A Christmas past in Colmar

When Esteban and I first discussed moving to a condominium, my biggest sticking point was the homeowners’ association fee. “We’ll have that monthly expense for the rest of our lives,” I protested. “But with that fee we’ll be buying time,” he replied.

Esteban was right.

Although we still need to paint the hallway and finish some trim carpentry, we’ve reclaimed the hours we used to spend raking snow off the roof and clearing our sidewalk so the drunk college kids wouldn’t face-plant on the ice and sue us.

I used some of that time this weekend to revisit the thousands of photos I shot in 2013 and never looked at again. My intent was to show you the Christmas markets Esteban and I visited in Bruges, Köln, Heidelberg, Freiburg, Colmar, Strasbourg and Paris. But then Christmas happened (along with several lazy naps) and all I have for you is Colmar.

Maybe it’s fitting, since Colmar was our favorite. I’ve already written about the city’s history and unique character, which provided the perfect backdrop for the annual Christmas festival.

During the day the decorations were beautiful, if a bit subdued.

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But as dusk fell, a different energy pulsed into the old city. Crowds materialized out of nowhere as locals and tourists alike flooded into the streets.

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Some folks queued for baked goods, sausages, and hot mulled wine while others perused the endless selection of handmade goods.

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But it was after dark that holiday atmosphere came alive — as if someone had flicked a giant light switch. (Which I suppose someone really had.)

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The effect was so beautiful that I liked even my out-of-focus shots …

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… even if a couple of the streets were too over-the-top Technicolor for my taste.

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But my favorite image didn’t have any lights or sausages or market stalls. Rather, it’s a still moment on a foggy morning, shot as we were leaving for Strasbourg.

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It captures the spirit of quiet reflection that sets in for me at this time of year. For me, Christmas is a time to give thanks for what I have and those I love — and also to think about my goals and hopes for the year ahead.

However you celebrate Christmas (and even if you don’t), I wish you and yours a merry holiday … and a happy, healthy year ahead.



    • How wonderful that you’ve been to Colmar! I do hope you’re able to go back and see it all decorated for the holidays … it was almost unbearably charming, as you can see. Thank you for stopping by!

  1. Merry Christmas! Your photos of Colmar over the holidays are perfect. And I applaud the lazy naps–those are the best presents over the holidays! Here’s to a great new year for everyone!

  2. Belated merry Christmas. Great Photos and definately a reflective and cosy place is Colmar. Frankiky, i have not heard if it, very quaint and calm place. Wish you haooy new Year in advance, hooe 2018 is exactly wahat you want it to be. Regards bella

    • I’d never heard of Colmar either until several German friends urged me to go, Bella. It’s one of those little treasures that is well-known in its region but still off the radar to the larger world. Just as well, too — it’s bursting with tourists as it is! Well, merry Christmas to you too and my warmest wishes for 2018.

    • As a big admirer of your photography I am honored you like them, Yoshimi. Merci infiniment, et joyeux Noël (même un peu en retard). 🙂

      • Thank you for your compliments.
        I like to spend on foreign blogs and look at landscapes different from those I see every day

        it is not too late for the wishes, thank you very much
        May you spend beautiful holidays at the end of the year

  3. It sure is nice to live in a lower-maintenance place. This subdivision I live in now has probably 10% of the trees of my old one. Leaf season was me with the push mower, mulching the leaves, once. Not ten weekends with the lawn tractor and the bag attachment like in my old place.

    Lovely work, as always, H!

    • Holy moly, Jim — you used to spend TEN weekends on the lawn tractor each fall? Now that is diligence and dedication! I’m glad you’re also reaping the benefits of pared-down domestic responsibilities, because only Forrest Gump could love spending that much time on a riding mower. 🙂 Thank you so much for stopping by, and for your kind words!

      • Oooookay so I exaggerated a little. Sorry about that. It was really more like five to seven weekends. There were a lot, a lot of trees in that neighborhood, of all sorts of varieties. Some varieties fell early and others late.

        • You are such an earnest and honest fellow that I take your every word literally and at face value, Jim. But even five to seven weekends sounds like cruel and unusual punishment to me, so I’m glad you’ve been paroled. 🙂

    • Oh yes, J. P. — I heartily recommend sneaking in a nap before the family arrives! Imagine the satisfaction you’ll feel when they get all tired and groggy, but you’re still going strong. 🙂 Hope you all have a lovely day together!

