Starting in late November, Colmar gradually transforms into a winter wonderland. The Christmas Markets are a really big deal here. Many local shops open Christmas Market booths. Restaurants build extensions to their front entryways to allow “outdoor dining” in enclosed huts to help keep diners warm.
An outdoor dining area added to one of the local restaurants for the Christmas Market season.
The canals are decorated with neat little mini-holiday scenes. The half-timbered style to the architecture here gets particularly well dressed for the holidays.
They built a little miniature Christmas village at the edge of the canal down near the Quai de Poissoniers.
Colmar in miniature!
I am going to let the pictures speak mainly for themselves in this post. I do want to share a couple of suggestions to improve your Christmas Market trip, if you decide to come to Colmar during the holiday season.
First, I think it is best to come early to experience the markets before the crowds arrive. My favorite time with the markets was soon after they opened in late November. When you get into December, it gets really crowded. However, this is offset by longer hours at most businesses. The Marche Couvert/Covered Market, which is my favorite place to shop for food, is normally closed on Sundays and Mondays. During December, it is open every day. Many of the stores in Colmar have Sunday hours in the afternoons in December. It actually makes for a really nice day. You can have a lazy morning and a nice lunch. The afternoons are a good time to browse the stores, and lots of people are walking in the town. To me, it seems like a good compromise between the complete Sunday closure you experience during most of the year here and the relentless holiday shopping season that I am used to at home.
Crowds are just a reality at the markets, especially as December progresses.
Second, plan to spend at least one night in Colmar during the Christmas Market season. It is beautiful during the day, but it is stunning at night. The buildings are all decorated and lit for the holidays. Even though there are several markets in various parts of the town, you can walk to all of them if you pick a hotel in the center of town. Most of the market stalls close around 7pm, so you can have dinner in town and enjoy a nice walk late at night. Most of the crowds have left by then, so you can enjoy some tranquility in the holiday season. Enjoy these photos as good encouragement to plan a holiday trip here.
To learn more about Keith Garrison’s time in France, please check out his blog here.