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10 December 2011

Christmas Markets in Alsace, France—Fairy Tale Villages Light Up With Christmas Cheer

Christmas enchantment abounds along Rue des Marchands in Colmar, France. © CRTA - Zvardon. All images in this post are property of Alsace Tourism and are copyrighted. Unauthorized use is prohibited.
Christmas enchantment abounds along Rue des Marchands in Colmar, France. © CRTA - Zvardon. All images in this post are property of Alsace Tourism and are copyrighted. Unauthorized use is prohibited.

Updated for 2016


Joyeux Noël

Do you believe in Christmas magic? You will by the time you visit the enchanting Christmas markets of Alsace, France!  The Christkindelsmäriks or Christmas markets of Alsace have long attracted visitors as well as locals since the 16th century, namely Strasbourg with its Christmas Market established in 1570. From the moment you arrive, you'll find these storybook villages come to life with vibrant markets, twinkling lights and delightfully decorated stalls brimming with hand-crafted gifts and ornaments not to mention the tantalizing aromas wafting through the air with the promise of gourmet delights and spicy mulled wine. Alsace celebrates the Seven Lands of Christmas from Haguenau in the north to Mulhouse in the south and is a journey of holiday splendor from one village decked out in its finest to the next—all welcoming visitors and residents alike to revel in the sights and sounds of Christmas! If you enjoy Christmas as much as I do, you must visit one of these Alsatian Christmas markets during the holidays!



Strasbourg—November 25 - December 31


Strasbourg
Strasbourg's Place de la Cathédrale in France is lined with market chalets brimming with gifts and tasty treats. © CRTA - Zvardon

Steeped in history and tradition, Strasbourg’s Christmas market has been drawing visitors since 1570 thus making it France’s oldest. Each year, a country is invited to be the official Guest of Honor and this year, you’ll find the cultures and traditions of Switzerland flourishing in Place Gutenberg alive with folk music, Swiss cuisines and handcrafted gifts. Listen carefully for the sounds of carolers carried on the wind as you make your way through the colorful chalets of the Christmas market. The main markets are located in Place de la Cathédrale, Place Gutenberg, Place Broglie, Place Kléber is filled with cakes and breads, Petite France is home to fresh produce and to fresh-baked gingerbread, and finally Place de la Gare.

  • Sun.—Thurs. 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Fri.—Sat. 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
  • Dec. 24: 10:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.
Strasbourg's Christmas Market Chalets offer delightfully decorated stalls brimming with hand-crafted gifts and ornaments not to mention the tantalizing aromas wafting through the air with the promise of gourmet delights and spicy mulled wine. © CRTA - Meyer.
Strasbourg's Christmas Market Chalets offer delightfully decorated stalls brimming with hand-crafted gifts and ornaments not to mention the tantalizing aromas wafting through the air with the promise of gourmet delights and spicy mulled wine. © CRTA - Meyer.

Kaysersberg—Nov. 25 - Dec. 23, Fri-Sun ONLY PLUS Dec. 19-23

Moving south to Sélestat, you’ll find the Land of the Christmas Trees in this central Alsatian province. Within the Humanist Library in Sélestat, there are historical accounts revealing the very first documented sale of Christmas trees dating back to 1521. Did you know that in the 15th century, Christmas trees were first decorated with ribbons and colored paper with apples and candies as ornaments? It wasn’t until the 18th century when candles were placed in holders on the trees and not until the 19th century when glass balls replaced the red apples.

The Kaysersberg Christmas Market is open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. but ONLY Friday through Sundays from Nov.25—Dec. 18. Plus, Mon.—Fri., Dec. 19—23.

Colmar—November 25 - December 31


Perhaps one of the most picturesque of all the Alsatian villages, Colmar is home to the 2nd largest Christmas market in Alsace, France. © CRTA - Meyer.
Perhaps one of the most picturesque of all the Alsatian villages, Colmar is home to the 2nd largest Christmas market in Alsace, France. © CRTA - Meyer.

