The fascinating charm belongs to Alsace, the French region that borders with Germany. With colourful houses and lovely decor, it truly is a fairy tale. It’s especially attractive during Christmas time, holding an ancient tradition.
Not only Strasbourg and Colmar, but other cute little towns deserve your attention. In other words, don’t just stay in Strasbourg if you want to see more. Strasbourg is only 2h from Stuttgart and a little less from Heidelberg.
Alsace is probably the prettiest French region, where half-timbered houses take the rule. It’s the dream that lives in its own special shine. Find plenty of Alsace video at my instagram.
The ancient tradition of Alsace will enchant your soul at every corner so follow up for the best sights.
Where to base yourself
This depends about your preferences, but try to include Colmar and its village and Strasbourg on the other point. I stayed two nights in Colmar and two nights in Strasbourg.
The obvious reason is that Colmar bursts with cute places around. Another one is to avoid the crowds and take the best pictures in the morning. It’s also somehow challenging, more about that later.
Some people just come to Strasbourg and have Colmar as a day trip. It’s only 40 minutes by train, but you can also go with Flixbus (not so often).
Take your time to relax and enjoy some hot drink.
Be aware that prices rise up in December, you could have the accommodation twice as cheaper any other time. Booking in advance is more than recommendable, just because prices go up (accommodation and buses). In this way, you’ll secure your spot and place to sleep.
Some people say that Strasbourg shouldn’t be sugar in the end, but it definitely unveils its abundant magic. I chose it to be last because of the bus connections. How lucky I am to have a direct Flixbus from Zagreb.
Strasbourg enjoys UNESCO protection and has the oldest Christmas markets in Europe. It pulls the roots in 1570. No wonder Strasbourg has the nickname- The Capital of Noel.
Lying on the Ill river, Strasbourg picturesquely holds several islands at its heart. Strasbourg cathedral majestically shines as the oldest Gothic cathedral in the world.
La Petite France is the prettiest area of Strasbourg, where timbered houses scatter their charm. Here’s a place to take a boat trip.
Strasbourg is a city of prominent European institutions. The best way to explore its heritage is during the Europe day in May. It’s a unique opportunity to visit the European parliament.
Christmas markets in Strasbourg
With 10 markets stretching in the centre, Strasbourg truly deserves its throne. It usually lasts from 25.11. till the Christmas Eve.
After arriving in Strasbourg by train and opening google maps to find my hostel, police stopped me. I was crossing the bridge where they intervene and asked me to check my bag. They just looked superficially twice (from both points of the bridge). It was the wrong direction to my hostel, but bear in mind next time.
You will easily recognize some of the markets, just follow the river, stop near the Cathedral and continue to the Petite France. But before that, don’t miss the Kleber Place with the tallest Christmas tree in Europe.
Wooden challets shine in the fabulous decor so take the moment to try hot apple or mulled vine. Crepes, churros and other sweet stuff are very popular.
10 markets of Strasbourg
So here’s the detailed list of the markets:
– near the Cathedral Notre Dame
– place Kleber
– place Broglie
– place Gutenberg
– place du Chateau
– place Saint Thomas
– place des Meuniers
– place Benjamin Zix in Petite France
– place Grimmeisen
– place du Marche aux Poisson
Deciding to take the night bus on the 24th was a total surprise at the bus station. Lots of free surprises made my day and I even saw a Santa. There was soup, hot pineapple, sandwiches, cakes and bread to take.
Where to stay
Not many hostels in Strasbourg so I opt for the central one- The People. It was pretty pricey but awesome, especially the breakfast. A few disadvantages include the non-existence of a kitchen or fridge & impossibility to cancel (you have to pay in advance). It looks just fabulous, considering the rooms and beds. It’s actually a former tobacco factory and many events are happening.
Colmar is larger than you would think, a pretty city with the golden wire of December. It’s a magical place
with gingerbread houses and a fairy tale feeling. Petite Venise is the most attractive area, though not large. Colmar in many points reminds me of Annecy, except it’s bigger.
In Colmar, I experienced the most impossible place to take photos. The crowds are just so dense that even my phone was shaking. In the morning though, trucks just made the challenge. The rainy night was an additional obstacle. This all framed my decision to focus more on the outdoor photography.
Several carrousels will make your children happy and within walking distance of everything.
Many hotels are located in the industrial area, but I would avoid basing yourself there. Being in the heart of magic is the key.
Disadvantages of Colmar
Besides the fairy-tale feelings of Colmar, I noticed some disadvantages. I never saw a vegan street food, at any of the challet. Reminiscing Zagreb came clearly in my mind with its fantastic food offer. Also, I didn’t see any musical stage which was a great habit during the most wonderful time of the year. Music makes the vibe. Houses were fabulously decorated, but they lacked installations with easier manner to take photos. More photo opportunities, in other words.
Riquewihr- the prettiest village near Colmar
Riquewihr bursts its magic at every corner of this lovely town. I would even say that it’s prettier than Colmar, where decorations will leave you breathless. It’s the town that inspired Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.
Riquewihr is basically one street that goes uphill and has many branches.
Bretzel rule here, just like in Germany (notice that purely Strasbourg has the largest offer of bretzels). Riquewihr is the place to enjoy the artistic atmosphere of many galleries. Not only hot apple, but you can also even find some berry juices.
Riquewihr deserves its reel at my instagram so get the vibe.
The vineyards surrounding Riquewihr make it even more picturesque.
Eguisheim- a lovely gem next to Colmar
Only 15 minutes from Colmar, you shouldn’t miss it. I spent only an hour (considering the bus schedules), but every corners just enchants.
Pretty Eguisheim is here at my instagram reel. I’m sorry, but I didn’t take much photos as I had little time.
It’s officially known as one of the most beautiful village in France since 2013. Its prettiness shines in colours and seductive charm as you close to the centre. Houses entice through lovely decor while teddy bears smile. Many events include concerts, a lantern procession, story telling and workshops for children.
What else to see
The beauty of Alsace rolls like the incredible necklace full of pearls. If you have time, try to pop up the magic with as many places as you can.
Obernai lies at the doorstep of Strasbourg, a small town surrounded by vineyards.
Kintzheim stretches at the middle point between Strasbourg and Colmar, where rural identity belongs to its vineyards. The Kitzeheim castle is the highlight of this lovely village.
Koeningsburg impressively sparkles the magic thanks to its castle.
Ribeauvillé is a few kilometers away from Riquewihr (Colmar area), where medieval vibes take the rule.
Kayserberg is an enchanting embrace of half-timbered houses. Its castle also gives a particular charm to the place.
All in all
Alsace is one of the prettiest regions in France and during Christmas time it’s even more magical. This is definitely the perfect time to visit. Don’t just stay one night in Colmar, let yourself be enchanted.
Every house spells the charm, particularly Riquewihr will leave you breathless.
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Fransic verso says
Colmar is really cool city, the background of your picture seems they have pretty decoration for December. I’m definitely keeping this list. Thank you for sharing!
Fadima Mooneira says
Wow… so many fairytale vibes at Alsace during Christmas season. You so lucky you got to spend your holidays there. Thank you for sharing your experience with me. Lovely pictures!
Molly | Transatlantic Notes says
Alsace really does seem to be a beautiful region of France to visit; I would love to go and explore the places you’ve shared here!
What a wonderful idea and I can’t wait to visit. I appreciate the suggestion of where to base ourselves since it definitely makes a difference.
Colmar and its surrounding towns do look like something out of a picture book and that Christmas tree is beautiful! A visit to each village and a stay in Riquewihr sound ideal