The weather is getting colder, and as the near end of November, the streets and shops have been decorated with Christmas decorations: cheerful music, colorful lights, roasted chestnuts... this is the Christmas atmosphere. This year, where do you plan to go? Many people think of the ancient and traditional Christmas market in Europe, where the air is filled with the taste of chocolate and mulled wine. If you are traveling to France, these Christmas markets should not be missed in your trip!
1. Christmas Capital: Strasbourg
Transportation: Take the TGV from Paris Gare de l'Est to Strasbourg (around 1h45)
Official website: https://noel.strasbourg.eu/
The Strasbourg Christmas Market, which originated in 1570, is the oldest one in France. For centuries, it has been adhering to the Alsace Christmas tradition and is known as “Christmas Capital” (Capital de Noël). During the period, the Christmas market is spread throughout the city, and local specialties and handicrafts are sold in about 300 cabins.
Alsace Cuisine: Pretzel
Pretzel (Bretzel) is one of the most speicial dishes in Alsace. It is usually butterfly-shaped and made of wheat flour, it tastes salty. In the market, the store often hangs up the pretzel, as if to welcome everyone. There is also a huge Christmas tree at Place Kléber, and there are wonderful performances by local artists on the square.
A glass of steaming mulled wine with a pleasant aroma of anise, fennel, cinnamon, vanilla, orange peel and lemon. Only one cup can make people feel warm and forget the cold of winter. In addition, the grilled sausages at the Christmas Market are very delicious.
Tips: The cup of plastic mulled wine printed with Christmas pattern is recyclable. The price of mulled wine includes a deposit of 1 euro cup. You can return the cup at any store that sells mulled wine. Of course, you can also keep it as a souvenir.
2. Magic Christmas: Colmar
Opening Time: 2018.11.23-2018.12.30, Monday to Thursday 10:00-19:00 / Friday to Sunday 10:00-20:00 (December 24th 10:00-17:00, December 25th, 14:00-19:00)
Transportation: Take the TGV from Paris Gare de l'Est to Colmar, around 2h30
In the 2017 selection, the Colmar Christmas Market was the second best Market in Europe. "Art and Tradition" is the key word for the Colmar Christmas Market. You can find hand-woven Christmas hay wreaths, farmhouse-brewed honey, and marinated sausages on the cabin stalls. In the “internal market” (Koïfhus-Marché Interieur), there are many creations of local artisans: pottery, glassware, woodcarving, jewelry and textiles, exquisite and lovely.
The largest four open-air Christmas markets in Colmar are in Dominicans Square (Place des Dominicains), Joan of Arc Square (Place Jeanne d’Arc), Old Customs Square (Place de l’Ancienne Douane) and Little Venice (Petite Venise). In Little Venice, there are many handmade wooden toys and carousels that kids love.
Walking through the cobbled alleys which are lined with colourful half-timbered houses, churches and museums from the Middle Ages to the 19th century.The warm lighting and decoration seem to make people come to the fairy tale, worthy of the title of "Magic Christmas" (la Magie de Noël).
Tips: Strolling in Colmar, you will occasionally meet a choir to sing Christmas carols. In addition, there are many different activities in the small town, such as wine tastings, concerts, etc. For details, please refer to the official website or go to the tourism information center to get the brochures.
3. Champagne Christmas: Reims
Transportation: Take the TGV from Pairs Gare de l'Est to Reims Centre (46 minutes)
Official website:https://www.reims-tourisme.com/ Le-marche-de-noel
The Christmas Market is located in front of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Reims (Notre-Dame de Reims). In the Champagne city of Reims, you can taste champagne in 145 bazaars, accompanied by traditional pink biscuit (Biscuit Rosé). The pink biscuit originated at the end of the 17th century. It is usually baked twice to have a vanilla aroma. Near the church, there is a 50-meter-high Ferris wheel that overlooks the city of Reims, where dotted with gorgeous lights.
4. Fairy Tale Christmas: Metz
Opening Time: 2018.11.17-2019.1.6
Transportation: Take the high-speed train TGV from the Paris East Station (Pairs Gare de l'Est) and Metz Ville from 1h30
Official website: http://www.noelmetz.com/edition-2018/
Last year, Metz participated in the "Europe's Best Christmas Market" for the first time, won the ninth place. The Christmas market is mainly located in several main squares of the city, such as the medieval Saint-Louis Square (Place Saint-Louis), with a 17-meter-high Christmas pyramid at the entrance. At the St-Jacques Center (Centre St-Jacques), you can write a letter to the Santa Claus mailbox.
At Metz, you can not only visit the Christmas market, but also take the the Ferris wheel (in Place d'Armes). Eating gingerbread, holding a glass of mulled wine, it's really a beautiful experience. Exquisite Christmas ornaments are fascinating, colorful, and full of festive joy, perfect for taking pictures.
5. Colorful Christmas: Mulhouse
Opening Time: 2018.11.24-2018.12.27 (12.25 is not open)
Transportation: Take the TGV from Paris Gare de l'Est or Paris Gare de Lyon to Mulhouse Ville for about 3 hours
Official website: https://www.noel-mulhouse.fr/
Every year, Mulhouse designs new patterns and colors of Christmas decorations (Etoffes de Noël) to decorate town halls, streets, cabins and firs. Come to Mulhouse, remember to go shopping at the textile store on the street, and it is very memorable to bring back a 100% Alsace fabric. For example, the color of the Christmas decoration cloth in 2017 is Royal Blue and Gold.
Tips: You can buy tablecloths, napkins, aprons, decorations, etc which are made of Christmas decorations.
6. Christmas in South of France: Aix-en-Provence
Opening Time: 2018.11.17-2019.01.13
Transportation: take the TGV from Paris Gare de Lyon to Aix-en-Provence Centre, then transfer to bus number 40 (ticket 4.3 Euro, approximately 10 -15 minutes to arrive)
Provence has always been the most fascinating place in France. In particular, the "City of Thousand Springs", Aix-en Provence is one of the dazzling pearls. The Christmas market is mainly held on the most beautiful streets — Mirabeau. A variety of Christmas cottages, more than a dozen dessert markets, kings parades, concerts and performances... many events are waiting for you! The most notable is the South French speciality —— rows of colorful clay figurines (Santons de crèche) are very popular.
7. Christmas Lights: Montbéliard
Transportation: From Paris Gare de Lyon to Belfort Montbeliard TGV, arrive at approximately 2h10
Montbéliard is located in the eastern part of France in the Burgunde-Franche-Comté, which is called "Christmas Light" (les Lumières de Noël), as the name implies, the small town is famous for its "Christmas lights". As night falls, the gorgeous lighting is dotted with the ancient city, beautiful and dreamy, recalling the memories of childhood fairy tale world.
The Christmas Market is located next to Saint-Martin and has more than 160 booths crafted by artisans. Every year, people from different countries and regions are invited to set up stalls here, so you can find Italian cottages, English cottages, Irish cottages, Portuguese huts, Brittany cabins, etc., to experience exotic cuisine while sampling local cuisine.
Montbéliard for the first time participated in the “Best Christmas Market in Europe” and won the sixth place, second only to Strasbourg.
In Southern France, the Christmas market in Lyon is also famous, the food is wonderful, it is worth to taste the hot crepes, and the hazelnut sauce is very sweet and delicious. Other European countries also have fun and beautiful Christmas markets, such as the Nuremberg Christmas Market in Germany, the Vienna Christmas Market in Austria, the Prague Christmas Market in Prague and the Brussels Christmas Market in Belgium.
Wrriten by : Hanqi Li & Lexi Wang