Spending the New Years Eve in Colmar is something like becoming a figurine over a Christmas nativity scene. In these dates, the French population of Alsace is imbibed by the spirit of Noël, as they say around here.
But you have to wrap up to enjoy it. You must bring good polar, gloves and hat, and, just in case, drink a glass of hot and spiced wine in any of the five Christmas markets that flood the old town. Undoubtedly, that is the best way to start being part of the immense postcard decoration in which Colmar turns into.
Christmas, high season in Colmar
In any month, its traditional architecture based on wood frameworks and painted plaster in bright colors has a special photogenic effect. But when December arrives, the decorative lights, the tinsel, markets, the ornamental trees and the usual fog give it a fairy-tale look. If you are longing to find the Christmas spirit, stop looking because this is your destiny.
The truth is that Colmar presumes to receive visitors all year. But it is clear that at the end of the year is when tourism in this Alsatian corner reaches its peak.
Nearby there are places to ski or to use the sledges; for example, at the Schnepfenried or Du Lac-Blanc stations, which take advantage of the snowy slopes of the Vosges mountain range. But it is not snow sports that attract the visitors to Colmar. It is simply its Christmas atmosphere.
It is very difficult to explain it without living it. It is the peculiar mixture of joy and cold, homey atmosphere on the street, kindness, good wishes and consumerism, excessive decoration… All this is what hangs in the hotels’ full capacity poster. And not only in Colmar, also in the small surrounding towns. Places like Turckheim, Ribeauvillé or Riquewihr that rival in beauty and endearing environment.
Something more than Christmas markets
Obviously, if you make a New Year’s trip to Colmar you do not spend all day shopping at the Christmas markets. Although it will be absolutely impossible to return without some adornment for the next Christmas. You have to follow the traditions, but also take advantage of the stay to discover the most emblematic places.
One of them is the area of canals that once served for the transport of goods. It is known as Petit Venice; you can take romantic boat trips on its waters. On its shores, there are several restaurants and you have to try the sauerkraut, a strong dish which helps you resist the thermometer.
With your foot on the ground, you have to visit the House of Customs or Koïfhus, very close to the canals. And a little further you can find the St. Martin church that takes us back to the Middle Ages. This Gothic temple is the heart of the city, and still wins in excellence surrounded by the mansions with greater historical load such as the noble Maison Pfister.
Museums for all tastes in Colmar
Another historic building is the convent of the Dominicans, today transformed into the Unterlinden Museum. Medieval art lovers, this is your museum. You will discover unknown wonders and contemplate the Isenheim Altarpiece. A masterpiece of the sixteenth century in which the German Mathias Grünewald gave all the characters of Calvary a drama capable of shaking believers and also the most skeptical.
The museums of Colmar do not end here. There is the Bartholdi Museum. Perhaps you do not know the name, but it turns out that Frederic Bartholdi created one of the most famous sculptures of all time: the Statue of Liberty. Everything we see in the house where he lived is about the artist and the work that France gave to the United States.
On the other hand, the trip to Colmar has a very familiar touch. So the whole family, big and small ones, should immerse themselves in the Museum of Toys. An exhibition that makes the children discover how their grandparents played in pre-technological times. This museum also moves the parents to the happiness of childhood, with that nostalgic tone that radiate the dolls and little trains of yesteryear.
A toast for the New Year
In short, the option to spend the last days of 2018 in Colmar is a great idea. In Colmar and surroundings, since one of the preferred activities is to go through all the nearby towns. Each of them seems out of a fairy tale and all of them have the Christmas decoration.
In addition, they form the exquisite Alsace Wine Route. Beautiful places like Hunawihr, Obernai, Selestat or Eguisheim await you. A region where white wines made from the Riesling and Gewürztraminer grape varieties are the real stars. Buy in the local wineries a bottle to bring home and to celebrate the entry into the new year.
In the meantime, from Horse, we will toast with cava for a prosperous 2019!