Colmar is one of the most beautiful and colorful cities in France, with a population of 67,000 inhabitants. It is the capital of Haut-Rhin department, and it is located in the eastern side of the country, between the Swiss city of Basel and Strasbourg, being probably the best preserved historic village of Hexagon. Its history begins in 823 when Louis Pius named this territory Columbarium (pigeon cage, from where it gets its current name).
At first, it was a small village, which has rapidly developed into a small town, in the 13th century. Several religious orders had representatives in Colmar: Franciscans, Dominicans, Augustinians. The city began to prosper and attracted the attention of the Bishop of Strasbourg and of the royal nobility around it, who declared war to traders in Colmar. In 1648 Colmar was annexed to France by the Treaty of Westphalia, marking the end of the War of 30 years. Together with the rest of Alsace, was going to be ceded back to Germany in 1870, returning to France in 1919 and then re-attached to Germany during the Second World War.
If you arrive in Colmar, the best thing to do is to walk the streets of the beautiful old town, especially in the district called “Little Venice”, which got its names due to the houses lined up on both sides of the river that crosses the south-east side of the city.
There are five museums in Colmar, among which the most interesting one is Unterlinden Musem that houses collections of art from medieval to modern times. Unmissable is also the livable museum of toys and little trains collection of Georges Trincot. Dolls, cars, boats, airplanes, steam engines, the museum recreates the magic world of Charles Perrault’s tales and fables of La Fontaine. Toy trains fans will definitely enjoy an exhibit that runs on a nearly 1 km long trail.
Another interesting place to visit in Colmar is the Dominican Church. Its construction started in 1283 and was finished somewhere in the 14th century, being an important example of architecture. The church was restored in the 80s and 90s, after a long history during which was redecorated in various styles.
Do not avoid the merchant district, the place where the fishermen in Colmar used to live. The fish caught here were stored in ponds or sold at stalls in the district. In 1706, a devastating fire destroyed more than 40 houses in the neighborhood. Between 1978 and 1981, the authorities have managed to restore many of the houses of timber that were once raised here.