A Quick Guide to the Alsace Christmas Markets

Original Post December 21, 2021 | Updated Post, September 10, 2023

It’s that time of the year when Europe becomes a magical wonderland of Christmas Markets, with each country having its own charm and uniqueness. And, after three years of having lived in Germany and only making it to Christmas Markets in the land of dirndls and bier, (and we can thank the pandemic for that), we were finally able to experience Christmas Markets in another favorite country of mine, France! Here, we share with you our quick guide to the Alsace Christmas Markets we visited.


Alsace Region

Alsace is a region located in Northeastern France bordering Germany and Switzerland. Rich in history, beauty, and tradition, it is the smallest region in France. It boasts small picturesque villages with half-timbered homes hidden among the rolling hills of vineyards and the Rhine River, with mountains (Vosges) and forest regions also surrounding the area. It is divided into two regions: Bas Rhin (in the North) and Haut Rhin (in the South).

Additionally, Alsace has a unique history dating back to the 5th century B.C. during the last wave of the Celtics. Though it is located in France, it has always been a region with both French and German influences, having been passed between French and German control since 1681. This is seen in the unique architecture, such as half-timbered homes dispersed throughout Alsace. It’s no surprise the language will also be unique; the Alsatian language is spoken in this region, which is influenced by both German and French.

Alsace is known for many things besides its picturesque villages inspired by one of Disney’s movies. This region is famous for its wine region and Alsatian wines, such as Rieslings (which, believe me, are very good), amazing cuisines, its castles, and finally, its Christmas Markets.


A Quick Guide to Alsace’s Christmas Markets

The Christmas Markets in Alsace bring about a special type of charm. The setting and atmosphere in this region of France have a magical touch to the markets like no other, and it is one of the most recommended regions to visit during the Christmas Market season. We were fortunate enough to visit a few Christmas markets in Alsace, and I found them to be extremely charming! Let’s get started with a few we visited.


Ribeauvillé’s Medieval Christmas Market

For an authentic, interactive, and magical celebration, the French town of Ribeauvillé, one of the oldest medieval towns in Alsace, offers an extremely charming Medieval Christmas Market, one I recommend not missing out on! Each year, for two weekends in December, this cute Alsatian town in France hosts a Christmas Medieval Market. From this market, you can expect to find medieval entertainers walking around dressed to the tee for the timeframe. Live animals such as camels, geese, and more bring authenticity to the atmosphere. The inspired medieval cuisines served are a bonus; I highly recommend the boar sandwich in the middle of the town square- check out the photo below with the boar on a skewer.

Additionally, the town takes you back in time with activities and shows; this was a very animated Christmas market with jugglers, dancers, and more! It felt like we were in a real-life Disney village and taken back in time to the Middle Ages! This year, the event takes place during the weekends of December 2- December 10 (dates for 2023). But the Medieval Magic only happens during these two weekends, so you do not want to miss this! This was one of our favorite Christmas Markets!

Practical Information on Ribeauville’s Medieval Christmas Market

Location: Ribeauville, France, in Alsace (be sure you have the proper spelling, we drove an additional 2 hours out of the way, not realizing I had misspelled the town’s name on Google Maps)

GPS Location: https://goo.gl/maps/bEHtbMRSXgbrCwya7

Date of Christmas Market: Note** Ribeauville’s Medieval Christmas Market takes place for two weekends in December. This year (2023), Ribeauville’s Medieval Christmas Market is on December 2, December 3, December 9, and December 10.

Parking: Parking can be found around the town, we found free parking on a side residential street here and walked about 5 minutes into the town. They also have a park & ride just outside town, and a shuttle can take you to the market entrance (for a fee). Additionally, you can find other parking here and here.

Shuttle: There is also a shuttle that runs between nearby Christmas Markets, such as Colmar, Riquewihr, Ribeauville, and more. You can find more information here.

Website: To find more about this event, find the link for the website, here.


Colmar Christmas Market

In the picturesque city of Colmar, the whole city is decorated intricately, showing off its Christmas charms and that story-book feel. The Colmar Christmas market is highly coveted for its friendliness and authenticity, and rightly so! In Colmar, you’ll be able to explore the labyrinths of small cobblestone streets lined with centuries-old half-timbered houses and enchanting boats crossing the cute little Lauch River. It’s a big Christmas Market with six markets in the heart of the historic town center, each with its unique touch and theme giving you the feeling of visiting six mini-villages.

Colmar’s Six Christmas Markets

The six Christmas Markets in the heart of the city of Colmar include:

Gourmet Christmas Market

Located in Place de la Cathédrale, this is your market for all things food. The food served in the nine stalls from different “maîtres restaurateurs” are quintessentially Alsatian favorite cuisines with a few Christmas delights. You’ll find appetizer-like food, dessert, savory food, and more. It’s the perfect way to try the local holiday favorites.

