Category: Eguisheim

Les Plus Beaux Villages de France

There’s a new obsession running around in my head: “visit as many of France’s ‘Les Plus Beaux Villages‘ as I possibly can.”

So far, I’ve seen only 10 out of some 156 “authentic” Les Plus Beaux Villages. I have a lot of traveling to do.

Les Plus Beaux Villages

There are 156 communities in France with the distinction of being a beaux village. Most are in the Dordogne and Aveyron departments. Vancluse and Lot are next with seven and six beaux villages respectively.

Most Beautiful Villages in France

The designation “Les Plus Beaux Villages de France” was borrowed from the Reader’s Digest book of the same name. Charles Ceyrac, mayor of Collonges-la-Rouge, one of the villages featured in the book, believed his village and others like it could be revitalized economically if they joined together and promoted themselves as the most beautiful villages in France.

The criteria for the title was based on (1) the character and population of a village: rural with no more than 2,000 inhabitants; (2) two national heritage sites; and (3) the local council of the municipality must have voted on the application.

In 1981 mayors from 66 villages joined Collonges to form the association.

So far, these are Les Plus Beaux Villages I’ve visited. Click on the name of each village to learn and see more. Enjoy!

Eguisheim

Riquewihr

Domme

La Roque-Gageac

Les Baux-de-Provence

Gordes

Lourmarin

Menerbes

Roussillon

Najac

Yes, I have a lot of traveling to do.

If you have thoughts on the Beaux Villages I shouldn’t miss, please leave a comment. Let’s all go!

 

Magical Christmas Markets

The 3 Most Magical Christmas Markets in France

After touring the most popular Christmas Market in France — Strasbourg, Colmar and Kaysersberg — I have to say, they were pretty spectacular. Yet there was nothing quite like the magical Christmas markets in the very small towns we visited next in Alsace: Eguisheim, Riquewihr and Ribeauville.

When friend Paula and I started the Christmas Market Tour in France, we knew we wanted to see Strasbourg, Colmar and Kaysersberg. Yet, it was the three market towns we saw next that were the most enchanting: Equisheim, Riquewihr and Ribeauville. Each in their own way was a scene out of Santa’s Workshop.

The animation team for Walt Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” thought Eguisheim was pretty special. It was the inspiration for the opening scene of the movie.

Magical Christmas Markets

Eguisheim’s storybook house “Beauty and the Beast”

Riquewihr was just as charming. A walk through the walled city proved Riquewihr earns its ranking among Les Plus Beaux Villages de France.  

Magical Christmas Markets

Ribeauville, however, stole the “most favorite Christmas Market” on my list. Perhaps it was because we were lucky enough to land there the last weekend of their Medieval Christmas Market that put it over the top. However, the village itself was colorful and lively.

Magical Christmas Markets

Here’s a view of the festivities in these three Alsatian towns, all decked out for the season. Enjoy!

Which of the Christmas Markets in Alsace would you like to visit?

Strasbourg

Colmar and Kaysersberg

Equisheim, Riquewihr, Ribeauville

I’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment.

 

 

The Very Best Christmas Markets in France

I’ve heard the very best Christmas Markets are right here in France so I had to check them out for myself.

If it’s bright holiday lights and decorations, streaming holiday music and festive foods that make a Christmas market rank at the top of the list, there’s no doubt the very best Christmas Markets are in France.  Strasbourg, Colmar, Eguisheim, Riquewihr, Kaysersberg and Ribeauville to be exact. For five days my long-time friend, Paula, and I crammed in as many marketplaces as we could possibly see. It was truly a tour through Christmas wonderland.

Paula recently moved to Uzés from the US after years of dreaming about living in France. We met each other on a tour of China and now she’s my neighbor! Paula worked in the tourist industry which means she’s pretty much an expert at figuring out where to go, how to get there, where to stay and what to do when you get there. She reads lots of travel blogs and she’s full of great ideas. We put all that know-how to the test on our Christmas Market tour through Alsace. Now I’m happy to share it with you.

