Christmas in gorgeous Alsace

Towns, markets and boxes full of MAGIC

Christmas in Alsace

Imagine entering a fairy tale, where songs about love are all around, and anything can happen. This is Alsace for me at the most beautiful time of the year, Christmas.

House windows are decorated with teddy bears and presents.

Lights lights lights are all around.

Santa is sailing on a lighted gondola while the choir is singing, aromas of mulled wine in every corner, the most beautiful markets, glowing Christmas trees, the yummiest chocolate you’ve ever tasted in your life, and all that joy is happening at the most picturesque towns, where it feels like you’re entering a Disney movie from the very first step.

So after 2020 has been a bit sad; with no Christmas markets to make us escape our reality, there is nothing as exciting to spend these few days in the most magical atmosphere and remember how it feels like to get excited as a child.

destinations

christmas markets

So first of all, a little about the Alsace region:

The Alsace region extends in eastern France and borders Switzerland and Germany. Somewhere in history, this region was transferred between German and French control several times until it was finally annexed to France after World War II. It consists of picturesque villages and its beautiful capital, Strasbourg, the seventh-largest city in France. Along the region, you can find dozens of grape vineyards, which is why this area is called the “wine route.”

The fastest way to get to Alsace:

  1. Direct flight to Strasbourg (SXB)
  2. Flight to Basel Mulhouse airport – about 90 KM away from Alsace.
  3. Flight to Baden-Baden, Germany – about 100KM away from Alsace

The towns you must visit in Alsace:

Colmar

Start at the place that represents the beginning of our love story with Alsace.

 We first met Colmar in 2017, on Leon’s birthday. We fell in love with it the second we arrived. The colors, the atmosphere, the unique fairytale-style architecture, and water canals that pass through the small streets are reminiscent of Venice in the French version (there is also an area called “Little Venice,” which is the most famous and recommended of all, for camera wearers).

The two days we spent there were not enough for us, and we were unfortunate to leave, so in the car on the way to our next destination, Leon booked plane tickets for a few months ahead to return to Colmar, but this time, for the magical holiday season in December.

 From the moment we got to Colmar, everyone just told us about its Christmas celebrations, and I bet they had no idea how fast we would be there to see it with our own eyes.

After three months, we were back in Alsace, and it did not take long until we realized what the fuss was all about. And since then, we have discovered that there are places that enter your heart, and we will probably keep on returning to them much more than once. Well, Alsace is high on this list.

Let’s return to our subject, Christmas.

The whole Alsace area is known for its unique and stunning Christmas atmosphere, but at the top of this list is Colmar, which exceeds all expectations. And is famous for its ornaments down to the smallest detail.

Colmar has six different Christmas markets, each with another character and theme, and to be honest, there was not even one of them where we managed not to spend some cash.

  1. The Artisan Arts Market at Place des Dominicains

A market for local artists where you will find unique handicrafts, painters, and jewelry makers. The ideal place for a special gift. And of course, there is no such thing as a fine market without having delicious local food, mulled wine, carousels, and special amusement facilities for children within.

  1. The gourmet Christmas market at Place de la Cathedrale

The house of food, A market that is all about food. Mostly identified with Alsatian cuisine, which is a bit more sophisticated and “gourmet” than the rest of the street food you will find in other markets. From black truffle risotto to pastry with meat in a special local sauce with potatoes inside which is basically the local Gnocchi in cream.

  1. The Indoor Market at Koifhus

The place to escape the cold for a moment.

More of an exhibition than a market where you will find unique works by local artists, jewelry, hats, magnets, unique ceramic, and charming Christmas decorations.

    4. The Place de l’Ancienne Douane Christmas Market

    The largest Christmas market in Colmar with over 50 small stands. Slightly busier and denser than previous markets. You will find excellent local wine (in special packages of Colmar’s colorful houses), delicious treats, celebrations, and local souvenirs.

    5. The Petite Venise Children’s Christmas Market

    I must mention this is my favorite market of all.

