20 Dec A Magical Christmas Getaway in Alsace
If I had to name my favorite place in France to visit during the holiday I would immediately recommend the Alsace region! Located in East of France at the border of Germany, Alsace is a beautiful region and made Christmas one of its specialty! All the cities are playing along: there are plenty of Christmas markets and the houses are nicely decorated! It’s a real Christmas fairy tale! To enjoy a magical Christmas getaway in Alsace, read below all you need to know!
Here are the cities you should not miss:
Colmar is THE city where you can experience the magic of Christmas! Half-timbered houses, canals, cobblestone streets, Christmas markets, and Christmas decorations everywhere: the list of reasons why you should visit Colmar is long!
Christmas markets in Colmar
There are 6 Christmas markets in the historic town of Colmar. Each of them has their own specialty!
- Place de la cathédrale: the Gourmet market. This one is entirely dedicated to food! It’s open every day from 10 am to 10 pm.
- Place des Dominicains: this Christmas market is close to the beautiful church Eglise des Dominicains. You can find here pretty Christmas decorations for example.
- Place de l’Ancienne Douane: this used to be the heart of the Old Town and it’s very lively during Christmas! A great place to shop for contemporary creations as well as traditional Christmas decorations.
- Place Jeanne d’Arc: here you will get the atmosphere of a traditional Alsace village! It’s dedicated to local products.
- La Petite Venise: the Children’s Christmas Market. If you want to treat one or many kids, you should go there!
Dates and hours: from the November 22nd to December 29th 2019. Mon-Thur: 10 am to 7 am, Fri-Sun: 10 am to 8 pm. Reduced hours on the 24th and 25th of December.
Best places to take photos in Colmar
Well known for its colorful houses, Colmar is a dream city! Most of the best places to take photos in Colmar are located in the Old Town, around an area called “La Petite Venise”. La Petite Venise or Little Venice is the name given to the course of the Lauch River in Colmar. This name probably came from the original line of the houses on both sides of the river, which serves the southeast of the city.
- Maison dite “au pèlerin”: the most photogenic house of Colmar! Located at the crossroads of the Grand’Rue and the Place de l’Ancienne Douane.
- Bridge in Rue des Tanneurs with a very nice view of the Lauch River and the colorful houses of the area.
- Quai de la Poissonnerie: a street full of pretty colorful half-timbered houses.
- Bridge in rue des écoles: a second bridge offering a very pretty view of the Lauch River and the pretty houses of the Quai de la poissonnerie.
- Au Vieux Pignon: a nicely decorated souvenir shop. Located in 52 rue des marchands 68000 Colmar.
- Pont St Pierre: a bridge over the Lauch River with a fantastic view of the river and the half-timbered houses.
- Brasserie des tanneurs: a restaurant with a pretty storefront and interior. Located in 12 Rue des Tanneurs 68000 Colmar.
Where to stay in Colmar
Colmar is not a village: it’s the third largest commune in the Alsace region after Strasbourg and Mulhouse. So the city might be bigger than what you expected! Therefore I would recommend you to stay in a place as close as possible to the Old Town and to the Christmas markets. Like this you can do everything by walking.
Here are some options:
- AirBnb Chez Yann: a modern apartment with parking and terrace that can accommodate 4 guests. It’s 8 min walk from the city centre. I stayed there in August 2019.
- Booking Beauty and the Beast: cosy apartments in a shopping street the city centre that can accommodate up to 4 guests. I stayed there in December 2019. No parking close to the apartment as it’s in a pedestrian street, but free parking possible a bit further.
- Booking Les Appartements de Home Petite Venise: in the heart of the Old Town, those apartments are located in Quai de la poissonnerie in the Petite Venise. This is one of the most photogenic areas of Colmar! No parking close to the apartment as it’s in a pedestrian area but free parking possible a further.
Where to eat in Colmar
Colmar is ultra touristy during the Christmas season. If you want to have lunch or dinner in a specific restaurant I would recommend you to book it in advance or go very early.
Here are some suggestions from breakfast to dinner:
- Le Boudoir: a cosy teahouse that welcome you for breakfast, lunch and tea time. Location: 15 Grand rue in Colmar.
