Colmar, a Day Trip From Strasbourg With a Free Walking Tour Itinerary
Updated: Aug 13, 2020
Colmar is a Beauty-and-the-Beast experience.
Although, I don't think the baker and his wife will pop-out shouting, "Bonjour! Bonjour! Bonjour, Bonjour, Bonjour!" But hey, you could get lucky.
The song goes more like:
Every breath you take and Every move you make
Every step you take, Every single day I'll be watching colorful-timbered houses?
- The Police (at least, it's something like that)
Colmar is a quaint, itty-bitty town perfect for a half-day walking tour.
We simply downloaded this map and followed the purple route to walk the city.
It will save you a trip from stopping at the tourist office, plus you'll have it handy right on your phone! Plus, extra bonus, all of these things are free! (With the exception of the Bartholdi Museum)
1. Snap a Pic with Lady Liberty Herself
Address: 45 Route de Strasbourg, 68000 Colmar, France
Okay, so this isn't really part of the walking tour part of Colmar that we're about to show you, but we stumbled across this statue on accident. It's completely worth the stop if you're headed to Colmar.
On the way driving in to Colmar, the Statue of Liberty suddenly appeared in the middle of a round about. What? Well, turns out Colmar is the birthplace of Bartholdi—the artist who created the Statue of Liberty. Who knew? (Here's where you earn your Trivial Pursuit points: Can you tell us where the other two Statues of Liberty are? We can tell you we've now seen three of them, but we've still got quite *a lot* more to see!)
2. Wander the Streets as You Head Towards the Bartholdi Museum
There's really no wrong turn you can take in Colmar. This town is tiny. Just start walking towards the city center, and pause to take some photos. Around every corner you'll find brightly-colored, timbered houses. It's a great place for a photo opt. Artists would also love sitting by the river bank and sketching these quirky houses.
We learned that the color of the houses once indicated the owner's trade. For example: bakers would have yellow houses whereas butcher’s would have their homes painted red.
Around the time of the 30 years war, this changed and houses began being painted to indicate religious affiliation. Red for the Catholics and blue for the Protestants.
The colors don't mean much anymore. Now, they simply try not to have the same color as their neighbor.
3. Visit the Bartholdi Museum
Address:30 Rue des Marchands, 68000 Colmar, France
Hours: Daily 10am-12pm, 2-6pm. Closed Mondays.
There is a museum dedicated to Bartholdi in Colmar. You'll also find his artwork scattered throughout the city. For our fellow History Buffs out there, you can entertain yourself with a scavenger hunt to find all the Bartholdi Statutes in the city.
4. Visit the House of Heads
Address: 19 Rue des Têtes, 68000 Colmar, France
Open every day 9am to 8pm
It used to be a place where wine was traded when it was built in 1609, but it is now a hotel and restaurant. On the facade of the building there are 106 sculpted heads/masques. Can you spot them all?
While we didn't stay here or eat at the restaurant ourselves, it's supposed to be a 5-star hotel and the Brasserie des Têtes restaurant is Michelin-starred! (Knock yourselves out.)
Atop the building you'll see a statue of Bartholdi.
5. Pay a Visit to Mr. Pfister
Address: 11 Rue des Marchands, 68000 Colmar, France
Open Daily: 10am-6pm (Sundays until 5pm)
You won't know anything about Mr. Pfister, but you'll always remember his name now, because of how fun it is to say.
Mister Pfister. Mister Pfister. Mister Pfister. Say that 10 times fast. (Do you pronounce the P?)
The Pfister House was built in 1537 by Louis Scherer who became a wealthy man mining silver in the mines of the Lièpvre Valley. He based his home heavily on medieval architecture.
Inside you'll find two stories of renaissance architecture. There's an octagonal turret, murals of biblical scenes, and medieval architecture everywhere you look. This is one of the main symbols of the Old Colmar. Don't miss it!
6. Walk Through the Tanner's District
Address: 17 (petite) rue des tanners.
This little part of the town is where tanners would use their roofs, and the windows on the top floors, to dry out animal hides. Apparently, it used to be the smelliest part of the city.
(Don't worry, it smells lovely now!)
These houses date back to the 17th and 18th century, have no basements or cellars, and are quite wonky-shaped in places.
7. Hang Out at the Fishmonger's District
Address: 23 Quai de la Poissonnerie
Fishermen lived in these houses and would fish in the nearby canals and rivers. This area has tons of great cafés and restaurants. Time to stop for lunch!
8. Take a Trip to Venice (No Plane Needed)
Address: 25 Rue Turenne.
Hope you grabbed a breath mint after that lunch, cause you're about to walk into the most romantic spot in Colmar.
Little Venice used to be the homes of rural winemakers. This area of town is known for it's *romance* and Venice-like canals.
Snag a tour on the balanques (flat-bottomed gondolas) for a unique view of the town.
(The little boat tours cost about 6€ a person. Signs around little Venice will point you where to reserve one. No need to schedule in advance. They're only about 20 minutes long)
Everything in Colmar is romantique, even the toilets. (Yep, as you pass by the houses you will see the chutes protruding from each of the houses that used to empty into the river. Gross.)
Thank goodness for modern plumbing.
9. Taste Some Treats at the Covered Market
Address: 13 Rue des Écoles, 68000 Colmar, France
Unfortunately, we couldn't go inside the Covered Market, boo!
Due to COVID-19, having a bunch of open-air food didn't sound like a good idea... I get it. Still bummed it was closed though, as I was looking forward to this as an enjoyable ending to our day.
Normally, this is an awesome place (so I've heard) to grab local, delicious treats and foods. Usually twenty or so traders bring in fresh, quality produce from local farms and small businesses. This market has been operating since 1865. If it opens up, stop in for some fruits, veggies, meats, cheese, baked goods, fish, and local delicacies. The Alsace region is KNOWN for it's food.
Wrapped Up This Walking Tour and You're Ready to Hit the Road Again?
Whether you came to Colmar as a Day Trip, or are staying in a nearby city and are looking for more Day Trips, Colmar is close to some other great destinations.
You can easily travel from Colmar to:
The Black Forrest (including Freiburg which has some great outdoor sporting options)
Paddleboard on the river in Metz
Head to Saarbrucken for some shopping (it's where the French locals go!) cheaper prices in Germany
Heidelberg (it's a bit further away than the others, but there are buses and trains running from Colmar to Heidelberg all the time)