Colmar Part un

Trip Start Jun 10, 2007
Trip End Ongoing

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Friday, August 24, 2007

Call off the debate! Heaven does exist!  It is hidden in the north east corner of France and is called Colmar!
Colmar is the heart of the Alsace wine region in the middle of the "Route des vins".
Like most old french towns, the centre of the city is stuffed with bakeries, pastry shops and plenty of all-purpose shopping. It has a distinction however.  The core streets are lined with absolutely gorgeous medieval buildings painted with a traditional flare. During WWII both sides refused to bomb the area in order to protect the stunningly unique beauty of the town.
Colmar is one of 100 villages and towns on the wine route that stretches for 90km along the "Les Vosges" mountain range nestled up against the French-German border.
We can really see, feel, and taste the German influence. Many streets have German names, most of the tourists are German, and the food (lots of sausage) and treats (pretzels and many German baked goods that we won't even try to spell here) are heavily influenced by German tradition.
We decided to spend a week here exploring all that the Alsace wine region has to offer. We found an apartment to rent for a week that worked out to a little more money than we would pay in a budget hotel, but we wanted the kitchen to save money cooking for ourselves. It should work out to be cheaper in the end. What we didn't expect was the wine region to be so close to home... literally.  Our apartment is located in the heart of the old city just off the main street, which is great. However, the owners of the building have been in the wine business for 7 generations. They have their headquarters, storefront, and wine tasting cellars in the building below us!  After a quick sample of their product, Megan approved and said it was ok to stay there.
The apartment itself is also fabulous!  Full kitchen, living room, dining room, bathtub, laundry, free internet, and 3 bedrooms! (see pictures as words can't describe how nice it is).
After settling in and picking our jaws up off the hardwood floor, we went in search of sustenance for the evening. We trekked all the way downstairs for a bottle of wine (ok two bottles) from our landlord/winemaster. We then had to go about a block to find our village market with fresh goods. Rough eh... we know.
It felt really nice to actually cook something for ourselves. It has been too long (a baguette and a can of baked beans does not count as cooking).
The next morning we explored the market, shops, and headed to their museum that is actually quite impressive for a smaller town. It's most famous and powerful piece is the "Issenheim Altarpiece".  It has been described as one of the most dramatic and moving works of art ever created. It illustrated many of the scenes from the New Testament with intense realism. It did not disappoint. It was designed to help people through the pain of suffering from disease in the middle ages and for 500 years it has impressed no shortage of visitors including us. Pas mal. Pas mal.

Colmar day 3
We headed out along the route des vins to check out a town called Ribeauville. It is about 15km from
Colmar and is said to be the most popular with the tourists, and for good reason. We began our exploration with a hike. We went up to a castle on the side of a mountain through beautiful vineyards with grapes just waiting patiently for a picking. Once at our destination we were greeted with spectacular views of Ribeauville and the surrounding Alsace wine region. Vineyards as far as the eye could see. The pictures turned out great.

Once we made it back to town we strolled the streets partaking in some wine tasting along the way. It seems that just about every second shop is the front for a particular winery that encourages visitors to sample the pride of Alsace. We even picked up a bottle from the winery whose vineyard we hiked through up to the castle. As a side note, the Alsace region specializes in white wine as the climate is more supportive.  It worked out well as it is quite warm here these days and a nice Pinot Gris is quite refreshing (I know, sound like an expert right).
We took our rejuvenating acquisitions back to our apartment for our own wine tasting party and put our feet up.
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