The One with Colmar, France


Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Early the next morning we loaded up and made the pleasant 25 minute drive to Colmar. We were greeted by a replica Statue of Liberty when entering the city (#Merica!). Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi, the artist who designed the Statue of Liberty, was a native of Colmar.

We found another parking garage, and another carousel.


Pretty pastels.
Ha! A replica of the Manneken-Pis! It was funny to see this after we had just seen the original in Brussels.
Typical adorable French cafe.
Colmar is a well-pickled old place of 70,000 residents, offering a few heavy-weight sights in a comfortable, midsize-town package. Historic beauty was usually a poor excuse for being spared the ravages of WWII, but it worked for Colmar. The American and British military were careful not to bomb the half-timbered old burghers' houses, characteristic red- and green-tiled roofs, and cobbled lanes of Alsace's most beautiful city. It's decorated with 45 buildings classified as historic monuments.
A statue of Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi stands over the Place de l'Ancienne Douane. This used to be the center of business activity in Colmar. All the goods that entered the city were taxed here. Today it's the festive site of outdoor cafes and wine-tastings on many summer evenings.
Rick Steves says there isn't a straight street in Colmar. I believe him. This is a view of the Tanners' Quarter, restored in 1970, which was a pioneer in the government-funded renovation of old quarters. Residents had to play along or move out.
The Evans Family in Colmar, France on Saturday May 2, 2015.
Old charming building.
You can see remnants of the city's first defensive wall at the base of this structure. The oldest, lowest stones date from 1230 and houses have since built on top of them. Later walls encircled the city further out.
The Petite Venise neighborhood of Colmar. Are you kidding me?! (As Fox is wont to say lately :)
This neighborhood has a collection of Colmar's most colorful houses lining the small canals. The river was canalized for medieval industry to provide water for tanners to allow farms to float their goods into town, to power mills, and so on.

Color crush.
Beyond belief cute.
Colmar's historic (dating from 1865) market hall has been newly renovated.
Inside locals buy fish, produce, and other products including fixin's for a great picnic. We settled for some delicious blood orange soda and pretzel donuts.
With our snacks in hand we continued on just having our socks blown off by Colmar's cuteness.
A picture is worth 1,000 words.
The town reminds me of Rothenberg ob der Tauber in Germany, but with French flair like the lovely shutters.
Cute shop. One of everything please!
I love that there aren't straight streets. The curves allow you to take in more of the buildings facades.
The Maison Pfister (left in the photo below) is a richly decorated merchant's house that dates from 1537. The owner displayed his wealth for all to enjoy (and envy). The spiral staircase, turret, and bay windows were pricey add-ons. The king or president or whatever kind of ruler they have of Malaysia loved this street so much he had it recreated in Kuala Lumpur. Added to my wanderlust list. 
Next door there is a man carved into the side of the home. He's a drape-maker shown holding a bar which was Colmar's measure of about one meter. In the Middle Ages it was common for cities to have their own units of length.
Beautiful, classic, half-timbered homes. Houses of the rich used to be built of stone (like the Maison Pfister two photos above) and anyone on a budget built half-timbered structures. Originally, proud townsfolk would plaster over their beams to create the illusion of stone. Then, in the 20th century, half-timbered became charming so they peeled away the plaster to reveal the old beams. Glad they did!
Awesome sign.
The famous Maison des Têtes was built in 1609 by a big-shot winemaker. It is playfully decorated with 105 faces and masks on the facade. 
Loving the purple shutters.
St. Martin's Cathedral was built in 1235. The stone here is more golden in color than the red stone of the Strasbourg cathedral despite both being built from stone carried from the nearby Vosges Mountains.
Just down from the cathedral is the Dominican Church which is a low-slung, somber structure.
While the Unterlinden Museum is being renovated, this church is home to that museum's masterpieces, including the Isenheim Altarpiece, the back of which you can see here.
And here is the front. The piece was done by Matthias Grünwald circa 1515 and was designed to help people in a medieval hospital endure horrible skin diseases. The point - Jesus' suffering - is drilled home in every macabre detail. A very powerful work.
Also on display was Martin Schongauer's Virgin in the Rosebush, dating from 1473. It looks as if it were painted yesterday! So beautiful.
Fox trying out one of the seats in the church choir.
Another exterior shot of the Cathedral. I love the gold tone of it!
Eric and Tanya didn't join us in the Dominic Church/Temporary Unterlinden Museum (heafty admission charge for that right now) so we met back up with them and moseyed back to our car ready for lunch and nap time for the kids.
One of the prettiest streets in Colmar!
Such a fun morning. Next stop: Eguisheim.

3 comments

  1. So gorgeous!! I want to live there!!!!

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  2. Yes, Rothenberg was my first thought when you were standing at the intersection of the two streets! Charming town. Thank you!

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  3. #murica in france. Coolio.

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