If you're looking for a fairytale trip into the heart of Christmas, nowhere does it better than Alsace. Medieval castles, storybook villages, twinkly lights, and authentic artisan markets will inspire your Christmas spirit. Our trip starts in Strasbourg, the heart of Europe, which delightfully straddles modernity and antiquity. We'll spend time in the picture-perfect towns of Obernai and Colmar - so enchanting you won't believe they're real. We’ll plunge into this festive atmosphere in style, staying in beautiful hotels and tasting authentic cuisine off the beaten track. While Paris boasts brasseries and Provence cafes, Alsace has its winstubs - cozy wine bars with tiled stoves, carved chairs, and hearty fare. Along the way, we'll treat ourselves to a cutting-edge spa day. This is one of the best Christmas gifts you've ever received!
Here's a day-by-day itinerary of the trip.
We will meet you in Strasbourg train station, just under a two-hour train ride from Paris. Don't worry about booking the train. We will take care of that for you. If you are arriving in Paris today, please arrive no later than 8:00 am.
Our first stay will be at a lovely 4-star spa hotel in the charming town of Obernai lo, just 20 minutes from Strasbourg. Depending on your arrival time, you could enjoy some quality spa time to settle in after your travels.
For our first evening, we’ll visit the local Christmas market. Then, enjoy a cozy, authentic dinner in the hotel’s winstub.
Hotel: Cour d’Alsace Obernai
Train from Paris to Strasbourg
Riquewher and Ribeauville
What better place to start our day than at a medieval castle? We’ll visit Haut-Koenigsbourg on the top of a hill. It dates back to 1147. You can look out as far as the black forest from its turrets. Each room has some element dressed up for Christmas in an unusual yet authentic way. (Shh…it's a surprise!)
We’ll enjoy a satisfying lunch in the quirky and delightful Taverne du Château. The tables are always alight with candles, and the kitchen serves the best quiche we’ve ever tasted.
After lunch, we’ll visit the rural towns of Riquewher and Ribeauville, the inspiration for Beauty and the Beast. They both have markets and ambiance galore.
We’ll return to our hotel in the late afternoon to relax before heading out for dinner, a more modern take on regional cuisine using fresh local ingredients.
We’ll check out of the hotel after breakfast and head to the mountains to visit one of the most picturesque villages in France, Kaysersberg. Here, we’ll stroll the winding streets lined with charming half-timbered buildings. We'll enjoy a wine tasting at the world-famous Domaine Weinback winery. Then we're off to a savory lunch at Caveau du Schlossberg. It serves traditional Flammekuche, the Alsatian pizza, a specialty you must try in this region. Everyone loves them. You'll have plenty of time to shop in this fairytale spot.
This afternoon, we’ll visit Eguisheim, a picture-perfect town oozing Christmas spirit. Then we’ll travel to Colmar to decamp at our gorgeous hotel and spa for the next two nights. The hotel is an 8-minute walk from the center of Colmar. You’ll have time for a dip in the indoor pool, rest in the sauna, or enjoy one of the many spa treatments available.
Tonight, we’ll dine in high style at the 2-Michelin star restaurant in the hotel.
We’ll tour Colmar with our guide in the morning. This town is filled with a fascinating history and is the birthplace of the sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, creator of the Statue of Liberty. You’ll find a smaller version here.
We’ll stop for lunch at Wistub Brenner, around the canals of Colmar, sometimes called little Venice. You may feel inclined to order the regional specialty, Choucroute.
You’ll have plenty of free time to shop at the many Colmar Christmas markets after lunch. It's time to check off that gift list in this picture-perfect town.
Tonight is yours to decide where you want to go and with whom. Perhaps room service and a quiet night in the hotel are all you need.
After checking out of the hotel, our first stop is Mulhouse, a former factory town re-imagined by artists and artisans. Every year, an original fabric is crafted to celebrate Christmas. We’ll have a chance to view the new 2023 fabric and shop around items at the Christmas market.