Which are the Very Best Christmas Markets in France?

very best Christmas Markets After quite a bit of research online and talking with friends who have traveled to markets in France, almost overwhelmingly there’s agreement. The Very Best Christmas Markets in France are in the Alsace region. Most popular are Strasbourg, Colmar and Kaysersberg. With the help of Max, our precious guide from Alsace Original Experiences, we discovered Eguisheim, Riquewihr and Ribeauville.

How to get to the Very Best Christmas Markets in France?

There’s no doubt about it, if you’re traveling in or through Europe to Christmas Markets, go by train. During our visit to Alsace there was rain, sleet and snow. By car we could have had problems. By train there were none. Fortunately there were no train strikes and only short delays.

Where to stay for the Very Best Christmas Markets in France?

Probably our best decision when planning our tour of Christmas Markets was to start in Strasbourg, stay there for a couple of days, then take a train to Colmar. Then use Colmar as our base to see other villages nearby. Let me warn you, however, if you’re hoping to visit Christmas Markets in Alsace, be smarter than we were and plan your trip more than a month ahead. Because it took us awhile to get our dates coordinated, it wasn’t easy to find accommodations in Strasbourg and Colmar. That said, we were more than pleased with the outcome.

The Hôtel Des Arts in Strasbourg is small and a bit outdated, but the location couldn’t be better. During our stay the staff was extremely helpful and courteous. The price was right, too!  Finding a place Colmar was a bit of a challenge, but Paula knew to get on the waitlist for the Weinhof Court B&B (Cour du Weinhof) is right in the center of the marketplace. We thoroughly enjoyed the couple who owned the lovely B&B. Before we left, we and their multi-national guests felt like family.

Very best hint for the Very Best Christmas Markets in France?

very best Christmas MarketsThumbs down, the day-long guided tour of Christmas Markets and villages around Colmar was our best idea. Our guide, Max from Alsace Original Experiences, picked us up at the B&B in Colmar at 9:30am in a black Mercedes van. We lucked out to be the only guests on the tour so we could do as we pleased. Max was the perfect host and offered cookies and coffee as we started off. His agenda for the day included visits to Eguisheim and Riquewihr with stops at a cheese maker and a winery. It was dusk before we reached Kaysersberg which was an added treat because we were able to see the Christmas lighting at night.

Going to Ribeauville was an added attraction. It came about when we teased Max about taking us and all our baggage to the train station in Colmar for our departure the next day. He took us seriously, called his boss, and arranged for us to visit Ribeauville in the morning before depositing us and our baggage on the train. What a treat that was! Not only did we feel like royalty being escorted to our train, we loved Ribeauville. It just happened to be the last weekend of their medieval Christmas Market, so with all the trimmings, the village was probably the most colorful of all we visited.

Day-by-Day Tour of the Very Best Christmas Markets in France

There are many ways that you could sort out a tour of the Best Christmas Markets in Alsace. Ours started out in Strasbourg. It was a straight connection from the train station in Avignon — even though we almost missed the train! I underestimated the Monday morning traffic in Avignon. If we’d missed our train, it wouldn’t have been a big deal, but it would have given us a two-hour later start. Fortunately it was our lucky day and the beginning of a perfect holiday.

Day 1

Strasbourg arrival and Christmas Market by night

Day 2

Strasbourg Christmas Market and canal boat tour

Day 3

Strasbourg Christmas Market; downtown exploring/shopping; visit Cathedral ; train to Colmar

Day 4

Colmar Christmas Market 

Day 5

Van Tour from Colmar B&B to Christmas Markets

Morning – Equisheim 

 

Afternoon – Riquewihr 

Evening – Kaysersberg

 

Day 6

Morning – Van tour from Colmar B&B to Ribeauville

Afternoon – Train to Depart

Stay tuned for more details and a photo visit to each of the Very Best Christmas Markets in France …. Happy Holidays!

Best Christmas Markets in France: Strasbourg

Best Christmas Markets in France: Colmar and Kaysersberg

The Three Most Magical Christmas Markets in France

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