If I can give you some advice, skip the whirlwind Alsace Christmas market tour. I know there are companies that offer this as a day trip from Paris, but visiting Alsace is incredible and it’s worth building in a few days to stay in these quaint villages, especially at Christmas time.
Ever since our first trip along the Alsace wine route in February 2020, Tom has been obsessed with returning to the Alsace. He LOVES the entire Alsace region. (He goes back and forth between Eguisheim and Rothenburg ob der Tauber being his favorite small towns to visit.) When I found a really great deal at one of the hotels on my “hotel bucket list”, I started building our 2021 Christmas itinerary around those dates in Colmar. I knew we couldn’t go to Alsace without visiting the Capital of Christmas, so I ended up adding a few days in Strasbourg onto our itinerary. With that addition, we would have a week to visit the Alsace Christmas markets before heading back to Paris for Christmas again, which ended up being an absolutely perfect Christmas itinerary.
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Getting to the Alsace Christmas Markets
The best part of visiting the Alsace Christmas markets is that you can do it by train or by car. If you are planning to visit France specifically for the Christmas markets, I think the easiest way to get to Alsace is to fly into Paris CDG. Why? Because you can board a TGV train to Strasbourg directly from the airport. The train takes less than 2 hours, and from there, you can stay in Strasbourg, take a regional train to one of the small towns in Alsace, or pick up a rental car from the train station. (I’ve had great experiences with Budget and Sixt in Strasbourg.)
If you are looking to fly into Alsace, Strasbourg (SXB) and Basel (BSL) are the largest regional airports in the immediate area. If you are flying in from abroad, Paris (CDG) and Frankfurt (FRA) are connected by train and take well under 3 hours. On our last trip to the Alsace for Christmas, we flew into Paris and out of Frankfurt, which prevented unnecessary backtracking.
Tips for Traveling Alsace by Train
It is entirely possible to visit Alsace without a car. We’ve done it via car and via train and had great trips either way. If you’re doing it as part of a longer France itinerary, you can take a train from Paris to Alsace via direct trains to Strasbourg or Colmar.
- If you are traveling to Alsace during off-peak times, you shouldn’t need to buy your train ticket to Strasbourg in advance. If you are traveling from Paris to the Alsatian Christmas markets (or over weekends in the summer), I highly recommend booking your train ticket in advance – however – I might consider booking a flexible ticket, just in case your flight is delayed.
- Always book directly through SNCF to have the most (and easiest) options in the event you need to change your ticket, or in the event of train cancellations or strikes. It’s far easier to scan your ticket barcode (or use the app) when you don’t have to go back to a third-party for changes.
- The further in advance you book, the more money you can save. Splurging for 1st class on the longer train journeys can be worth the upgrade. It’s a very smooth and comfortable experience. Most of the regional trains are 2nd class only and don’t require seat reservations. We had no trouble getting tickets for regional trains between Strasbourg and Colmar during Christmas.
- It is entirely possible to put together an itinerary to visit some of the best European Christmas markets by train. However, it might mean cutting out some of the smaller towns that aren’t as well connected so you don’t waste travel time. In 2022, we did a trip from Paris to Alsace to Frankfurt that coincided with the opening of each Christmas market. It was a very easy trip to do by train. We could have added in some of the smaller markets using the Alsace Christmas shuttle between villages, but we decided to take it a slower.
Tips for Traveling Alsace by Car
If you are wanting to visit some of the lesser known towns and Christmas markets in Alsace, a car may make the most sense for you. We really loved having a car when we stayed in Barr and Eguisheim. The roads in France are really nice, even when you get off the highways and onto the smaller roads. It is very easy to drive in Alsace.
That being said, I would opt for the smallest car that makes sense for your group. These are ancient cities with small roads. Parking spots are smaller than they are in the US. Smaller cars are more fuel efficient. It’s just easier to get around in a smaller car. We usually book a compact car for the two of us. It works for our luggage and our wine suitcase. (A wine suitcase is a great idea in Alsace.) When we travel with family, we book a Fiat 500L or comparable car.
Make sure you pick up an international driver’s permit before you go. We have not found that this is required in France (but now may be required in Italy based on our most recent trip in 2022). This document translates your information, in the event that you need it. That can be really helpful in small towns where people may not speak much English or be familiar with your driver’s license. It’s good for a year and can be used throughout Europe (and the rest of the world).
