Continuing on from our previous post - we finally reached the Alsace region to see France's most famous Christmas markets, the oldest in Europe too. The whole region is incredibly charming, it feels like you have travelled back in time to the Middle Ages or to another era with its characteristic timber framed architecture, to a classic French fairy tale. Here's the essential information:
DESTINATION : Alsace region
EXACT LOCATIONS : Strasbourg, Colmar, Eguisheim, Kayserberg and Riquewihr
DURATION : 2.5 days - left Paris Friday afternoon, came back Sunday night (ready for work Monday morning)
DISTANCES AND TRAVEL TIMES : Paris - Nancy (385km, about 4 hours depending on traffic)
Nancy - Strasbourg (160km, about 2 hours depending on traffic)
Strasbourg - Colmar (73km, about 1 hour depending on traffic)
The other little towns we visited were super close to each other 20-30 minutes max and very easy to reach (trust me you'll spend longer looking for a car park than actually getting there!)
So we started off with Strasbourg as it is the most famous and known as the Christmas capital of France. The old town is a must visit even though it has become a little touristy over the years. Just take a deep breath, be patient for the crowds to pass and imagine yourself there without everyone else around you. You'll be able to take some snaps without too many people in them and recreate memories from there. Each time I look at my photos taken in Strasbourg I don't remember the crowds, instead I remember what my photos reconstruct for me.
Apart from Strasbourg, what's really worth visiting are the little towns that are nearby. We had driven from Nancy to Strasbourg on Saturday morning and spent the day in Strasbourg (tucking into the typical Alsatian dish "flammkuchen", thinly rolled bread dough topped with fromage blanc, creme fraiche, thinly sliced onions and lardons) before heading to Colmar for the night. Colmar is a must see that I cannot recommend enough. After that, we chose three little nearby towns Eguisheim, Kayserberg and Riquewihr to try and visit.
We spent Saturday night and Sunday morning in Colmar and surprisingly enough were able to squeeze in all three towns on Sunday before returning to Paris on Sunday night.
Some snaps of the Alsatian Christmas markets at night. Mulled wine, hot chocolate, Christmas lights, hand made arts and crafts as delicious local market food galore!
These are some magical snaps from Colmar - my favourite place in the Alsace region. I woke up to this ridiculously fairy tale like scene outside our window and went nuts. I couldn't believe my eyes. Of course Frenchie and his daughter didn't flinch too much. To them this was considered "normal". NORMAL??! Some people just don't know what magic they have on their doorstep!
Oh and before I move from Colmar, I have to mention that when we arrived in Colmar on Saturday night, we realised that I had made a booking for the um, wrong YEAR haha. As Strasbourg and the whole Alsace region get booked up really fast during this season, if you're thinking of going make sure you get in fast. I think that's what happened with me when I accidentally booked the dates A YEAR IN ADVANCE haha.
Luckily as fate had it, we were able to find accommodation last minute due to a family whose car had broken down and weren't going to be able to make it to their accommodation in Colmar.
Thank goodness the universe had my back..!
Now put the Alsace region on your list. Like all these posts from the "WEEKEND GETAWAYS FROM PARIS" series, I've shown how it's very doable leaving Friday evening after work and getting back in on Sunday night. Why waste a weekend catching up on the housework when you can visit another region of France, spend your Friday night in a random 13€ per person triple share motel, then the following night scrambling around for last minute accommodation because you'd booked the room for the wrong year haha :)