Claiming title as the 2nd largest Christmas market in Alsace, France is Colmar. Perhaps one of the most picturesque of all the Alsatian villages, here you are immersed in Christmas sublime with storybook timber-framed buildings beautifully decorated with sparking lights and festive garlands creating an ambiance that is truly Christmas. There are four main markets in Colmar: Place Jeanne d'Arc is brimming with tempting gourmet delights; Place de I’Ancienne Douane features handcrafted gifts and toys plus tempting morsels; Place des Six Montagnes Noires caters to children with toys and treats; and finally in Place des Domincans, you’ll find all the Christmas trees, garlands and holly plus countless decorations you’ll need.

Hours may vary by location but generally run from:

  • Mon.—Thurs. 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Fri.—Sun. 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Dec. 24: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Dec. 25: 2 p.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Dec. 31: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Christmas gifts are plentiful in one of Colmar's Christmas market stalls. © PSN - Betsch.
Christmas gifts are plentiful in one of Colmar's Christmas market stalls. © PSN - Betsch.

Mulhouse—November 22 - December 28


Renowned for its Christmas fabric, the Mulhouse Christmas market in Place de la Réunion is draped with festive garlands and fabrics. © CRTA - Meyer.
Renowned for its Christmas fabric, the Mulhouse Christmas market in Place de la Réunion is draped with festive garlands and fabrics. © CRTA - Meyer.

Renowned for its unique Christmas fabric manufactured by local businesses just for the Christmas market, Mulhouse’s Place de la Réunion is draped in festive décor from its lavishly decorated buildings to its Christmas market chalets brimming with homemade gingerbread, scrumptious delicacies, handcrafted ornaments and toys. Combine the scents of mulled wine and cinnamon with the sounds of Christmas carolers, and you complete the Christmas theme in the village square. Plus when night falls, the City Hall is transformed into a giant Advent calendar from December 1 to 24 and each night, one window opens up to reveal hidden surprises while troubadours recount the stories of the Nativity!

Mulhouse Christmas Market Hours:

Nov. 24—Dec. 27: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., EXCEPT:

  • Dec. 24: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Dec. 25: CLOSED
  • Dec. 26-27: 2 p.m. to 8 p.m.

I hope you enjoyed this tour through the Christmas Markets of Alsace, France. As you can see, they are filled with the classic traditions and Christmas wonder that we all have come to love during this festive time of the year.

Share your plans for the holidays with our readers.

I leave you with these parting shots of the magical Alsatian Christmas Markets.

Joyeux Noël!


Kaysersberg, Alsace, France is yet another picturesque village with storybook houses adorned in their holiday best.© CRTA - Meyer.
Kaysersberg, Alsace, France is yet another picturesque village with storybook houses adorned in their holiday best.© CRTA - Meyer.

The Christmas market in Place Kléber in Strasbourg sparkles in a tapestry of Christmas lights in this dramatic aerial view of the square. © CRTA - Meyer.
The Christmas market in Place Kléber in Strasbourg sparkles in a tapestry of Christmas lights in this dramatic view of the square. © CRTA - Meyer.

Additional Reading:

52 comments:

  1. The cathedral, the timbered houses, the adorable crafts--it all looks a dream!

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  2. I always wanted to go there to view the Christmas markets and your article makes me even want to go more. Thanks for this wonderful article, Jeff.

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  3. Great lovely photos. Captures the spirit of the Christmas markets perfectly!

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  4. Hi Lesley,
    I couldn't agree with you more...these markets are the manifestation of real Christmas magic! I would love to see every one of them!! Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!

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  5. TravelWorld,
    Me too! I think I have a new mission during the holidays and it's to travel to as many Christmas markets as I can to take it all in and revel in the seasonal celebrations!! Thank you for stopping by to share your comments. I really appreciate it!

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  6. Marlys,
    Thank you for your kind words...I partnered with the Alsace tourism board on the photos...I just had to have them...they really do capture the essence of Christmas magic! Thanks for stopping by to share your thoughts and your kind words!

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  7. This looks magical! A lot more Christmasy than the generic plastic tents and mass produced merchandise we have at NYC "holiday markets"!

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  8. Hi Leslie,
    I totally agree with you on that...these markets have 500 years of history and it's so wonderful that the traditions transcend time to bring the age-old magic to life each year during the Christmas holidays! Thx so much for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!

