Half-timber buildings of Colmar, France

21 Dreamy Photos of Colmar, France

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Some places just seem to be made for photographers, and Colmar, France, is one of those cities. With its canals, cobblestones, and medieval lanes, it is a dream to explore. The historic buildings in Colmar are what truly push it over the top. Their bright facades and half-timbered construction make the whole city feel like it came straight from a storybook, as these Colmar photos show.

We’ve visited Colmar numerous times in different seasons, uncovering all the fun things to do there and discovering the nuances of the city in all its glory. No matter the month or the time of year, it’s a stunning place to spend time and to explore the beauty of Alsace.

Shops along colorful Rue des Tanneurs in Colmar, France
Shops along Rue de Tanneurs

Exploring Colmar

The heart of the Alsace wine route, Colmar has existed since at least the 9th century, and many of the prettiest things to see around town are a product of its long and varied history. Over the centuries, the city has changed hands several times between France and Germany leading to a culture that has elements of both countries’ heritage and lots of things that are unique to Alsace.

Thanks to a mixture of good fortune and strategy, Colmar survived the ravages of major wars including the French Revolution and both World Wars. That means that it is filled with buildings from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance that make walking through the city streets a colorful lesson in history and architecture.

Colmar Photos

There are lots of attractions and unique places to take photos in Colmar. If your plan is to sight see, by all means, come with an agenda. If your plan is to enjoy and take in the beauty of the city, all you have to do is open your eyes—it will be all around you.

Petite Venise

If you arrive by train and walk toward old town Colmar, Petite Venise is likely the first place you’ll come to. It’s also what most people know as the postcard view of the city. With the colorful buildings and the boats that glide by on the River Lauch, it’s my favorite spot.

People in boat in a river passing by colorful buildings in Petite Venise in Colmar
Boat passing through Petite Venise

Quai de la Poissonnerie

Following the river through Petite Venise takes you deeper into town on Quai de la Poissonnerie. Years ago, this area by the river was the quarters of the fishmongers and the tanners. The river helped power the equipment they needed to work and got rid of the waste, so it was the perfect area for the craftsmen and people doing some of the town’s smellier jobs.

Today, Quai de la Poissonnerie is the prettiest place to walk in Colmar. It is often full of people shopping, taking photos, and staring in wonderment at the half-timbered houses.

Boat in the river in front of a row of half-timbered buildings in Colmar
Colorful buildings along Quai de la Poisonnerie
Stuffed gnome outside a building
Colmar is full of details
Row of half-timbered buildings painted pink, purple, and yellow
Many of the city’s half-timbered buildings are around 300 years old
Row of historic buildings along Quai de la Poissonnerie
Buildings along Quai de la Poissonnerie

Old Town Center

As you head toward the center of the old town, the gorgeous buildings continue.

Half-timbered structures are everywhere–some are as much as 300 years old. The Schwendi Fountain, which honors a general in the Imperial Army of the Holy Roman Empire, is decorated at certain times of the year and is always surrounded by restaurants with outdoor cafes serving traditional Alsatian dishes.

Don’t miss the unique green tiled roof of the Old Customs House.

Multi-story buildings with stores on the first level
Bright facades and stores along Rue des Tanneurs
Row of white half-timbered buildings with stores on the first level
Rue des Tanneurs
Fountain with a statue of a man
The Schwendi Fountain decorated at Easter
People eating at an outdoor cafe in a town square
Outdoor cafe at Brasserie Schwendi
People having drinks outdoors with a spring market in the background
People enjoying happy hour at Place de l’Ancienne Douane

Unique Buildings and Attractions

Turning down Rue de l’Eglise takes you by even more of the unique places to see in Colmar. The Maison Adolph, which dates from about 1350, is one of the oldest buildings in the city. Its arched windows show how elements of religious architecture were sometimes incorporated into building private homes. Just a few steps away, the painted wood gallery and octagonal turret of the 16th-century Maison Pfister grab the attention of visitors.

Adolph House, a large white and yellow half-timbered house
Maison Adolph, one of the city’s oldest buildings
House with painted wooden balcony, Pfister House
Maison Pfister with its painted gallery

Colmar also has prominent religious sites including St. Martin’s Church, which was built in 1234. The massive reddish building with its green tiled roof is one of the centers of fairs, festivals, and gatherings throughout the year. A few blocks away, the Unterlinden Museum houses centuries’ worth of religious artwork in its converted 13th-century cloisters.

Large red brick church with green tiled roof
St. Martin’s Church
Religious statue near the courtyard of a medieval cloister
Cloisters at the Unterlinden Museum

Beyond the historic sites and gorgeous buildings, Colmar also has a thriving food culture. There are numerous Michelin-starred restaurants and plenty of places to sample Alsatian specialties.

People shopping in a gourmet food store
People browsing the food offerings
Slices of different flavors of nougat for sale
Numerous flavors of nougat for sale

Christmas in Colmar

For five weeks every winter, the center of Colmar turns into one giant Christmas market. There are lights, rides, and hundreds of chalets selling gifts, decorations, and traditional foods. The air smells like cinnamon and everything glows in the colors of Christmas. It’s magic.

Colorful buildings in Petite Venise covered in Christmas lights
Petite Venise lit up for Christmas
People shopping at stalls at the Colmar Christmas market at night
Part of the bustling Colmar Christmas market
Buildings covered in colorful Christmas lights at night
Restaurants and historic buildings in their holiday finest

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