Mulhouse in Alsace is often associated with the image of a grey industrial city due to its manufacturing and commercial importance.
Instead, the city offers its visitors a beautiful historical centre full of old frescoed buildings, a series of magnificent museums, a street art itinerary and a lively and expressive cultural scene that sets it apart from other Alsatian cities.
In addition, Mulhouse can be considered the ideal starting point for exploring the region: many even choose it as a base for visiting Alsace, thanks to its proximity to the main attractions in the area, its wide choice of cheap accommodation and its proximity to the airport.
Mulhouse is a city with a turbulent past: in the course of its history it went from being a Free City of the Empire, to being under the rule of the Swiss Confederation, then back under France and finally annexed to the Third Reich, only returning under French rule at the end of the First World War.
Its turbulent history translated over time into industrial and social ferment: the city became a textile hub and a centre rich in artistic currents. Its past can still be read today in the beautiful, completely frescoed façades of the old buildings, the impressive churches and its interesting museums.
A visit to Mulhouse certainly starts with its main square, Place de la Reunion: it is the beating heart of the city and the most important historical buildings, the imposing cathedral and the old pastel-coloured houses face this large square.
We recommend that you take some time to observe the individual decorations of the buildings and the wonderful details of the façades.
At the heart of the square stands the statue of a halberdier, symbolising security and protection for the city, which was so often the subject of territorial disputes and occupied by the Nazis during the Second World War.
The Saint-Etienne Cathedral, overlooking Place Reunion, is an admirable example of neo-Gothic architecture: it is the tallest Protestant building of worship in France and is dedicated to Saint Stephen. Its tall, slender figure is reminiscent of the style of the Rhineland spires: the present church is the result of various renovations over the centuries.
During the Christmas Markets, the façade of the cathedral serves as a magical canvas on which wonderful, colourful textile backgrounds are projected, the patterns of which change every year.
The Town Hall of Mulhuouse is immediately recognisable by its rose-coloured façade at the side of the Cathedral. Built in the 16th century in Renaissance style, it features a double staircase and wonderful frescoes.
Today, it houses the Mulhouse Historical Museum: it boasts a conspicuous collection of jewellery, furniture and everyday objects from the Palaeolithic period to the present day.
The Maison Mieg is the largest palace on the square: it is immediately recognisable by its delightful turret and beautiful trompe l’oeil that enchant visitors.
The building dates back to the 16th century: it was the private home of the noble Mieg family. Today, the palace is one of the city’s Historical Monuments.
Another unmissable building overlooking Place Reunion is the Pharmacie au Lys, one of the oldest pharmacies in Europe, still in business since 1649: the interior is furnished with the original furniture from the time of Charles X, perfectly preserved.
The façade still bears the initials of the original owner and his wife, Henri Risler and Catherine Hartmann.
One of the richest and most important museums in Mulhouse is undoubtedly the Automobile Museum, which boasts the largest private collection of automobiles in the world: in an area of about 25,000 m2 you will find more than 400 vintage cars of no less than 97 different makes. A daydream for young and old.
Built in aformer wool spinning mill from the 19th century, today it is a must-see for lovers of four-wheelers: the museum is easily accessible thanks to entertaining audio guides that tell the anecdotes and curiosities of the most unusual cars, such as the experimental cars and the Bugatti Royales, produced for princes and monarchs.
The Train Museum is considered the largest museum dedicated to the world of railways in Europe and among the 10 largest in the world.
Covering an area of 60,000 square metres, it brings together antique and modern pieces from 1827 to the present day. You can experience an incredible journey back in time, thanks to the magnificent layouts, the exquisitely furnished wagons inhabited by characters in costume according to the fashion of the time, and the skilful sets installed along the way.
Art is at home in Mulhouse. Museums, temporary installations, sculptures and, of course, many examples of street art enliven the streets of the city.
To admire the best works, we recommend going to the city’s highlights such as Le M.U.R8, which stands for Modulable Urbain Réactif, an exhibition wall section occupied by a different artist every month, a means of promoting street art.
Another place steeped in street art is Quai des Pêcheurs9, which runs along the bike path: the walls are completely occupied by the spectacular creations of different artists who come together and dialogue to highlight the diversity and quality of street art.
An immense trompe-l’oeil can be found at Place Lucien Dreyfus10 in the pedestrian area near the Cour des Maréchaux.