 Place Jeanne D’Arc

This market, located in the Place Jeanne D’Arc, is dedicated to merchants selling local products. You’ll also find local culinary delights at this market, such as foie gras, charcuterie, wine, brandies, Christmas cakes, gingerbread, and many more. Additionally, the backdrop for this market is perfectly decorated to show off the scenery of a typical Alsatian village.

Christmas Market Place De L’Ancienne Douane

This Christmas Market in Place de L’Ancienne Douane hosts at least 50 stalls set up around the Schwendi Fountain erected by Auguste Bartholdi (the famed sculptor of the iconic Statue of Liberty). At night, the market becomes magical as the Old Koïfous House (Customs House) becomes the center of attention with its shimmering lights against the backdrop of the market.

Indoor Craft Market Koïfhus House

Warm yourself by ducking into this indoor craft market. Here, you’ll find ceramicists, potters, master glass-makers, cabinetmakers, wood sculptors, hat-makers, jewelry makers, and other artisans carrying on the traditional skills of the Alsace region. It’s the perfect place to find that gift for your loved ones. Even better than enjoying the warmth, you’ll also enjoy the atmosphere of the Medieval building it sits in.

Children’s Christmas Market: Petite Venise

Surrounded by 43 colorful stalls that look like cottages, this market is geared toward children. The market features a giant letterbox for posting letters to Father Christmas, a Christmas carousel, and gifts aimed at children. You’ll find warm apple juice (jus de pomme chaud), children’s rides, and activities. The Nativity Scene is also found here. This is also known as the Christmas Market Place des Six Montagnes Noire.

Christmas Market Place des Dominicains

This is the one market that is very pretty and festive! The location for the Christmas stalls are set up beneath the 4th-century stained-glass windows of the Dominican Church. Sixty stalls are sprawled beneath the cathedral, waiting for visitors to buy local Christmas decorations.

Practical Information on Colmar’s Christmas Market

Location: In the Heart of the City of Colmar: Places des Dominicains, de l’Ancienne Douane, des 6 Montagnes Noires and Jeanne d’Arc; at the Koïfhus and the gourmet market on the Place de la Cathédrale.

GPS Location: The Christmas Market is sprawled all over the City. I will input the GPS location for the Tourist Office Information, which you’ll find here.

Date of Christmas Market: 2023: Begins November 23, 2023 and runs through December 29, 2023

Opening Hours:

Monday- Thursday: 11:00 am- 7:00 pm

Friday- Saturday- Sunday: 10:00 am – 8:00 pm

December 24: 10:00 am- 5:00 pm

December 25: 11:00 am- 8:00 pm

December 26: 11:00 am- 7:00 pm

Parking:

Park & Ride: We parked at the Parc des Expositions et des Congrés (Avenue de la Foire aux Vins) just outside of the Colmar city center. On Saturdays & Sundays, parking is free, with a free shuttle to the City near the Christmas Market. Shuttles drop off every 10 minutes, close to the Christmas markets at the St Eloi stop (rue St Eloi), and take you back to the Parc des Expositions car park after your visit.

Tip: there’s also bathroom portables at the Parc des Expositions et des Congrés right before the shuttle pick-up.

Dates for Park & Ride: November 26 & 27; December 3 & 4; December 10 & 11; December 17 & 18; December 24 & 25

Free Shuttle Weekend Schedule: Saturday | 9:00 am to 11:30 pm Every 10 minutes from 09:30 am to 9:30 pm | Every 20 minutes from 9:30 pm to 11:30 pm
Sunday | 09:00 am to 9:10 pm | Every 10 minutes. Exceptions: December 24 from 9:30 am to 6:00 pm Every 10 minutes; December 25 from 10:30 am to 8:30 pm Every 10 minutes

Paid Covered Parking Near Colmar Christmas Market: Mairie Town Hall Parking Garage ; Parking Saint-Josse; Lacarre

More practical information and parking details are available at the Colmar Tourist Office website here.

Shuttle: There is also a shuttle that runs between nearby Christmas Markets, such as Colmar, Riquewihr, Ribeauville, and more. You can find more information here.

Website: Find more information about Colmar’s Christmas Market here.


Eguisheim Christmas Market

Just 7 km from Colmar, you’ll find a small yet charming Eguisheim’s Christmas Market. This market is as authentic and genuine as you can get. This was a very intimate market, with all the locals putting all the show stoppers to make this a unique Christmas market, and they did not fail me when we visited. There are only roughly a small number of vendors (maybe 30?), but they still very much offered Alsace’s local goods and cuisines. They have very good Riesling wine here too. I loved the local shows and performances, here’s one we were able to watch.

Eguisheim doesn’t have to compete with all the other bigger markets because, despite its intimacy, the town itself is simply the cutest. We enjoyed wandering around, just admiring all the nooks and cranies of this small village. Additionally, we stayed a few nights here, away from the crowds, to enjoy the surrounding villages, and it was the perfect area to visit the nearby Alsatian Christmas Markets and explore one without the crowds.

Tip: I highly recommend staying overnight at a village with a Christmas Market. You can easily explore more of the village when there is no crowd. Plus, we got to enjoy the ambiance and quiet moments of Eguisheim this way.