    First of all, it is in the Little Venice area, which is the most beautiful in Colmar. So magical!!  Starting with crazy stalls for kids, and not only for kids, we also found something to buy for ourselves in most of the stands! Heating pillows in the shape of furry animals, lovely wooden crafts, solar-driven spinning toys, velvet purses with spectacular paintings, and more. In this market, I found my favorite food stall! As simple as delicious! Sausage with Emmental and raclette cheeses melted on top!! YUMMY!!

    You can also find some amusements for kids and even a mailbox from which you can send Santa Claus your letters.

     6. The Place Jeanne d’Arc Alsatian Specialties Market

    The market for foodies among you that focuses on Alsatian delicacies like foie gras, jam, and good wine

    Riquewihr

    Riquewihr is A medieval town that enchants everyone; Small and breathtaking. Picturesque and colorful houses when there is not even one house that resembles another.

    By the way, if the town seems familiar somehow, but you can’t put your finger on how, I will give you this story!

    Remember the town where Belle from Disney’s “Beauty and the beast” goes with her books in her hand while singing? That is precisely it!

    The producers of Disney were looking for inspiration for the film, and just before they made the movie, they visited the towns of Riquewihr and Eguisheim (which I will detail later), and since then, it’s all history.

    And as for me, who believes I’m living in one of Disney’s cartoons, I could not help but see the imagination and got even more excited when I did a bit of research and found out why this place looks so familiar.

    The town’s beautiful architecture and the unique Christmas atmosphere create an unparalleled charm:

     

    Riquewhir Christmas markets:

    Le Petit Bistrot d’Alsace

    A small but charming and delicious market!

    It has a wide selection of cheeses, and God knows how much I love cheeses! (Steve Urkel, be aware, you’ve been challenged) Sausages, local wine, mulled wine, Chocolate that makes me dance happily, and sweet souvenir stalls.

    La Cour des Nobles

    A market in the heart of the old town, with delicious Alsatian delicacies, warm addictive chestnuts, mulled wine (of course), gift stalls, and you can even find the Russian matryoshka dolls in every color and shape.

    Ribeauville

    A charming and quiet town considered the capital of the Riesling wine. Fits whoever loves lying down and resting in lovely cafes or walking around small and beautiful streets without the noise and the bustle. But and this is a big but, at Christmas and especially on the weekends, the town imparts an experience you will not find anywhere else, period.

    Ready to get into a shaky and exciting time machine? Because this is the experience, you will get from a visit to Ribeauville during the Christmas period.

    Christmas celebrations can easily be confused with a time trip to the middle ages on the weekends. The townspeople are all pre-time dressed up, going out dancing in the streets, musicians from square to square, singers and artists who will carry you away to join them, sheep roaming the roads,

     And along the way, you will also meet strange creatures .. mysterious characters who came straight out of mythology, and you might even see Merlin, the great wizard walking the streets.

    This atmosphere is indescribable! And of course, let’s not forget all the other great stuff you can find in any different Christmas market, like local delicacies that will make you lick your fingers, beautiful stalls, and lots of gifts, all of those with a little twist of some elves and witches around you.

    BTW. If you have some time to spare, there are three beautiful castles that you might like to see:

    Ribraupierre, Saint-Ulrich and Giersberg.

    Kaysersberg

    Kaysersberg is a very small and romantic town. Nestled on the banks of a river, built over canals, full of small and photogenic bridges and there are houses built right on the river itself. The town overlooks an ancient castle from the 13th century; “Chateau Shloss Castle”

    It is highly recommended to visit and overlook the town from above the castle.

    The Christmas market itself is particularly authentic and Alsatian in its style, Opened on weekends only with about 30 wooden pavilions, located in the very heart of “Cour de l’Arsenal”, just behind the church, overlooking the castle and the whole feeling is as if you’re walking on a 17s century photography set!

    What sets Kaisersberg’s Christmas apart is the local artisan stalls and a variety of the most original and special works of art and souvenirs you can find in Alsace. And of course, delicious food, mulled wine, and anything that gives a warm feeling on a cold day.