Before we started renting cars in France, we read Back Roads France, Road Trips in France, and France’s Best Road Trips to learn more about expectations of the road and driving in France. Not only do these books offer some great practical advice, but they have some excellent itinerary ideas. I will say that driving in France is far easier than driving in Italy, so if you’re looking for a great place to start driving in Europe, this can be a great place to do it. Just make sure you know how to drive a manual transmission. 🙂
Alsace Christmas Market Dates
One of the things that is really good about the Alsace Christmas markets is that many open during the third week in November and run throughout the month of December. Some are even open after Christmas! This is different from the Christmas markets in Germany, as many of those are completely closed by December 23, so if you are only in Europe for Christmas through New Year’s, you could miss the markets if you don’t plan your trip thoughtfully! For example, the Strasbourg and Mulhouse Christmas markets follow the German calendar and close its markets by December 23. However, the Colmar Christmas markets are open until after Christmas!
Another thing that is unique about the Alsace Christmas markets is that not every market runs continuously during the advent season. Some are only open for a weekend or two, so if you have your heart set on a visiting a particular town or Christmas market, you’ll want to double check its opening dates and times. It feels like the entire region gets into making the towns extra beautiful during the Christmas season, so it’s probably worth a trip, even if the market isn’t open, but I wouldn’t want you to be disappointed. Before planning your trip, make sure to read up on all the Christmas markets in Alsace and check the dates.
Some of the Best Christmas Markets in Alsace
Strasbourg Christmas Markets
The Strasbourg Christmas markets are, perhaps, the most famous in Alsace. There are multiple markets throughout the city, and it’s almost impossible for me to choose a favorite. I loved the Place des Meuniers and Benjamin-Zix markets near Petite France because they weren’t as crowded, and we had some good conversations with several of the vendors while we were there. They were happy to teach us more about their products and give us more information about Strasbourg.
My favorite vin chaud blanc is from a vendor right in front of the entrance of the Strasbourg Cathedral. (Vin chaud blanc is the best mulled wine at the Alsace Christmas markets. Don’t even try to change my mind.) The Strasbourg Cathedral is absolutely breathtaking – don’t forget to go inside… before heading around the corner to the ornament market at the Place du Chateaux for a souvenir or two.
If you’re looking to enjoy some traditional Alsatian food and drink, head to the Rohan Terrace Christmas market. Here you’ll find Alsatian wines, various baked goods and sweet treats, sausages and choucroute, and so much more. Don’t miss visiting the pop up bakery, which is staffed by retired bakers throughout the Christmas market season. We bought a pain d’épice, and it was the perfect way to end each evening. (The chocolate one is also delicious.) If you can’t get dinner reservations, the Strasbourg Christmas markets will make sure that you eat well.
I was never disappointed when we turned the corner at Place Kleber and saw that huge Christmas tree sparkling at us, though the Christmas market and the streets around it could get VERY crowded, especially in the evening. My best advice is to shop in the morning and come in the evening for the ambiance. There are numerous events throughout Strasbourg throughout the holiday season, so you’ll never be bored.
If you want to photograph the Christmas lights in Strasbourg, you will need to plan to stay out pretty late. It was so crowded that I wouldn’t even think about setting up a tripod during the evenings. (Not that I didn’t see people try…) Similarly, if you want to photograph the Christmas decorations on the half-timbered houses, you’ll want to get out early. Strasbourg is fairly quiet until 11:00am – 12:00pm. After that, the popular streets are very, very crowded and it will be tough to take photos.
Don’t Miss: Take a food tour of the Strasbourg Christmas markets!
Colmar Christmas Markets
Though smaller than Strasbourg (but just as magical), it feels like the entire old town of Colmar is covered in Christmas markets. And, I suppose, it probably is! Like Strasbourg, you’ll find canals, and the Petite Venice area offers beautiful views. It is probably one of the most recognized parts of Alsace with its pastel half timbered houses and the Lauch river. Even in winter, you can take an open-air boat ride, and I highly recommend scheduling it to coincide with sunset or blue hour.
