I’ve wanted to see some of Alsace for a long time, inspired a lot by some great photos on Instagram. I visited Strasbourg a few years ago and loved it but wanted to see a bit more of the area. Alsace is in the eastern section of France bordering Switzerland and Germany and shares a similar ancient language with them which is still offered in schools. I was talking in English with an Alsatian in a tourist information stop in Colmar and he had a very strong-to me-German accent when speaking English. Alsace has an interesting history in that it went back and forth between being part of Germany or part of France (four times in 75 years). I have a friend in Paris who is Alsatian (who doesn’t have a German accent) and when asked if she feels more German or French she replies, “I feel Alsatian”. Alsace, although a part of France, was given a few privileges when they became French, such as not having to fully conform to separation of church and state. My friend was taught Catholicism in a public school growing up something not allowed in other parts of France. I found the villages that we visited to have a interesting mix of French and German being very clean and orderly (German) with that French flair. I looked at the weather forecast before we came and saw that a few mornings would have temperatures in the 20’s. Thank God I took my heavy winter coat and snow boots. They felt good as we walked through various Christmas markets. I have to say that I am not much of a shopper and barely looked at the offerings at the Christmas markets, especially since Maurice has even less interest than I do. I know it’s a huge tourist draw and there were indeed many tourists. It did give Colmar a festive air and they even had Christmas music-mostly American-playing from speakers overhead. Hot mulled wine was for sale everywhere and it scented the air.

img_2421 This was the very first picture I took as we entered the old section of Colmar, having walked from the train station. Half timbered buildings have such charm. Colmar has a fantastically photogenic and well preserved old city. When the Germans took it over in WWII they changed the spelling to Kolmar.

img_2492 Colmar has an area called the Petit Venise although, really there is just one canal. It’s a small area and, as you might expect, charming. Note the blue sky-one reason it got so cold at nigh with no clouds to keep it warmer.

img_2434 The Christmas lights at night were splendid.

img_2438 Petit Venise at night.

img_2470 Another look. So festive.

img_2486 Colorful fishmonger homes. The Alsatians used some really wild colors on their buildings.

img_2452 We went to the famous Unterlinden Museum set in a beautifully restored former convent and saw this lovely work, the Isenheim Altar piece. It’s why most people come here.

img_2453 The center figure is Saint Anthony-said to cure the disease know as Saint Anthony’s fire-and note the pigs next to him. It was the symbol of the Antonite order.

img_2463 The Madonna of the Rose Brier in the Dominican Church done by  Schongauer, a native of Colmar.



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