Le plus beau voyage c’est celui qu’on n’a pas encore fait – Loick Peyron
The most beautiful trip is the one you havent taken yet – Loick Peyron
It’s vibrant, lively, colourful, full of life, and industrious, no matter what the season or the reason. Come winter it will twinkle and glow with thousands of the Christmas lights. Come spring it will be flower-bedecked. Come summer, it will bask in the glory of its past, radiating the warmth through its colourful visage. Come autumn it will drape in the shades of orange and yellow. And all this while it ages gracefully through centuries after centuries! Welcome to ‘vivacious’ Colmar, the city whose heart beats to its own rhythm of contagious merriment infecting you with the pleasure of being alive.
Colmar is a commune in the Alsace region of France, 64kms southwest of Strasbourg and east of Vosges mountain range. It is an ancient city whose first mention can be found in the chronicles of the Saxon war(772 -804AD) It is well fed by the Luch (about 45kms long), the tributary of the Ill river. Though it enjoys the oceanic climate, its far inland position makes it one of the driest cities in France with cold, dry winters and warm to hot, wetter summers. And that makes it ideal for Alsace wine production. Situated on the Alsatian wine route, it prides itself in being the ‘Capital of Alsace wine’
Let’s wander through the cobblestone maze of the narrow winding alleys to discover and marvel at the beauty of the old town of Colmar which once upon a time was brimming with activities of fishmongers, tanners, grainers, and traders who traversed the tranquil Luch in the flat bottomed wooden boats.
Let’s start at the very heart, Place de la Cathedrale. It was during Christmas that I visited Colmar. The hustle and bustle of Marche de Noel filled the ambience with chirpiness.
Here the grand Gothic-styled Saint Martin Church stands out with its giant structure and flamboyant charm. It is also called ‘Collegiale Saint Martin’ as it was a collegiate church. Though it never was the seat of the bishop, its grand dimensions acquired it the name ‘Cathedrale Saint Martin’. Don’t forget to check out its roof that’s layered with the subtle design created by the tiles.
Right opposite it is the ‘Ancien Corps de Garde’ (The ancient or Former Guardhouse). However, it was not always the Guardhouse. A chapel in 1286AD, it was later converted into Town Hall in 1575. From 1577 to 1582, Renaissance-style decorative logia was added to it. The building was extensively used as the nuts and oil-seeds market. It was also used as a place of justice. The magistrates would stand in the grandstand to announce the convictions! From 1860 onwards, it was used for housing military offices and later as a police station…. Oh my my!!! What diversified chest of stories it might have in its store, one would wonder in appreciation! And to add one more story to it, I persuaded, bribed two knights in the shining armour to be my models for a picture 😊
Right next to it is the oldest house in Colmar, the Maison Adolph ( Adolph house). Built-in 1350, it’s a white-coloured half-timbered Alsace house. It is owned by the Adolph family, hence the name.
Next to it is a well dug in 1592 and surrounded by two lion heads.
Today, I wish to take a pause here to soak in the history, the charm and listen to the untold stories of the centuries by sitting close to the ancient buildings. Let’s meet tomorrow to continue getting lost in the ‘vivacious’ city of Colmar.
Click here for posts so far in the “Exploring l’Hexagone” series