There is no better time to travel than fall. Near perfect temperatures, reduced crowds and travel deals are just a few of the reasons to book a trip in September and October. John and I put off celebrating our anniversary which falls in the heat of the summer, and instead opted for a celebration in the fall with a getaway to Cinque Terre, Bellagio, Lucerne, Freiberg, and the Alsace region of France. We are somewhat adventurous travelers in that we didn’t have a complete itinerary when we headed out. We knew we would start in Milan and then visit Cinque Terre, Bellagio, and Lucerne, but everything else was completely up in the air…we booked reservations as we drove deciding where we wanted to stop along the way. We have spent enough time traveling through Europe that we feel totally comfortable doing this, and traveling this way has resulted in some of our most memorable experiences. It is much easier to do though when it’s just the two of us traveling and it’s the shoulder season! Affiliate links are included in this post.
When we spent a few weeks in France a few summers ago, we visited the Annecy region of France, but didn’t make it to the Alsace region and Colmar, also known as La Petite Venise. Being so close to these Fairytale villages and having some time on our hands we decided to drive over and check it out, and I am SO glad we did!! If you are wondering when to visit Colmar, Riquewihr and Kaysersberg, or all of the Alsace region for that matter, let me recommend fall in this gorgeous part of the world!
History of Colmar, Alsace
I am a big city girl at heart, but I will say that my favorite spots in Europe tend to be the quaint villages. These pretty towns ooze charm. If your idea of a European vacation includes colorful half-timbered houses, beautiful flower lined canals, rolling castle topped hills, and mouth-watering pastries– put the Alsace region at the top of your list!
This area of France claims to be the inspiration behind Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, and one look at this region and you can see why. Located in the Northeastern part of the country where France and Germany meet, it’s no surprise that the architecture, food and culture reflect both countries.
As with much of Europe, this region has passed back and forth between German and French hands a number of times, most recently when Germany returned the region to France after WWI.
Getting to Colmar, Alsace
The Alsace region is located within easy reach of Strasbourg, Zurich, Basel, Frieburg and Stuttgart…all of these are 2 hours or less away by train. We started in Freiburg and drove into Colmar from Germany. If you are comfortable driving in Europe (it’s super easy and similar to driving in the US, so don’t be afraid!) I highly recommend renting a car.
Having a car at your disposal makes it easy to be completely flexible when you visit and allows you to see much more of the area. The villages of Colmar, Kaysersberg and Riquewihr are only 20 minutes apart, and the larger city of Strasbourg is only a 50 minute drive from Colmar.
Where to Stay in Colmar
There are pretty little places to stop in for a night throughout the Alsace, but we opted to stay in Colmar, which is probably considered the most well-known of these smaller villages. Comar is home to La Maison des Tetes, a gorgeous 5-Star, boutique hotel with a Michelin starred restaurant right in the heart of Colmar. Located in an historical building completed in 1609, each of the 21 rooms is beautifully designed to have all of the modern amenities (marble bathrooms, luxury bedding, air conditioning etc.) and embraces the past with gorgeous design features like the exposed wood beams and thick stone walls.
It is the perfect mix of old and new. We thoroughly enjoyed our stay here, and would highly recommend it. My only regret is that we didn’t have the chance to stay longer and enjoy the restaurant. Because we made such last minute reservations, they only had one night available, so if you would like to stay at La Maison des Tetes, I highly recommend making reservations well in advance. You can find out more about the hotel and reserve a room here.
Things to do in Colmar : La Petite Venise
One of the things I enjoyed most about visiting Colmar, Riquewihr and Kaysersberg is the fact that there aren’t very many tourist sites in town. As much as I love to travel, I’m not really a “visit all the museums and tourist sites” type of traveler.
I prefer to wander the streets, shop, take pictures, eat (a lot) and really just soak up the feel of whatever city or town I’m in. Fortunately, that’s really what visiting these Alsace towns is all about.
Strolling along the cobblestone streets lining the canals in Colmar you can see why it is also known as La Petite Venise. One spot I definitely recommend in Colmar is the covered market hall full of vendors selling all kinds of foods and wares. It’s a great place to grab some breakfast or a snack while you stroll.
Where to Eat in Colmar, Riquewihr and Kaysersberg
Michelin star restaurants dot the landscape throughout France, and they can be found all over the Alsace region. Colmar itelf has 10 Michelin starred restaurants. We were in Colmar, Riquewihr and Kaysersberg for such a short time…a quick 36 hours, and on a total whim, so I did not research much about where to eat.
We spent most of our time popping into little shops and the food markets to buy snacks and sweets so eating for us was more of a smorgasbord of cheeses and bread, chocolates and macarons…all the delicacies of the area. We did grab a late dinner at a cute spot in town, but I cannot for the life of me remember the name!
If you are up for fancy food, I would definitely take a look at the Michelin guide to find something you’d like to try…but book early! Those places, especially the most popular ones, fill up months in advance.
I hope that you are feeling excited to visit the Alsace region. La Petite Venise Colmar is really the fairytale village it looks like. You will have an amazing time!
If you’re heading to other places in Europe, here are some more posts you don’t want to miss! You can check out our entire Europe Travel Gallery to see all of our posts and helpful info.
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