Take a twirl around the huge ice rink at the Champs de Mars Christmas market in Colmar. This area is great for kids and families and feels more like a winter carnival than a Christmas market. If you’re looking to make a dinner out of a Christmas market, head to the gourmet Christmas market in front of St. Martin at Place de la Cathédrale. If you are traveling to Colmar outside of Christmastime, La Magie de Noël is a great resource to find all the information about events happening during the Colmar Christmas markets.
For a break from French food or to get away from the Christmas market crowds, Colmar has some incredible Italian food just outside of the city center. Via Roma and La Pignata are two of the most memorable meals I’ve had in Alsace. Both restaurants need reservations, regardless of the time of year. You’ll need some French to get a table at La Pignata.
Colmar rewards the patient tourist who will peel back the touristy layers to find the delightful hidden gems. If you want to take a break from the Christmas market crowds, head to the Unterlinden Museum or the Bartholdi Museum.
If you want to stay in Colmar and experience the Alsace wine route without a car, I strongly recommend booking a bike tour of Alsace. We biked from Colmar to Eguisheim and back on electric bikes. It was absolutely gorgeous and a great way to see the sights. When we go back, I will be booking one of their gastronomic bike tours of Alsace. Louis was our guide, and he was very engaging, thoughtful, and took great care to keep us all safe.
My favorite souvenirs from Colmar are traditional Alsatian Linzer and spritz cookies (especially the cinnamon stars) and the Alsatian wine. My favorite winery in Colmar is Domaine Martin Jund. If you book ahead of time, they do offer a tasting. I really enjoyed their Gewurztraminer, a wine I didn’t think I liked before trying theirs.
Tom also really loves the Alsatian Christmas beer (bière de Noël). We had an enjoyable break at the bar in the covered market with beer and fresh pretzels.
Eguisheim Christmas Market
We walked between Colmar and Eguisheim one day because my husband loves Eguishseim and really wanted to see if it was possible. (It took a little over an hour. There *is* a bus called the Christmas Shuttle.) Behind the main square in Eguisheim is a small Christmas market that feels very local with regional crafts and foods. It has one of the longest open periods of the smaller villages, which makes it perfect to visit throughout December.
If you are there in the evening, you can enjoy a visit from the Eguisheim Nightwatchman. I would have loved to do this, as there were a lot of Christmas lights around the Eguisheim market, and I think the ambiance would be incredible.
For an absolutely delicious traditional Alsatian meal, book a table at Caveau d’Eguisheim. They have a table-side flambee steak au poivre, an extensive local wine list, and several other regional specialities. (Tom loves their choucroute.)
We’ve only tried a few of the wine tasting rooms in Eguisheim, but my favorite is Paul Gaschy. We met several members of the family, and they were very warm and welcoming. If you know if you prefer dry or sweet wines, they are happy to make recommendations. They have an extensive list.
Kasyersberg Christmas Market
Kaysersberg is probably one of the picturesque villages year-round, in my opinion. We made it our home base on one of our trips to Alsace, and I loved walked through the streets, especially at blue hour and sunset. The Christmas markets in Kaysersberg are open for a very limited amount of time, so you’ll want to double check the calendar if you are planning on visiting the markets exclusively. One of the more unique things Kaysersberg offers is a Christmas farmers market with plenty of local products.
The other thing I noticed about Kaysersberg is the high number of highly rated restaurants. If you’re into eating well, this is the Alsatian village for you. It’s worth mentioning that many Michelin restaurants in Alsace fall into a more affordable price range, so it’s worth seeking them out, even if Michelin stars aren’t usually things you typically do when you travel.
Beyond food, Kaysersberg is perfect for enjoying the amenities in town, as well as enjoying the beauty of nature. Nestled in a valley, our Kaysersberg hotel overlooked the beautiful vineyards around it. An ancient 12th century castle looks over the town while a river runs through it. Like Eguisheim, it’s easy to immerse yourself into a fairytale fantasy here.
The architecture and natural landscape of Kaysersberg makes it a particularly beautiful place to visit and a lovely base for exploring the Alsace wine route. In fact, I loved it so much that I purchased an incense burner that was a replica of one of the most beautiful buildings in Kaysersberg.
