European Christmas Markets

Here's a little look at some of the European Christmas Markets that we know and love...

European Christmas Markets:

London, Hyde Park

What do we love about this market?

It's big, there are rides for the kiddos, and there was even a Christmas Haunted House when we were there. It's been a few years since we've been back, but I sure hope the scary house is still there. Lots of good food, an indoor area for eating and drinking when it gets too cold outside, and the ornaments weren't too expensive. It's also just really nice to walk around Hyde Park, isn't it?

St. Jean de Gonville, (Pays de Gex, Ain (01) Rhone-Alpes) France

What do we love about this market?

It's small, quaint, and local. It's not one that I'd plan a European vacation around, but if you happen to be in the Geneva/Gex region when it's happening, it's a cute and non-expensive way to spend a Saturday night. This market is especially good for families because in the past they have had events for children, such as basket weaving groups, and there is plenty of enclosed space for the kiddos to run around, since it's held at the school. This market sells handmade ornaments, regional goods from food purveyors in the area, and Christmas trees, which the sale of benefits the school. Small, quaint, local with a dose of regional French flare.

Freiburg, Germany

What do we love about this market?

Everything. We love absolutely everything about this market. This is a market that is worth planning a European trip to see, for many reasons. First of all it is quite large, and takes you through different parts of the city. The scenery is lovely, with the market sprawling through tiny historic streets. The food is amazing and well priced, the ornaments are classic, handmade and well priced, and there are even a few rides for the bigger kids, like a ferris wheel and a ride with cars. If you go during the week it isn't as crowded, and you can experience the weekly Friday market as well, which is right by the cathedral, a five to ten minute walk from the Christmas market. Freiburg is close to several other markets as well, such as the Christmas market in Mulhouse, France, and the Christmas market in Basel, Switzerland. Make a tour of it!

Mulhouse, (Alsace) France

What do we love about this market?

The lights and the food. But mostly the lights. It is known as the Christmas Market with the most impressive lights in France, and for that it does not disappoint. However, the ornaments were expensive (twice as much as Freiburg), and the market is small. It is pretty to go to, but I would not plan a vacation solely around this market. It happens to be right on the French-German border, and is only about a 45 minute drive from Freiburg, so I would recommend hitting this market on the way to another market, such as Freiburg. The town is pretty to walk around, and there is a large shopping center on one end of the market, where you can find bathrooms and baby changing facilities.

Basel, Switzerland

What do we love about this market?

The Basel Christmas Market was, to our great surprise, not incredibly expensive. It is Switzerland after all, so we were expecting to not be able to even bring home one ornament as a souvenir. There were many similar ornaments in Basel as there were in Freiburg, and for comparable prices. This market takes you through the winding streets and alleys of the Old Town, and from experience let me tell you: leave the stroller at home. It can get crowded and steep, and there were a few sections of the market with steps. Use a baby carrier. Basel 's Christmas Market combines old world charm with a Swiss persona, making it a nice partner with Freiburg for those searching out the quintessential Christmas market experience. Park outside the market area (we parked in a supermarket parking garage, I think it was Migros), and take the tram to the market to avoid the crowds.

Annecy (Haute-Savoie), France

What do we love about this market?

Well, it's Annecy, and it happens to be one of our favorite towns in Europe. It doesn't take a lot to get us to make the 45 minute drive. But the Christmas market isn't much of a Christmas Market, in my opinion, it is more of an artisan and regional goods market. It's still nice to go and walk around, have a cup of cider, listen to the music, buy some regional fare. But as far as Christmas ornaments and the like are concerned, it's lacking. I did have one of the best chocolate covered marshmallows I've ever had in my life there, so that means we'll probably return this year...but mostly because we live so close. And I love marshmallows.

Thoiry, (Pays de Gex, Ain (01), Rhone-Alpes) France

What do we love about this market?

It's ours, and it's local. The Thoiry Christmas Market, much like the St. Jean de Gonville market, is not one to plan a European vacation around. But, if you happen to be at the Thoiry Market that day, it's nice to stop in and see what the local vendors are selling. Sometimes there are handmade ornaments that benefit the local school, usually the local bee keeper is selling Thoiry Honey, sometimes there are handmade clothes for little kids and babies. There's always a buvette, and local friends to catch up with. Again, this is not one to plan a vacation around, but if you happen to be at the weekly Sunday Market it's nice to stop in, warm up with a vin chaud and maybe find something nice to bring home.

More markets to come! 

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