Also in the area of Les Halles du Marché du Canal Couvert, Mulhouse’s covered market, at 20 Boulevard du Président Roosevelt11 there is an immense mural, the Sower.
But the most fun to be had in the city is that of the artist’s mailboxes: Christian Guemy aka C215 has painted no less than 21 yellow letterboxes (in collaboration with the French postal service) with unusual character depictions. A kind of treasure hunt that will make you discover the most beautiful and unusual corners of the city.
If you want a truly unique experience, you can explore the city of Mulhouse with a Greeter. What is a Greeter? A Greeter is an inhabitant of Mulhouse who wishes to share his vision of the city, its surroundings and Alsace with French and foreign visitors. They are people open to different cultures, often passionate about an aspect of local life, of all ages and from all backgrounds.
Unlike a traditional guide, a Greeter is a welcoming and warm-hearted volunteer who will help you discover his region in a unique and authentic way. The themes of the walks are varied and are above all a pretext for an encounter, a rich human experience and a cultural exchange, which remain the cornerstones of this experience. Tours are booked through the Tourist Office.
About 15 km from the centre of Mulhouse is a museum that is a must for those travelling with children, the Écomusée d’Alsace. This is the largest open-air living museum in France, organised like an early 20th century Alsatian village.
In this huge village, the rural heritage, arts and folk traditions of Alsace are handed down: you can admire more than 70 historical buildings from all over the region such as houses, farmhouses, school, chapel, station, sawmill, to name but a few, furnished with a collection of almost 40,000 objects (furniture, everyday objects, clothing, tools and agricultural machinery) dating from the mid-19th century to the 1950s.
Here, the old trades are revived : from the carpenter to the apothecary, from the blacksmith to the baker and even the barber. All these costumed craftsmen make their knowledge available to enchanted visitors.
Also just outside Mulhouse is this large amusement park inspired by the famous work by the writer Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. The Little Prince Park is divided into various themed areas: aviation, water, animals and plants.
Awaiting you are 31 attractions ranging from a giant maze to animal farms, from a hot-air balloon that soars 150 metres high to a 3D cinema.
In the following map you can see the location of the main places of interest mentioned in this article
The Christmas atmosphere in Mulhouse is truly authentic, unique and magical. The city centre becomes one big light show: in fact, in honour of its long history as the capital of textiles, every year the city’s main square, Place Reunion, is entirely ‘dressed’ in a different fabric, projected onto all the facades of the historical buildings. An incredible and different scenario every year .
In addition, the streets of the centre are cloaked in magic and colour thanks to the Christmas market: many wooden chalets await you with food stands, local handicrafts and a large Ferris wheel towering over the cathedral.
Other markets on the outskirts of the city are also not to be missed: the Saint-Nicolas market in Riedisheim, Noël au Jardin at Wesserling Park and the Pfastatt Christmas Market, dedicated to the world of elves, snowmen and Father Christmas.
Mulhouse is a lively town that combines modernity and ancient traditions: less famous than the other towns of Alsace such as Colmar or Strasbourg, in recent years it has carved out its own space of interest for its museums and artistic ferment.
There are many accommodation options in the city, both traditional Alsatian houses, old and charming, and various boutique hotels, modern and full of charm. In spite of the other towns in the region, Mulhouse boasts decidedly lower prices and considerable availability. Sleeping in Mulhouse, using it as a base for visiting the region, can be a good solution to save money and avoid changing too many accommodations during a trip to Alsace.
Mulhouse is located in the lower part of Alsace, just north of the Swiss border. Nestled between Germany and Switzerland, Mulhouse is about 1 hour and 20 minutes from Strasbourg and only 40 minutes from Colmar.
The nearest airport is the EuroAirport Mulhouse-Basel-Freiburg, the only bi-national airport in the world: in fact, it was built by Switzerland on French territory and, thanks to its strategic location, serves the neighbouring Swiss city of Basel (3 km), Mulhouse (30 km) in France and also Freiburg in Germany (74 km).
What's the weather at Mulhouse? Below are the temperatures and the weather forecast at Mulhouse for the next few days.
The city of Mulhouse is located in the lower part of Alsace just a few kilometres from both Basel in Switzerland and Freiburg in Germany.
City Card allow you to save on public transport and / or on the entrances to the main tourist attractions.