Europe

Colmar, France: French Tastes, German Architecture

img_1790If there’s one symbol that represents the United States, it’s the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor. But did you know that the Statue of Liberty is actually French? It was given to the United States by France and its interior structure was designed by the French architect Gustave Eiffel. (who later went on to build the famous tower in Paris that bares his name) Eiffel lived in a small town in France called Colmar. Lying in the Alsace-Lorraine region between France and Germany, Colmar is one of the most iconic cities in Europe. It’s been fought over by Germany and France for centuries and is currently a part of France. Thanks to this back and forth over the years, the city has an awesome mix of French and German culture. The streets are lined with the kind of half-timbered houses you’d find in any German town, yet you’ll also find shops selling delicious French pastries.

As with all trips, you can customize what you do to your tastes. What follows are what we were able to do in one day in Colmar.

 

Visiting Lady Liberty

As you drive into Colmar from the east, you’ll come to a roundabout. In the center of the roundabout is a 40 foot tall replica of the Statue of Liberty. There’s a small car park so you can stop and take pictures. Since I’ve never been to New York, I definitely wanted to see this replica up close. Of course it’s more than 100 feet shorter than the real thing, even more if you include the pedestal she stands on on Liberty Island, but it’s still an awesome sight. If you’re really interested in the story of Gustave Eiffel, or if you have more that one day to visit, his home here in Colmar is now a museum. 

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Strolling the City

If you’re looking for a picture perfect destination to fill your Insta feed – Colmar is it. The city is absolutely teeming with beauty. From colorful half-timbered houses to the gothic cathedral with its intricate spires, to the adorable traditional signs hanging in front of stores advertising their wares, to flower boxes on basically every windowsill, blooming flowers spilling out of them practically everywhere you look you’ll see the perfect vignette of European charm. You could easily spend the day strolling the cobblestone streets gawking at the sights, just be sure to keep your mouth closed 😉

 

Boat Tour

For an alternative way to see the city, take a boat tour! There is a river that flows right through the old city which was used in days gone by to bring products to market. We did these boat tours under the Saint-Pierre bridge, Boulevard Saint-Pierre. It was a beautiful weekend and busy but we didn’t have to wait long to board our boat. The boats can fit a lot of people so the line moves fast. The tour lasts about thirty minutes and as you float down the river guide talks about the history of the town and points out interesting things. One of the most fun things about this tour is that you have to go under bridges along the way. But these were no ordinary bridges. They were extremely short, only a few feet above the water level. Which meant that every time we came up to one, we all had to duck. It was hilarious.

 

Indoor Markets and Window Shopping

Colmar has a long history of trade and those traditions live on with many indoor markets. I always love browsing markets when I travel, not only because it’s an inexpensive place to get local food, it’s a great way to be immersed in local culture. The markets and shop windows in Colmar might look a little over exaggerated because the city is so touristy, but they are really indicative of the German tradition of perfection in marketing. If you’ve ever visited Germany you’ll understand what I mean. The placement of items in a German shop window is almost an art unto itself.   

 

 

 

Colmar is a great day trip from Stuttgart or a great jumping off point to visit other cities in the Alsace region. About an hour north is the much more popular city of Strasbourg which I hope to visit one day. Whatever you end up doing, a trip to Colmar is a great way to experience a traditional French town with the classic German trimmings.

Have you visited Colmar or the Alsace region of France or Germany? Tell me about it in the comments!

 

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