This the ultimate first timer’s travel guide for preparing a vacation to Colmar, France.
Located in the Alsace region of Eastern France, Colmar is a preserved medieval town that has beauty, class, and history.
In Colmar, colorful German half-timber houses line canals of slow-moving water and flower beds dot cobblestone streets adding pops of color to this already vibrant town.
Colmar’s claim to fame is that it was the inspiration for the quaint village that Belle hails from to in the Disney cartoon, Beauty and the Beast. But during our trip, we didn’t run into any talking dishes or furniture, so I’m not so sure myself…
If you want to feel like you are walking through a medieval storybook, this is the place for you to visit.
Here is everything you need to know so you can plan an incredible trip to Colmar, France.
Ultimate Travel Guide to Colmar France
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What This Guide Covers
You can read every single Colmar tip here (highly recommended) or use the navigation links here to skip to the tips that are most valuable to you.
- Top 10 Things to do in Colmar
- Map of Colmar
- What to Eat in Colmar
- Colmar Weather
- Travel Tips When Going to Colmar
- How to Get to Colmar
- Estimated Cost of Colmar
- Great Photos and Inspiration
Top 10 Things to do in Colmar
1. St. Martin’s Church
Towering over 230 feet (71 meters) over the town of Colmar is the gothic-style St. Martin’s Church.
This Roman Catholic church dates back to the thirteenth century and is constructed of sandstone of differing shades, giving it an almost speckled appearance.
Looking up at the grandeur of this church from either the outside or from the inside is breathtaking. It is spacious and frankly amazing that anyone could build a structure with so much beauty and symbolism.
If you are visiting Colmar in the summer months, look closely at the rooftop of St. Martin’s Church and you may see a stork or two in their large nest on the rear end of the church. Storks are welcomed in the Alsace Region because they are fabled to bring good luck and happiness.
2. Dominican Church
The first time I rounded the corner of a narrow city block and saw the Dominican Church in Colmar I was struck with awe.
From the outside, the Dominican Church is long, slender, and dark when compared to the elegance of the painted German-style houses that line the streets of the city. But that contrast is precisely why it was so amazing, I wasn’t expecting it.
The Dominican Church’s style is unlike that of St. Martin’s Church. This church is very simple inside and out, with the crowning gem being the painting titled “Madonna of the Rose Bush” that sits front and center inside.
To go inside the Dominican Church and admire the beautiful artwork, be prepared to pay a small fee. But if you are into medieval architecture and seeing a famous renaissance-style painting, then this is something that is a must-see.
3. Le Petite Venise (Little Venice)
Little Venice in Colmar is a stretch of the city situated on the banks of the calm canal that is fed by the Lauch River that flows through Colmar.
It is in this quarter of the city that tourists pose by the canal to capture the perfect picture with flower arrangements, half-timbered houses, and serene water flowing by.
Not only is this spot ideal for photo ops, but there are also many restaurants along the canal that allow guests to enjoy a delicious Alsatian meal and the views.
Even if you aren’t into taking pictures of everywhere you go, this is an absolute must-do if you are in Colmar, France.
4. Fontaine Schwendi – The Beauty and the Beast Fountain
Remember how I said that Colmar was the inspiration for aspects of the village in the movie Beauty and the Beast? Well, this is the reason!
The Schwendi Fountain is surrounded by authentic half-timbered houses and looks pretty darn close to the town square outside of the pub that Gaston sings his famous song in. Don’t believe me? Go back and watch that scene and then look at the pictures.
The fountain is adorned with a statue of Lazarus Schwendi, a war hero whose conquests of the Turks brought peace to Alsace. Hence why he is holding a grapevine in his hand; it is a trophy of his victory in Hungary.
Fontaine Schwendi was designed by the same artist who commissioned the Statue of Liberty, Frederic Auguste Bartholdi.
5. Covered Market of Colmar
The indoor market in Colmar is a completely indoor market where vendors sell produce, meats, cheeses, and other locally-produced goods.
