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!

Gstaad, Switzerland

Switzerland is full of untouched natural beauty. However, once in a while when I get an overdose of the simplicity and the nature, I rush to Gstaad for my quarterly dose of glitz and glamour. It is undoubtedly my favourite town in this lovely country.

Every time I visit Gstaad I feel like I’ve been transported to another time period. It has this old world charm which stays with me the whole day, even when I’m back home. I am a very dreamy person so this place is the perfect place for me to romanticize about. It is typical Switzerland in terms of its beautiful chalets, a lovely little train station and the gorgeous mountain range. However, unlike the rest of Switzerland, which is so simple and natural, Gstaad is really very chic and glamorous. It is like a timeless piece that never goes out of fashion. Name a fashion brand and you will find a store hidden in one of the lovely little chalets. I was particularly struck by the Dolce and Gabbana window display. It was really so dramatic and glittery that I felt everything that shines in Switzerland was all in here! But the store was housed in a typical Swiss chalet. Nothing fancy about the exterior of the store. Here’s what I love about this place. It is so refreshingly modern and fashionable but still in touch with its roots and tradition. It is still so Swiss!

The tourists on the streets certainly outnumber the locals living there. However, it is never overcrowded. Maybe because not a lot of people know about it. It is still in a way a hidden gem.

Where to eat

As I have mentioned in my earlier blog, with children, food is a key part of our every travel. In Gstaad we have this one bakery that we always visit. It’s called the Early Beck café and it has a good selection of chocolates, pastries, sandwiches and cakes. It even has a little play corner inside. It’s the ideal place for us to take a break with the kids. I love my desserts so I mention the bakery first. However, there are two lovely options for the main course. You have the choice of authentic Swiss cheese fondue and other Swiss delicacies at the Posthotel Russli café or delicious Indian food at the Mango restaurant. There are of course many other restaurants in the town but we always tend to go to one of the fore mentioned. Personally, I love the ambience inside the Posthotel Rossli café. It is a very charming little restaurant and oh so Swiss! Mango restaurant, on the other hand, has the option of vegetarian, vegan, gluten and lactose free food. My husband being a vegetarian particularly enjoys his food here. My market research on restaurants of Gstaad cannot be complete without mentioning the Gstaad Palace hotel. The 5 star luxury hotel frequented by celebrities from all around the world. Be it movie stars or sports stars, they have all at some point visited or stayed in the Gstaad palace. So if you are in a mood to splurge, you head to the Le Grand restaurant for a cup of tea and some nibbles. The restaurant’s terrace is really so picturesque. You do not need to be formally dressed for the afternoons but evenings (7pm onwards) the men need to be in a jacket. In case you need some pampering, you must visit!

Things to do

There is just so much to do in Gstaad that I am sure I cannot possibly cover it all. In the winters, it looks stunning with the snow all over and the chalets beautifully lit up in the dusk of evening. A lot of people go to Gstaad for the skiing and the snow sports. And in the summers there is loads to look forward to. I remember watching the Swiss tennis open last summer and it was the first time my kids watched live tennis. It was quite an experience. Then there are the beach volleyball and polo matches. You must check the Gstaad website before you visit because there is always something happening in the summers.

How to reach

Before I forget I must mention how to reach Gstaad. We don’t live very far from the place so we always take our car. I find taking the car most convenient when it comes to travelling with kids. Also, the route to Gstaad is so breathtaking that I want the freedom of stopping and taking pictures. However, if you don’t want to drive, there is the option of taking the beautiful Golden Pass panoramic train, which starts in Lucerne. It is indeed a very scenic trip.

Hope I have given you enough reasons to travel to this beautiful town. I promise it won’t disappoint you.

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