Colmar – the Magic of Alsace

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Alsace is one of France’s most picturesque regions and has a lot in common with its neighbour, Germany, in terms of architecture, customs, cuisine and even language. It is famous for its white wines and the vineyards grow at the foot of the gently sloping Vosges mountains.

The slopes of the Vosges mountains

The slopes of the Vosges mountains

I have been to Colmar twice before, once with Black Cat when she was thirteen (18 years ago) and once with Jean Michel, 14 years ago, when we spent two weeks visiting such lovely little villages as Roquewihr and Haut Koenigsbourg and tasting wine. I remember liking it on both occasions, but am a bit worried that I can’t remember it at all except for one particular place on the canal. Jean Michel only remembers a couple of things as well.

Built in 1609, La Maison des Têtes (House of Heads) owes its name to the large number of masks and grimacing faces which decorate the façade. The magnificently sculpted oriel rises to three levels. The statue of hte Alsace barrel maker was placed at the top of the gable when the building was used as a wine exchange.

Built in 1609, La Maison des Têtes (House of Heads) owes its name to the 110 masks and grimacing faces which decorate the façade. The magnificently sculpted oriel rises to three levels. The statue of the Alsace barrel maker was placed at the top of the gable when the building was used as a wine exchange.

A typical street in Colmar

A typical street in Colmar

With a little over two hours before sunset, we head straight for the tourist office after checking into our hotel and follow the itinerary proposed in the brochure. A more leisurely visit would have been better just to soak up the atmosphere and appreciate all the lovely half-timbered houes. We are also surprised by how busy the centre is. Lots of school children and their parents suddenly flood the streets.

14th century weinhof or corn loft

14th century weinhof or corn loft

Houses along the canal

Houses along the canal

The multi-coloured pink sandstone of the Cathedral

The multi-coloured pink sandstone of the Cathedral

The inner courtyard

The inner courtyard of the old customs house built in 1480

More houses along the canal

More houses along the canal

The other end of the canal

The other end of the canal

The varnished roo of

The glazed tile roof of the old customs house

Pfister House built in 1537, probably the best-known monument in Colmar

Pfister House built by a silver merchant in 1537, probably the best-known monument in Colmar

Far left, Maison Adolph, probably the oldest house in Colmar built in about 1350, with gothic pointed arch windows. Left, le corps de garde,, built in 1575. The loggia was used by the magistrate to hand down sentences.

Left, Maison Adolph, probably the oldest house in Colmar built in about 1350, with its gothic pointed arch windows. Right, the guard building, constructed in 1575. The loggia was used by the magistrate to hand down sentences.

A busy street in Colmar

A busy street in Colmar

A little canal in the middle of the town

A little canal in the middle of the town

At 6.30 pm, we have finished the tour and can have a well-earned glass of local riesling and a flammekeusche, the thin-crust onion, bacon and cream tart so popular in the area.

Drinking wine in Alsacian glasses accompanied by flammekeuche

Drinking wine in Alsacian glasses accompanied by flammekeusche

We find another venue for dinner and another well-known local dish: sauerkraut, pork and potatoes followed by an ice-cream kugelhof. By now, the streets are nearly deserted.

Rue des Tanneurs

Rue des Tanneurs

No sign of any harvest bread or vin nouveau. Next time maybe! Tomorrow we’ll be back in Blois.

AllAboutFranceBadge_bisThis post is my November contribution to Lou Messugo’s All About France link-up. For other posts about France, click here.

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