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Christmas Markets in Strasbourg, Colmar, and the Alsace Wine Villages in France

Taking the train from Paris to Strasbourg

From late November to the end of December, from early morning to late at night, you can visit and wander in the magical atmosphere that is part of the many Christmas Markets in the Alsace region in France.

We have a great suggestion for a Christmas trip if ever you want to experience the French Christmas Markets and get in the mood for Christmas Day.

Our trip suggestion starts by taking the train from Paris to Strasbourg:

1st Travel Tip:  Don’t buy your tickets at the train station, book them ahead of time online.  You’ll save a lot of money this way.  In fact, don’t leave any bookings till the last minute.  Do all your bookings well in advance online and make sure you get confirmations in writing.

Christmas in Strasbourg
Day 1

Strasbourg

Strasbourg is known as the ‘Capital of Christmas’ and claims to be the oldest Christmas Market in Europe (since 1570).  Therefore, this is the definite must-see Christmas Market in the Alsace region (along with one other).  Every Christmas-crazy-market-lover should visit the Strasbourg Christmas Market at least once in their life.

Strasbourg Christmas Market

Take your time visiting the beautiful Strasbourg Cathedral or the Cathedral of Our Lady of Strasbourg also known as Strasbourg Minster.  Explore Place Kleber, the largest square at the center of the city, and then stroll along the streets of Strasbourg exploring more than 12 different locations in town with more than 300 booths selling everything from hand-made items to food and drink.  The list is endless.  Millions and millions of Christmas decorations, Christmas cookies, Gingerbread, and lights are everywhere.

Stasbourg in December buildings decorated

The Strasbourg Christmas Market definitely has some German influence, and we all know the German Christmas Markets are just beyond fantastic.  However, after this tour, you might change your mind and think of France as the best Christmas Market destination.  It is really pretty at nighttime.  Decorated buildings with pretty lights and the smell of Christmas spice in the air, all contribute to a magical feel.

For something different, we recommend trying the “Jus d’orange chaud au miel” – a non-alcoholic warm orange juice with honey.

We also recommend you stay overnight, to give you enough time to explore everything.  Strasbourg is busy and the streets are crowded, but it’s worth a visit.

Strasbourg Christmas markets in December and November

Find beautiful places to stay

Day 2
Best Christmas destination in France is Colmar best Christmas markets

The best part of the trip - Colmar

From Strasbourg take the train to Colmar.  It is only a 30-minute train ride away and Colmar is definitely one of the most beautiful Christmas destinations in the world – especially beautiful at twilight.   (Yes, you’ve guessed it…  This is the other half of the must-visit, most beautiful Christmas Markets in the Alsace region..)  🙂

It is one of the liveliest and most interesting Christmas Markets in Europe. The train station is near the old town, and you don’t need to hire a car.  Colmar has loads of entertainment for the kids and there are lots of different Christmas Markets all over town. 

Stop and buy hot pretzels and a special Christmas decoration (or two, or three…or more) for your tree.  Or a unique Christmas stocking. 

Colmar has a fabulous festive atmosphere both during the day as well as in the evenings.  But especially in the evening after 16H00, when people start to walk the streets in search of everything smelling nice and everywhere you look is a feast for your eyes.  Beautiful Christmassy stuff everywhere. 

The town has beautiful old historic and picturesque buildings, and the streets are filled and lined with millions of lights.  Some buildings are festively decorated.  So, even if you don’t buy anything, just wandering the streets are more than enough. 

There is so much to see and experience.  Truly an exceptional place to visit any time of the year.  OK, so the streets are crowded with locals and tourists.  It’s busy, but the atmosphere is fabulous.

Holiday in Colmar France

Little Venice (La Petite Venise), turns into a real paradise for children at Christmas where they can amongst others, enjoy the merry-go-round and post their letters to Santa in the giant mailbox of Santa Claus.

Stop at the gourmet market on Cathedral square.  This year, the Colmar Christmas market will offer a new village entirely devoted to the delight of your taste buds.  So that’s dinner sorted.  You must taste the local food and baked goods. 

Again, we would suggest that you stay in Colmar. 

(Colmar has more than 50 historical monuments you can visit, should you wish to spend more time.)

From here you can do the day trips, giving you enough time at each destination to really relax and enjoy the festive spirit of each pretty little village.

Day Trip 1

Exploring the Christmas Markets of the Alsace region, has more advantages… you get to do some wine tasting in one of France’s most beautiful wine regions, as well.