    It is also worth a visit to the farmers market located in “Place de la Mairie”:

    Taste the variety of delicious local produce, cheeses, liqueurs, jams, bread, and of course drink good wine and hear about life in Alsace from a local farmer.

    Eguisheim

    To me, a destination not to be missed on your Alsatian tour.

    Eguisheim is the first town we visited when we returned to Alsace for our second visit. We arrived in the evening and were instantly captivated by its charm. The town did not just win the titles of the most beloved village in France and one of the most beautiful villages in France. It is unusually small and beautiful. It was recognized mainly for its medieval churches, unique wooden houses, and narrow alleys.

    Remember I told you that Eguisheim was also a source for doing beauty and the beast? And not for nothing, this town is a real witch in its beauty, and it also has some of the most instagrammable corners!

    And as you already know, It’s Christmas in Alsace! So here, too, you will find thousands of lights that adorn the town, ornate trees, and an exciting atmosphere.

    Eguisheim Christmas markets:

    Place du Marche Aux Saules

    The most magical market! There you will find unique, mind-blowing works of art and, of course, delicious local food.

    Place Monseigneur Stampf

    This market is a small market located in a tiny square surrounded by small, local boutique shops. Here, you will also find souvenirs, handicrafts, and let’s not forget our favorite, sweet and delicious warm wine.

    Saint Leon Square

    A place where Leon felt most at home and most holy!

    In the heart of the town, in a central square, in the shadow of an 18th-century castle. Although there are few stalls and a small selection of souvenirs, the market’s charm lies in its unique decorations and that its central fountain becomes a beautiful winter wonder.

     

    Strasbourg – The Capital of Alsace:

    So as to befit a capital city, Strasbourg is also the capital of Christmas and the most magical destination for the holiday atmosphere that everyone is looking for.

    The secret of the city’s charm lies in the fact that much of its historic center is located on an island

    – (Grande Ile) –Yes, you heard it right!

     And the city itself is simply beautiful and impressive, incorporating magnificent churches, palaces from the 18th century, and not to forget, the Alsatian wooden houses we love so much.

    If you have reached this point in the article, you already know the procedure because we all gathered here to talk about Christmas, right?

    So, as I mentioned, Strasbourg is not to be missed during the Christmas period.

    In total, there are about 300 Christmas stalls throughout the city and about 15 different Christmas markets; sounds tempting, right?

    And as befits Alsatians, every street, house, window, and balcony are all decorated and amazingly impressive in all their glory.

    So out of 15 markets, I have gathered for you the three most extensive and most exciting, and do not worry, Christmas in Strasbourg is on every corner, you will not miss anything that happens, not even if you want to.

     

    Strasbourg Christmas Markets:

    1. Place Broglie market

    In a central square on the island itself, you will find the most worthwhile holiday gifts for your loved ones and yourself, ranging from clothing made of leather, warming socks, and lots of fantastic holiday decorations. In addition to holiday delicacies, mulled white and red wine, and many other treats.

    1. Place Kleber – the biggest market in town

    Here, in the middle of the square, you will find a large and shimmering Christmas tree, an spectacular lights show projected every evening. Around the big tree, you will find many wooden stalls that sell souvenirs, Christmas decorations, and GREAT local food.

    This market is THE best place for all of the foodies who would like to try famous French dishes like cheese fondant, fried mushrooms, sausages in a baguette or a pretzel, melted raclette cheese which is mainly served with potatoes and bread, Tartiflette – which reminds a bit of the French Gratin only with the addition of caramelized onions and bacon and course an endless list of amazing desserts!

    1. Place du Chateau market

    This market is located next to the most impressive cathedral in Strasbourg and surrounded by dozens of decorated stalls, a beautiful carousel to remind us of the little child we all have within, countless lovely souvenirs, and of course, local dishes that warm the stomach alongside the hot wine to warm your hands :).

     

    FINAL THOUGHTS- Are you still here or already gone to book your tickets for the next holiday season??

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