A Quick Overnight Trip: Christmas in Colmar!

When my husband first floated the idea of moving to Switzerland, I thought first of missing our friends and family, and second — visions of sugar plum fairies European Christmas markets began to dance in my head. I just love the festive vibe, hot wine (vin chaud in French or glühwein in German – miss you!), steamy snacks, and crisp air.

As I started to browse the “best of the best” markets – Colmar, France kept coming up and my crush really started to build on this delightful little village full of half-timbered homes.

It’s a really unique corner of the world – the Alsace region was conquered and reconquered many, many times so it has a mesh of cultures across the French and German spectrum. One of the region’s most famous markets, Strasbourg, was unfortunately victim to terrorist activity only last week, so we decided to restructure our trip and visit the more southern Colmar only.

It was not an enormous sacrifice – Colmar was incredible. Just under four hours from Geneva, we took Swiss rail to Basel and then the French transit SNCF directly to Colmar and walked straight into town.

Unlike many European markets that take place in one square, Colmar has six distinct markets that serpentine throughout cobblestone streets, so everytime you turn the corner into a new one you can’t help but gasp. Colmar is said to be the inspiration for Belle’s “poor provincial town” in Beauty & The Beast – and we had to half-wonder what she was whining about – it was so gorgeous.

Likely the most photographed spot in Colmar is “Petite Venice” (Little Venice) with colorful homes along the canal (so many canals this year – remember Amsterdam, Bruges, and Annecy?!) Historically, the colors were meant to indicate the profession of the homeowner (blue for fisherman, red for butcher, etc.) We loved it during the daytime, dusk, and nighttime!

Petite Venice in Colmar
Petite Venice in Colmar Daytime Views

The advantages of a blended French and German culture means that you have the best food from both – the best French crepes and delicious German spaetzle (hot egg noodles with mushrooms.) We indulged in the latter for lunch and sucked up hot chocolate perched next to the cathedral.

Cathedral in Colmar
Cathedral in Colmar

We wandered all afternoon and evening…

before taking the train back to Basel to check out their Christmas market before retiring to the (surprise!) Basel Courtyard Marriott. It was really charming, but after spending a full day in Christmas paradise, it did somewhat pale in comparison. But it wasn’t Basel’s fault – Colmar is just next level!

My heart really sang all day and we had the most magnificent time ushering in the season on likely our last trip “just us two” – feeling very, very lucky at the wonderful year we have had and what’s to come.

That does it for us in 2018! As this post publishes,🤞 our entire family has made it Chamonix for Christmastime altogether! Please cross your fingers for lots of snow – we have lots of skiing, snow shoeing, tobogganing, and even an igloo adventure ahead! Remember to follow along on Instagram to see some highlights of our trip!

Thanks for all your kind reading throughout our first expat year, your online and offline thoughts mean so much! I’ll be back next year with some updates about my French progress, and having a baby abroad, and you can always check out the travel tracker to see the 12 countries and nearly 40 cities and regions we visited this year. We hope that you enjoy a wonderful holiday surrounded by those you love. See you in 2019!

Merry Christmas from us and Baby Ford!
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