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?
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 there?
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?
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 a while 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The Hôtel Des Arts in Strasbourg is small and a bit outdated, but the location couldn’t be better.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?
Thumbs 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.
Strasbourg arrival and Christmas Market by night
Strasbourg Christmas Market and canal boat tour
Strasbourg Christmas Market; downtown exploring/shopping; visit Cathedral ; train to Colmar
Colmar Christmas Market
Van Tour from Colmar B&B to Christmas Markets
Morning – Equisheim
Afternoon – Riquewihr
Evening – Kaysersberg
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!