I would rate Kaysersberg as one of the most deliciously quaint towns in France. I loved how many options for outdoor dining (even in winter) they offered because the scenery is stunning. The town is very walkable, impeccably maintained, and is pretty perfect for a magical and romantic winter trip.
Riquewihr Christmas Markets
I love Riquewihr. It’s definitely in my top 3 favorite towns in Alsace and where I will try and convince Tom to stay on our next trip to the Alsace. It reminds me a lot of Rothenburg ob der Tauber with its walls that circle the town – the only thing it’s missing is a beautiful town center. That’s okay though because the architecture is stunning.
The walled town of Riquewihr, with its ramparts and towers, is straight out of the Middle Ages. They preserved all their history in a single museum, where you can see everything from wine-making tools to medeival weapons!
That said, Riquewihr is artsy! In addition to the Christmas market in Riquewihr, you can shop for souvenirs and gifts throughout the year in Riquewihr. There are several art and glass galleries lining the main street, as well as all the Christmas cheer you can handle at Feerie de Noel. This Riquewihr Christmas shop has beautiful ornaments and a variety of Christmas decor. In July 2022, we stumbled upon the Riquewihr Venetian festival, and they had a market and a costume parade.
I think the Riquewihr outpost of Maison Alsacienne de Biscuiterie has the best Alsatian cookies, outside of the Christmas markets. My favorites are the cinnamon stars, more common referred to as etoile, and the praline flowers. I highly recommend trying a little bit of everything sold and figure out what your favorites are. They were really kind about this!
Near Riquewihr is one of my favorite places for an Alsatian wine tasting. You’ll be able to see the vineyards, tour the cellar, and taste the wines. They ship within France, and we’ve had them ship us a case of wine to Paris more than once!
Hotels near the Alsace Christmas Markets
Between our multiple trips to the Alsace, we have stayed in several hotels around the Alsace wine route. All of the hotels that I’m recommending are centrally located to the Christmas markets. The right hotel for you will depend on your itinerary and your budget. As a whole, Alsace hotels are pretty affordable (with some notable splurges), though it does get expensive at Christmastime. There are limited rooms and limited hotels in some of these small towns, so I recommend booking in advance and not waiting until the last minute.
I’ve included a few photos to whet your appetite for a few hotels near the Christmas markets in Alsace, but for more details, please check out my post on where to stay in Alsace!
Where to Stay near the Strasbourg Christmas Markets
I did a lot of research before our first trip to Strasbourg. I strongly recommend paying a premium to stay at one of the hotels near Strasbourg Christmas market. Hotels in Strasbourg can be expensive, but the convenience of being in the city center is well worth it. We tend to stay in Petite France, which offers some beautiful views of Strasbourg and isn’t quite as busy as Place Kleber or the area around the Cathedral.
If you are choosing among the best Strasbourg hotels, these two hotels are my top picks. The character of the rooms are completely different, but both are very comfortable, close to the Strasbourg Christmas markets, and have spas.
Regent Petite France Pavilion
On our first trip, we stayed at the Regent Petite France Pavilion in Strasbourg. The Regent Petite France has two buildings, and the pavilion is right across the street from the main building. The Pavilion only has 17 rooms, and I loved how quiet it was, even during the height of the holidays. Strasbourg was busy, but the Regent Petite France offered us plenty of respite.
I booked a privilege room, which ended up being a remarkably spacious L-shaped room with plenty of light and overlooking the famous rotating bridge and the canals of Petite France. We opened our windows to cool off our room (yes, even in winter) and enjoyed the musicians who played nearby in the early evenings!
The French are incredible at design, and the Regent Petite France is no exception. Our room had a small desk, as well as a small sitting area. Other room amenities included tea service and a mini fridge. Given that we ended up with a few makeshift picnic dinners due to a lack of dinner reservations, we had everything we needed.
There was a separate toilet area in the bathroom, which was really nice. Our bath had dual sinks and a large walk-in shower. Bath amenities were Kos (also found at Hotel du Louvre in Paris), the water pressure was good, and we had no issue with hot water. The heated towel rack was really nice, especially in the evenings. The bathroom was well-lit, very clean, and extremely comfortable for two people.
