I wanted to go to Colmar since the day I was born and so I went last weekend. Although I prefer trains, the 8+ hour journey and hefty price tag forced me to take a plane from Amsterdam. The closest/ easiest connection to Colmar is either Basel, Switzerland or Strasbourg, France. Sort by price = Basel was the winner, winner chicken dinner. To add a nice garnish, Basel has its own Christmas market.
When you arrive at the Swiss airport, it’s actually located in France- classic Europe being small and without borders.
If you stay the night in Basel (at any Basel accommodation) you get a free Basel card which gives you discounts on museums and most importantly – a free bus from the airport to the city centre (the last stop of the bus is at the central train station). Don’t pay even if you physically don’t have the card on you. There is a sign that says it’s free at the airport above the ticket machines and I wouldn’t want you spending 4.50 CHF each way for nothing. I got chu!
For the first time in my existence, I chose excellent accommodation for the price. Vision Apartments is right by the main train station, clean, comfy and quiet considering it is located on the main road. For the first time, I wasn’t put near an elevator, staircase, or the room next to a crying baby. I still can’t believe my luck.
Basel town itself is okay – I’m being hoity-toity but I’m not going to apologise for it.
The Christmas market was in two areas but I I lost my appetite when I saw the prices. Gluhwein here was 5 CHF whereas in Colmar it was €3.
Colmar is a 43-minute train ride away costing €15.80. I bought my tickets online (two separate ways) because I think the same ticket was 16.20 CHF when bought from the ticket machine in the Basel train station.
Colmar, you beautiful town
When I arrived at 09:00 I headed straight for the neighbourhood of Little Venise. It is about a 10-15 minute walk from the station. There were one or two wackos wearing flimsy dresses for the gram but other than that, I had the place to myself pretty much.
There is a local indoor market (Marché couvert Colmar) where I bought some baked goods (the pan au chocolate wasn’t amazing) but I stocked up on bretzels and that place (Mamsèl bretzel) was UNREAL. The lady who helped me was sweet as pie and she whispered the four words every woman dreams of hearing.
You want it warmed?
I said YES eeeeeeeeeekkkk
Wander around and take a million photos because this place is perfection.
Some restaurants I heard were good but I didn’t go into:
- Restaurant La Soï
- La Stub
- Version Originale 68
- Caveau Saint Jean
- Jadis et Gourmande
I paid 7 to go on a 25-minute boat ride with Barque Colmar au fil de l’eau * Sweet Narcisse. I’m going to be bold and say that it wasn’t worth it. All the boats go down one small waterway and then turn around. I wouldn’t say the view is that much better than if you walked it.
Don’t forget that at most Christmas markets for gluhwein you need to pay a €2 deposit for the cup. You can wander around the various markets filling up the same cup- you don’t need to stick with the stall you originally bought it at. They sometimes will switch your cup for a new one. In Colmar, the price for the glass Christmas market fancy pants mugs were more expensive than the plastic common peasant ones.
Naturally, after all that gluhwein I had (7+ because it was freezing cold), you may need to pee. The portable toilets are in limited supply but they have the paid ones that auto-clean. Word of warning, if you are like me and decided to duck into the toilet after someone finished but before the door closed so you didn’t have to pay the .50 cents, the auto-clean feature will spray EVERYWHERE and outside the door shows the toilet is unoccupied. Yes, I did get my shoes drenched in cleaning spray and had to hold the door closed while I peed in the dark, thanks for asking. If you stand in the corner near the sink you won’t get sprayed as much but then you may get someone walking in on you. Life’s dilemmas.
Sunset was around 16:40 so that’s when the street lights were turned on. Some of the light decorations on the buildings got turned on before that though.