The moment I stepped into the historic center of Colmar I thought I had just gone down the proverbial rabbit hole and landed in a fairytale town, where the buildings, set along the banks of the Ill River, are made of cake, slathered in creamy colored frosting and chocolate tiled roofs, set against the sky.
I had just driven from the Netherlands and was quite tired when I arrived. Much to my delight, this fanciful, vibrant town gave me an almost immediate lift, a rush, and injected me with boundless energy. Better than eating cake or going to therapy if you are feeling down and out.
When you consider how urbanization affects mental health there is a lot to be said for a town like Colmar. In cities, people are exposed to many stress factors and run a higher risk of mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia, according to studies conducted. Colmar is a magical place that permeates all your senses and awakens your inner child.
I visited Colmar for the first time this spring. I had only ever seen images of its legendary Christmas markets, most of which were taken at night to enhance the festive holiday feel, abound with colorful Christmas lighting. I was delighted with what I found instead. Dazzling colors, canals, and half-timbered buildings whose architecture is a pastry chef’s dream come true. The streets twist and meander into small alleys that open into small squares where traders and merchants used to peddle their wares centuries ago.
Its mostly pedestrian center is a cornucopia of brightly tiled roofs and colorful facades. Walking the streets of Colmar will transport anyone back to their childhood, from the wooden turret right out of Rapunzel’s, the tiny cottages fitting for Snowhite’s seven dwarves, and a candy-colored bakery that has Hansel and Gretel written all over it.
You might ask yourself why the buildings in Colmar are so colorful. Some of the buildings date back to the Middle Ages, and the colors were a symbol of the owner’s profession. For example, white was for bakers, yellow for cheese-makers, blue for fish vendors, green for gardeners, and so on.
This small and unique town is in the Alsace region where France meets Germany. It is here that the two cultures fused to create a truly unique experience. But there is more to Colmar than its fantastical exteriors. Colmar is a town with a rich legacy of history, culture, and remarkable culinary heritage.
Colmar is also an excellent destination for wine lovers. The Alsace wine region is famous for white wines such as Rieslings, Gewurztraminer, and Pinot Gris wines. You’ll also find Pinot Noir rosés and a local sparkling wine known as Crémant d’Alsace.
If you’re driving through France, Colmar is a welcome respite from the daily grind. A place that will unleash your imagination, inject you with a lighter sense of being and leave you enchanted.