Visiting Alsace, France was a dream come true that we didn’t even realize we had until we were there.
When you take cities that already look like gingerbread towns and then deck it with wreaths, ornaments, and snow-covered trees, it’s hard to think of anything that feels more appropriate for the holiday season. There are lights and decorations everywhere. Plus, Alsace Christmas markets is consistently named one of the best Christmas markets in Europe, and the whole cities are awash in the sights and smells of the holidays.
Let’s discover together the best Christmas Markets in Alsace!
With or without all the Christmas decorations, the old town of Colmar is one of the most stunning villages in Europe. The streets are all cobblestone, which shimmer when they get wet from the rain and all the buildings are painted bright shades.
The entire old town is a pedestrian only zone so you can slowly meander along the alleyways and explore all the quaint little corners of Colmar.
Technically, there are six different markets (Place de Dominicains, Place de la Cathedrale, Place Jeanne d’Arc, Place de l’Ancienne Douane, Koifhus Indoor Market and Petite Venise), though most of them seem to run together, particularly if you visit after dark. When the sun goes down, the city becomes a haze of enticing vendors, fantastic smells and awe-inspiring architecture, propelling you from one center of activity to the next.
Pro Tip: Vin Chaud or hot mulled wine is a Christmas Market tradition. Buy a reusable cup for and take it with you as you sample different types of mulled wine from stalls across the town. There is white, red, and rose vin chaud.
What’s the best corner in Colmar?
Petite Venise. Undoubtedly the most famous view in Colmar, Petite Venise at Christmas is filled with people taking photos of its magnificent buildings and watching as projections of colors, snow, and Christmas scenes creep across the facades.
The Strasbourg Christmas Market is the oldest in France, and also the most famous Christmas event in the country. Its 300 chalets are spread over several locations across the Grande Île, the historic centre of Strasbourg. You’ll find them on Place Broglie, in front of the lofty cathedral or at the picturesque Petite-France district. At nightfall, the French capital of Christmas sparkles with a thousand lights in a fairy-tale setting. In addition more than 500 cultural events are organised during the Christmas Market: concerts, theatre plays, exhibitions, shows and many more.
What to do besides the Christmas Markets?
Generally held to be one of the famous examples of Gothic architecture in Europe, Strasbourg Cathedral is stunning in every detail, from each element of its construction to the sheer amount of time and money needed to make it all happen.
Secondly, the pretty, pretty houses in La Petite France, which date back to the 16th and 17th centuries and are a treat for the eyes. You can get wonderfully lost here and enjoy the gorgeous architecture.
Continuing on from the Petite France area we come to the Covered Bridges, a relic of the town walls dating from the 14th century.
Finally, do not forget to have fun on ice at the amazing ice-skating rink in Place Kléber. Over 625 m² where you can strap on the blades and hit the slick stuff by the majestic Christmas tree!
Cute Villages of Alsace
The towns of the Alsace Wine Route are outstanding to visit at any time of year, but at Christmas, you’ll find tons of decorations, small markets, and special holiday events that make them a must-visit, if your itinerary allows. If you have even a half-day to spare, consider a visit to at least one of these gems.
Riquewihr has to be the most picturesque town among a group of astonishingly picturesque towns. It is supposedly the inspiration for the setting of Beauty and the Beast, and it’s easy to see why when you spend just a few moments walking down its main street. The colors in Riquewihr are out of this world. The daily Christmas market here is a highlight of a visit to Alsace.
Turckheim lies just 5 miles west of Colmar on the slopes of the Vosges mountains. Most known for its medieval wall and imposing city gates, the town’s buildings are impossibly cute while not feeling touristy.
There is a charming daily Christmas Market punctuated each evening by the opening of a window in the Advent calendar. You can also join the Night Watchman making his evening rounds through the town at 9pm, a tradition that dates back to the 16th century.
Less than 5 miles from Colmar, the cute town of Eguisheim itself is an attraction. Wander the circular lane left by the ancient town wall and enjoy the authentic architecture along with the small Christmas Market. Do not forget to stop by for a typical glass of Alsatian vin chaud or an unforgettable wine tasting!
A wine-growing powerhouse for over 400 years, the medieval mansions of Kaysersberg are a testament to the city’s wealth. Take in its architecture, visit a Michelin-starred restaurant and linger over the river that passes through the center of town. At Christmas, the town goes all-out with decorations, and its market is also worth a visit.