We utilized the hotel spa several times during our stay in Strasbourg. They have an outdoor jacuzzi that overlooks Petite France, as well as a sauna, a steam room, and a salt cave. They also offer numerous face and body treatments, though I didn’t take advantage of any of those. I preferred the jacuzzi, sauna, and salt cave!
The Regent Petite France is surrounded by Michelin restaurants, and they were quick to let us know that they had been booked out for more than three weeks for our dates. You ALWAYS need restaurant reservations in Alsace. You’ll want to plan your meals in advance to avoid disappointment. That said, the Strasbourg Christmas market food is delicious and I’ve never been let down by a boulangerie in France.
Book This: Regent Petite France Hotel & Spa
Le Bouclier d’Or Hotel and Spa
We stayed at Le Bouclier d’Or Hotel and Spa on our second trip to Strasbourg. Since we were traveling with my mom, we had two “Bourgeoises” rooms. We had a first floor room overlooking the hotel courtyard, and my mom’s ground floor room had a street view.
Rooms at Le Bouclier d’Or are traditional with antiques, heavy brocade drapes, beautiful chandeliers, and wood floors. The beds and linens are very nice. It is a completely different luxury vibe than Maison des Tetes. I loved the small Christmas touches in our room, and the hotel was decked out for Christmas. Both the linens and the mattress were very comfortable.
The bathroom is incredible with a beautiful marble shower with outstanding water pressure. Like the Regent Pavilion, our bathroom offered dual sinks, spa robes, and was very well lit. We did take advantage of the spa at Le Bouclier d’Or. I had a great massage, and we enjoyed the sauna, plunge pool, and whirlpool each morning. It’s a great way to disappear from the bustle of Strasbourg at Christmas.
Book This: Le Bouclier d’Or Hotel and Spa in Strasbourg
Where to Stay near the Christmas Markets in Colmar
There are a lot of hotels near the Colmar Christmas market, but I have a favorite. We’ve stayed at this hotel twice, and I don’t think I’ll stay anywhere else. It’s definitely the nicest hotel that we’ve stayed in through our travels in Alsace. La Maison des Tetes in Colmar is personally my favorite splurge hotel in the Alsace, especially if you don’t need a spa. Maison des Tetes is one of the Relais & Chateaux hotels, and everything about it lives up to R&C standards.
This hotel does sell out. Whenever I find a great deal, I snap it up for our trip and plan the rest of our Alsace itinerary around those days.
Maison des Tetes
The 21-room hotel is housed in an iconic ancient building on a quieter street in the Colmar city center. It’s steps away from everything you want to see, yet the hotel offers quiet serenity away the crowds. (You’ll see people taking photos of the hotel at all hours, but stays quiet.) In a sharp contrast to the exterior, the hotel rooms are straight up luxury with a minimalist and classic design. The staff is incredibly kind and welcoming, making it the perfect Colmar retreat.
I booked the comfort room at des Tetes, which was on the first floor (second for Americans!) on the main facade of the building. The understated luxury of the room included soft linens curtains that blocked noise and light. I loved the soft linens and many pillows that accompanied our king bed. The room offered plenty of light through windows, lamps, wall sconces, and even reading lights on both sides of the bed. We had a small alcove with a recliner and coffee table, as well as a small desk area. I enjoyed writing in the recliner.
The color scheme of Maison des Tetes is neutrals and a soft navy that complements the beautiful wood paneling in the rooms. I loved how warm and cozy the room felt; nothing about this hotel feels stuffy. The exposed beams contrast with the modern lines of the furniture, yet it fits together perfectly in that way that Europeans pull off extraordinarily well. The carpet was plush and very clean.
The large bathroom had an extra long soaking tub, dual sinks, and the toilet was separate from the bath. I missed the heated towel rack because it did get down to low 20s while we were in Colmar, but the bathtub made up for it!
Our room had a Nespresso machine, a mini-fridge, and plenty of room for storage and in the closet. Our welcome gifts have always been local Alsatian pastries. They are a lovely touch and one of my favorite things about this R&C hotel.
