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.
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.
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.
Ditto with the bed!
But what the apartment lacked in space, it more than made up for in scenery. Here are some views from the top:
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.
“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 …
… and how the entire old town was illuminated, in eager anticipation of Christmas.
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.
A plaque said Voltaire had once lived there, so I braved the dry-rotted stairs to take a closer look.
But ultimately, the expression on this once-regal lion’s face summed it all up.
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.