Vélos, Vineyards and Vin: A Guide to Colmar on a Budget

Students at the top of the Chateau de Kaysersberg
© Photo owned by Brandan Naef

Gazing at the mountains surrounded by vineyards in the outskirts of Colmar, exchange student Susan Fauber hands her phone to two French women, “Pouvez-vous prendre notre photo, s’il vous plait?.”

Planning trips can be very stressful, especially for large groups of people. The thing to remember when traveling to other countries and cities while you are abroad is that you don’t all have to do the same thing when you travel! Our group had many students who wanted to stay for the weekend and others just wanted to do a day trip. I was apart of those who wanted to spend a weekend in Colmar – on a budget. I began the search for Airbnb’s and came across a 6 guest flat in the heart of the city. Having such a large group for the weekend, I was worried it would be difficult to find accommodation. Pleasantly surprised with my find, I booked the Airbnb for the entire weekend for under €50/person.

You might be wondering how we were able to travel to Colmar while keeping costs low. Traveling around France, Switzerland and Germany is very cheap via train or bus. Flixbus is a inexpensive way to travel between countries, I have had friends travel from Strasbourg, France to Frankfurt, Germany for €6. On this trip, train was our most effective means of transportation, spending around €24 round trip with a total travel time of 45-50 minutes. You can use Omio to compare the cost between bus, trains and flights within Europe.

Biking through miles of vineyards — Colmar, France
© Photo owned by Brandan Naef

Many people think that when you go on a weekend trip you spend the majority of your money on food, tourist attractions and miscellaneous expenses. Although this can be quite common three of my friends and I decided to avoid tourist traps and explore the city and surrounding areas via bike this is a very inexpensive but effective way to travel around cities in Europe. Colmar Cycling – Vélodocteurs provided us with a half day rental costing only €7 giving us roughly five hours to ride around. The bike rental included, helmets, lights, locks, and of course the bike.

Colmar has many biking paths and trails and the rental company will provide you with a map of a biking tour through the city. The biking tour that my friends and I ventured on was to Chateau de Kaysersberg. What I loved about this was the bike path took us through miles of vineyards and small towns with incredible views. As we rode through the countryside of France, we stumbled upon rivers, castles, coffee shops and local hole in the wall restaurants.

Exploring the area around Kayserberg we stumbled upon one of the best cafés for hot chocolate and pasteries. L’Enfarine was a welcoming environment with an incredibly friendly staff, and the perfect beverages to compliment our walk to the castle.

L’Enfarine located on the walk towards the Kayserberg Castle.
© Photo owned by Brandan Naef

The Kayserberg Castle has incredible views of the city and countryside. After a long day of biking 20 miles we returned back to the city and our Airbnb. This night we decided to cook dinner for the group to save money. We factored the cost of eating out and figured that we could save money by going to Auchaun, the main grocery store in France, and purchasing groceries to make a meal. This is a huge factor for saving money when traveling. To feed our group of six students we spent €20 compared to what could have been upward of €120 if we ate at a restaurant. This is also true for wine, rather than going to a pub we bought a few bottles of wine and spent the night in enjoying the company of our family away from home. I recommend Auchaun if you are looking to explore different kinds of wine, they have a wide variety of wines from all over the Alsace region and are relatively inexpensive.

As we began to wrap up our weekend I spoke with students about their experience in Colmar, “The bike ride was a very unique way to travel around Colmar on a budget.” Fauber said. “I enjoyed getting away from the tourist areas and creating a one of a kind experience that was special to me and my friends.” 

Brandan & Susan — Kaysersberg, France
© Photo owned by Brandan Naef

Molly Hughes was one of the students who spent her time in the city of Colmar and did not travel to the castle. Little Venice is a quaint spot in the city and a great place for students to practice their french. Many students had the opportunity to practice french with the local community, even those who didn’t speak fluently. The people of Colmar are very genuine and were excited to hear students were visiting their city.

“As we were walking around the city, we spent a lot of time going into local shops” Hughes said, “I was able to practice my french in a comfortable environment and felt that everyone was kind when I told them I was working on speaking skills.“