One of the best things about studying abroad during the fall semester (and the full year!) is the array of Christmas markets than you can enjoy. Europe really does it up for Christmas, and French Christmas markets are spectacular, along with those of other nations’! Here’s a roundup of the Christmas markets I was able to attend in 2013!
Update: Christmas market additions from 2015!
Of course, the that I knew the best is the one near which I lived! The Christmas market was located within the Esplanade Charles de Gaulle- or park at the end of the Place de la Comédie. The two main passages were lined with chalets selling chocolates, jewelry, scarves, Christmas tree ornaments, decorations, hot wine, or food. A big attraction was the ice skating rink located at the front of all the boutiques, with both French and American Christmas carols playing for the skaters. This first Christmas market was where I- along with all the study abroad students- developed a taste for vin chaud, or mulled wine. You can learn more about the Montpellier Christmas market here.
As Lyon is a much bigger city than Montpellier, there were 3 Christmas markets in the city. During our brief stay, my friends Brooke and Emma and I visited 2. The first was located at Place Carnot and overwhelmed us initially with all the food offerings. Chalets lined the entire park, with a stronger emphasis on snacks than gifts, although both were present. We were particularly enhanced by the sweet selection….You can learn more about the Lyon Christmas options here.
The second market we hit up was geared more towards families with children. Located at Croix Rousse, the main attraction was a covered petting zoo with cows, goats, pigs, and other farm animals. Of course we had to try it out…
Brooke, Emma and I managed to hit up even more markets in Munich…3! When we first arrived, my college friend Jaime met us in Munich and whisked us away to the Tollwood Christmas market. Filling an entire field full of enormous tents, this first taste of Germany gave us an idea that bigger is actually better. Tents full of artisan products and jewelry, as well as home decorations, contrasted with the multicolored light display silhouetted against the medieval cathedral.
The main Christmas market at Marienplatz was basically the ideal Christmas fantasy. Squeezed right next to the iconic Munich New Town Hall, decorated chalets full of Christmas decorations were overflowing into the streets.
Our third and final German Christmas market was located at the English Gardens. Smaller than the one at Marienplatz, this line of chalets had lots of our favorite foods: schnitzel! We managed to warm up by having some schnitzel and sausages while getting ready for our early flight the next day. Learn more about the Christmas markets of Munich here.
A brief stop on our tour of Nice, the Christmas market located at Place Massena was more colorful than any of the previous Christmas markets! Overflowing with light decorations- a ferris wheel, Christmas trees, even a statue of a Buddha, the Nice Christmas market echoed the pink and yellow architecture of the region. Brooke and I sampled some hot wine and our favorite pastry, mousse tetes, and soaked in the holiday spirit. Learn more here.
The day trip that Brooke and I took into Austria wouldn’t have been complete without a trip to a Christmas market. Located in Cathedral Square, the magnificent church provides a backdrop to the event. The chalets are arranged in a circular pattern so as to ease the flow of traffic- which we greatly appreciated!- and hot food such as bratwursts, schnitzel and big pretzels were available at every other table. Read more here.
One of the reasons my mom picked Perpignan for our Christmas tour was that the market was open until after New Years. Although the holiday had passed, we spent some time exploring the line of chalets along the river Basse. Read more about Perpignan here.
We ventured down from the fortified city of Carcassonne just long enough to explore the Christmas market in the lower town. We got our best views of the market from the Ferris Wheel located at the front of all the chalets! I introduced my family to mousse tetes and got to see my final Christmas market of 2013.
Paris has a whopping seventeen Christmas markets, of which I was able to visit 3: the Champs-Elysées, the Eiffel Tower, and Notre Dame. My favorite was the long stretch down the Champs-Elysées- surprisingly a lot less pricey than the other Christmas markets!
While in Berlin, we managed to hit up 4 separate Christmas markets- and no one does it better than the Germans. Seriously, German Christmas markets are what the ones in France are modeled after- and there`s nothing better than the real thing! Adam and I had the chance to visit these markets on Christmas Eve and Christmas day themselves, which was amazing; bratwurst, currywurst, gluhwein, and more for Christmas meals!
The Christmas markets in the Austrian capitol stay open until New Years- so we got to profit from that! This one is on Maria Theresien Platz and features gourmet treats and artisan decorations (and a price hike!)
Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!