Written by Noa Margalit
For my first weekend trip a few friends and I decided to visit Colmar, France. If you’ve seen Beauty and the Beast, it is the town that it is based off of and it’s absolutely beautiful. Initially, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to leave town the first weekend, but a day trip to Colmar was the perfect solution. Also, I had definitely explored downtown Metz more than I was anticipating during the first week just because I had a lot of time after classes to do so.
To get to Colmar, we had to take a direct morning train from the central station in Metz, which went through Strasbourg, and finally arrived in Colmar. It was really easy to reserve tickets. Since none of us wanted to activate our Eurail passes, we just ordered some online and sent them to our phones. I think the most challenging process of the train systems here is that every single person you talk to tells you a different thing. For example, some people said you can’t reserve online, but only at the train station (this may be true for certain cases but in our case it was not). Also, we got to the train station way earlier than we needed to but it was good because we were able to figure out how everything works with no stress.
Since we had reserved seats everyone sat on a different part of the train, and we arrived about 1.5 hours later. When you first get into Colmar, it looks like any other French town until you make your way downtown. At the heart of the city every building looked straight out of a fairytale, with each one colored brightly and little details that made them look really special. I’m not really one to travel in a big group, and as we were walking downtown I already felt a little overwhelmed with the amount of people I was with. The first thing I saw downtown was one of my favorite stores in France, “Maisons du Monde” which has cute home goods and was also a good way to part ways with the group. My friend and I went to the store while the rest went to get lunch and after looking through there we also started exploring to find food. Every corner you turn in Colmar there is something really unique and special. We stopped so many times just to admire the area, I especially liked the copper roofs on the church that were partially turquoise. Eventually once we got lunch I got a baguette with chicken inside, which is my favorite thing to eat in France. First of all, it is so cheap, only about 3 euros. Compared to a sandwich in the states which runs for around $8, it is also a lot tastier.
After eating, we wandered around more shops, and I bought a scarf since all the French wear scarves and I have to fit in. We didn’t end up seeing the rest of the group until meeting at the bus stop to take the bus home. This was probably the worst part of the trip, since our bus was delayed by almost an hour, and it was very cold outside. I felt like Colorado prepared me well though, and I had on my two pairs of pants, leg warmers, coat, gloves, a hat, and my new scarf to keep me warm. Eventually we got on the flix bus (it took almost 3 hours), and made it home. We decided to take a bus back to keep things cheap, and so our day trip ended up being very worth it.
Overall, I am really glad I took a small trip on the first weekend just to demystify the train experience and to start seeing a little more of the places around me. Sunday was nice to take off and relax, but I think I will try to see a new place every time I have the chance!