The aroma inside the market is enough to get your stomach rumbling alone, but when you see the fruits, meats, and pastries lining the display cases you’ll have to buy a quick little snack.
Since the market is covered, they are open every day of the week and during all seasons of the year. The temperature-controlled inside can be a nice respite from the heat or cold of Colmar.
No matter where you go in Colmar, it seems like there is yet another place that is begging to be photographed.
Whether it be in the narrow alleyways between houses, in Petite Venice, by one of the massive churches in the city, or standing by one of the statues or fountains in the city, there are many unique and attractive places for a quick picture.
When you visit Colmar, get creative!
You could dress up like Belle and the Beast and stand by the iconic Fontaine Schwendi or perhaps take a romantic picture of you and your significant other in the romantic city. Colmar is a photographer’s paradise.
7. Maison Pfister (Pfister House)
Nestled into a narrow street corner is the tall and striking Pfister House.
The Pfister House is an architectural work of art. Constructed in 1537, the house simultaneously fits into the style of the rest of the city and stands out.
A towering turret protrudes from the house and the corner boasts frescos that tell stories from the Bible and from German history.
Tourists are not allowed to enter into the Maison Pfister, but you probably won’t need to after you see how incredible the exterior of the building is.
8. Statue of Liberty
If you read the tip earlier about the Schwendi Fountain, you will probably remember that the sculptor who made that work of art also created the Statue of Liberty.
Frederic Auguste Bartholdi was the artisan who designed these two impressive works, and he was from the town of Colmar!
Because of his heritage here, the city erected a miniature version of the Statue of Liberty that is an exact replica of the statue that stands off the shore of Manhatten.
This version of Lady Liberty is nearly 40 feet (12 meters) tall and welcomes guests who are traveling by car into the city.
It was constructed 100 years after Bartholdi’s death to commemorate the profound impact his sculptures have had on the world.
9. Visit the Unterlinden Museum and the Bartholdi Museum
The Unterlinden Museum is one of the most visited museum in all of France outside of Paris, and for good reason!
Until the French Revolution, the museum was a Dominican convent that housed nuns. After a few decades of sitting abandoned, the building was purchased and converted into a museum.
Guests wander through the halls of the dark ages convent and into the basement to view art both modern and ancient.
There is a small fee to tour the museum, however, seeing Renaissance paintings and sculptures while inside a medieval convent in France is a pretty surreal experience.
Being a small town, few people have originated from Colmar who are as famous as Frederic Auguste Bartholdi.
His claim to fame may be the massive Statue of Liberty that was gifted to the United States, but Bartholdi has many other works of art that are equally as impressive, if not for their size, because of their detail and mastery.
This museum lives inside of the house in which Bartholdi was born in the mid 19th century.
There is a small fee for adults to enter the museum, but kids are free. It might be worth visiting if for nothing else than to see an actual cast of Lady Liberty’s massive ear.
10. Visit the Ballons des Vosges Nature Park
Half an hour from Colmar by train or 20 minutes by car is the Ballons des Vosges Regional Nature Park.
Consisting of rolling granite hills, mountains, lakes, and forests, the nature park can be a much-needed escape from the tight city streets of Colmar.
There are attractions here for adventures of all levels. You can hike, take a smooth walking path, drive down a scenic road, or take a dip in one of the lakes.
Check out a map and guide to what there is to do in the nature park here.
Map of Colmar
What to Eat in Colmar
Here are our top 5 picks of what to eat in Colmar:
- La Fleur de Sel (French Alsatian food)
- Rated 4.5 on TripAdvisor
- Located in Colmar in Little Venice along the canal.
- Sit-down restaurant right by the canal that serves lunch with limited indoor and outdoor seating. Prices range from €10-18 per person. Try the tarte flambee!
- Sézanne (French and European food)
- Rated 4.5 on TripAdvisor
- Located in Colmar, a short walk from St. Martin’s Church.
- Sit-down restaurant with reservations that serves lunch and dinner with indoor seating. Prices range from €10-20 per person.
- Le Petit Bidon (French and European food)
- Rated 4.5 on TripAdvisor
- Located in Colmar, a short walk north of St. Martin’s Church.