    • Oh, how envious I am of Natalie and David — Paris is so extra-beautiful during the holidays! But there are good things to appreciate about spending the holidays in Minnesota, too … like seeing a dear friend in a few days. Stay warm until then!

    • Isn’t it crazy that Christmas is over already? Every year I tell myself I’m going to slow down and savor it, but every year it whizzes by like a landscape out the car window. But yes, it was wonderful. Hope yours was too!

  4. I couldn’t agree more with you Heide…. even down to the last one – if I could fave this post 10x, I would! I have a special love for Colmar anyway – heard about it first from a friend living in Basel (Bâle). From there it’s only a ‘Katzensprung’ to Colmar. I used to accompany non French spoken friends to do their shopping for sharp home goods, Colmar and Strasbourg.
    I’m confessing to not being a great friend of the Paris Xmas markets. It’s 100 times the same, you have to make sure not to be run over by cars rushing by…. BUT to honour Paris all the same, the windows of the large dept. stores are FABULOUS. We always try to make it one late afternoon/evening, can’t visit all the shops but we try to include always one where you can climb up to the rooftop to overlook the flickering lights of Paris.
    We are now in the thrall of Switzerland in its festive mood Took a cruise on Lake Thun today and strolled through the old town of this beautiful and beautifully located town. Stayed on an original steamer for lunch and stepped off well fed and watered in Interlaken, another place where time stands still for a while. Back by train(s) and back to France in a very few days. In CH Christmas is celebrated with abandon, shops are closed on 25 & 26 and again on 1st & 2nd January. In France, of course, things are different and work calls for our presence far too soon!
    I not only wish you a good and joyful New Year but even more that you may go through the whole year with a happy heart and a courageous attitude! It’s not the start that’s important, it’s who is going through the finishing line! Take care, Kiki

    • Just a little ‘ad on’…..: Seeing your wonderful smiley girl icon on another blog makes me smile 🙂 (DK)
      And a remark: Have I offended you with above comment? Only now realise that you didn’t remark on it…. Not that it matters but if there is anything you felt uneasy about say so that we can put things right!
      Bisous, Kiki

      • Of course you didn’t offend me, Kiki. I do my best to reply to every comment but sometimes just can’t in a timely manner because i work full-time and have family obligations and two friends who are very ill, and so on. I’ve actually been thinking about abandoning this blog because as much as I love the interaction with lovely people like you, it’s difficult to find time to properly maintain all of these online friendships. So my apologies if I offended YOU!

        • Alright sweetie, let’s stop apologizing and get on with our lives. Let’s just thank Corey Fry for providing the ‘link’ between the two of us…. You write whenever you feel like and don’t you dare abandoning your wonderful posts…. NOW that I have ‘discovered’ you! 🙂

    • What an adorable idea! I wish you’d been an elf on my shoulder too. 🙂 Hope your holiday was wonderful — and hope 2018 is off to a great start too. Happy new year!

    • If I were wealthy I would PAY you to go to Colmar so I could see it through your eyes, Joe. I’ll keep playing the lottery, and will let you know. 🙂 And thank you for your kind words. Esteban and I had a wonderful Christmas indeed — and 2018 is off to a great start. Hope the same is true of you and yours. Happy new year!

  5. The best travel photos don’t just record, they inspire. Your photographs of Colmar are so full of life and energy that they sent me straight to a map. Google tells me I can be there by 5pm tomorrow if I catch a train in the morning. I’m tempted.

    Thank you for introducing me to Colmar. I’m sure we’re going to get on. I see that Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, the designer of the Statue of Liberty, was born there. Small world.

    I like your foggy morning shot. Were you juggling suitcases and camera or did you take a quick early morning walkabout with your camera alone?

    • Your first paragraph has me beaming and smiling wide like a proper fool. What a beautiful and generous compliment! I hope you made the train? 😉

      And yes, it’s true that Frédéric Bartholdi was born there — they have an entire museum devoted to him, I’m told, but we never set foot inside. To our shame we also never went inside St. Martin’s Church! So a return visit is in order. (Google tells me that I can be there in seven weeks if I start walking in the morning, LOL.)

      As for that foggy morning shot … I did sneak out early that morning to take some photos, but if memory serves I was already in luggage-juggling mode for this particular frame. Fortunately Esteban was very patient even as we were risking missing our train.