Book This: Maison des Tetes
Where to Stay near the Smaller Alsace Christmas Markets
If you want to explore some of the smaller Christmas markets near Strasbourg, hear me out. Grab a car and stay in Barr and explore some of the smaller towns around it. Barr is the perfect location for visiting the Obernai Christmas market (10 minutes away – max), the Selestat Christmas market (20 minutes away), and some of the other smaller markets that may only be open for a day or two. Barr is beautiful, and we found so many great restaurants there. It feels far less touristy than Colmar or Strasbourg.
5 Terres Hotel & Spa
We stayed at the 5 Terres Hotel and Spa on our first trip to Alsace and it surpassed all of my expectations. It is a great spa hotel in the middle of one of the most picturesque towns of Alsace. (It’s a member of Accor hotels; I’m a big fan of their MGallery hotel brand because of the boutique hotel feel.)
We stayed in a deluxe room overlooking the Hotel de Ville. The rooms are thoroughly modern with hardwood floors and exposed timber ceilings. (In a lot of ways, it reminded of the Klosterstuble in Rothenberg ob der Tauber with more modern decor.) Despite its location overlooking the town center, our room was very quiet.
The bed was comfortable and cozy with a warm throw blanket for those cold winter evenings! The linens were soft, and I slept very well. The room was well lit between large windows and several lamps. I found the lamplight to be very soft and romantic, making this hotel a great choice for a honeymoon in Alsace.
Our room had a small sitting area and a small desk. There was enough space for us to get a few things done, and there is plenty of room to work downstairs, as well. The wardrobe offered plenty of storage, a safe, a mini fridge, as well as a tea kettle.
The bathroom offered a large walk-in shower with good water pressure. Toiletries were an independent hotel brand with a refreshing scent, which I appreciate after a long travel day. The vanity had plenty of room for two people. The room offered spa skits with robes and slippers, which made it easy to go between our room and the spa. The bathroom offered heated towel racks, which I really love for swimsuits. (I hate putting on a wet suit, especially in the winter!)
Speaking of the spa, it is one of my favorite parts of this hotel. It is in a vaulted stone cellar and offers an absolutely beautiful pool. There is a huge sauna, as well as hamman. We spent our time going between the dry sauna and the pool. I love starting and ending my day at a spa when traveling. There are also plenty of lounging chairs, so you could just take a book and just enjoy the ambiance.
Book This: 5 Terres Hotel and Spa in Barr
Where to Stay near the Kaysersberg Christmas Market
When we visited in Alsace in winter, we split our time between Barr and Kaysersberg. Barr felt very local while Kaysersberg felt a bit more touristy, at least in terms of the businesses and shops that were open. That said, we love the fairytale beauty of Kaysersberg. It’s incredibly picturesque, and we would definitely return.
Le Chambard Kaysersberg
I was really excited to stay at Le Chambard because it is a Relais & Chateaux property. I ended up loving Kaysersberg, though I felt like the Chambard didn’t live up to the expectations I had in my mind, especially after Maison des Tetes. Our check in experience felt very rushed. The other Relais properties I have stayed at offer a welcome drink, a local treat, and take care of delivering the luggage to your room while you take a moment to relax. At Le Chambard, we were just handed a key to our room. It lacked the personal touches that I love about Relais properties.
The thing that surprised me most about Le Chambard is how sharp the contrast the interiors are compared to the exterior of the building. The common areas have bright and modern fabrics covering period antiques. The hallway leading toward our room was a loud zebra print, but our standard Chambard room was a step back in time with thick carpet, bright salmon colored doors and furniture, purple damask wallpaper, yet a thoroughly modern bathroom. The room felt very dark though. We had a hard time getting enough light in our room. I wasn’t entirely sure what the vibe of the hotel was supposed to be. The room was perfectly comfortable, but a stark contrast to the other hotels in Alsace.
The room itself felt small because the furniture was very large and the room was quite narrow. There was a door between the bedroom and the bathroom, and I felt like closing the door made the room feel a lot smaller. We did enjoying having a small patio that overlooked the wine terraces. (Our room was on the ground floor.) The mattress was very nice, and I slept very well.
The bathroom was very large by comparison and offered a bathtub-shower combination, which I appreciated. Like any good spa hotel, our room included a spa bag with slippers, robes, and everything that you need for the spa. Our room was on the same hallway as the spa, so we didn’t have too far to go.
