After five days in Paris, we needed an escape from the big city and wanted to experience more of France. After a comfy, three-hour train ride from the Paris Gare de L’est we found ourselves in the heart of Alsace at Colmar. Here we made our home base for three days, the middle day of which included a quick jaunt (just a 30 minute train ride from Colmar) to Strasbourg. Both “cities” boast amazingly quirky rustic architecture, great country-style food, and fantastic wine influenced as much by France as Germany (the region has been a historically hotly contested border territory between the two nations – and when you indulge in it, it’s easy to see it’s worth fighting for). There is also a more laid-back vibe in Colmar and Strasbourg while still offering up plenty of art and history.
Without further adieu – here are some photographs from Colmar et Strasbourg.
When in Alsace…
- (If basing yourself in Colmar) stay at Le Maison des Tetes (at 19 Rue des Tetes) – an eccentric boutique hotel with impeccable service, gob-smacking exterior architecture (adorned with gargoylish heads), unique rooms, and a petite dejeuner of freshly brewed coffee, French pastries, charcuterie, jams and cheeses (all farm-to-fork) that, as their hilarious French to English translated description promises, will make your “taste buds wake up, wake up”.
- Walk Colmar’s charming cobbled streets at night (preferably after a light rain) and enjoy the lights on the canal of their Petite Venice section.
- (When in Strasbourg) get a load of their Notre Dame Cathedral – a mesmerizing red-stoned medieval church that looks like something out of Game of Thrones.
- Dine on Alsace’s favorite local home-style dish – coq au Riesling (chicken in a Riesling wine sauce) – served up in a small pot with fresh veggies, croutons and a side of spaetzle. We enjoyed ours at the lovely Chez Yvonne in Strasbourg at 10 Rue du Sanglier.
The Spin’s Alsacian Fun Tips:
- Watch out for…the dreaded Alsatian Elbow affliction. Alsatians love their decorative wood paneling – on walls, in dining rooms, on chairs, etc… – and I unfortunately made a habit of banging my elbows on wood.
- Beware of…Colmar Time. Shops and restaurants have funky hours designed around the “big lunch – long break – late dinner” timetable and many are randomly closed on random days. It can make wandering around looking for places to eat slightly more irritating than the small city’s innate loveliness and casual vibe belies.
Written and Photographed by David H. Schleicher
The Spin’s Five Part “France, Je T’aime” Series:
- Part One – Paris – Rues et Jardins
- Part Two – Paris – Musees et Monuments
- Part Three – Le Paris Macabre
- Part Four – Colmar et Strasbourg
- Part Five – Versailles