- Le Croissant Doré: a traditional café with a cute pink facade with a croissant. They serve food for breakfast, lunch and teatime. Location: 28 rue des marchands in Colmar.
- La Soï: one of the best restaurants in Colmar to serve the iconic Alsatian tartes flambées (a cross between a savory tart and a pizza: a thin sheet of unleavened dough spread generously with crème fraîche, and sprinkled with slivered onions and bacon). Location: 17 rue des marchands in Colmar. It’s open for lunch and dinner. As it’s one of the most popular restaurant in town, go there early!
- Le Petit Schlossberg: a great restaurant serving all the Alsatian specialties. This is also a grill restaurant with a lot of meat options. Location: 2 rue de l’Ange in Colmar. It’s open for lunch and dinner.
Riquewihr is a medieval village standing on hill surrounded by vineyards. The Old Town is very picturesque with its cobbled streets and pretty rainbow houses. It is officially one of the most beautiful villages in France!
Christmas markets in Riquewihr
The Christmas market in Riquewihr is rather small. You can find it in place Fernand Reyer and on Esplanade des Remparts. There is also La Guinguette de Noël: a private Christmas market held in a historical winemaker’s property in the heart of Riquewihr.
Nevertheless Riquewihr is so photogenic that you should definitely put it on your list for a magical Christmas getaway in Alsace!
Dates and hours: from the November 29th to December 22nd 2019. Mon-Fri: 10 am to 6:30 pm, Sat-Sun: 10 am to 7 pm.
Best places to take photos in Riquewihr
In Riquewihr you will be able to admire the amazing decorations of the houses and feel the Christmas vibes to the fullest! If you just walk around in the little streets you will find many cute corners to capture! The beautiful decorated facades of the half-timbered houses are definitely a feast for the eyes and the camera!
Here are some of the best places to take photos in Riquewihr:
- Le Comptoir des Authentics: a home decor store which facade is decorated with cute teddy bears. Location: 1 Rue Kilian in Riquewihr.
- Féerie de Noël: this Christmas decoration store has a lovely pink facade with nutcrackers decorations. Location: 1 Rue du Cerf in Riquewihr.
- L’Arbalétrier: this restaurant with a traditional sign hanging from the top of the facade is located in a charming little street. Location: 12 Rue du Général de Gaulle in Riquewihr.
- Place Voltaire: there is a beautiful fountain in the middle of pretty colorful half-timbered houses
Where to stay in Riquewihr
Riquewihr being very small and close by Colmar, you can totally stay in Colmar and come to Riquewihr by car during the day (25 min drive). You can park your car in the parking lots around the Old Town (2 euros/hour) or a bit further for free.
If you want to stay in Riquewihr nonetheless, here are a few suggestions:
- Best Western Hotel & SPA Le Schoenenbourg, Riquewihr: a 3 stars hotel located in front of the ramparts of the medieval town of Riquewihr, surrounded with vineyards. It has a parking lot and a wellness area with pools.
- Hotel St Nicolas in Riquewihr: this 2 stars hotel is located inside the Old Town of Riquewihr. It offers the alliance between the comfort of modernity, and the charm of an ancient traditional Alsatian house.
- B. Espace Suites – Hotel Riquewihr (JL BRENDEL): a 5 star hotel in a charming medieval house.
Where to eat in Riquewihr
There are plenty of restaurants in the streets of Riquewihr and you can also buy snacks in the boutiques and at the Christmas market.
Some restaurants for you:
- Au Relais de Riquewihr: a traditional Alsatian restaurant serving local food. It’s simple and efficient (service was rather fast). Location: 6 Rue du Général de Gaulle in Riquewihr.
- La Grappe d’Or: great traditional Alsatian food in a charming restaurant. Location: 1 rue des Ecuries in Riquewihr.
- La Table du Gourmet – Restaurant Riquewihr (JL BRENDEL): This gastronomic restaurant has one Michelin Star. Location: 5 Rue de la 1ère Armée in Riquewihr.
Strasbourg is the capital city of the Alsace region and the formal seat of the European Parliament and other international institutions. But Strasbourg is also called the capital of Christmas!
Christmas markets in Strasbourg
The Christmas market of Strasbourg is the oldest of France! It was created in 1570; at this time it was called Christkindelsmärik (Alsatian dialect meaning “Market of the Christ Child”).
