When I found out that the border to France was only a 30 minute drive from Freiburg, I naturally thought it was imperative for me to take advantage of the close proximity.
As you may recall from my last article, I was in Freiburg with friends who were attending a wedding. We were sitting around eating a very normal breakfast the day after the wedding when I mentioned “you know we could be in France right now eating an amazing breakfast, since the border is only 30 minutes away”. Everyone replied, “What!?!?! Why didn’t you say something sooner?” Well of course I assumed they already knew, but since it was a little too late for breakfast, we decided to plan the next best thing. Like a page out of a book of someone else’s incredibly swanky life, we all decided to drive to France just to have dinner and then drive back. And all of this time I thought that the only people who could say “I had breakfast in Germany and Dinner in France” owned their own a private jet.
Being French-Canadian, any time I go to France it feels like I am returning to the promise land or something; it feels like coming home. This is precisely how I felt when we crossed the border into France.
The beautiful little village near the France-Germany border is Colmar, with Old-Town Colmar being a particular draw for tourists.
Located so close to Germany, you can definitely make out German influences in the architecture; however, the atmosphere is distinctly French.
Furthermore, there was an impressive display of archways and waterways thorughout the old town that particularly captured my attention.
We walked down the beautiful cobble stone streets and I let the sound of my second language flood my ears. It is always a very interesting experience when you get to take one of your stored away, rusty, old languages out to play.
We toured around Colmar appreciating all of the little things and doing some harmless window shopping. We got to the main town square, by the St Martin’s Church, and noticed that there was a spring fair set up, which we spent some time perusing even though the vendors were packing everything up. Colourful booths lined the square, spring decorations hung from all of the trees, and there were flowers everywhere.
The set up seemed to be quite festive for a seasonal celebration; however, as Colmar is a major tourist destination, with great foot traffic comes great opportunity. Not to mention, these little festivals lend a little extra flare to the place and only add to its touristic charm.
And yet, I think that this Old-Town is always bustling with life, no matter the time of year or time of day. This square, even though it was getting late, was full of people, and of course you had the stereotypical French cafés and restaurants that were consistently busy with a stream of people. The café culture is one of the things I love the most about France; sitting on a patio enjoying a coffee or wine in the middle of the day for no other reason than because you want to. Vive la France!
Aside from doing the drive simply because it seemed absolutely ridiculous not to, we were there with an aim…and a very important aim at that: to eat! I will never trash German cuisine, but it simply cannot compete with French cuisine. Not very much can. We French people, we just know how to enjoy life through food. Unfortunately, all of the patisseries were closed by the time that we got there (which is why we should have gone for breakfast), but there were still many high-quality restaurants open to choose from. We found a gorgeous little place and I got adventurous enough to try what I thought sounded like the most French thing on the menu: grenouille (which is frog legs for those who don’t speak French).
The grenouille tasted like a mix between fish and chicken, there’s really no other way for me to explain it, but it was cooked to perfection in a delicious tomato sauce. Overall the food was fantastic.
I was a little sad that I didn’t get my traditional favorites, like crème brulee or my staple patisserie favorites, but all in all the trip was well worth it, especially for a spontaneous trip that we took on a crazy whim. The timing may not have been perfect, but Old-Town Colmar was definitely worth it.
Published in Fusia magazine, June 2015