The Chambard spa has a dry sauna, an indoor pool, and a whirlpool. The pool and whirlpool area is really lovely with huge windows overlooking the hotel courtyard. (The James Vignoble has a very similar vibe.) The pool was a little cold for me in the winter, but I did use the whirlpool. The dry sauna is small, but is a great way to relax and warm up each morning and evening. The spa offers massages and facials as well.
There is a gated parking lot with a speaker behind the hotel. One of the front desk staff met us there, guided us to a spot, and helped unload our luggage. I loved the location of this hotel. In retrospect, we should have gotten a reservation at one of the hotel restaurants. It was obvious that we missed out on some lovely meals at the property!
The Kaysersberg Christmas market is right by Le Chambard, so you can’t get a more perfect location. Kaysersberg is also very convenient to Riquewihr and Ribeauville and is a great base for exploring that part of the Alsace wine route.
Book This: Relais & Chateaux Le Chambard Kaysersberg
Where to Stay near the Eguisheim Christmas Market
Eguisheim is one of my husband’s favorite towns in Alsace. He loves Beauty and the Beast and Eguisheim was the setting that inspired Disney’s rendition of it. There are not a lot of hotels in Eguisheim. Most accommodations are apartment style rentals, which is why I was really excited to find the James Vignoble hotel just outside of Eguisheim, overlooking the vineyards of Alsace. It is a 5-10 minute walk from the Eguisheim Christmas market and town center.
James Vignoble Hotel
I booked a classic room with a king bed. We were assigned a room on the lowest level of the hotel. It was small with a small porch overlooking the vineyard. The king bed was very low to the ground, but it ended up being unexpectedly comfortable. The bed featured dual down comforters, similar to what you find in Germany and Austria, which I found interesting. We were able to regulate the temperature of our room very well. I thought the room was a little bit dark, and I would probably opt for one of the rooms on the first floor overlooking the pool on our next trip.
The bathroom was very small, as was the shower and vanity. It’s probably the smallest bathroom I’ve had in Alsace. The water pressure was fine, and there was only one morning where we had an issue with hot water. It proved to be temporary, though I would plan your shower at “off peak” hours, just to make sure you aren’t disappointed. We didn’t have a bathtub, but I believe you can request a room that does have one.
The hotel offers two pools (indoor and outdoor), a jacuzzi, and the coolest sauna ever. The sauna is glass enclosed and protrudes into the vineyards, offering you a full view of the beauty of the Alsace wine route while relaxing. You can also book spa treatments, though they recommend doing so in advance.
The hotel also offers an on-site bar, which serves Alsatian wines by the glass and the bottle. We didn’t take advantage of it on this trip, but the prices were very reasonable. Breakfast can be added on at 15 euro per person. There is on-site parking, which makes it easy to get out and explore the nearby towns by car, on foot, or by bike.
Book This: James Vignoble Hotel
Tips for Visiting Christmas Markets in France
If you only have 3 days in Alsace for Christmas markets, I would pick one town and focus on enjoying it. I would get out early and enjoy having the city to yourself for a few hours, take a break during the middle of the day, and get out again in the early evening to enjoy the ambiance and have a great dinner each evening. (Make sure to schedule at least one dinner at the Christmas markets in Alsace!)
If you choose Colmar as your base, you could take advantage of the Colmar Christmas shuttle that runs between Eguisheim and Colmar, but I wouldn’t do much more than that.
If you have 4 days in Alsace, you could spend two nights in two different cities. If you are willing to drive, I would recommend choosing between the Colmar or Strasbourg Christmas market and coupling it with one of the smaller towns. For example, I’d choose Colmar and Kaysersberg or Strasbourg and Barr. Just make sure to check the dates of the smaller Christmas markets in advance because they are not continuous.
Planning for Alsace at Christmas
If you are planning to spend Christmas in Alsace, consider being in Strasbourg or Colmar over the holidays. If you are in Strasbourg for Christmas, you could attend midnight mass at the Strasbourg Cathedral.
Like the Christmas markets in Germany, many Christmas markets in Alsace will wrap up by December 23. However, the Christmas markets in Colmar do stay open for a few days after Christmas, so it might be the right place for you to spend Christmas!
