the German border, and decided we should visit without knowing much about it. It was a good decision.

Colmar is so pretty that it doesn’t feel real. Cobblestone streets run next to canals lined with half-timbered houses in shades of rose, sky blue, lemon, peppermint, and apricot, many dating back to the 14th century.

The olde worlde buildings are distinctly Germanic, but they feature elegant French shutters. It can be hard to remember you’re in France, but locals speak French and the bakeries are full of croissants and pain au chocolat.

Colmar, France travel guide
Colmar, France
Colmar travel guide
Colmar, France
Colmar half timbered house

As we wandered the streets we felt like we’d stepped into the pages of a fairytale. Locals are proud of their attractive homes, decorating them with pots of geraniums, colourful shutters, wrought iron lamps and signs, and often even more bizarre adornments.

Colmar France house decoration
Colmar wrought iron sign
Colmar shuttered windows

The most picturesque area is Little Venice, a short but incredibly cute canal. We enjoyed the view from the bridge at Quai de la Poissonnerie and got another perspective from the water on a 30-minute boat ride.

Colmar Little Venice
Colmar Little Venice boat ride
Colmar Little Venice boat ride
Colmar Little Venice

Colmar’s historic centre is pedestrianised and compact—we never ended up more than 15 minutes from our apartment. We followed the self-guided walking tour on the tourist office map multiple times during our two day stay.

At 7 am on my morning run I had the streets to myself and even at 10 am the streets were fairly quiet. The afternoons are much busier, mainly with older holiday makers from France and Germany following the Alsace wine route, but the crowds never felt overwhelming.

Colmar, France
Colmar, France

Despite its small size the town features two huge 13th century churches, Gothic Saint Martin (often mistakenly called the cathedral) and Protestant Saint Matthieu.

Colmar France church

The centre is full of classy boutiques and shops selling local gourmet products—white wine, cheese, sausages, chocolates, salted caramels, jars of sauerkraut, and bretzels (salty or sweet pretzels). The covered market is a good place to pick up picnic supplies.

Colmar covered market, France

Restaurants are quite expensive and as the local cuisine isn’t ideal for vegetarians, we stuck to homemade meals of baguettes, cheese, and salad (the Monoprix is also good for supplies).

Organic restaurant L’Arpege has a vegetarian lunch menu, but it was fully booked when we visited. We did enjoy an aperitif of local white wine, cheese, and tasty vegetable dips at L’Un des Sens wine bar.

We only had two nights in Colmar, but it felt like enough. On our first afternoon and evening we did a couple of circuits of the town and enjoyed an aperitif. On the second morning we took the boat trip, and in the afternoon we hired bikes to cycle to one of the nearest villages on the Alsace wine route, Eguisheim. This was one of our favourite things to do in Colmar. 

We didn’t think it was possible, but the quiet village of Eguisheim is even cuter and prettier than Colmar. The colourful, half-timbered houses are similar to Colmar’s, but the narrow cobblestone streets run in concentric circles around the central square. The flower displays are even more extravagant and some of the 16th century buildings tilt precariously.

Eguisheim, France

If we had more time we would have explored more of the pretty Alsace wine villages such as Ribeauvillé, Riquewihr, and Kaysersberg.

Following your whims is never a bad idea when it comes to travel. Colmar is one of the most picturesque towns we’ve visited. A fairytale land that doesn’t feel quite real.

Colmar Alsace Practicalities

Las Tetes apartment, Colmar
Las Tetes apartment
  • We stayed in Les Tetes apartment booked on for €79 a night. It’s a beautiful and atmospheric studio in an old building with low wooden beams, and it’s in the perfect location in the historic centre. It’s just a shame the WiFi was slow unless we sat by the door, and the management wasn’t great—communication about check-in was slow and they forgot to put a sheet on our bed (they did bring us one when asked)!
  • Colmar is 2 hours 20 minutes from Paris on the TGV. Most trains require you to change at Strasbourg, but we got one of the direct trains at 9.25am. You can book trains on the SNCF website
  • It’s also close to Germany and Switzerland (our train to Basel took 45 minutes).
  • We took a boat trip with Sweet Narcisse, which cost €6 for 30 minutes. Tours run from 10am – 12pm and 1.30pm – 7pm in the summer. Booking in advance isn’t necessary (we did though), but you may have to wait a while in the afternoon.
  • We rented bikes from Colmar Velo next to the train station. A city bike costs €6 for a half day and €8 for a full day. Hybrid and electric bikes are also available (€12/20 per day). You need ID and a €75 deposit per bike (by card is fine).
  • Eguisheim is 7km from Colmar along a flat route. It took us 25 minutes to cycle there along the main road (the Alsace wine route). It was a bit busy but has nice views of the hills and vineyards. On the way back it took us 30 minutes on a much quieter route along the river and through corn fields and vegetable farms. The bike shop has maps.
  • L’Un des Sens wine bar is at 18 Rue Berthe Molly and opens from 3pm. Due to their licence you need to order a snack with your drink (small plates from €6).
  • If you are also visiting Paris see our one day Paris itinerary for inspiration. 

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Colmar is a gorgeous town in the Alsace wine region of France. The canals, cobblestone streets, and colourful half-timbered houses have a fairytale feel. Read this post for the best things to do and where to stay.

We visited Colmar as part of our month-long train trip around Europe. Our Interrail passes were provided by (if you’re from outside Europe you can get similar passes from


  1. Love the post, thank you for sharing! Definitely have Colmar on the short list of places to visit. We’ll be in France and Switzerland around Christmas time and look forward to the visit!

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    • Colmar is supposed to be lovely at Christmas. I’m sure it will be so festive with all the lights and Christmas market!

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  2. Hi there,
    Lovely photos, I am French, been to Colmar a few times but never realised it was a beautiful place until I saw your pictures. Funny how we often forget or overlook what’s just near us.
    Always a pleasure to read your adventure…

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  3. We just came across your blog and have been to many of the same places as yourself. We have been travelling long term, since 2011 and have visited 33 countries. We are currently staying for 1 month in Colmar and also really like it. Many of your pictures are from very close to our apartment. We will be going next month to Procida, Italy which I saw you have been to also. We write a blog also (on under nancic123). Just search nancic123 on Google. We will follow along on your travels. Sorry we missed you in Colmar! Nanci and David.

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  4. Thank you so much for sharing. My third g grandparents came here from Alsace-Lorraine in the 1800’s and it is so lovely to see photos of it. I wonder if it was as picturesque back then as it is now.

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  5. Hello
    Thanks a lot for this super post about the destination I work !
    Just one remark about the fact that 2 days is enough…well, you forget to mention the 5 Colmar museums and the numerous activities (not only the lovely villages) that are available within a 20km radius.
    That said, I re-thank you for you trip report !
    Kind regards
    Colmar Tourist Office

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    • That’s a good point. If you are a museum fan then you’d need more time. We also would have loved to explore more of the surrounding area.

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  6. Wow! What an absolutely charming and unique spot! I would go crazy there with the photography, just like you did. Love all the windowboxed of flowers, especially. Thank you so much for sharing it with us!

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    • Colmar is ridiculously picturesque. I loved the pride the town takes in itself with flowers everywhere – in window boxes of private homes and along public fences too.

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