After a lovely day in Strasbourg, my pal and I had one more day in France for our weekend getaway, and we decided to drive the hour south to Colmar before heading back to Germany. Colmar is renowned for its superbly preserved old town, adorned with timber-framed wood houses that reflect an exceptional blend of Germanic and French architecture.
Have I mentioned how much I love this style of housing?
The weather on this day was a moody mix of wind and sprinkles, but neither of us were phased by this. When traveling, learning to roll with whatever is thrown your way makes things more enjoyable. Plus, most people aren’t traveling during the winter months so the trade off for poor weather is less humans.
We had no plan for this afternoon of wandering, so we parked the car and set off for a few hours of exploration. Our first stop was to La Petite Venise, or Little Venice, to admire the houses on the canal. These houses sit on the Lauch river and are said to have been houses for fishermen and boaters once upon a time.
Now, they are the perfect houses to add to a vision board.
A small walk along the pleasant Quai de la Poissonnerie leads to St Peter’s bridge where we had a beautiful view over “Little Venice.” From the bridge heading back down the cobblestone streets of Quai de la Poissonnerie we found a large brass colored building dating back to 1865. This building used to be a shopping hall, and is now a covered market known as Marché couvert.
I wasn’t aware of this market until we passed by and I glanced inside the window. This indoor market (completely renovated in 2010), is home to many stalls selling local products, fruit and vegetables, and a bar with an amazing terrace (which seems to float on the Lauch River.) You can see the terrace surrounded by a red wall in the above photo.
I can only imagine how popular the terrace is in the warmer months.
We hadn’t had breakfast yet, and this covered market was the perfect place to stop for a bite. Inside, the people were just waking up and it was apparent everyone wandering the stalls were locals and not tourists. Everyone knew what they wanted, and were having friendly chats with the stall owners. We made a full lap before finding the stalls we wanted to stop at.
Breakfast goals were simple: bread, butter, jam, coffee.
The stall owners spoke very little English, but they were all very kind. We sat at the stall where we ordered coffee and each ate our entire baguette (and more than half this circle of local butter!) Bread makes me very brain foggy, but when in France it’s worth it.
I remember the exact feeling of calm I had sitting inside this market focusing on nothing more than my baguette and americano.
After breakfast we wandered around the streets and shops for a couple more hours before starting the drive back to Germany. We spent just the first half of our day in Colmar, which was enough time for us. One day is enough for this town, and perhaps I will return someday in the nicer weather to enjoy a cup of coffee on the covered market terrace.
When driving home, our GPS ended up taking us into Switzerland (I didn’t adjust the route option) which added an extra hour onto our drive back (whoops.) We had a good laugh about this detour, and thankfully the weather held up for the entirety of the drive.
Strasbourg was enjoyable for its size and walkability, and Colmar was enjoyable for the same reasons, but in a different way. Comar is smaller, but far less touristy (even in the off season.) Both towns are beautiful, and have awe worthy architecture.
France continues to surprise me. Aside from a designated trip to Paris and Normandy in January, my other visits have been sporadic one or two day pop ins. In the future I would love to dedicate a week or more to exploring more of the country. Until then, I will daydream of fresh baguettes and locally churned butter. Ohh to be French.
Q: Baguettes with butter and jam, or croissants?