Colmar and The Little Prince Park

Colmar

If you think south of France is the most beautiful part of France, think again. It certainly is glamorous but there are so many other quaint little towns that are quintessentially French. Colmar is one of those. It’s a town in the North East of France, bordering Germany. And I can tell you that it’s definitely in the top 10 places to visit for me.

If you don’t live in this part of the world, I doubt that you would have heard of the town. Unless of course you are a big travel enthusiast like I am! Every time I think of this place it brings a smile to my face and how I long to go back once again maybe just to explore the many museums it holds. The last time we went we just had a weekend and it wasn’t enough because we also combined a theme park for the children. We definitely need to return to this place…maybe for the lovely Easter markets during spring or one of the most beautiful Christmas markets in the wintertime spread over the old town. We as a family love to explore a city on foot. I think that is the best way to get a feel of the culture, the food, the architecture, the people, the language, the shops and so much more. As I was walking down the cobbled streets of Colmar it sort of felt unreal. Like I was in a storybook. The houses in the old part of the town were nothing like the houses we live in. There were hearts hanging from the windows, hearts on the doors, cuddly teddies looking out from inside the houses, colourful little flowers there to ornate the wonderful cosy homes and big huge flowers screaming out to catch your attention. I still can’t believe that real people live in those houses. Those houses felt more like dolls houses. How I would love to go inside and explore one of the homes. Maybe the next time I make a friend there who just might invite me for a cup of coffee! The adornment is not just limited to the homes. We found a brasserie that reminded me of a house from one of the German fairytales, perhaps Hansel and Gretel but instead of candies it was all hearts outside.

There is a little canal flowing through the town making the region famous as little Venice. It is a real sight. I could spend hours taking pictures and it would still not do justice to the ambience of the place. It is a treat to go boating in the canal gorging on the beautiful yet surreal houses lined up on the sides.  The architecture dates back to early renaissance and the old town is extremely well preserved. You wont miss the St. Martin church, which stands tall in one of the main squares, surrounded by delightful cafes and restaurants.

The Little Prince Park

It took us one whole day to just walk around the old part of Colmar and we could not visit any of the museums. There are some amazing art museums and a toy museum for children. We would definitely need to go back to do justice to the city. However, we did plan something really special for the children. Just about 20 minutes drive from Colmar is the Little Prince Park. I am sure you would have heard the story of Le Petit Prince by the French writer, aristocrat, poet Antoine de Saint-Exupery. My daughter is in love with this book and so we just had to take her to the only theme park in the world based on this wonderful story. It had amazing rides that make you feel like you’re a part of the story. In addition, there are theatrical performances, which is such a unique concept for a theme park. It is unlike any other theme park that I have been to and it was perfect for my 3 year old and 5 year old. Generally the children are too little to do most of the rides in the theme parks but I am happy to say that they did each and every ride in this park in a day’s time. This was by far their favourite them park if I don’t count Disneyland! So if you plan to visit Colmar and you have little kids, this is a must do!

If you haven’t visited Colmar yet, put this one on your list. And the Little Prince Park will be a big hit with young children.

I will come back soon with my next adventure. Till then keep exploring and bon voyage!

Lyon, France

A city of restaurants..yes, that would be the right description! Every street I walked on I would come across a café, every time I turned a corner I could find a Michelin star restaurant..and every time I ate (delicious) savoury food, I could always find a bakery next door to gorge on the yummiest desserts!

I’ve been to Paris maybe 7 or 8 times in my life and I always considered it to be The food capital of France. This was my second time in Lyon and I was forced to change my mind. My first trip to Lyon was a short stopover during our honeymoon and I didn’t get the chance to discover its secrets. Fast-forward to the present, as a mother of two young kids, my perspectives on travel and food have changed a bit (as I imagine it has for you in some form over the years) and food has become an integral part of our lives. I have to say that Lyon is an amazing experience with children. I found the people here very friendly and surprisingly chatty. I say surprising, as I don’t speak French (hmm maybe un petit peu) and the French – hmmm… let’s say they prefer their own language (J). So it came as a pleasant surprise that every local we interacted with – from the waiter in the restaurant suggesting local wines to the cab drivers showing us the trendy places- they were all eager to share wonderful insights on their city.

As I mentioned before, there are a plethora of Michelin star restaurants in Lyon. You would literally be spoilt for choice. However, I am not writing about one of them in this piece. One place that caught my eye was a place called Anticafe. It was a very unique concept. You basically pay for spending time there. They had a simple salad, cereal and coffee buffet. Eat all you want (or not) during the time that you are there. There was a fixed hourly rate, which was surprisingly affordable (EUR 5/hr). They even had a few games for the kids. You can visit this place if you would just like to spend some time working on your own or need to spend a few hours without stressing over what to order. It might not have the best tasting coffee but it certainly does have its USP.

My husband is truly passionate about coffee. He likes to taste coffee like some like to taste wine. Now there are coffee lovers and there are coffee lovers…he falls in the second category. Actually the word that describes him best is a coffee stalker. And I mean that in the best sense possible! He eats, breathes, reads, and dreams coffee. So we had to of course visit this ‘3rd wave’ café called Diploid. And it wasn’t serendipity that landed us there – it was carefully researched on 10 different attributes before it met my husband’s approval. Fortunately for us the coffee met its expectations. The in house barista, after having a long conversation with him, prepared a Costa Rica coffee brewed with a ‘V60’. In his words the coffee was “sweet, fruity with a lot of body”. Meanwhile the kids and I had some yummy banana bread and a delicious creamy cheesecake. It was delightful. The place itself though not so large, had the option of indoor and outdoor seating. I particularly loved the fun and cosy ambience of the place and it was completely packed with people on a Sunday afternoon. We had to make two rounds of the place just to get a seat!

Now, we always try to do one thing special for the kids wherever we go. This time we chose to visit the grand Musee des Confluences. It came highly recommended from our French friends and it did not disappoint! It was as if we were watching the story of the earth unfold. Starting from the evolution of the earth to the progression of humans, animals and technology. In addition, there was a Japanese art exhibit in one of the non-permanent halls which was very intriguing. I find art is a very nice way of introducing the children to a different culture. Our daughter (5 years) and son (3 years) both loved the visit. Our son particularly was fascinated with the fossils and the animal exhibits in the museum. Even I felt spellbound while walking through this section! My daughter loved the story of evolution. She still talks about it at home on some days. I would highly recommend putting the museum on your To-do list if you have children and if they happen to be of a slightly older age they would appreciate the different themes across the halls even more. It is definitely worth spending a couple of hours if not more.

Overall, this city had something for each one of us. You can definitely spend a lovely weekend here!

I will come back soon with my next adventure. Till then keep exploring and bon voyage!