PART 1 of 3. The other parts immediately follow as replies to this post.
My wife and I visited Alsace in early Sep 2017, staying in Colmar for four nights, followed by two nights in Bacharach, Germany. In the past we had stayed in other regions of France; Alsace has its own precious character and provided us a charming experience, and Bacharch was pleasant. Only minor negative was an irritating incident involving train service in Germany.
In Colmar we rented a small apartment (with clothes washer) from My Sweet Homes. The location in the old town on the Rues des Marchands was ideal: a few steps from the Customs House, an easy 15-minute walk to the train station and 3 minutes to the Market Hall (Marché Couvert).
We arrived in Colmar the afternoon of Fri Sep 1, spending Sat and Sun in Colmar, and Mon visiting villages outside Colmar.
Colmar’s Marché Couvert proved to be a valuable resource during our stay as we shopped there at least 4 times; everything was fresh and delicious at a reasonable price. Twice we bought breakfast with coffee and ate outside the market. We also bought an excellent boxed lunch with a generous salad, and items for making lunch and dinner at our apt - sausage, cheese, fresh produce, wine, fruit. One of the large produce kiosks sells several varieties of wine from a certain winery; though the bottles are visible inside the kiosk, one must ask for them – we found them to be a very good value. The market venders were all considerate - especially if one started by saying "Bonjour".
Our top experiences in Colmar:
- Seeing the reaction of a Marché Couvert vender one Sunday evening. By 6pm the town shops had closed – and we needed a bottle of wine. Fortunately, the Marché was having a three-day multi-decade anniversary, and thus was staying open unusually late: 7pm. We stood in line at the kiosk described in the previous paragraph. There were three tourist customers before us, and the young man working the counter (who spoke fine English) was becoming quite frustrated trying to meet the demands of each of these customers – all of whom communicated in native-speaker-speed English and seemed unsure of what they wanted. Finally, my wife’s turn came, and she stepped forward to face the now-surly vendor. Though she understands no French, she had memorized the phrase she spoke next: “Bonjour. Une bouteille de Reisling, s’il vous plait.” The young man’s face lit up, he clapped his hands, and cried “Bravo!” as he presented her the bottle.
- Doing the town walk described in the Rick Steves guidebook. Petite Venise is pretty both day and night.
- Enjoying a sunny picnic lunch and bottle of wine (both from the Marché Couvert) while surrounded by medieval structures in the courtyard behind our apt. Other than us, it was almost deserted.
- Visiting the Unterlinden Museum.
- Visiting the Hansi Museum. The first floor is a store that sells a wide range of Alsatian goods targeting tourists. The second floor is a small and interesting museum that commemorates an Alsatian (largely commercial) artist known as Hansi, who lived from 1873-1951 and whose real name was Jean Jacques Waltz. He designed the wrought-iron shop symbol used by the Alsatian restaurant Bofinger in Paris, as well as many such symbols still used by some Colmar shops. He is well-known for his illustrations of the local people in traditional Alsatian garb engaged in everyday activities, and of whimsical depictions of the German administrators who governed Alsace after Germany annexed the province following the 1870 Franco-Prussian War.
- A robust Alsatian dinner at the Wistub de la Petite Venise restaurant. It was quite crowded, and we were lucky to get a table sans reservation.
[CONTINUED on PART 2]