I’m in Colmar for a few days, a small city of about 65,000 in the east of France. It’s in the region known as Alsace that is famous as a bone of contention between France and Germany. It was taken by Germany as a result of the Franco-Prussian war, retrieved by France at the end of World War I and then taken again by Germany during World War II. Germany’s Black Forest region is just a few miles away. Everywhere I go, I hear people speaking German and there is a significant influence in the architecture and food. Colmar is well known for its well-preserved medieval buildings, la Petite Venise (an area of picturesque canals), and its museums. Auguste Bartholdi, the sculptor of the Statue of Liberty is a local boy.
Colmar’s interesting history goes back far earlier than the recent disputes with Germany. It was founded in the 9th century and had an important role in the Holy Roman Empire. In 1575, it embraced the Protestant Reformation, long after it got rolling elsewhere. It was conquered by Sweden (!) in 1632 and held for two years. Then Louis XIV conquered it in 1673 and formally brought it within French borders six years later. In the 14th century, the Black Death rolled through. A Jewish family hid a cache of gold and silver coins, jewelry, and table ware in the walls of their home. They must have all perished because their treasures were only discovered in 1863. What the finders didn’t covertly sell off is the Cluny museum in Paris today, known as the Colmar Treasure.
Because of its location next to the Vosges Mountains, Colmar has an unusually dry climate. Today it sure didn’t seem like it, so I’m hoping for better weather tomorrow! Fortunately, for me, my hotel is right across from the train station, so I didn’t get soaked and after a nap, the sun was out and it was time to go in search of dinner. Tonight I had a great seafood salad in Au Chasseur, a small restaurant in the old town, shown in the photo above. I’m looking forward to further explorations tomorrow.
Today’s expression, tremper comme une soupe (trompay come oon soup) literally means “to be soaked like a soup” and figuratively means “to be soaking wet.” I’m glad I wasn’t out long enough in the rain today for that to be my fate!