Then we’ll hit the Eco-Museum. This is an open-air museum/village consisting of typical Alsatian homes that are over 200 years old. Christmas comes to this open-air museum with gusto, as the houses are festooned with seasonal décor. We’ll enjoy a meal followed by a tour. You’ll smell vin chaud brewing in one of the many hands-on workshops. You’ll see crafters at work and enjoy beautiful, traditional Alsatian Christmas decor. You may even spot Pere Noel riding by on a horse-drawn sleigh. Witness, feel, and taste Alsace life as once it was. A stop in the terrific gift shop is de-rigeur.
This evening, we're headed into Strasbourg for our final two-night stay at a delightful hotel. After checking in and unpacking, we’ll grab a bite to eat at the 12 Apostles, a convivial and relaxed brasserie near the Cathedral.
Hotel: Cour du Corbeau.
Today starts with a boat tour of Strasbourg along the Ill River. You’ll learn a little bit of history about the area, from the Middle Ages to the Neustadt and modern European institutions.
Then, we’ll tour the famous Strasbourg Christmas market, called Christkindelsmärik. This market has operated close to the cathedral in Strasbourg for over 450 years, making it the oldest in Europe. Sip vin chaud (mulled wine) to warm your bones as you shop for loved ones (or yourself). If you get peckish, nosh on Alsatian specialties sold at the market. Think bretzels (pretzels) and tarte flambée.
It is customary to step into the enormous gothic cathedral of Strasbourg, dating back nearly 1,000 years, to light a candle. You'll have the option of climbing to the top of the church to enjoy the panoramic view or choose to watch the clock chime at 12:30 p.m. (there is a small extra charge). You’ll be amazed by this world-famous astrological clock's dancing figures created back in the 1500s. It’s a work of science and art.
We’ll show you another Christmas market and walk you to Petite France, the oldest quarter in town, to see the charming shops, Christmas decorations, and markets. You have to taste some of the famous spiced bread, akin to gingerbread. It's unique to Alsace.
Enjoy some free time to buy those final treasures.
To cap our journey, we’ll reminisce while enjoying the stylish cuisine at Les Haras Brasserie. Then, we'll go for healthy, after-meal walk to view the lights on the 100 ft. Christmas tree in the Place Kléber. It's the perfect opportunity to take group shots before we head back to the hotel.
Sadly, it’s time to head home. We will transfer to the train station mid morning, If you are flying out of Paris today please make sure you have booked a flight after 6pm.
A 4-star hotel with a spa and two gourmet restaurants in Obernai Cour d’Alsace proudly wears the colors of medieval history.
A 5-star resort and spa, set in the heart of the historic centre. Esquisse Hotel and Spa offers a unique and precious experience.
Your guide will be Lauréne, author of the blog My Weekend in Alsace. Lauréne lives in Strasbourg and calls this region her home. She is young, fun and speaks perfect English. She is one of the best guides we know of in this locale.
It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas
Alsace is one of the most beautiful regions in France. It is known for its Christmas markets, its castles and its wine road and its proximity to Germany.
Everything stated in itinerary above including all meals (unless mentions) plus wine or beer with dinner
All guides and experts and tastings
Your stay at unique highly rated hotels
All Museum or other entry fees
All in-country transport except your last transfer
Roundtrip airfare to France
Transfer via taxi in Strasbourg to train station
Train travel RT to Strasbourg
Any spa treatment desired
Any personal souvenirs or purchases
Additional wine, beer or spirits beyond what is offered at meals.
Travel and Medical Insurance (required)
Most people will fly into Paris, although Zurich is also an option. On the morning of Dec 3, we'll all take the a very comfortable train together from Paris to Strasbourg (under two hours).
The trip officially starts on the afternoon of December 3rd, but if you are traveling across an ocean to get to France, consider arriving a day early so you have time to relax and adjust to the local time zone. You can stay in Paris (who wouldn't enjoy a few days in Paris?) or Strasbourg. If you do decide to arrive early, please let us know and we'll help you make arrangements.
We will have a zoom call about 6 weeks before the trip starts to discuss all that information and give you a packing list. Here is a great website that we love that will help you with packing and travel trips.
In December, in Strasbourg, the average high-temperature is 5.5°C (41.9°F), and the average low-temperature is 0.8°C (33.4°F).