Cold — but calm — in Colmar

Although I’m still sorting through the 6,000-plus images I shot while traveling with Esteban last December, I’ve at least managed to assemble a peek at the beautiful city of Colmar in northeastern France.

Colmar is just 30-some miles west of Freiburg, directly across the (current) French-German border. But because the bridge over the Rhine was never rebuilt after World War II, the trip requires some logistics. I’ll do a separate blog post about that sometime, as a service to future travelers.

The important thing is that we did get to Colmar, and that it really was as advertised.

Our first “pinch me” moment came within minutes of our arrival. See, there’s this one iconic photo of Colmar everyone has to take — it’s the law.

Colmar apartment iconic photo 1060155 BLOG

Now, see that red arrow? That was our address in Colmar. Seriously!

Granted, the apartment was tucked into the garret of a 17th-century building — so although it was charming, it wasn’t exactly ample.

Colmar apartment living room 1050151 BLOG

Believe it or not, my fisheye lens made the kitchen look larger than life: It was so small that only one of us fit at a time.

Colmar apartment kitchen 1050138 BLOG

Ditto with the bed!

Colmar apartment bed 1050193 BLOG

But what the apartment lacked in space, it more than made up for in scenery. Here are some views from the top:

Colmar apartment view 1050183 BLOG

Colmar apartment view 1050460 BLOG

Colmar apartment view 1050464 BLOG

Our first full day in Colmar got off to a bit of a rough start, thanks to an incident with the teapot. It was an electric appliance, as you see, but somehow it ended up the stove.

Colmar apartment teapot 1050455 BLOG

“Nononononooooo!” I yelled, as I came out of the bathroom to see (and smell) the smoldering mess. Fortunately, nothing — except the teapot and maybe our nerves — was damaged. Later that morning we went to the store to buy a replacement.

I was nervous as I went to tell the gardienne what had happened. As it turns out, she was one of the owners. “You need not pay for that,” she said in French. “It’s my responsibility. How much did it cost? Here … have a bottle of wine for your troubles. Please, take a second bottle. Tenez, madame …”

I later brought her some wild rice as a thank you, which she repaid with a bag of Christmas cookies, which I repaid with a sincere thank you and a hug, which she repaid with a kiss on each cheek. I really must make a point of being destructive more often!

But enough about the teapot.

One of the things that fascinated me about Colmar was its ties to World War II: Between 1944 and 1945, it played a central role in the liberation of Alsace. But although there was heavy fighting in the surrounding woods, the medieval city survived. I loved all the old wattle-and-daub buildings …

Colmar morning 1050474 BLOG

Colmar bikes 1050379 BLOG

Colmar signs 1050476 BLOG

Colmar street 1050309 BLOG

Colmar canyon 1050884 BLOG

… and how the entire old town was illuminated, in eager anticipation of Christmas.

Colmar lights 1060022 BLOG

Colmar canal 1050442 BLOG

Colmar market 1050353 BLOG

Colmar market 1060073 BLOG

Colmar shopping 1050986 BLOG

Colmar tree 1050420 BLOG

But although the lights and the Christmas markets were lovely, Esteban and I preferred to wander off the tourist-beaten path. That’s how we made one of our favorite “discoveries” in this abandoned house.

Colmar Voltaire building 1050639 BLOG

A plaque said Voltaire had once lived there, so I braved the dry-rotted stairs to take a closer look.

Colmar Voltaire building 1050633 BLOG

But ultimately, the expression on this once-regal lion’s face summed it all up.

COlmar Voltaire house 1050646 BLOG

Fortunately that wasn’t our last impression of Colmar. I’ll be back soon with a look at some of the city’s beautiful architectural details — and a bit of fog.


    • Thanks for your kind words — and congratulations on *your* beautiful images, from your newest subscriber! My husband has been agitating in favor of Greece, and I think your wonderful blog posts may have just pushed me over the edge. Well done!

  1. Spectacular pictures, I actually drew breath looking at some of them. Congratulations on such an inspiring journey. I am so very taken by the first picture (the one with the red arrow), is it possible to get a high-res copy of it so I can use it as a desktop wallpaper or do you have other plans for it? Thank you

    • Thank you very much for your kind comment, alexshortful. You made my day! The full-res version of that image is rights-managed, but I’d be happy to send you a slightly larger version if you like. Just drop me a note at and I’ll see what I can do! Thanks again.

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