My Experience as a solo female traveler to Colmar Christmas market
HISTORY OF CHRISTMAS MARKETS IN FRANCE
Christmas Markets are a must if you are in France, especially in Alsace, during the Holiday Season. It simply brings up the magic of this period. But everything started at some point and as I am a sucker for history, let’s dig a little bit into the history of Christmas Markets in France.
If we say Christmas Markets, we normally say Germany! They date back to medieval times when Germans covered a wide part of Europe. Some of the German Christmas markets date from the 15th – 16th centuries. Historical documents registered that Dresden’s market dates from 1434. Nuremberg’s Christmas market allegedly dates from 1628, though some historians say it dates from 1530.
Even though it’s part of France nowadays, Alsace historically spent long periods under German rule and is sometimes seen as culturally German. The oldest Christmas Market in France, dating back to 1500, is in Strasbourg, calling itself the “Capital of Christmas”, with a long-standing protestant tradition. The proximity to Germany gives a “Germanic touch” and legitimacy, much appreciated in France.
The three main characters of Christmas in Alsace are Saint Nicolas, Hans Trapp, and Christkindel. The Christmas market of Strasbourg was initially known as the Saint Nicolas’ fair, held on the 6th of December. At the time of the Reformation, in the 16th century, the authorities renamed the popular event after the angelic gift-bringer (Christkindelsmärik). Consequently, the date of giving presents was changed from the 6th of December to the 25th of December.
In Colmar, a small village near Strasbourg, the Christmas celebrations from Advent to Epiphany give the Alsatian town a fairy-tale atmosphere. Each year the residents of Colmar decorate their windows and houses respecting the Alsatian heritage and in line with the rest of the Christmas Market. The design of the Christmas Market in Colmar is so important that the entire market has been designed by an architect, respecting the rich architectural heritage of Colmar.
A visit to the Colmar Christmas Market promises to be an unforgettable experience!
HOW CAN I PLAN A SOLO TRIP TO COLMAR CHRISTMAS MARKET?
Even if you’ve never heard of Colmar or Alsace, rest assured it is very easy to get there. If you are from outside of Europe, the easiest will be to get by plane to Paris or even better, Strasbourg Entzheim (SXB). It takes around 5 to 7 hours to drive from Paris to Colmar, or you can take a train from Gare de l’Est for 2.5 hours from 20€. From Strasbourg, there is a direct train that will get you there in 30 minutes.
Other options might be to land at Mulhouse EuroAirport (MLH), any of Basel airports in Swiss (EAP), or Karlsruhe Söllingen (FKB) and get by train to Colmar. You can also take a train from Zurich (ZRH) to Colmar via Basel Sbb for 2h40m.
If you are in a big city in Europe and want to travel on a budget to Colmar, you might consider the option of BlaBlaCar to Strasbourg and take a 30 minutes train ride to Colmar starting from 5€. There are on average 33 trains per day between Strasbourg and Colmar. You will get yours.
In any case, you can find many connections to Strasbourg and from there you have trains every hour and very cheap.
THE MAGIC OF Christmas Market IN COLMAR
For my taste, nothing beats Colmar Christmas Market!
Everything about this small French village in the Alsace region (so yeah, you could say it is almost German) makes you feel like you’ve landed in Hänsel and Gretel fairy tale. I believe Colmar was conceived for Christmas. There’s no other place that encompasses the spirit of Christmas better than Colmar. As soon as I got off the train from Strasbourg, I fell in love with this magical place. I was feeling so sentimental during my entire visit to Colmar that I could almost cry out of too many emotions. And this is why Colmar is at the top of my list, because of how it made me feel, and what emotions emerged to the surface and I can tell you there’s no better way to get connected to your inner child. It was like I was that blonde curly-hair little girl that believed in Santa and in the spirit of Christmas once again. So, thank you, Colmar, for that unique experience!
What I loved during ColMAR Christmas Market
- The entire village which is a Christmas fairy tale, filled with magic powder
- The Flammkuchen (Flatbread Pizza) and the crêpes
- The Carols hearing all over the village
- The fairy-tale vibe and the magical feeling of being young and innocent once again
- The sparkle in my eyes walking along the village and forgetting the cold outside
Where to eat during Christmas Market IN COLMAR
First, when I am at a Christmas Market I will always prioritize eating local food from the stalls. And Colmar is the best place to do so. Why? Because here, nothing is left to fate. Even the food and the sweets that you will find in the stalls are thoroughly verified to be locally produced and in the Christmas spirit. So, there is no better place to indulge in the local traditional Alsatian food.
The setting is perfect. Houses decorated in the Christmas spirit, an abundance of seasonal lights, good food, Christmas cookies, and gingerbread. All of these elements combine to offer an unforgettable magical experience. Everything is so tasty, starting from the mulled wine to gingerbread or local pastries like Etoile Kirsch.
But despite that, there are so many beautiful places to eat in Colmar, that you will want to spend more days treating yourself.
The regional tradition continues to award Alsace with the greatest number of stars awarded for the excellence of its restaurants and hotels. A few classic specialties from Alsace are the foie gras (invented in Strasburg in 1780), baeckaoffe (a dish composed of three types of marinated meat and potatoes in white wine), the sauerkraut, the matelote du Rhin fish dish, le coq au Riesling (chicken in wine), pain d´épices (gingerbread) and Kougelhopf (sweet, bun-like specialty with raisin macerated in kirsch), or the Munster cheese.
Here are some famous places where you can all these traditional Alsatian dishes:
- La Brasserie des Tanneurs
- Au Vieux Pignon
- Le Gruber
- Le Cercle des Arômes Colmar
- Restaurant La Stub Tartes Flambées Colmar
BONUS: VISIT THE CHRISTMAS MARKETS IN EUROPE ON A BUDGET
- Plan in advance and start early
- Make a list of your favorite Christmas Markets in Europe
- Check the opening dates for those favorite Christmas Markets
- Start with the ones that open early in November, that’s when prices are the lowest for flights and accommodation
- Plan the most optimal route – it demands time and patience
- Check trains between countries or cities, you might find better rates, and you save the planet at the same time. Santa will definitely put you on top of his list
- BlaBlaCar works very well in Europe, so this could be a great option to stay on your budget
- Try to go to big cities during the week, not the week-end when it’s full of tourists
- Find accommodation in a nearby city that is not that crowded or overrated for accommodations (I stayed in Bologna and took the train, 1H15 to Verona to see the Christmas Market)
- Allocate a maximum of 3 days per Christmas Market. It will give you time to experience also the city if it’s your first time.
CHECK OUT THE BEST Christmas Markets tours
DID YOU FIND THIS ARTICLE USEFUL?
Tell me in the comments section if you’ve been to a Christmas Market in Europe and what was your experience. If you are planning to go on solo travel ask me for some useful tips that are not in this article.
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