Greetings dear readers and friends. It’s here, la rentrée! That time of year when kids go back to school and the French end their summer vacations. And what a busy time it’s been…
This past weekend we traveled to the Alsace region to celebrate my husband’s grandmother’s 100th birthday. Yes folks, you read that right, 100 years old! I still can’t really get my head around it. And boy, if she isn’t in great shape. Apart from needing a cane from time to time, she gets around just fine… even did a few turns on the dance floor on Saturday night.
My husband’s family is from the Lorraine region, but a family member had been to a really cool hotel / restaurant in Alsace, Nid de Cigognes (town of Ostheim) and thought it would be the perfect spot. And it certainly was…
Did I mention that Nid de Cigognes means Stork’s Nest and that there is indeed a giant stork’s nest perched on high in front of the hotel? Yep.
Seeing is believing… so here’s the photo:
But before the celebration kicked-off, we left a day early and headed to the *absolutely gorgeous* town of Colmar. This place is stunning.
The last time we visited Colmar was about 6 years ago, at Christmastime, so you can imagine that it had quite a different feel this time around. December in the city is spectacular, when the whole town turns into one giant Christmas market. The stuff fairy tales are made of…
But with the colorful, overflowing, flowers hanging alongside the canal and from window sills perched on high all around the town, it was hard not to fall in love with the summertime version of Colmar. Actually, we couldn’t get enough.
We walked all through the town on Friday until we couldn’t walk anymore, and then we returned for a second go-around the next morning. Besides the pictured-perfect town landscape, I loved the indoor market, which sold everything from pretzels (cheese-covered, ham-covered, chorizo-covered, you name it), to fruits & vegetables, to Riesling-flavored mustard. And don’t forget the beer! There were several restaurant / bars in the market and, for the summer, they’d opened an evening beer hall complete with adjacent food trucks.
Mama mia, we ate well.
Other highlights included visiting the neighborhoods of the Tanneurs and La Petite Venise. You can take Le Petit Train (a “tourist” train that will take you on a visit of the city) to see all of the top spots in Colmar. And you can also visit La Petite Venise by boat, something I’d love to do on our next visit.
We ate at Brasserie des Tanneurs which serves traditional Alsacian fare like choucroute and flammekueche (a kind of mix between a French tart & a pizza) and wonderful salads like breaded goat-cheese with a fig sorbet. A big plus being that you can sit on their shady terrace next to the canal and take in Colmar’s incredible views.
Colmar is far from a hidden secret, and can get jam-packed during Christmas season and the summer months. We stayed at a discount hotel (called B&B hotel) a little ways outside of the center and had the benefit of a car to drive in. It’s a good idea to book well in advance and place yourself in town if you are traveling by bus or train.
One thing’s for sure, we’re already planning our next trip to Colmar and Alsace. We had quite the same impressions as that first trip in December 2013… it truly is magical.
Wishing you a trés bon week-end les amis!