Colmar, France in colorful Alsace


When I was in college, I visited Colmar with a college friend who was studying in nearby Freiburg, Germany. He wanted to see the Isenheim Alterpiece, an amazing creation by Grunewald from the early 16th Century. Our Rhine cruise gave me the opportunity to go back. I did not remember the town, which is considered one of the prettiest in France.

Alsace has been part of France since the end of World War II, but for centuries it has gone back and forth between Germany and France, creating a culture and setting which mixes influences. It was not bombed during the last World War, so many of the half-timbered houses from as far back as the 14th century are still standing. These houses were painted unique colors. Rather than numbers, the address of houses in Colmar were based on their colors. Like Strasbourg, Colmar has canals in the central town.

One place we visited was Colmar’s smallest house (above) which was built into the corner of two other townhouses. Cute, but no private bathroom.

The designer of the Statue of Liberty, Frederic Batholdi, was from Colmar and there is a small museum featuring his sculptures in Colmar. Local artist Hansi created many unique signs for businesses in Colmar.

At the Unterlinden Museum you can see the Isenheim Altarpiece and a fine collection of works by other local artists from the Renaissance and a nice collection of modern paintings. The Altarpiece itself is a dramatic and visceral work which includes many panels painted to commemorate a local “plague” which infected the local population until it was discovered to be caused by a fungus found in local cereals. Below is the main panel and a portion of one of the most horrific of the panels.

If you are in Northeastern France, Colmar is worth going out of your way to see.


About cruiseportatlas

Since 1994 John has worked in the Travel Industry after several years in Higher Education and Hospitality. He was a training executive for Certified Vacations before leading Oceania Cruises training efforts beginning in 2005. In 2010, he was appointed to head Training for Prestige Cruise Holdings, owner of both Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises. In 2011, John started Since 2012, John has been selling cruises for John was always interested in travel, but was inspired to make it his profession by his wife, Donna. John is an Army brat who spent 3 years in Germany when he was a small brat and the rest of his brat years in the states of Georgia, Texas, Louisiana, Virginia and Pennsylvania. He studied History at the College of William and Mary. John reads voraciously, cooks and eats prodigiously, travels happily, enjoys music, art and architecture from any place or time and has finally stopped smoking.

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