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Colmar Area

We will be traveling to the Alsace region this summer in July. We will have 5 days and coming from Paris CDG and returning to Paris.

We plan to rent a car. I have traveled to Europe many times so we now the basic.

So any suggestions of what to see and places to stay would be great. I am looking forward to hearing from you.

Posted by
14898 posts

I stayed 3 nights in a B&B in Eguisheim, then returned the car in Strasbourg and spent 2 nights there. In Strasbourg you don't need a car.

Use viamichelin.com to get driving times and alternative routes. It shows about 5 hours from CDG to Strasbourg. That's using the high-speed toll road. I don't recommend trying to drive right after a long-haul flight and with jetlag (the effect is like DUI). There are several TGV's from CDG to Strasbourg (2.5-3 hrs). Pick up the rental car when you're ready to leave Strasbourg (1-2 nights) and return it in Strasbourg or Colmar and take the TGV to Paris.

While many people stay in Colmar, I was much happier staying in a village and not having to drive in and out of the city. Eguisheim is one of the smaller ones, with a smaller selection of restaurants. I was there at the end of June and only a couple were open mid-week (Tues, Wed). July may be busier.

The roads are good, but know the speed limits since they aren't posted. The locals will undoubtedly speed by you when they can (they know where the cameras are). Fines are stiff - also the blood-alcohol limit is only 0.5%.

The Château de Haut-Koenigsbourg and nearby Monkey Mountain were treats for me. Every town was different and I was able to visit several each day. Every town and village has a TI with lots of information - wine routes, chateau routes, walking tours of the towns and more.

Posted by
1854 posts

We spent a few days in Alsace this September staying in Colmar, which I found to be one of the loveliest towns we have visited. The area of Alsace we saw was filled with pretty towns, vineyards, and beautiful scenery. With our rental car, we easily drove the region, one day to Freiburg and the surrounding area, one day through various villages whose names escape me but all were beautiful (and essentially interchangeable IMO) as well as touring in Colmar. We never had a problem parking anywhere. Chateau HK was really very interesting (we spent a few hours) and easily accessed with a car. A small cafe with drinks and snacks, gorgeous vistas. Thanks to a tip from this forum, we stayed at Chez Leslie in Colmar. Our room with private bath was huge, breakfast was included, and Leslie (American born living in France for years) was as charming and helpful as anyone could ask. Ample, free parking is available in front of her house. And the price was right. Only drawback perhaps is the walk into Colmar, which took us about 20,30 minutes each way. Leslie mentioned plans to retire, so not sure if she will be there in July. Actually, we really went to Colmar pretty much just to see the Isenheim Altarpiece, which is incredible; I didn't expect to be as impressed with Colmar as I was and it is now way up there with all-time favorite places ever. We didn't go to Strasbourg as our route was on to Rouen. We took the TGV from Paris to Colmar and picked up our car in Colmar. We got a fantastic price for that train by purchasing as early as possible. We used capitainetrain, and I really think we purchased them almost 4 or 4 1/2 months in advance of travel. I do recall that tickets for other train travel on that trip were not available until 90 days before. Wouldn't hurt to start watching early as long as you know your travel days. Have a great trip and safe travels.

Posted by
7593 posts

like Chani, we stayed in a village outside Colmar and loved it. We stayed in the village of Kientzheim.

I also agree with her advice to skip the drive to Paris - the TGV is faster as well as being safer.

It's a beautiful area around there, you'll love it!

Posted by
162 posts

Colmar itself makes a great home base. The town itself is worth a day. Day trips can easily be made to the wine villages, Strasbourg, and Freiburg and the Black Forest in Germany. The area is just a charming delight. We stayed at the Hotel St Martin in the pedestrian zone. A large free parking lot is a few blocks away. A GPS was essential to get in and out of the city, but it was not stressful driving. Enjoy your planning.

Posted by
8 posts

Check on the route of the Tour de France, and look at your travel dates. Depending on your interests you may wish to view a segment of the race; or conversely avoid all the hoopla surrounding the spectacle. I have not kept up on it since learning that Lance is a liar but once upon a time I was thrilled to get to see him whiz by with the peleton arriving in Troyes. The next morning we had the chance to see the cyclists board the Orient Express for the trip into Paris for the celebratory final leg of the race. It was a great thrill at the time (year 2000). Obviously some of the nearby routes will be closed to traffic but they know what the approximate scheduled times are and it is all available online for your information. Most towns, if not all, host quite a parade and party when the tour is scheduled through their town and it was great fun to be part of that. Enjoy your trip!!

Posted by
45 posts

You must visit Riquewihr - the most popular tourist town in that area and a World Heritage site. The surrounding country side is also very beautiful.

Posted by
5460 posts

Because it's so far from CDG to Colmar, I'd suggest taking the TGV from CDG to Strasbourg and renting the car there. However, a recent poster (from the US West coast) reported difficulty making the connection time at CDG. And the car rental price might be different with a second return location.

I know that Colmar gets many good reviews. I would point out that it's a small city that doesn't require more than a day, at the most. If you stay there, the convenience of hotel parking will be pretty important. We stayed in Ribeauville, the kind of place that might have less traffic or parking annoyances. An important consideration is whether you plan to eat dinner and walk back to the hotel, or eat before returning to your home town. Naturally, European mealtime hours affect this decision. There were not enough restaurants in Ribeauville for a week, but maybe I should have done a better search. L'Auberge de L'Ill was a high point (high $$$ too) of our Alsace trip.

We didn't have time for outdoor recreation, but I see there is a Natural Park in that area. An excellent Rick Steves destination, Besancon, is within reach. If the weather turns bad, the museums of Basel (and the Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein) are possible day trips. I agree that Freiburg is a nice destination.

You didn't mention wineries, but be aware of strict drinking and driving enforcement in Europe.