Tuesday, September 11, 2012

COLMAR, FRANCE: Part 1

The next stop on our Family Cruise was Colmar, a little town in Alsace, that region of Southern France that was so desirable that it was annexed by Germany not just once, but twice, from  1871 to 1918 and again from 1940 to 1945.  Our guide mentioned that the Germans and the French have never liked each other much.  I know my German mother was not very pleased when our daughter majored in French in college. Anyway, we spent the morning in the Black Forest, and then we spent the afternoon on a little tour to Colmar, France.

The city of 65,000 was founded by the French in 823.  Unlike most cities, the founders seemed to have a plan from the beginning.  The city is octagonal in shape and is famous for its beauty, receiving the highest rating of "Four Flowers" from the European Tourism Board.  Even in its early days, building codes were in force.  In fact, prior to 1679, all buildings had to be built of yellow sandstone.

Colmar is quite a captivating city, yet another place I would like to return to.  Bob is not really into going back to places we've been before.  He always wants to go somewhere new so he can add it to his list.  However, I think there are quite a few places where we have spent just a day or two that are worth returning to.  Colmar is one of those.  And so, Bob, I give you:

Ten reasons to return to Colmar, France:

Reason #1.  It has a wishing well.

 Reason #2.  The houses are AWESOME.

The beams are numbered so the house can be taken apart and rebuilt somewhere else.
Now THAT'S a mobile home!

My favorite house, the Maison des Tetes, was built in 1609 for a man who eventually became mayor.
The facade is decorated with 111 masks and grimacing faces, and the statue at the top was done by
Bertholdi, the same guy who created the Statue of Liberty and who was from Colmar.  More about him later.


 Reason #3.  The narrow city streets are so very picturesque
This area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site


Reason #4: I LOVE LOVE LOVE the shop signs:




This one is by the famous Alsatian political cartoonist Hansi (1873-1951).  He made a total of 42 signs, but 40 of them were melted and used for ammunition during the war.   In the first part of the sign, the monk is supposed to represent France, and the pig, which is served up on a plate in the second part of the sign, is Germany.
Here is the only other surviving Hansi sign.  In this one, the chicken stirring the pot is French, and, according to our guide, there are Germans in that pot.  (I don't think there was--or is--a lot of love lost on the Germans.)  I do rather like that snake going up the side of the sign.
Reason #5: The windows and doors made me swoon: 







Reason #6: The nutritious food.  Need I say more?



Reason #7: The public transportation system is excellent.

Reason #8: I want to hang out in these outdoor cafes like the locals: 

Reason #9: The fashion is tres chic:

Reason #10: How can you not love a place so dedicated to the preservation of its bird population that the city planners build nest platforms on church roofs for the storks?


If we ever go back to Colmar, however, we probably shouldn't rent a car. If a driver is caught going even 1 km over the speed limit, he will be fined 90 euro, or about $115.00.  We had one vacation years ago during which Bob received three speeding tickets in three different U.S. states.  I think he should refrain from driving in Colmar.

6 comments:

  1. Okay, I'm convinced. Stan, book our return to Colmar flight.

    You're mentioning Bo0's propensity to speed AFTER we let him drive us down the Autobahn???

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    1. The Autobahn is his kind of driving--no speed limit!

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  2. You liked it so much you almost never left. This is the city where you and Chris were waiting in a line for gelato (imagine that) and ended up going down the wrong street looking for the group. I came back looking for you and found you going the wrong direction down the wrong street.

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    Replies
    1. It's a good thing you found us. We might have moved in to a nice apartment near that gelato stand and racked up some substantial credit card bills. You really shouldn't leave me alone in foreign cities like that.

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  3. I missed Colmar completely, but feel like I've been there through your posts. One of my favorite pieces of art is there--the Grunwald altar--and I missed that too. We just headed up through there to the Wine Route, and to our B&b that night.

    Thanks for the tour. I have a couple pieces of Hansi art (reproductions) on a napkin or two. I love them.

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