Shop Early to Avoid the Christmas Market Crowds
Similar to visiting other Christmas markets in Europe, if you intend to shop, start early in the day. The Alsace Christmas markets get progressively more busy as the day trippers arrive. There is a slight (slight) lull at some of them between 4:00-5:00pm, but they pick up again the evening.
I like to make a lap around a market, get an idea of what is on offer, then go back for further conversations with the vendors. Most are as excited as you are going to want them to be. If you ask questions, they will answer. If they feel like you just want to buy, they will wrap up your purchased efficiently. Personally, I really enjoyed talking to the vendors about their products and asking for local recommendations. Obviously, if they are super busy, be cognizant of that.
Prices are generally very fair. I don’t think you need to do price comparisons. If you see something you like, buy it. Don’t count on it being at another market later on. I’ve been burned by that before!
Try the Local Foods of Alsace
Some of my most memorable meals in Europe have been at the Christmas markets. When we were in Strasbourg and were completely without dinner reservations, we had dinner at the Christmas market. Everywhere we go, I try to seek out the regional specialties – both in terms of food and drink. Food tours and wine tastings are great ways to do this. Both Colmar and Strasbourg offer Alsace Christmas food markets where you can try local specialties. We always have at least one dinner at the Christmas markets in France, whether we are in Paris or Alsace. The local specialties are too good to miss.
My favorite winter drink in Alsace is the vin chaud blanc. There’s nothing better than a crisp Alsatian white wine with dinner or while watching the sunset over the vines in the summer. I loved trying the different versions of pain d’epices from various bakery stalls at the Christmas markets. Kugelhoph is also a delicious dessert!
We tried the Alsatian spaetzle, choucroute (with a glass of Alsatian reisling!), and every sausage on offer. (Why is freshly grilled sausage in a baguette at a Christmas market so good?!) Another easy meal is a tarte flambee, which is a flatbread that is served with various toppings.
I can’t recommend this gastronomic tour of the Christmas markets in Strasbourg is the perfect introduction to Alsatian foods. (If you are visiting outside of Christmastime, this Strasbourg food tour is a great option, too!)
Most French Christmas markets are outside. Colmar in winter can get pretty cold, but it’s not unbearable. Temperatures can oscillate pretty significantly, especially in the Alsace. Sometimes we started the day in the low 20s (F), but temperatures climbed to 50 (F) during the middle of the day, before dropping back down in the evening. The best way to stay comfortable is to wear layers that are easy to store if you want to take them off during the day. I love Cuddleduds for base layers. I’ve found that cashmere sweaters allow me to regulate my temperature pretty well. I never get too hot or too cold. I shop the Neiman Marcus Cashmere Collection when it is on sale. These sweaters have lasted longer than any others I’ve owned.
You’ll also want waterproof shoes. While we didn’t encounter too much rain or snow in the Alsace last year, winter in France can be wet. I live in Stuart Weitzman 50/50 boots. I find them to be super comfortable and can walk for miles in them. (Literally. I wore them when we walked from Colmar to Eguisheim.)
I think this is the most important tip. The atmosphere of Christmas markets is festive, warm, and cozy. It’s straight up magical, no matter where you go. The German language even has a word to describe the warmth and coziness of the Christmas season: gemütlichkeit. Slow down, look for those moments and enjoy them.
We’ve gotten so good at focusing on the positive of our travels that it’s hard for us to remember the things went wrong. Travel is such a luxury and a privilege. Remember that – and if you start to feel otherwise – it’s time to take a break. Realistically, Christmas markets can be very busy and very crowded. It can be a little overwhelming at times. If you find yourself getting overwhelmed or stressed, take a break. You don’t have to see everything and go everywhere. Sometimes it’s great to just that a moment and watch the world go by. We loved popping into Meteor in Strasbourg and the covered market in Colmar for a pretzel and a beer to take a break from the crowds.
If I’m being completely honest, I don’t go to Christmas markets to shop as much as I go to embrace the spirit of Christmas. I love listening to the music, appreciating the lights (and the beautiful trees), and seeing communities come together. Some of my favorite memories are watching the ice skaters in Salzburg and deciding to join in (even though I had never skated before) and sharing meals with locals huddled around standing tables. When I put my ornaments on our travel-themed Christmas tree, those are the things I think about – and I encourage you to find moments to focus on the good.