17 june 2016
4 reasons to visit Colmar
Colmar is known as the wine capital of Alsace and one of the cities where it rains the less in France thanks to the Foehn effect. A meteorological oddity that brings dry winds on the Vosges Massif slopes beneath which flow Colmar peaceful days. But if we need to rush to the (re) discovery of Colmar, this is for another phenomenon, an artistic one.
The Unterlinden Museum has just reopened its doors after colossal renovations. It’s a wonder that you absolutely need to discover to appreciate the work of architects from the Herzog & de Meuron office. And to marvel at the unique collection of medieval art in the 20th century. The opportunity for a short break in Alsace … and in the sun!
All practical information at : www.tourisme-alsace.com
The Unterlinden Museum is one of the oldest in France. Founded in 1853 in a former Dominican convent in the city center of Colmar, it has accumulated donations over the years. Until being a little cramped in its historic walls. A huge expansion site has been entrusted to the firm Herzog & de Meuron. By seizing disused former municipal baths and by completely redesigning its museum, the architects created a new set that is ideally integrated into the « Alsatian” architecture of Colmar. The visitor who discovers this space for the first time can not imagine the gigantic project which was held here for years. The result is a great nave to an exceptional collection that we rediscover with happiness. In the cloister of the monastery, the arts of the Middle Ages and Renaissance radiate. A centerpiece is by itself the trip to Unterlinden: the Isenheim Altarpiece. Painted by Mathias Grünwald in the early 16th century, this altarpiece is for the first time presented in its entirety in the chapel of the convent. One is struck by the incredible modernity of this painting representing monsters that have their place in the contemporary world of Tolkien or colorful pop Christ that one could see painted on the wall of a new age hippies shop of San Francisco! A variety of styles and incredible modernity for a work that was supposed to help the sick persons of “fire of St. Anthony” to bear their horrible disease that transformed their bodies and clouded their minds with hallucinogenic visions. This altarpiece is a unique piece that has inspired many modern artists (such as Picasso and Francis Bacon) and all the major museums of the world dream of having it on their walls! But continue your visit, including in the Ackerhof, the new building that houses the modern art collection that the museum could not present before this expansion. The tapestry of Jacqueline de La Baume, reproducing the monumental painting by Picasso, Guernica, which there are only three copies in the world, is a work that resonates perfectly with the terrifying Isenheim Altarpiece …
The Maison des Têtes is one of the most famous hotels in Colmar. Located next to the Unterlinden Museum, it is also a historical monument since it was built in 1609 and belonged to wine merchants. It has over a hundred small human heads carved on its facade. In short, this is the photo spot for all the tourists passing in Colmar. The novelty is that a young couple has taken over it and have given to it a needed facelift. Eric and Marilyn Girardin previously head of starred restaurant La Casserole in Strasbourg. By taking over the Maison des Têtes, they bring with them the ambition to make the new reference in Colmar. In June, a gourmet restaurant in the modern design will complement the brewery that the Chef Eric Girardin has already dusted. The chef is obviously planning to add some stars to its new table that will host twenty guests in a refined atmosphere where supreme white is reigning . On the hotel side, a block of rooms has been renovated and the rest should follow soon. Exit the woodwork, a bit claustrophobic, and large flowered drapes, again a much more modern design is required. Bathrooms, especially, with their paving marble-veined, large deco trend of the moment, sign a radical change. From the preserved ancient outside and modern design inside, this is the new recipe of a historic address that has adapted to modern times. A perfect echo to the new Unterlinden museum which has just completed its transformation, on the other side of the street …
Jean-Yves Schillinger is in charge of this gastronomic restaurant that offers a modern and very structured vision of cuisine in a building with ancient paces. Although, this time, the house is not as old as that. But the painted facade gives you the feeling of entering a medieval tavern. Once inside, design ambiance resolutely contemporary. We sit in large Chesterfield and one is seduced by the creative cuisine of two-stars chef. Creativity at all times, as with this mini olive tree that is placed on your table. We must pluck real olives cooked by the chef. Playful. And the whole menu is available on this playground. The calf eggs with Beaufort crust on a potato espuma with truffles are as a pair of eyes on your plate. The spider crab is eaten in spring rolls. And desserts, presented in tapas arrive on a tray worth of a English “high tea”. All this is surprising, and tasty, which is quite rare, the service is a rare efficiency. Admittedly, Jean-Yves Schillinger has worked in the US for a long time where you do not stay much at the table, even in a gourmet restaurant. The Chef has kept an efficiency that lets you dine divinely without spending three hours. That’s also the modernity of a table of our time …