Strasbourg or Colmar?

Old Nov 13th, 2009, 03:14 PM
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Strasbourg or Colmar?

I will be in France next year (late September) and must choose between Colmar and Strasbourg. Any recommendations on which one is a better/nicer place to stay for 2 nights? (my wife and I after 3 weeks in Gites).
Also, I fly home from Frankfurt. Is there a good place to pick up a car on the German side of the border near these towns? I don't want to pay the return fee if i take my rental car to FRA so I thought I could drop off the French car in S-bourg and rent a German car for my last 4 or 5 days. (only problem I suppose will be transfering my luggage or getting to the German car rental place).
Has anyone done this? Ideas?
Finally, any recommendations on where to go in Germany for 4 days (in this border area or ??)?

Thanks in advance.
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Old Nov 13th, 2009, 04:02 PM
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In Colmar, you'll find it easier to get to all the cute little wine villages. My favorites are at the south end of the Route du Vin - closer to Colmar than Strasbourg. However, if your main objective is to explore Colmar - you certainly won't need 2 nights/days to do that.

Strasbourg, on the other hand, could occupy most of your entire time for 2 nights/days. However, if you want to drive to explore the small villages, getting out of Strasbourg is more difficult than Colmar - especially if your hotel there does not have convenient parking.

There are ample restaurants in both towns.

Exchanging a car:

There are many trains that go from Strasbourg, through Colmar, to Basel - no train changes. Dump the car in Strasbourg or Colmar, take the train to Basel & pick up a German car there.

Explore the Bernier Oberland/Junfrau - although you really don't need a car there if you stay in Wengen, Grindelwald, or Murren (my favorite).

Stu Dudley
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Old Nov 13th, 2009, 04:13 PM
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Oops - just realized - Basel is in Switzerland - not Germany.

Stu Dudley
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Old Nov 13th, 2009, 04:34 PM
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Colmar would be a great place for two days. It has a small and walkable center and the beautiful tiled homes and the canals are a treat to see. Plus there is the Grünewald altarpiece.
I remember being a little weirded out by all the sausage and sauerkraut on the menus. I was in France, for god's sake! It was one of my first trips and I wasn't thrilled about eating german food on my french vacation!
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Old Nov 13th, 2009, 04:44 PM
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Colmar is a cute small town with an interesting museum, but IMHO Strasbourg has much more to see and do. I would go for the latter.

Strasbourg has excellent train service - I would just hop one to the town you want to start touring from.
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Old Nov 13th, 2009, 07:09 PM
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If you're going to be in gites ( and therefore presumably in the countryside or small villages?) for three weeks, I think I'd prefer to be in Strasbourg for all that that city has to offer.
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Old Nov 14th, 2009, 02:03 AM
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If you are in Strasbourg, you can take a city bus across the river to Kehl where you can pick up a German rental car. You could also take a taxi.
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Old Nov 14th, 2009, 02:12 AM
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Oops - just realized - Basel is in Switzerland - not Germany.

Actually Basel is in France Switzerland and Germany border...and the airport..

EuroAirport lies just inside Switzerland’s borders with France and Germany. In fact, EuroAirport is on French soil, connected to Switzerland by a customs road, and is shared with Mulhouse, France and the German city of Freiburg. The airport can be reached from the A35 motorway from Mulhouse and Basel. It can also be accessed from the Flughafen Strasse airport road from Basel.

So Basel might not be a bad idea.
I went to Strasbourg 20 years ago and thought that it was a lovely and interesting city.
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Old Nov 14th, 2009, 06:09 AM
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Hi JC,

With only 2 days, I suggest Strasbourg.

As noted, Kehl is just a short train ride away. (See www.bahn.de) There are major rental agencies there.

You could take the train to Kehl, drive back, pick up your luggage and go on your way.

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Old Nov 14th, 2009, 06:26 AM
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I vote for Strasbourg, too.

A few hours in Colmar to walk the streets and visit the Musee Unterlinden was more than enough for me.
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Old Nov 14th, 2009, 06:32 AM
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>>You could take the train to Kehl, drive back, pick up your luggage and go on your way.<<

Why wouldn't you carry your luggage on the train??

Stu Dudley
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Old Nov 14th, 2009, 06:45 AM
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Definitely Strasbourg.

