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Visit the Christmas Markets of Colmar

by Mary Del Rosario
Stripes Europe

Located in northeastern France is the striking town of Colmar. The Alsatian town, teeming with cobblestone streets, half-timbered medieval buildings, Gothic churches and quaint shops is a town made to inspire fairytales. However, wrap some warm, yellow Christmas lights on the tree, gussy-up windows with twinkling stars, decorate festive food huts and Colmar becomes the picture-perfect Christmas backdrop that even the late Thomas Kinkade would have liked to paint. If you’re like me and need to celebrate many days before the most wonderful time of the year, head to the Colmar Christmas Market, a beguiling market chock-full of holiday glee.

The Christmas Market  

Because Christmas in Colmar is an occasion not to be missed, the town has five festive markets that house their own kind of holiday spirit. From Nov. 22 to Dec. 29, over 180 stalls of handmade crafts, holiday novelties, hot cocoa and other delightful festival goodies will have you humming to the tune of “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.” The magic of Colmar’s markets is that they offer fun for every taste and age!

Place des Dominicains - Considered to be the dominating market, this area is home to the Dominican Church that dates back to the early 14th century. 60 huts gather together to create a warm and welcoming feeling of all things Christmas just outside this church. Festive meals and drinks call families and friends to enjoy a memorable time together.

Place de l’Ancienne Douane - This historic square located in the heart of the old city hosts around 50 little stalls dotted around the Schwendi Fountain. The market is set up on both sides of the Lauch River and contemporary creations along with traditional Christmas decorations can be found here.

Place Jeanne d’Arc - A recreation of the traditional Alsatian village, find local products and delicious foods such as foie gras, biscuits, cold meats and of course, wine! Bring your favorite foodie along as they would be sure to appreciate this market!

La Petite Venise - A child’s haven, this market is devoted to children complete with 43 colorful cottages filled with treasures only Santa and his elves could have invented. Be sure to also take them to see the beautiful nativity scene and have them ride the horses on the carousel! Children can sip on their own vin chaud (mulled wine) with some warm apple juice. Before leaving, have your young ones drop a letter to Santa in the market’s giant mailbox.  

The Koïfhus - Set in a 14th and 15th century-old building, the market at the Koïfhus focuses on the trade aspect. For example, you will find stands from master glaziers, cabinet makers, wood sculptors, jewelers, booksellers and antique sellers.

Know before you go

- When heading to these markets, be sure to bring plenty of euros as many vendors will not accept cards.

- To ensure a less stressful way of commuting, public transportation is the best.

- Participate in guided tours to see all the memorable Colmar market highlights.

- Get your hands on Bredele, bite-sized biscuits made in the Alsace region. The delectable goodies include almond, honey or lemon flavor.

Things to see outside the market

Apart from the famous Christmas market, Colmar offers many activities and sights to enjoy. From the food to the museums, having a memorable time in this beautiful French town won’t be hard to accomplish!

For the history buffs, head to the Musee d’Unterlinden, a museum that hides a prized medieval stone statue collection. However, the star is the late Gothic Retable d’Issenheim by painter Mathias Grunewald.

Want to experience a taste of Venice? Stroll along Little Venice or the Quartier de la Krutenau, just past the Rue Saint-Jean. The stunning neighborhood possesses delicious canal-side restaurants, quaint bridges and colorful half-timbered houses which make it known as “Little Venice” due to the fact that these houses were built on the edge of the Lauch River canal.

Though Christmas market goodies are irresistible, sometimes one has to try scrumptious French food, so try Atelier du Peintre, a well-raved French restaurant on rue Schongauer. From foie gras to grilled scallops, your taste buds will not be disappointed! This restaurant has an elegant flair so be sure to dress appropriately and expect prices to be on the higher end. When in France, right? 

Things to do nearby

Ribeauvillé - Just a 25-minute drive away from charming Colmar, this village was one of the two places that inspired the village in Beauty and the Beast. Feel like Belle as you wander and get lost in the cobblestoned streets. During your wandering, stop by Auberge du Parc Carola, an international restaurant that’s quaint on the outside, but is a foodie’s paradise on the inside. Famous chef Micahela Peters serves one-of-a-kind dishes such as roe deer with spiced red cabbage and Alsatian wild boar tart with Granny Smith apples.

Riquewihr – North of Colmar, you’ll find the attractive village of Riquewihr, the second of the two villages that inspired the Disney classic. Aptly named one of the most beautiful villages in France, soak in the view of the hills and shop at the many boutiques. The historic buildings are well preserved and medieval and Renaissance elements can be seen from the houses and historic buildings. While here, don’t miss the Castle of the Dukes of Württemberg, a 16th-century castle which boasts man elements of medieval history. For a jaw-dropping view of the region, head to the Château de Saint-Ulrich, one of three castles that overlook Ribeauvillé.

This holiday season, enter a jolly world filled with festive lights, colors of red, yellow and green, and a sense of community belonging to Colmar. At the Colmar Christmas market, the spirit of giving comes alive and Christmas has never felt more real. May your cups be filled with endless amounts of vin chaud and your hearts be filled with Christmas cheer!

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