Despite my eternal love for the German Christmas Markets, if I am to pick one place in Europe to behold the magic of Christmas flowing through the air – it´s going to be a little French town of Colmar (sorry, Rothenburg ob der Tauber). Christmas in Colmar feels like an illusion taken from children’s books. But, pinch me! – This is real.
With its half-timbered houses, cobblestone streets, cozy cafes, mysterious antique shops and of course, some of the most delicious French patisseries, Colmar is a festive fairytale everyone should experience at least once in a lifetime.
My pre-Christmas tradition
Christmas… my favorite time of the year is almost here! Lights and decorations, music and carols, shopping and cooking, hot chocolate and movies, – lots of things pop up into my mind with a word “Christmas“… But mostly it´s all about those unique and unforgettable moments with our loved ones, isn’t it?!
Also read: Holiday Mood – My Vintage Christmas Playlist
In my family, one of our favorite pre-Christmas traditions is visiting Christmas Markets across Europe. Every year in December, we seek to travel somewhere colder in Europe in search of a Christmas spirit. Life in Spain is wonderful, no doubts. But you barely get this Christmas-is-coming feeling with +16°C in Dec, right?! And what about snow, Gluhwein, hot chocolate, and cozy Christmas sweaters? Those barely make any sense in Spain.
Besides, nothing cheers one up quite like grabbing a cup of hot chocolate in a company of your loved ones, with all those shimmery lights on around you.
Also read: Christmas in New York
Last year, after exploring the Swiss Christmas Markets, we decided to take a day-trip to the French Province of Alsace. As we were based in Basel, it seemed quite of a reachable goal. Besides, one of the capitals in Northeastern France, Strasbourg, could be easily found between the prettiest Christmas Markets in Europe in the travel media. We just couldn’t resist.
From Basel to Strasbourg via Colmar
The train from Basel to Strasbourg goes quite often. As it was cold and gloomy outside (plus peak-season), we decided against traveling by car. If traveling in the warmer months and in the off season, car is definitely the best option to explore Alsace. But with the Christmas Market hype we thought parking might be an issue, not to mention the weather conditions.
So, on a foggy December morning we bought two tickets to Strasbourg and departed Switzerland in search of a French Christmas spirit.
Also read: My Top 5 Christmas Destinations in Europe
After meandering the charming streets of Strasbourg for a while, we had a few hours left and decided to get off the train in Colmar before we head back to Basel. I’ve heard before that Colmar was pretty for the Holliday Season, but it´s definitely overcome my expectations.
A random stop on the way back home ended up being my ultimate winter travel crush.
Colmar: The magic of Christmas
It´s hard to describe with words how magical the tiny little village of Colmar actually felt. Some streets looked like they doubled for the “Beauty and the Beast” animated movie. The half-timbered town of Colmar should be extremely beautiful all year round. But all the dazzling lights&decorations, jolly market excitement, charming French cafes&shops, appetizing smells&spices during the Christmas Eve, turn The Old Town of Colmar into a real-life fairy tale.
Colmar’s unique construction style is a mix of French and German architectural techniques. Some of the buildings date back to the XIV century. The most picturesque quarter in the city is “Little Venice”. Taking a canal boat tour would be an amazing idea in the summer months.
Delicious snacks, crafty items, festive decorations, and everything handmade… Christmas in Colmar is a bewitching travel experience that should be on everyone’s bucket list.
About the only fly in the ointment…
Everything about Colmar was perfect, except one little accident that could have ruined our experience.
I’ve already mentioned the weather conditions on the day we visited Alsace – thick fog, cold wind: it was -1°C, but felt like -10°C at least. So, once we got back to the train station in Colmar, we noticed on the screen an alert that our train has being postponed. Apparently, there was some kind of an accident at the French railroad. As a result we spent 3 hours freezing inside the small (very-crowded) Colmar´s train station. We couldn´t really leave, cause no one knew when our train would arrive.
Not sure whether this happens often, or if traveling by car would be easier! Especially with the fog and lack of parking in the peak season. But I feel like I should at least warn about this possibility, so that you´d be ready for everything!