1) Kaysersberg

The next stop, only 10 minutes from Colmar, is Kaysersberg.

Experience the ‘Noël dans la vallée de Kaysersberg’. Again, a very busy main pedestrian lane in the middle of this pretty little wine village in the Alsace region of France, but definitely worth a stop during Christmas time.  The medieval city of Kaysersberg looks like something from a fairytale or chocolate box, especially if you’re lucky enough to get some snow.  Let’s face it the combination of snow and Christmas lights, is just spectacular and very special. 

The buildings are beautifully decorated, and you can enjoy your hot chocolate or mulled wine as you stroll along the beautifully decorated shops and booths.

2) Riquewihr

Now let’s go to Riquewihr and stroll along the main street.  Enjoy some of the delicious food and explore the little side alleyways and courtyards. 

As Riquewihr is on the list of ‘Most beautiful villages in France’, you can know for sure you won’t be disappointed.  Beautiful architectural and historical buildings, shops, and the opportunity to do some wine tasting in one of France’s best wine regions make this a fun stop. 

The traditional Christmas Market is crowded but again the atmosphere is fabulous.  Especially at dusk when the streets get extra busy, and the lights are on.  Shop till you drop. Riquewihr has more than 40 historical monuments, should you want to explore more. 

3) Ribeauvillé

Ribeauvillé with the castle up on the hill, overlooking the village, is just as beautiful. 

Do some wine tasting while enjoying your Christmas shopping.  Stop at a Boulangerie and buy fresh bread, cookies, cakes, donuts, and/or pastries, while listening to Jingle Bells playing in French.  Now that’s the way to get some Christmas spirit.  Enjoy festive decorations, music, and food while getting in some late Christmas shopping. You’ll see beautiful advent wreaths, traditional nativity scenes, candles, and so much more.

Accommodation in Ribeauvillé

Day Trip 2

Eguisheim

Eguisheim is a 15-minute drive from Colmar. 

Every year there are Christmas shuttles that run daily between Eguisheim and Colmar.  Although it is not a huge market, it still is filled with Christmas love and joy.  Fairy lights and beautifully decorated half-timbered buildings adorn the streets where you can roam with your hot chocolate or glühwein while taking in the fabulous arts and crafts on sale. 

If I tell you that Eguisheim was the inspiration behind the film Beauty and the Beast, you’ll understand that it is really a pretty village.  It is definitely an Instagram-able spot and it is not as crowded as Colmar and Strasbourg, but be warned the Christmas Market is quite small.  However, a stroll through the village is definitely worth it.  So the day trip to Eguisheim can include a few stops at other special places, like doing some wine tasting at the many fabulous places available, for example:  Maison Wolfberger

I think Equisheim might be a bit of a hidden gem when it comes to the Christmas Markets of the Alsace region.

Christmas in Strasbourg Colmar and other day trips Why you should go The best places to visit in Frace

This is a must-see, must-do, must-visit travel bucket list itinerary.  Just do it!

Travel Tips – We would suggest: 

  • Staying in Colmar.  Do a day trip to the above destinations.  You can take the bus or arrange for a private tour.  The latter is always fun as you get some extra information, and you can customize the trip according to your needs and interests.  Colmar has so much on offer, don’t plan to do it in an hour or two.
  • If you’re worried by nature or you just don’t have the time to arrange everything, take the stress off yourself and book a ready-made multi-day guided tour with Trafalgar (a trusted company with many years of experience that we can recommend):  Read more
  • Be prepared:  The streets are busy.  There are a lot of people.  The Christkindelsmärik in Strasbourg, meaning “Market of the Christ Child”, normally draws more than 2 million visitors each year. 
  • Dinner is sorted on your stroll – you’ll be greeted by deliciously Christmassy aromas.  Stop and buy your dinner from the stalls.  It is also a fabulous way of discovering the local cuisine.
  • Remember your camera – and remember to take photos.  At times I totally forgot about photos, as I was just taking in everything.
  • Wear warm clothes and comfortable shoes and take your time.
  • December is the best time to visit and get that Christmas feeling.  However, the weekends are busy.  If you’re looking to find some quieter time, then weekdays just after 10H00 in the morning are a much better choice.  But as mentioned previously, the lights in the evening make it extra special.
  • When you buy stuff, remember you might need to fly them back home.  You’ll see booths selling fabric items that are lovely and would make for great gifts. They take less space in your suitcase.

READ MORE:  Recipe for Mulled Wine / Glühwein

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