Possibily the best Christmas town in the world is Colmar. We spent 4 nights exploring this town and it's 5 different Christmas markets. If there is a more festive and magical town during Christmas we would like to see it. There is an area in Colmar called the "Christmas Zone" and every square inch of that zone was decorated beautifully. We were blown away by the Christmas spirit in Colmar.
There were red signs throughout the town that would help lost visitors find their way between the 5 Christmas markets. After a couple glasses of vin chaud, or mulled wine these sign might come in handy.
This area is called "Petite Venice" and was the most picturesque and colorful area of town.
Our favorite thing about the Christmas markets is the vin chaud, or mulled wine. It's perfect to sip on when you are walking around in the freezing cold. Almost every stall has it's own recipe and we had a lot of fun sampling them. You buy a cup for 1 euro and then you can use it at all the different stalls. These also make for good souvenirs for people touring different Christmas markets, since each town has a different cup or mug.
The stalls each sell different things. Snacks, toys, santas, ornaments, chocolates, you name it! These markets supply you with everything you need to get your Christmas shopping done.
The best Christmas market in Colmar has to be the one specifically for children. They have a mini roller coaster and a manger that has live donkeys, sheep and rabbits. We felt like kids again running around here.
We happened to be in France for Beaujolais Nouveau which is a special day where you can first legally drink the new Beaujolais wine. This new, fresh wine is released for sale on the third Thursday of November each year. People have parties and wait until 12:01 AM and then the wine is opened and everybody celebrates the new vintage wine. Normally wine being young is a somewhat bad thing, but these very fresh wines can be rather good and makes for a great excuse to partake in the local "culture."
On our last night in Colmar there was a little boat with children carolers rowing down the canals in Petite Venice. We can't wait to come back to Colmar for Christmas another year.
We spent one lovely day and night in the teeny-tiny village of Eguisheim. This was one of the cutest places we visited this entire trip, and that's saying a lot. It would probably take you about 30 minutes to walk around the whole town. Eguisheim had two Christmas market areas that were connected by these colorful cobblestone streets. There isn't a lot to say about this quiet little town, the pictures say it all.
The street our hotel was on, there were only a few guesthouses in the village. Most people come here on a day trip from Colmar, since it is only a 15 minute drive away. We prefer to always stay the night. In small towns we have found that once the day tourists leave you end up having the town to yourself amongst the locals.
One of the smallest and cutest Christmas markets you will ever find.
The sun goes down and the town lights up!
Our first Christmas market in Germany was in the university town of Freiburg. On the outskirts of the Black Forest, Freiburg is a medieval town with large squares like Rathausplatz and Munsterplatz that were abuzz with Christmas market stalls. The Christmas markets here were packed with university students socializing with their friends over some glasses of Glühwein. We grabbed some glasses, joined in and made some friends.
Warming up with a glass of Glühwein.
Baden Baden, Germany
Baden Baden, meaning Bath Bath, hosts an adorable Christmas market. This town is known for it's thermal baths, hence the name, and is a popular retreat for Germans. This town sits inside the Black Forest. Visitors can hike through the forest and then soak in one of the famous baths.
Baden Baden has a magnificent downtown with boutique shops, cafes, and chic restaurants. Celebrities have flocked to this town for generations, including Barack Obama and Queen Victoria. It's old time luxurious.
We came here for the Christmas market and found so much more to love about this town.
The Christmas market here was relaxed with live music every night and delicious food.
We happened to be here over Thanksgiving and decided to pamper ourselves in one of Baden Baden's famous thermal spas. Photos weren't allowed but we spent a couple hours soaking in all of the different heated pools. Our favorite pools were outside with the mountains in the backdrop, open year around even when it snows. They also had multiple saunas, some with aromatherapy scents, others were outside in little cabins with crackling fires. We bounced around from place to place and left feeling rejuvenated.
Caracalla Thermal Spa
We got a kick out of our hotel here. When we initially walked up we were blown away by the Christmas decorations. We got upgraded to a suite which had a view of the beer garden below. For the next 3 days we watched as the poor employees keep adding more and more decorations. It was a little over the top, we couldn't believe it. We kept making jokes because every time we would come back to the hotel there would be another truck in front unloading more decorations! On our final day they finally finished. Here are some photos. See for yourself.
Strasbourg hosts the oldest Christmas market in Europe and claims the name, "The Christmas Capital of Europe." We were only here one day but we visited all 5 of it's Christmas markets. If you are planning a trip to Europe to see the Christmas markets this city should not be missed.
The last village in our Christmas market tour was Reims, France. Located in the Champagne region, Reims has a large Christmas market that seems to go on forever. The best part about this market is the champagne available from nearby vineyards.