While still in Strasbourg for les marchés de Noël last November, I also made a short, day trip over to Colmar, located about half an hour away by train. I, along with the Australian assistante whom I was staying with during my time in Strasbourg, took the train over around 14h00 and for the rest of the afternoon explored what the town had to offer.
Being the third-largest town in the Alsace region, Colmar is home to its picturesque old town, as well as its absolutely-charming scenery in la Petite Venise (“little Venice”) which, like la Petite France in Strasbourg, is an iconic spot worthy of a many photos. You can bet that I took plenty of them while there (see photo above). It’s also known for being the capital of Alsatian wine, specializing in ones like Riesling (one of my personal favorites).
Aside from visiting la Petite Venise, my host assistante and I also checked out the town’s Christmas markets, smaller than that in Strasbourg, but just as decked out in holiday spirit, if not more. Seriously, this particular stand was stuffed with holiday cookies; the voracious sweet tooth in me had to really resist not buying any of them, let alone pillaging and gobbling up the whole display!
Although I did not purchase any of the cookies, I did however end up buying a plush, heart-shaped ornament with an elegantly-sewn design of reindeer. Considering that I wouldn’t be going back home for the holidays, it was sort of a gift to myself to make up for that. Granted, I didn’t have a Christmas tree back at my flat to hang it upon, but still, I found it very lovely!
Later, we wandered a bit through the quieter streets of Colmar, to get away from the hustle and bustle of the Christmas markets in the historic center. Again, we returned to check out la Petite Venise; it was quite peaceful, watching and listening to the water lap along the sides of the canal, as a sort of a sanctuary from the noise. We also took a quick stroll through la rue des Tanneurs (“Tanner Street”) which I hadn’t heard of before, but it was charming in its tall, crookedly-built houses and in a way resembled la Petite France in Strasbourg.
Eventually, we wrapped around the town, heading over to the Église Saint-Martin, which apparently is large enough to be considered also a collegiate church and a cathedral. Dating back to the 13th century, its presence under the overcast sky that day gave it sort of an ominous presence.
By 16h30, it was already starting to get dark (alas, it’s the winter season!), so my host assistante and I made our way back to la gare to catch the train back to Strasbourg before it got pitch black for the evening. Along the way, I snapped this photo of a park that we crossed through. Not sure how it happened, but the blue lighting certainly gives off a dreamy, winter wonderland feel to it.
We got to la gare and boarded the train to head back to Strasbourg. However, for some strange reason, the train was delayed by twenty, almost thirty minutes. While I’m aware that (and have experienced) trains leaving late, such a delay is sure to annoy the heck out of me. Even my host assistante was not very happy about the situation, either. Anyway, what can you do about it?
Finally, the train moved and we made our way back, arriving at la gare de Strasbourg around 18h00. We headed back to her flat, where we rested a bit before having a dinner party with her housemates and neighbors, raclette-style!
Although I’d only spent a couple of hours in Colmar, I still found it a delight to visit. Considering that I hadn’t had plans to go there for the day (I’d been worried that I wouldn’t have time to do so, since it was such a short weekend), I’m glad that I’d changed my mind at the last minute and just went for it. Cute and quaint, Colmar felt more homey and “traditionally Alsatian” than Strasbourg, in terms of its seemingly-larger historic town center and compact, but lively Christmas market atmosphere. Don’t get me wrong, though, I love Strasbourg all the same!
In any case, that was the highlight of last year’s weekend getaway to the Alsace region of France! While I won’t be heading back there this year, I know many of my assistant(e)s friends who’ll be going for les marchés de Noël and of course, I’m excited for them! I’m glad to have had the opportunity to visit both Strasbourg and Colmar, as well as cross them off of my bucket list of places to see in France!
Until later, à bientôt!