One of our favorite things about living in Europe during the holiday season is the ubiquitous presence of CHRISTMAS MARKETS! From seasonal culinary delights to local mulled wine, and from handmade gifts to twinkling lights of nearly every conceivable color and configuration, Europe’s Christmas markets are a true sensory delight. We (or in all honesty, B.) starts planning our Christmas market agenda as soon as Oktoberfest draws to a close. Yes, the anticipation and excitement for Christmas is real in Haus June!
We decided almost immediately that our first market of the season would be the Marché de Noël in Colmar, France. A previous (but all too brief) visit to the beautiful Alsatian city earlier in 2016 had us both convinced that its Christmas tidings would be something truly special, and well worth the 2 1/2 hour drive from our home in Germany. These expectations were surpassed within mere minutes of our arrival in La Petite Venise (Little Venice), Colmar’s exquisitely charming canal-side neighborhood in the heart of the city center. There, we began our unguided walking tour of Colmar – in search of its five famed individual markets – on a bridge over the river Lauch on Boulevard Saint-Pierre.
We then walked north along the passage de la Petite Venise and Rue de la Herse, arriving within two minutes on a small bridge at Rue Turenne. Here, we found one of Colmar’s most iconic and colorful views, decked out for the holidays with flocked Christmas trees, icicle lights, and polar bears prancing on a roof.
As we exited the bridge and began walking east along the Rue de la Poissonerie, we stopped frequently to admire the neighborhood’s cafes, patisseries and apartments, each individually decorated for the holiday season. We hadn’t even found a market yet, and were already enamored with Christmas in Colmar!
As we reached the end of the Quai de la Poissonerie, we turned left and spent a few minutes in the city’s marché couvert (covered market) before continuing northwest along Rue des Tanneurs in the direction of Place de l’Ancienne Douane, site of the city’s special market devoted to the sale of local products.
We also stopped for several minutes to admire the antiques and objets d’art for sale in the Koïfhus, a 15th century customs house located directly adjacent to Place de l’Ancienne Douane.
After exploring the vendors at these two markets, we began walking southwest along the Grand Rue (at this point, looping back toward our starting point) in the direction of the children’s market in La Petite Venise. Here, wooden toys, handmade dolls, freshly baked gingerbread and a living Nativity scene delighted both the young and young at heart. Despite not having any children, we enjoyed exploring this marché pour les enfants more than any other (possibly with the assistance of a very tasty cup of mulled wine)!
Thanks for joining us on this Christmas journey through Colmar! For those interested in more information about the city’s beautiful Marché de Noël (open in 2016 until December 30), please visit their helpful website (available in English, French and German). Our walking route is displayed as a dashed line on the map below.
Joyeux Noël, and Merry Christmas! – B. & T. June
Next week’s post: our favorite travels of 2016!