Do you need to rent a car in Germany? You can use the French rental car all through the German Black Forest area and then take the train direct from Strasbourg to Frankfurt.
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Old Nov 14th, 2009, 08:21 AM
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First, you can't do wrong with either of the towns.

Second, given your limited time, I would opt for Colmar. Why? - Colmar itsself is a charming, medium-sized quaint town. There is a world-class museum (Unterlinden), many picturesque houses and the most charming "Petite Venise" neigbhourhood on the river. But the main reason to stay in Colmar would be the proximity to the little wine villages (Riquewihr and Eguisheim are the most beautiful ones) and to the Vosges mountain (you can drive up Col de la Schlucht).

You can even see Strasbourg: The direct route from Colmar to Strasbourg takes just 50 min. On the way back, you can leisurely drive and see Obernai and Haut-Koenigsbourg on the way.

You may even consider staying in a village rather than in a city. Some place around Colmar or between Colmar and Strasbourg will be convenient. To give you an idea: This was the hotel where we stayed last time:
http://www.leclosdesdelices.com/
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Old Nov 14th, 2009, 08:33 AM
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Oh, I forgot to write about ideas in Germany.

First, the Black Forest and its foothills. Close to Colmar, you find Freiburg, a cute old town, and Staufen. More up north (and closer to Strasbourg), there is Gengenbach. Note that all these towns are not IN the Black Forest, but in the foothills.

However, with a car, you can easily drive up into the mountains. The "Hochschwarzwald" ("high Black Forest") is around the Feldberg. Towns are Titisee, Schluchsee (large lake), St. Blasien (monastery) and Menzenschwand (indoor/outdoor radon spa and radon galleries). For cuckoo clocks, Triberg would be the best destination.

I would also suggest visiting Basel, especially if you are interested in art (splendid museums there). For contemporary design and architecture, consider the Vitra Museum in Weil am Rhein.

On the way to Frankfurt, you find Baden-Baden (19th century style spa), Speyer (cathedral) and Mainz (cathedral).

If you have four days time for Germany, I would suggest visiting the Rhine Valley (Eberbach Monastery, Rüdesheim, Lorelei and dozens of picturesque villages). Do miss Cologne with outstanding museums, one of the grandest gothic cathedrals (including the remains of the three Magi) and rich Roman heritage.

Side trips to Trier (Roman ruins) and Aachen (cathedral where Charlemagne was crowned 800 A.D.) are also very rewarding.
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Old Nov 14th, 2009, 09:38 AM
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Nothing to add, just wistfully jealous.
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Old Nov 15th, 2009, 12:09 PM
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Another vote for Strasbourg - it's a wonderful place. I picked up my car at the train station there after a few days of seeing the city, with no trouble at all getting out on the Route du Vins. I wouldn't want to base there with a car, though, or drive in the city.
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Old Nov 15th, 2009, 12:17 PM
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bookmarking
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Old Nov 15th, 2009, 05:45 PM
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Wow - this still seems a daunting decision to make - (I love this , don't get me wrong - FODOR's and you guys make this a year long adventure). Kerouac - do you know if there is a direct connection from S-bourg to FRA on the train? Your idea seems emminently reasonable. Any hotel recommendations in Strasbourg for someone with a car? (Around 100-150 Euros a night for 2 people).
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Old Nov 15th, 2009, 06:04 PM
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We had a lovely stay in '04 at the Rohan. There is a lot of variation in the sizes and siting of the rooms (central rooms look onto an air shaft). However we had a huge room w/a king bed in the back of the bldg that looked out onto a quiet pedestrian street---a huge wall of windows w/wonderfully heavy drapes that were both stylish and guaranteed quiet at night. The room service brkfst--no extra charge---was a typical (read yummy) continental bfkfst of croissant, baguette, butter, jam and cafe au lait, w/the most amazing tangerines I ever tasted. It was only then that I realized that Tangier was not so far away and hence the tangerines!

Our room was 110 euros then, so maybe now it would still be in your range. http://www.hotel-rohan.com/ BTW, we found this hotel thru the recommendations of others on this board, and I have always been especially fond of this particular trip to Strasbourg, b/c that was when I "joined" Fodors.
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Old Nov 15th, 2009, 08:29 PM
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Another Hotel de Rohan fan here!
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