Alsace | France

Christmas towns

25 December 2018

This December I was visiting Paris for 10 days and decided to spend 2 days of this trip in the France’s Alsace region, on the northeast of the country. Alsace is best known for its Christmas markets tradition in the cities of Strasbourg and Colmar. I was tempted to see those festive places during the Christmas season and to try mulled wine along with region’s specialty, a flamed tart, which I would call the french pizza. Strasbourg has been holding Christkindelsm√§rik (meaning “Market of the Christ Child”) since 1570, making it one of the oldest Christmas market city in Europe and the very first in France. As well Alsace region is widely accepted as the birthplace of the decorated Christmas tree tradition. Nowadays people call Strasbourg as “the capital of Christmas” and I won’t disagree with this. Gothic style Strasbourg Cathedral, constructed in 1439, is located in the middle of the streets filled with Christmas decorations and atmosphere of joy. Also Christmas markets surround the cathedral from all corners, bringing this special spirit of the festive season.

Gate to the "capital of Christmas" Strasbourg Cathedral Christmas lights with Strasbourg Cathedral in the background Flamed tart is one of the region's specialty

One unique thing to do, is to have a Segway tour of the city you visit. I’ve never tried Segway before, until opportunity came up during this trip. It was easy to learn how to handle the machine and already in 5 minutes I was riding it through the streets of Strasbourg. It was a guided 2 hours tour, during which I’ve got the chance to see all the highlights of the city. Another way to discover Strasbourg is by sightseeing boat. The standard tour lasts one hour. It follows the River Ill, which splits up into a number of channels that cascade through an area around the Grand √éle, the center of Strasbourg. Place Kleber, largest square of the city, is home to a gigantic Christmas tree, which has to be at least 30 metres tall. Christmas markets draw in approximately 2 million visitors from around the world to Strasbourg each year.

Shop of the Segway tours Sightseeing boat on the River Ill Christmas decorations on the city's street Main Christmas tree on the Place Kleber

Half an hour away from Strasbourg by train you will find Colmar, a charming country town with well preserved historical centre. By visiting Colmar I’ve got intimate and authentic feelings about this place. There are narrow streets, monuments, churches, Christmas markets, multicolored half-timbered village houses with festive decorations and all of this look like straight out of a fairytale. In the evening the town is illuminated with lights, bringing the magic of Christmas to everyday life. There is only one thing missing at this time of the year - snow, but I couldn’t wish more. I am so glad that I finally visited Alsace!

Streets of the town of Colmar Houses with Christmas decorations At the entrance to the Christmas market in Colmar The Lauch river, lined by houses, cuts through the heart of Colmar, earning it the name of Little Venice Little Venice formerly was a home for fishermen and boaters Little Venice at night. Colmar, Alsace, France
Hi, I'm Anton! I've lived in Europe, Middle East, Asia, and recently I moved to South America. While global travel industry is on pause, I share memories from my past trips on Instagram, and can't wait to start posting in this blog about upcoming journeys. #StaySafe