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  9. Absolutely beautiful! I'd love to be there for Christmas. Thanks for the armchair tour.

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  10. Hi Steve and thanks for stopping by! I agree that they are quite exquisitely beautiful and so in the spirit of Christmas. Thx again!

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  11. I would like to see the Town Hall at night in the Mulhouse market when it turns into a giant Advent calendar. It must be very enchanting. I would even like to try the mulled wine. The photos are beautiful and makes one want to spend the Christmas Holidays in France or somewhere in Europe. I enjoyed your tour. Another Great Job & a JOB WELL DONE. Thanks again, I love reading your articles, they are very interesting.

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  12. Hello my friend Anonymous,

    How are you? I agree with you that these images are indeed magical and make me want to return again and again!! Thank you for stopping by to share your thoughts and for your kind words. Keep reading....Thx.

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  13. Colmar is definitely one of the most picturesque spots in France, especially during the Christmas Markets. It truly feels like we stepped back in the 15th century (with abstraction of smartphones and denim, of course).

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  14. Hi there Marie-Eve,
    I couldn't agree with you more...these villages are picturesque and I think Colmar is my fav for now...until one day, when I see them all!!! Thx for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.

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  15. I didn't know Strasbourg was the oldest in France. I'd like to visit Nuremberg (I believe the oldest Christmas market, and in Germany) and then do Strasbourg--I do love the pictures. Thank you!

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  16. Hi there Charu,
    I didn't know it was the oldest in France either but since this region was originally part of Germany, it's no wonder...Some day I want to visit all on a Christmas Market Marathon. You game?

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  17. Beautiful! It's the perfect Christmas setting!

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  18. Hi Cam!
    Thanks for stopping by! I couldn't agree with you more...the perfect Christmas setting! It's as if the pages of a Christmas fairy tale sprung to life all around you!

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  19. Beautiful photos! I love all the festivities and the fairy tale setting. Germany and Austria always come to mind as the go-to Christmas markets and these festive markets need to be right up there too. I would love to visit these someday.

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  20. Hi Mary and thank you for your compliments. Those photos are actually from my friends at the Alsace Tourism board...I just had to have them for a post. I have fallen in love with Alsace the first time I laid eyes upon the enchanting villages and architecture! I couldn't agree with you more about adding these to your list. They all capture the spirit and beauty of Christmas!! Merry Christmas!

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  21. Brought back great memories Jeff. A few years back we went to the Christmas markets in Riquewihr and Strasbourg - absolutely fantastic, with plenty of snow on the ground to make it even more perfect!!

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  22. Hi John...your experiences in Riquewihr and Strasbourg sounds delightfully festive especially with the snow. Must have completed the perfect Christmastime settings in Alsace. Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing your comments! Merry Christmas!

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  23. That first picture of Colmar sold me. . . as if I needed selling! Stunning

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  24. Debbie, I am with you!!! The whole of Alsace has me under its spell and I simply can't get enough of it!! I want to move there!!! Thanks for stopping by and sharing your comments. Merry Christmas my friend!

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  25. So beautiful! I only got to one Christmas market this year but it was great fun http://travelwithkat.com/2012/01/03/new-years-eve-at-londons-hyde-park/

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  26. Kat, thank you so much for sharing your comments and link to your article filled with magical and tasty images of your visit to the Christmas market! Happy New Year!!

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  27. ive been here in the summer and its just as beautiful without all the trimmings .a beautiful enchanting place

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  28. Hello there Anonymous.

    I totally agree with you that Alsace is enchanting at anytime during the year but Christmastime adds a little more magic! Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.

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  29. This place has Christmas written all over it. Everything looks so beautiful with the lights and decorations. Especially the Mulhouse, it blows me away. Thank you for sharing!

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  30. Hi Alexa and thanks for stopping by!! The entire Alsace region in France is a living and breathing Christmas postcard...I just find the entire area completely enchanting and magical! Mulhouse blew me away as well! Thx for sharing your kind words! More to come next year!

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  31. Ahh this is making me want to visit the Christmas markets so much! Me and my partner actually had a flight booked to Hamburg last year, but couldn't go due to time constraints. These look super pretty, and I'll definitely be hitting up some Christmas markets in December 2013 (under contract in Korea this year, so no Christmas markets for me in 2012). Colmar looks absolutely stunning.

