Christmas markets in Alsace: a magical tradition not to be missed

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Alsace’s Christmas markets are world-famous for their warm atmosphere, enchanting decorations and quality crafts. Every year, millions of visitors flock to this region of eastern France for the unique and magical experience of Alsace’s Christmas markets. In this article, we invite you to discover the history, traditions and must-sees of these very special Christmas markets.

I. The history of Christmas markets in Alsace

Christmas markets in Alsace have a long history going back centuries. Their origins date back to the Middle Ages, when craftsmen and shopkeepers gathered to sell their wares in the run-up to Christmas. These early markets were mainly food-oriented, with stalls selling mulled wine, Christmas cookies and other local specialities.

Over the years, Alsace’s Christmas markets have grown in popularity. New traditions have emerged, such as the presence of Christkindel, an angelic figure who distributes gifts to well-behaved children. Christmas decorations also took on an important role, with the appearance of the first illuminated fir trees and string lights.

Christmas Chalet
Christmas in Strasbourg, Alsace

II. Christmas market traditions in Alsace

Alsace’s Christmas markets are steeped in many traditions, which give them their charm and unique character. Here are some of the most striking traditions:

1. Wooden chalets

Christmas markets in Alsace are characterized by their picturesque wooden chalets. These small, carefully decorated stands are home to artisans and traders selling local products and crafts. Whether you want to sample Alsatian culinary specialties or find original gifts, the chalets are a must when visiting Christmas markets.

2. Christmas decorations

Alsace’s Christmas markets are renowned for their magnificent decorations, which transform the streets into a veritable fairytale. Strings of lights, glittering baubles and illuminations create a magical atmosphere that enchants young and old alike.

3. Alsatian culinary specialities

When visiting the Christmas markets in Alsace, it’s impossible to resist the local culinary delights. Pretzels, gingerbread, tarts flambées and sausages are all specialities to be savoured without moderation. And let’s not forget the famous spiced mulled wine, which warms hearts and spirits during the winter months.

4. Traditional entertainment

Alsace’s Christmas markets are also an opportunity to enjoy a host of traditional entertainment. From carol concerts to puppet shows and live nativity scenes, there’s always something to see and do when visiting Alsace’s Christmas markets.

III. The must-see Christmas markets in Alsace

If you’re planning to visit the Christmas markets in Alsace, here are a few not-to-be-missed highlights:

1. Strasbourg Christmas Market

Strasbourg’s Christmas market is the most famous and oldest in Alsace. Every year, it attracts millions of visitors from all over the world to discover its picturesque chalets and magical atmosphere. Don’t miss the Grande Île, home to the illuminated Notre-Dame Cathedral, and the Place Kleber, home to the majestic Christmas tree.

2. Colmar Christmas Market

The Colmar Christmas market is another must-see in Alsace. This medieval town is transformed into an enchanted village during the festive season. Stroll along the cobbled streets, admire the ornate half-timbered houses and discover the many stalls selling craft and gourmet products.

3. Eguisheim Christmas market

The Eguisheim Christmas market is a hidden gem in Alsace. This small medieval village, voted “Favorite Village of the French” in 2013, offers an intimate and authentic atmosphere. The colorful houses and cobbled streets are the perfect backdrop for discovering local crafts and tasting Alsatian specialties.

4. Riquewihr Christmas market

Riquewihr’s Christmas market is another magical place to visit during the festive season. This fortified medieval village is renowned for its well-preserved architecture and enchanting atmosphere. Stroll the streets lined with half-timbered houses and stop off at stalls to buy local crafts.

Christmas in Strasbourg, Alsace
Warm wines in Alsace

IV. Practical advice

If you are planning to visit the Christmas markets in Alsace, here are a few practical tips to make the most of your experience:

  • Choose weekdays to avoid the crowds.
  • Dress warmly, as it can get very cold in winter.
  • Don’t forget to budget for souvenirs and tastings.
  • Find out about market opening times to plan your visit.
  • Remember to book your accommodation in advance, as hotels can fill up quickly during the holiday season.

In conclusion, Alsace’s Christmas markets are a magical tradition not to be missed. Their rich history, unique traditions and warm atmosphere make them a must-see destination during the holiday season.

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So plan your stay in Alsace and let yourself be enchanted by the magic of Christmas in Alsace!

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