- Sit-down restaurant that serves lunch and dinner. A reservation is recommended no matter when you go. Prices range from €17-30 per person.
- Chick & Nat (Fast food)
- Rated 4.5 on TripAdvisor
- Located in Colmar, north of the old city area.
- Fast food restaurant that specializes in chicken sandwiches and french fries. Prices range from €8-12 per person.
- Nooï (Italian food)
- Rated 4.0 on TripAdvisor
- Located in Colmar, just a few minute walk from Little Venice.
- Take-out restaurant that serves lunch and dinner. Meant for people who want a grab-and-go meal. There is a square with a fountain nearby that you can sit at to eat. Prices range from €6-11 per person.
Here is the average Colmar temperatures by month at a glance (High / Low Fahrenheit).
- January – 41° / 30°
- February – 44° / 30°
- March – 53° / 37°
- April – 61° / 41°
- May – 69° / 49°
- June – 75° / 54°
- July – 79° / 58°
- August – 78° / 57°
- September – 71° / 50°
- October – 60° / 44°
- November – 49° / 35°
- December – 42° / 32°
Travel Tips When Going to Colmar
What currency is accepted in Colmar
The most widely accepted form of currency in Colmar is the Euro (€). Restaurants, stores, and hotels will most likely accept US dollars, but be warned that you will be charged an exchange fee.
What language is spoken in Colmar
In Colmar and all of the Alsace Region of France, French is the official language. Most locals will know English and German as well becaue of it’s proximity to Germany and the number of English-speaking tourists.
When is best time of year to visit Colmar
The best time of year for good weather in Colmar is during the summer months. The sun is usually shining and the highs are comfortable.
However, during the colder months of November and December, Christmas markets are very popular in this region, which adds an extra reason to visit despite the cooler weather.
Summer is the peak season for tourism, causing some European cities to become congested with tourists. This isn’t a huge problem in Colmar though since it is not as popular as other cities such as Paris.
Get up early or stay out late for no crowds and great photos
Colmar is very picturesque, but sometimes crowds of other tourists can ruin our picture perfect shots.
Try getting up early (before 7:00am or earlier) or staying out late at night in order to beat the tourists and have the scenic streets all to yourself.
How to Get to Colmar
Specific directions from most common cities: Zürich, Bern, Strasbourg, and Stuttgart.
- Zürich to Colmar
- At Zürich HB, board the train heading to Mulhouse Ville.
- At Gare de Mulhouse, switch trains and get on the train heading to Nancy-Ville.
- Get off at Colmar.
- Bern to Colmar
- Board the train going to Basel SBB. Get off the train in Basel.
- In the Basel SBB, board the train heading to Strasbourg.
- Get off at Colmar.
- Strasbourg to Colmar
- Board the train going to Basel SBB.
- Get off at Colmar.
- Stuttgart to Colmar
- At Stuttgart Central Station, board the train going to Frankfurt HBF.
- In Bruchsal, switch trains and board the one going in the direction of Karlsruhe HBF.
- In Karlsruhe, switch trains and board the one going in the direction of Strasbourg Station.
- In Strasbourg, switch trains one last time and board the one going to Basel SBB.
- Get off in Colmar.
Estimated Cost of Colmar
Transportation. If you are staying in Colmar, you likely won’t have to spend a dime on transportation besides what you will pay when you arrive and leave. Colmar is a small city without many streets to drive on.
You will need to get to and from the city however, and the trains are usually the most economic option to do that.
Dining. Eating is a big part when visiting Europe! In Colmar, expect prices to be anywhere between €10-24 per person when going to sit-down restaurants.
Hotel / Airbnb. If you want to stay in an Airbnb, expect the prices to be anywhere from $170-325 per night. For hotels, you are looking at $100-300 per night.
Breakdown of Colmar Costs
- Transportation: None while in Colmar! Pretty much everything is walkable.
- Meals: €10-24 per person per meal
- Hotel / Airbnb: $100-325 per night.