    This post has given me the warm fuzzies now. I LOVE Christmas! :)

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    1. Hi there Tom and thanks so much for stoppping by! Your enthusiasm and passion for the Christmas markets really shines through in your comments and put a great big smile on my face. I long to visit them too! Love the "warm fuzzies" at the end of your comment...it sounds so...well....warm and fuzzy! Thanks for sharing your thoughts my friend!

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  32. A lot of lights in the Christmas Markets in Alsace, France!

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    1. Hello Calogero and thank you so much for stopping by! It Alsace delightfully enchanting??!! It's a storybook village come to life!

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  33. Great article and gorgeous Christmassy pics :)

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    1. Hi there Becky and thank you so much for stopping by and for your kind words! Alsace is positively enchanting no matter the time of the year!

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  34. Great article! I visited Strasbourg last year for its famous Christmas Market :) I really liked it, although it was pretty crowded. Since I've just started a traveling blog as well, I'm about to post an article about it as well :) Enjoy wintertime!

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    1. All of Alsace is positively enchanting!! Can't wait to read your post as well my new friend and check out the rest of your blog as well!!

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  35. I love the photos and descriptions. Thank you for sharing them with us. I have not been to many of the spots you have highlighted on my own travels to Europe. The December photos are marvelous. Love this!

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    1. Hi there Greg!
      Thanks so much for stopping by and for your kind words as well! I need to get to many places in Europe too so I feel your wanderlust pains. ; ) Thx again my friend!

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  36. I love Christmas Markets...wish I could get myself back to Europe this winter. Last winter we were in Prague. My first Christmas Market and I am hooked! Loved it...the sights were awesome but the smells were out of this world. It was literally chestnuts roasting on an open fire...plus the trudlnik and mulled wine and roasting everything in the market air.
    BTW - I quite liked The Golden Wheel in Prague - if you are looking for a suggestion. I am sure you have a number of choices there - but you didn't have one listed.
    Your photos are awesome....I would love to go back and spend more time .... your photos almost give me goosebumps.

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    1. Hi again my friend!
      I just love to receive comments such as these! Thanks so much for sharing all of your experiences with my readers...I can smell all the deliciousness just by reading your comments! I haven't done an article on Prague yet, but it's coming. Thank you again for stopping by and sharing your delicious stories!

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  37. Colmar was just brilliant!! Even with lots of rain. A great market in a truly lovely town

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    1. HI there my friend and thx so much for stopping by! I couldn't agree with you more. Just look how enchanting Colmar and the rest of the villages are! Pages from a fairy tale coming to life.

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  38. So much history with that tinge of something magical too. The photos are pretty. :P

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    1. Hi there Ice Princess and thanks so much for stopping by. I totally agree with you...so much history combined with enchantment make for a most magical time in Alsace. Glad you enjoyed the post!

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  39. I am not a huge Christmas person, but these photos and write up shushes my inner scrooge and puts me in the Christmas spirit. It looks like a lovely place to visit during the holiday season.

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    1. Well Mr. Scrooge, it seems you've had a real Dickens moment. So happy to rekindle your Christmas spirit my friend! Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your thoughts my longtime friend!

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  40. Hi Jeff- so glad I found this website.My husband and I were on the Viking Bragi last month (Romantic Danube) Budapest to Nuremberg. Words just cannot describe. I loved Vienna and Regensburg the best. We are hooked now, and plan to visit different markets next Dec. Your pics will probably help us decide which ones! The Alsace region is looking quite good to me, LOL.Anyway, thanks again- beautiful pics!

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    1. Hi again my friend. I just love your enthusiasm and love your last comment on the German Christmas market article. Thank you again for sharing your journey and don't forget to review the last 3 articles I published - they're all about Viking!!

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  41. My name is Mary Ann, and I need the copyright date for my bibliography.

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    1. Hi Mary Ann and thanks so much for stopping by. You need the copyright date of this post? It's Dec 10, 2011 but updated each year thereafter through 2014. Does that help you?

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Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!