      Well … it’s 2018 now, and my thoughts have turned to the year ahead. And I do hope yours will be SUPERB, full of happiness and good health and wonderful new adventures. Thank you, as always, for your friendship.


  6. I love that you spend this time of year to pause and reflect. I’m happy, too, that you’re settling in to your new condo and enjoying the time you’ve gained as a result of the move. You’re also reducing your risk of falls, back strain and all the other attending possibilities that accompany the hard labor around snow. As they say in the MasterCard ads: Priceless! 😉

    Happy new year, Heidebee. 2017 had so many lows, but you have been one of the bright spots. Thank you for that.

    ….and these photos…Wow! Thank you for sharing your beautiful trip. xo

    • Is it ironic that I strained by back and almost fell off the buffet while trying to hang our paintings the other night? Ha ha. Well, the good thing about breaking an arm in a condominium is that at least one of your neighbors might hear the “thump” and call an ambulance. 🙂

      All joking aside … thank YOU for being one of the big bright spots of 2017 as well, dear Alys. I treasure your friendship and your kind spirit. And I hope 2018 will bring every happiness and good health to you and yours as well.

      Happy new year! xoxo

      • Oh no! I’m sorry to hear about your back. I’m glad it’s not worse (i.e. you didn’t fall and hit your head). One of the best investments I ever made was a two-step folding ladder with a handle. I can hold on going up and down, it’s wide and sturdy, but folds up small and flat. I’ve been alone hanging pictures for various clients over the years, (and I”m accident prone, too) so this sort of thing is a must. Promise me you’ll get one?


        • You’re so sweet, dear Alys — thank you for your concern! I’m klutzy and accident-prone too so I’m also glad (and frankly, surprised) I didn’t tumble off the buffet and break something. But I can promise you with certainty the episode won’t be repeated because Esteban decided we really, really need a step-ladder like the one you describe. Your two great minds think alike, apparently. 🙂 I hope your Sunday is lovely. Big hug to you! xx

    • I’m so glad you enjoyed the photos, Björn! That’s exactly why I take them — it’s like traveling all over again. 🙂

  7. What a gorgeous place! I love travel in Europe, all the brick streets and historical homes. The little shops in lanes are so much more appealing than parking in some giant car filled lot at the mall. How can I get my hubster to move to Lucern, Switzerland? I need a plan 😀 My favourite photo is the night shot of the canal with a beautiful, almost etherial swan floating by. Oh! and the ‘almost night’ sky with pink cotton candy floating by. Now I must go there too, I’m in love.

    • Hmmm. How indeed *does* one get one’s hubster to move to Lucerne? I’ll get working on a plan — for both of us! 🙂 Agree 100% with you about the irresistible appeal of these beautiful little cities in Europe, though. They’re built on a much more human scale than we’re used to here in the States (where bigger equals better). The only problem is choosing your favorite town to settle in, because each has its own charms. I think we have no choice but to visit them all so we can make an informed decision. 😀

    • Oh no! Sorry about the missing photos. But thank you so much for letting me know! I will investigate over the weekend. xx

    • Thank you for your kind words, Dina — and for your kind wishes too. I wish you and yours the best in the year ahead as well. x

  8. HI Heide, Found your blog via Campari and Sofa the other night. I had a look and thought this is a great blog. I usually look around, comment on a few posts and then push the Follow button. For me it’s like kissing on the first date. I don’t normally follow straight away.Anyway I don’t want to loose track of your blog or forget. You have beautiful photos and your writing/ posts appeals. I look forward to seeing your posts in my feed, You’ve given me the push I need to get started on my second blog which I have been thinking about and procrastinating about for well over twelve months!!! Louise ( based in Melbourne Australia)

    • Oh, Louise … you’ve just made my WEEK with your kind comment. Thank you! I’ve been in a bit of a rut with my blog lately as well but you’ve just inspired me in return and given me the push I need to start writing and posting again. (And isn’t that what blog friends are for? :). Thank you!

  9. Thanks for these photos from the Christmas Market. Having spent every Christmas of my life in the Australian summer, scenes and markets like these fascinate me. You must have had a great time there.

    • We had a WONDERFUL time at these markets, Mr. Draco! We were somehow able to take an entire month off work, so we visited several all over Germany and France. My favorite is still the one in Freiburg — maybe because it’s the first one I experienced, many years ago, and is still full of magic for me. But they’re all pretty similar really, so if you can arrange it I do recommend timing one of your return visits to coincide with the market season. Cheers to you!

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