Love a charming little fairy tale town in France? You’ll feel like as though you stepped into a “Beauty and the Beast” film set in France’s unspoiled treasure, Colmar. Look at those colourful houses, cobblestone dream streets and wonderful fountain. This could be Belle’s hometown!
Colmar is the third largest city in the Alsace region and is located in the north eastern France bordering Germany. Due to the location at the border of these two countries, Colmar was a disputed area between France and Germany for a very long time. It has an appealing blend of both German and French cultural influences when you walk through the streets. It’s not really Germany and it’s not really France. It has its own distinct character, it’s simply the Alsace.
With the looks of Disney Fairytale town in Colmar, it’s well worth the trip either from Strasbourg, Basel or Zurich!
Looking at the Colmar little town, I need to remind myself that this was a place where people actually lived in the 13th century and not a Disney film set. Once upon a time, the canals in Colmar were buzzing with butchers, tanners and fishmongers and la Petite Venise was a centre for art and learning.
Here’s a quick guide for things to do and to see in Colmar, France!
#1 Stroll around the Old Town
Colmar has remained relatively unchanged over the centuries and my favourite thing to do in Colmar was wandering the cobblestone streets, especially around the canals. There are so many pretty alleyways with small shops, restaurants and gift shops. Here’s my favourite things to see in Colmar and everything is located in a close distance to each other:
Quartier de la Krutenau
Little Venice is the most famous attraction in Colmar. Little Venice is a picture-perfect neighbourhood with canal-side restaurants, quaint pedestrian bridges and colourful half-timbered houses. This quarter is known as “Little Venice” because the houses are built right on the edge of the Lauch canal.
Quartier des Tanneurs
Tanners Quarters was where tanners created leather products.
Quai de la Poissonnerie
Is the old fishmonger’s district where fishermen once lived centuries ago. At that time, professional fishermen were a powerful entity in Colmar and has a bustling business. They fished to the greatest extent possible and stored their catches in fish ponds until they were sold at the market.
Ancien Corps de Garde
Former Guard House building has an oriel window, where the decisions of the town council used to be announced.
Pfister house is one of the finest old houses in Colmar.
Old Custom House was once the economic and political centre of Colmar.
Musée Unterlinden (Unterlinden Museum)
Place de la Cathédrale
#2 Take a boat ride in the Little Venice of Colmar
Colmar boat tour takes place on the river Lauch, the river running through Colmar. These boats with such distinctive shapes were originally used by market gardeners to transport their vegetables to the markets.
There are two boat companies that offer 30 minute boat tours along the canals of Petite Venice. Half of the boat trip goes through a quiet residential area shaded by trees while the second half takes you through more of the old town and offers stunning views of Colmar’s half-timbered buildings from the water.
It is possible to take a boat trip everyday from April to September and on weekends from March to October (depending on weather conditions). You can always refer to Colmar Boat Rides Official Website for the price update and opening times. The boat tour can be in French, German or English.
#3 Great Lunch Stop at the Covered Market (Le Marche Couvert)
Colmar’s Covered Market is located right next to Little Venice. This Marche is very clean and all the goods are presented nicely. If compared to other covered market, this one might be smaller. However, we found enough stalls to purchase some delicious local products and turned out to be our lunch place which there is few choices, from seafood, local pastries to different kind of foods. It is worth a look and prices are reasonable for a very popular tourist spot.
Everything you need to bring home from the beautiful city of Colmar is available here such as flowers, fruits, veggies, bread, cheese, jams, you name it. It is more than a market, it is a petite French gourmet place instead. All the owners of the stands are friendly and helpful with selections of their foods.
#4 Other Charming Fairytale Villages Nearby
If you have more time to explore Colmar, don’t miss to check out several nearby villages that are also extremely charming. If you have a car, you can drive to nearby Ribeauvillé (17km from Colmar), Riquewihr (14km), Kaysersberg (11km) and Equisheim (8km) all in one day.
Seeing this fairytale village myself, I’ve no doubt why Colmar Tropicale in Bukit Tinggi, Malaysia was inspired from here!