France has Christmas markets? Why yes, they do! This German tradition has made its way to many towns around Europe. From Strasbourg to Prague to Krakow – you can find a Christmas market or Christkindlemarkt in about every town in Europe now. Well, just about. Here in Deutschland they are called Weihnachtsmarkts (the four weeks of Advent) and in France they are called, Marché de Noël. For several weeks from the end of November through December we begin celebrating the Christmas season in the form of street markets with warm Glühwein (heated red wine with cinnamon and spices), artisanal crafts of all kinds and lots of tasty treats. It is like living in a snow globe for several weeks, it’s AWESOME!
I like them so much I added several CHRISTMAS MARKETs to my DAY TRIP collection. They booked up quickly, I had no idea… if you missed out MWR is offering them as well for more information click HERE! Last year, I discovered a few markets in France, here is my list and why I think they deserve a visit too ~
Colmar was nominated as an illumination city of France and each year has a different theme for their market – in 2017 it is “The Magic of Christmas.” Absolutely one of my favorites, it is enchanting to walk the streets at night when everything comes to light (& life!) Prepare to go later in the day so you can catch the light show, it is worth it. Rated one of Europe’s top 5 Christmas markets – a must for this year’s season.
From 24 th November to 30 th December 2017
- From Monday to Thursday: 10:00 am to 7:00 pm
- Friday and Saturday & Sunday: 10:00 am to 8:00 pm
- 24.12: 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
- 25.12: 2:00 pm to 7:00 pm
Last year I also visited the precious little wine town of Riquewihr, France. This was just a day trip and was WOW’ed by it. A small town nestled on a hill in the Alsatian countryside and surrounded by vineyards. This precious French town has more Michelin restaurants in it than I’ve ever seen. I imagine the Chef’s here know where to live to get great fresh food and wine. While touring this market last year I was able to try a little paté on a baquette with a little champagne. Not your typical Christmas market.
It wasn’t all high-brow either, the steep walk to the city gate leads you to some of the most beautiful half-timbered houses you’ll see in Europe. Most of the owners decorate for the tourists and are very welcoming.
From 25 th November to 24 th December 2017
- Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
- (except on 24/12: closed at 6 p.m. and on 25/12: open at 2 p.m.)
- Saturday and Sunday from 10.00 to 7:30 p.m.
Most of the time, if you are traveling to Riquewihr I would recommend adding Ribeauville to your itinerary. It is literally the very next town. These twin towns are usually said in the same phrase ~ HOWEVER!!! Ribeauville Market does NOT have the same market hours as Riquewihr – they are only open two weekends in December! So YES, it will be very busy on the weekends, but again, absolutely worth it!
From December 2nd – 3rd & 9th – 10th 2017
If you have been following me for a little while you know that I love Obernai. It’s quaint, a partially walled city and every Thursday they have a market that is authentically french. You can hear the meat mongers and the flower growers yelling out specials and prices for the day – they change the farmers market to a Christmas market during the season and yet, I love it even MORE! A perfect DAY TRIP from Stuttgart this town has captured my heart.
From 25 th November to 5 th January 2018
- Everyday 10am-7pm
- Friday and Saturday until 8pm, open until 10pm
- 29/12, closing at 4pm on 24 and 31/12, closed the 25/12
- On January 1 : 2pm to 6pm, from 2/1 : 10am to 6pm
One of the most beautiful Marché’s in all the Alsace, Strasbourg is absolutely a stunning, unforgettable market to visit. From the violinists and musicians playing Christmas carols in the streets to the bells of the cathedral ringing throughout the town. It will give you goose-bumps as you walk the streets, smell the heavenly smells of pastry, roasted chestnuts and drink some warm chocolate chaud (hot chocolate.)
From 24 th November to 30 th December 2017
11 am – 8 pm daily
- Late opening on Fridays (until 9 pm) and Saturdays (until 10 pm).
- 24 December: 11 am – 6 pm
- Closed on 25 December
Here are a few notes to remember while visiting Strasbourg as it has a few challenges:
Special notes for Strasbourg
- New air regulations for driving in Strasbourg and other cities in France (get your vignette~air quality sticker before you go) the law went into effect on November 1, 2017. Be sure to have yours to avoid a fine.
- Parking during the Marché can be super frustrating as the parking garages in Strasbourg are designed for VERY SMALL cars. I tend to park on the outskirts of town and take the TRAM in ~ they are called PARK & RIDEs
- It is very crowded on the weekends. Because the Strasbourg market has grown in size every single year and continues to be wonderful, it has been added on a Christmas Tour loop for many, many tourist companies. Saturdays are crazy ~
A special note for all the markets
Parking is usually a challenge for large events like this throughout the region, so be sure to use the Parkopedia App or website before you go to find the closest parking lot for your preference or a list of options. Some towns will actually have signage for event parking also.
Eat at the different food booths at the market – OR make a reservation at a restaurant. Most restaurants in France close around 2 p.m. and then don’t re-open again until later like 6 or 7 p.m.
Dress warmly ~ if you are planning on walking A LOT during your visit, wear wool socks or wool inserts for your boots. Walking the cold cobblestone will chill your tootsies. Scarves are absolutely FRENCH and add a practical and warm solution to some windy days.
I hope you have as much fun as I do during the holiday season. European Christmas markets are full of fun, food and tradition. I hope it becomes a part of yours too ~
It’s always an adventure when you ©Travel with Wendy!