European towns

Colmar: A Fairy Town of France

With colorful half-timbered houses running along the canal, Colmar is considered one of the most beautiful medieval towns in the world.

Nestled among the vine-foothills of the Vosges mountains, in the Alsace region, northeastern France, Colmar is one of Europe’s best-preserved medieval towns. Colmar is located about 70 km from Strasbourg and borders Germany. The town is also located on the main railway from Strasbourg to Besel, Switzerland.

It was founded in 884 by emperor Charles III (Charles The Fat), the Carolingian empire. Historically, Colmar was once owned by Sweden or Germany.

During World War II, the surrounding areas were bombed and ravaged, however Colmar remained intact. Until 1945, this place was officially a part of France. Despite its tumultuous history of wars and fires, the buildings of Colmar retain their ancient beauty to this day.

Colmar features half-timbered houses with shades of green, pink, mint and apricot gold. All are located neatly on the cobblestone streets leading to the peaceful canal. People often keep the streets organized and decorate the house like a work of art, with baskets of flowers, lights and old bicycles.

Wandering on the street, many visitors seem to be lost in fairy tales in childhood. British travel blogger Lucy wrote tall towers that could be where Rapunzel let her long hair flow through the window, while small houses were like dwarfs.

The first attraction is the Maison Adolph, the oldest architecture in the town, built around 1350. The house is influenced by Gothic architecture, with pointed arches, German style. The third floor and half-timbered walls in the roof were added in the 16th century.

The Pfister house was built in 1537 and the owner was the hunter Ludwig Scherer. A two-story corner house, a wood gallery, an octagonal turret, and murals that show biblical images. The name Pfister is named after a family who renovated the house and lived there from 1841 to 1892.

The “jewel” of the town is the Petit Venice district, dubbed the small Venice of France. The short, smooth channel flows through the neighborhood. The banks of the canal are planted with green trees and colorful flowers. Some buildings here date from the 14th century.

There is a boat tour, sightseeing on the canal. Each trip lasts 25 minutes and the boatman will explain and introduce the history and story of the town. The boat departs at the foot of the Saint-Pierre Bridge, cost 7 EUR per person, free for children under 10 years old.