October 4-8: In Colmar, four-hundred-year-old half-timbered houses line the canals, looking for all the world like gingerbread with thick pastel frosting. With that kind of charm, great local white wine, and fascinating history, even the rain couldn’t dampen our mood.
Second City of Alsace
The Rhine River forms the German-French border for many miles, and the French region to the west is Alsace, famous for its Rhine valley white wines. The Alsace region has been part of both Germany and France over the centuries, and both languages and traditions are common.
Strasbourg, at the north end of the Alsace Wine Road, rightly gets a lot of attention. But smaller Colmar, surrounded by tiny “wine villages” an hour south, is the center of white wine production in the region. There are three highlights for Colmar.
The Colmar old town area is nicknamed “Petit Venice” for its many canals. While the comparison to Venice MAY be a stretch, Colmar is charming. Cobblestone streets crisscross canals lined with colorful houses. Flowerboxes everywhere are full of late-season blooms.
Food and Wine
The covered market has a selection of local produce, cheese, and wine – this is France, after all! Tart Flambee (Flammkuchen in German) is the local food specialty: a wafer thin pizza topped with crème fraiche, onions, and speck. Hungarian goulash, a tender beef stew with loads of paprika, is another regional specialty and was excellent.
Colmar connects to area wineries via extensive bike paths. We had planned a cycling wine adventure, but it rained every day. So, we stayed in Colmar and had our dry Rieslings at a wine bar without the wet clothes! We hope to peddle the wine road some day.
The people of France gifted the Statue of Liberty to their friends and allies, the United States, in 1886. Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, the sculptor, made his vision a reality with nearly 15 years of planning, fundraising, and promotion. He was born and raised in Colmar, and his boyhood home is now a museum highlighting his career and his creation of this symbol of freedom. We spent over two hours on a rainy afternoon learning about his works, the history of Alsace, and even our own US history.
That’s a wrap for Colmar. Next, on to Freiburg and Baden-Baden in Germany!