The Land of Christmas

04/12/2019 11:29

Millions of tourists travel long distances to visit Alsace, a region in northeastern France known for its dazzling Christmas spirit.


 Strasbourg’s bustling Kleber Square is full of tourists and locals in the late afternoons


No one knows when Alsace became known as "The Land of Christmas". From the end of November until the end of December, towns and old villages in the region organize Christkindelsmärik, which means “Markets of the Christ Child” in the Alsatian language, or "Christmas Markets". Amidst the grandeur of these markets, people will find cute decorations for their Christmas trees, wooden toys that bring them back to their childhoods, and traditional sweets and drinks that fill the air with their signature fragrance.

Strasbourg and Colmar

Strasbourg, the capital of Alsace, boasts the region's most famous Christmas Market, held for the first time in 1570 in Broglie Square. Since then, similar markets have been organized throughout Alsace, from Wissembourg to Thann, and across Europe. Nowadays, Christmas Markets are a trademark of European culture during the festive season.


Small houses in Colmar boast bright Christmas decorations

As snowflakes fall, narrow lanes are beautifully decorated. Twinkling lights adorn every alley and window. Pure, cheerful Christmas songs ring from every street corner, creating a festive, pleasant atmosphere. There’s nothing better than savoring a glass of mulled wine or enjoying some delicious gingerbread as the sun sets and the evening chill fills the air. In the warm comfort of one’s home, the aroma of cinnamon and orange from a glass of mulled wine combines with the fragrance of scented candles to blow away the winter cold. This is one of the most beautiful seasons in Europe. Every street feels enchanted, transformed into an outdoor party, packed with lights, colors, sounds, and tempting flavors.

Strasbourg is located in the North while Colmar is situated in the South. Their Christmas Markets are the most-visited ones in Alsace. These two cities are magnificent all year round. In their romantic downtowns, small bridges and canals twine through wooden townhouses. During the festive season, the house fronts are lit up with brightly colored lights. The lights reflect on the water, making the scene twice as dazzling. These Christmas Markets are surely worth a visit during the bustling last days of the year.

Christmas "stars"

One need not be in a city to discover the region's Christmas spirit. There are many small yet lovely villages in Alsace that will stir unforgettable feelings. Let me tell you about some "stars" in the Land of Christmas - old villages hidden among vineyards under the snowy Vosges mountain range. Riquewihr, Ribeauvillé, Eguisheim, Kayserberg, Munster, and Rouffach aren't very far from Colmar. In the summer, tourists visit these hills to sample the fine wines on the famous wine routes. At year’s end, each village hosts its own festival with small, lovely and one-of-a-kind secrets. Ribeauvillé resembles an old Medieval market while Riquewihr holds a traditional Christmas Market. Eguisheim organizes night tours through the village. Last but not least, Rouffach offers sophisticated handicrafts. Each village is unique. Together they’re like shining stars in the Christmas night sky.


Bretzel, which originated in Germany, are a specialty in the Alsace region

Spending time here, you will experience the timeless charm of this region. Wandering along cobblestoned streets, you can pass walls dating back to the 13th century and admire old wooden houses. You follow a narrow lane around a bend. Suddenly, your view opens up, just like in a fairy tale. The scene is  gentle and romantic. In the fading light of December, it's easy to feel like fairy tale characters lie around every corner. The serene night falls and before you know it, Christmas has snuck into your soul, warming you up despite the snow and cold outside.

Box:

Strasbourg, the capital city of Alsace, is 2 hours by train from Paris.

There’s 1 train/hour between Strasbourg and Colmar. The trip takes just 30-40 minutes.

Before Christmas, buses run between the old villages in the Land of Christmas "Stars". More information on the bus schedule and tickets is available in the Colmar Tourist Office.

Bui Huyen Chi

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