There are 11 markets spread out across the small city centre and more than 300 wooden chalets.
- A scenic Christmas market takes place on the square of the Notre Dame Cathedral of Strasbourg
- In Place Kléber you can find the great Christmas tree. With it’s 30+ meters it’s one of the biggest natural Christmas tree of Europe! It lights up every day at 5 pm. There is also an ice-skating rink and the Village of Sharing (Village du Partage).
- The guest-country village is Place Gutenberg – this year Lebanese village & Georgian market.
- Strasbourg’s oldest and largest Christmas market is taking place Place Broglie.
- In Place du Château you will find the box of shows
- Place du Marché aux Poisson hosts the Alsatian Christmas delicacies market (bredele biscuits, wines, mulled wines, foie gras and beers)
- The Carré d’or Christmas market, curated by the merchants of the Carré d’Or is located Place Broglie.
- Place Saint Thomas showcases a true Christmas village
- In Place des Meuniers there is the Alsace farmers’ market, where producers serve up the best local products (such as spirits, nougat, mushrooms, honey and compote).
- You can find the market of the Magi (le marché des Rois Mages) in Place Benjamin-Zix.
- And lastly the OFF Market and the alternative Christmas tree are taking place in Place Grimmeissen. Here you can find unique gift ideas from local, socially responsible and ethical organisations, such as vintage furniture, custom clothing, original crafts and organic foods.
Dates and hours: from 22nd November to 30th December 2019. From 11 am to 8 pm every day, December 24: from 11 am to 6 pm, December 25: closed. Open at night on Fridays until 9 pm and Saturdays until 10 pm.
Best places to take photos in Strasbourg
Strasbourg is blessed with an enchanting Old Town, standing on an island over the Ill River. It is now protected as a UNESCO World Heritage site!
Here are some of the best places to take photos in Strasbourg:
- Restaurant le Tire-Bouchon: with its adorable facade decorated with plenty of teddy bears, this one is my favorite by far! Location: 5 de la rue des tailleurs de pierre in Strasbourg.
- La Petite France: the charming historical quarter of Strasbourg with its cobblestone streets, canals and pretty half-timbered houses.
- The Cathedral: one of the major landmarks of the city.
- Pont couverts: three bridges cross the four river channels of the River Ill that flow through Strasbourg’s historic Petite France quarter.
- Place Kléber with the Great Christmas tree.
Where to stay in Strasbourg
Strasbourg being a big city you will get plenty of accommodation options matching all your possible needs!
A few ideas:
- Hôtel Cour du Corbeau: situated in the heart of Strasbourg, this is one of the oldest hotels in Europe as well being one of the finest examples of Renaissance architecture.
- Appartements Paola, Pamela, Patricia et Pascale: located in the heart of Strasbourg, this property has an excellent location and feature modern accommodation. A good value for money.
- Find your hotel in Strasbourg: Booking hotels in Strasbourg
Where to eat in Strasbourg
Strasbourg is full of cafes, restaurants and bars. You will have many possibilities to eat all types of cuisine!
A few places that I liked:
- Salon de thé Grand’Rue: a very large selection of amazing homemade pastries and desserts. They also serve breakfast and lunch. Location: 80 Grand Rue in Strasbourg.
- La Part Thé: restaurant and tea salon offering breakfast, lunch, desserts and pastries. Location: 42 Grand Rue in Strasbourg.
- Bloom: a great cafe for breakfast, brunch, lunch and desserts. Location: 2 Place des Meuniers in Strasbourg.
- What The Cake ?: this cute cafe is a good place for a hot drink and a dessert. You can also go there for breakfast and lunch. They have vegan and gluten free options. Location: 51 Rue du Fossé-des-Tanneurs in Strasbourg.
- Le Tire-Bouchon: the restaurant with the teddy bears on the facade is also a great place to eat Alsatian food. Location: 5 rue des tailleurs de pierre in Strasbourg.
- Le Stras: French cuisine with fresh food inspired by the seasons. Location: 9 rue des dentelles in Strasbourg.
If you visit Alsace for Christmas, you might also like this article: The Best Instagram Spots in Colmar.