Located in the French region of Alsace, nestled between the borders of Switzerland and Germany, lies the fairytale town of Colmar. Cobblestone streets, lined with half-timbered homes, many dating back to the 14th century, dot the tiny town. The region has changed nationalities (French and German) many times in the course of history and it is clearly reflected in the food and culture. While it is the perfect getaway for architecture, food, and wine lovers anytime of the year, perhaps it is most popular during the holiday season. Come winter, Christmas takes over Colmar.
Colmar has not one, but six Christmas markets spread across the old town. A total of 180 wooden stalls display Alsatian products and crafts; from traditional handmade ornaments to local delicacies, mulled wine, and season entertainment. The result is a giant open-air Christmas market that delights both children and adults alike. The Christmas markets run for six weeks from the middle of November to the end of December. For now, I will be dreaming of a white 2021 Colmar Christmas.
Where to Eat & Stay
Luckily, the place to stay is also the place eat. La Maison des Têtes is not only a stylish hotel, it boast a traditional brasserie and luxurious Michelin-starred restaurant. A member of the Relais & Châteaux family, the structure was originally built as a wine exchange in 1609. Located in the center of town, this architectural Renaissance style gem is classified as a historical monument and takes its name from the 106 sculpted heads (têtes) that decorate the facade. Intimately charming, the hotel includes 21 cozy rooms with exposed beams and contemporary decor accentuated with stunning traditional woodwork.
You cannot mention a trip to Colmar or the Alsace with out mentioning winstubs. Translated, winstub, means wine lounge. Cozy pub-like restaurant typify the Alsatian way of life. Originally, winstubs were a place for winemakers to sell off their surplus inventory and operate a restaurant on the premises. Nowadays, the winstub is a casual bistro with a homey atmosphere. The perfect place to sit back, eat, drink and visit with friends. I am longing for those pre-COVID days. Soon friends, very soon.
Getting to Colmar
Colmar is easy to reach to by train. It is 35 minutes from Strasbourg, 45 minutes from Basel and 2 hours from Zürich.
The nearest airport to Colmar is Strasbourg (SXB). However, I would most likely fly SWISS air business class to Zurich (ZRH) and take the train to Basel and on to Colmar.
Swiss International Air Lines (SWISS) is part of the Lufthansa Group and is the national carrier of Switzerland. The airline was also named the second Best Business Class in Europe after sister airline Lufthansa at the 2018 Skytrax Awards. Recently, SWISS has sets new standards in travel and comfort with their Boeing 777-300ER.
You can take the train from Zurich to Colmar. Depart Zurich Hauptbahnhof, Zurich’s main station (abbreviated Zurich HB), transfer at the Basel SBB railway, and arrive in Colmar. It is roughly a two hour trip.