Practical Information for Eguisheim’s Christmas Market

Location: Eguisheim Village

GPS Location Tourist Office: https://maps.app.goo.gl/9Uay2zBEDhf8A6V48?g_st=ic

Dates of Christmas Market: November 24, 2023- December 30, 2023; Closed on December 24, 25, 26, 2023

Parking: Free parking at Parking de la Tuilerie and Parking du Millénaire, and two paying parking lots (4€ per day), the Parking de la Mairie and the Parking des Marronniers.

Shuttle: There is also a shuttle that runs between nearby Christmas Markets, such as Colmar, Riquewihr, Ribeauville, and more. You can find more information here.

Website: Looking for more information, you can find more at the tourist office website here and here.


Riquewihr Christmas Market

Noted as one of “The Most Beautiful Villages in France,” Riquewihr’s Christmas market is, in my opinion, the Beauty and the Beast inspiration. It is truly that beautiful and charming, as is all Alsatian villages; it’s hard to choose. But this village is the most beautiful we have been to, and I highly recommend going to this Christmas Market.

Practical Information for Riquewihr’s Christmas Market

Location: Riquewihr Village

GPS Location: https://maps.app.goo.gl/iNsUT5jigXh8FG2r8?g_st=ic

Dates of Christmas Market: November 25, 2023 – December 20, 2023.

Parking: We parked just right outside the village along the side of the road.

Shuttle: There is also a shuttle that runs between nearby Christmas Markets, such as Colmar, Riquewihr, Ribeauville, and more. You can find more information here.

Website: Looking for more information, you can find more at the tourist office website here.


Additional Alsatian Christmas Markets

There are many more Alsatian Christmas markets all over this region that are very magical to visit. We haven’t made it to these markets yet, but we hope to in another season. Here are a list of other popular Christmas Markets in Alsace: Soufflenheim, Strasbourg, Obernai, Mulhouse

For more market inspirations to visit in Alsace, go here.


Food & Drinks to Try At the Alsace Christmas Markets

A visit to the Alsatian Christmas Markets isn’t complete without trying some of the local delicacies. I mean, nothing is better than meandering around the cobblestone street admiring the intricately decorated half-timbered homes around the villages sipping on mulled wine and eating gingerbread. Here are some Alsatian treats to try during your Christmas Market visits.

Mulled Wine aka Vin Chaud: the star of the Christmas Market, this concoction of citrus fruits, spices, and wine. It’s kept simmering warm and placed in a mug for you. The mug/cup can be purchased (you pay for the deposit when you buy the drink), and you can either keep the mug or return for your deposit. We like to keep our mug for souvenirs. Each Christmas market will have its own mug/cup.

Bretzel: Find these at small food huts around the markets; this is a variation of brioche and bread. You can grab them plain, salted, and with cinnamon sugar (that I rarely find).

Flammekueche/Tarte Flambée: Not to miss in Alsace, this is the pizza of this region. It’s made with thin pastry-like dough, white (like sour cream) sauce, topped with bacon bits, cheese, and onions. There are other toppings you can choose from. This is quite good and I love this Alsatian treat!

Gingerbread: This isn’t your typical gingerbread cookie we are used to in the States. This cake is made from dried fruit, spices, and honey, with a hint of citrus. If bought from a good bakery, it’s very delicious, especially when it’s warm.

Manelle: Ok, this cake is actually shaped like a gingerbread man, but it tastes like brioche bread that you can get plain or with chocolate chips. Best to eat with hot chocolate.

Spaetzle: I would consider this a fancy version of mac-n-cheese. It is a small German noodle pasta made with cream and cheese and is very rich and creamy.

Bredele: These are Christmas biscuits made in many different flavors and in many individual recipes. Find the ones made especially by a homemade, family recipe.

Beraweka: This is Alsace’s version of Fruit Cake. It is a dense cake made of dried and candied fruit that has been macerated in fruit brandy.

↠ Springerle: These are German-anise flavored Christmas cookies dating back to more than 700 years in tradition.

Fois Gras: a traditional Alsatian spread, this is duck or geese liver served hot or cold

Pommes de terre coiffées au Munster: We found this in Riquewihr and it is delicious! I’d say it’s like potato au gratin with Munster Cheese. Definitely get this if you find it at the markets.


Final Thoughts

Although Germany’s Christmas Markets are the only other Christmas Markets we’ve visited in Europe, besides France, and they are magical in their own way, the Alsatian Christmas Markets are the most magical markets I have ever been to! If you plan to visit Christmas Markets in Europe, the Alsatian Markets are not to be missed. If I had to choose my favorite, Ribeauville’s Medieval Christmas Market, Riquewhir, and Eguishiem were my top favorites.

I hope this quick guide was helpful in planning your Christmas Market Visits in France. Let me know in the comments if you have anything to add about your favorite Christmas Markets in Alsace! Until Next Time, Friends! jusqu’à la prochaine fois les amis

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