Category: Kaysersberg

Very Best Christmas Markets

Best Christmas Markets in France: Colmar and Kaysersberg

The very best Christmas Markets are in the Alsace region of France, or so I’m told. I had to see for myself.

Ask anyone who’s scouted around for the very best Christmas Markets in Europe and they’ll say Strasbourg, Colmar and Kaysersberg in France are the among the most famous. Being that I’m on a mission to visit as much of France as I possibly can, the Christmas Markets in the Alsace region were “must do’s.”

Strasbourg was first on the Very Best Christmas Market tour and, as you saw in the previous post, the city and the festivities were pretty spectacular. Colmar was an hour’s train ride away from Strasbourg.  A perfect place to stay for a few days, then visit other nearby towns and markets.

Colmar, the “Venice” of Alsace

Colmar has an interesting connection to the United States. It’s the birthplace of Auguste Bartholde (1834-1904), the sculptor who designed the Statue of Liberty. So what was the first thing tour guide Max of Alsace Original Experiences wanted his two American guests to visit? The huge replica of Lady Liberty that stands at the entrance to Colmar. It is the largest reproduction of the statue anywhere in the world. In France Bartholdi is quite a celebrity. One of the tourist sites in the center of Colmar is a museum in his honor. I’ll have to see that next time.

Colmar is a much smaller town than Strasbourg, so right away the difference in the holiday atmosphere was quite apparent. In the old part of the city (on the map below in yellow) there were five different Christmas marketplaces (red stars). Like in Strasbourg, the vendors had set up their food and gift items in temporary wooden huts in the midst of busy shopping areas . The difference was that there seemed to be more handmade and authentic French items at the small stalls in Colmar. Some of the “marchés” were lined up along the canals that seemed randomly interspersed through the town. Streets were closed during market hours so it seemed like we were in the midst of one big Christmas party.

Two favorite things about Colmar were the B&B – Cour de Weinhof (Weinhof Court) — and “dejeuner” at Le Marechal — both of which happened quite by accident. The B&B had a last minute cancellation, so there was “room at the inn.” The restaurant was a lucky choice through Tripadvisor  . Which reminds me. If your holiday tour includes fine dining there are several Michelin Star restaurants in the Alsace area. My thoughts were “good food, good price and let’s get back to shopping in the market.” Le Marechal ticked all those boxes.

very best Christmas Markets

 

Kaysersberg, the Night Market

Touring Kaysersberg at night was not exactly on the agenda, but by the time we’d visited Eguisheim and Riquewihr it was dark. I’m thinking that was a good thing. At nighttime the holiday lights were stunning. With the bits of snow that were falling, it was the perfect mix.

Kaysersberg is a very small town (see map below) and lots of people want to see it. So there was quite a lot of traffic getting into town. It reminded me of Christmases long ago in Charlotte, NC. My family spent hours in our car, behind lines of other cars, to see Christmas lights in McAdenville, a tiny mill town nearby. 

Fortunately, our wonderful tour guide Max, from Alsace Original Experiences, knew exactly where to go to park that was within steps of the entrance of town. He earned a “gold star” for that brilliant move.

Kaysersberg was decked out for the Christmas Market, especially around the route marked with red arrows. The market items seemed to all be from France — not all handmade — but fabuous.  All the way through the shopping extravaganza I reminded myself that I have nowhere to store Christmas stuff in my apartment. I really behaved … well, sorta.

very best Christmas Markets

Bienvenue á Colmar et Kaysersberg

Read more about Christmas Markets in France

The Very Best Christmas Markets in France

Best Christmas Markets in France: Strasbourg

The Three Most Magical Christmas Markets in France

very best Christmas Markets

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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