Thursday, December 4, 2014

'Tis the season for European Christmas Markets

There isn't anything cozier or more Christmas-y in my mind than a good European Christmas Market. The cold air hitting your cheeks, the uneven cobblestone streets that always seem to be wet, the smell of spaetzel or raclette at a nearby stand...and of course a cup of gluhwein or cocoa to stave off the chill. We've had a good run at the Christmas markets on this side of the pond over the years, and I'm excited to see what new gems we can find this year. 

Not all will be new of course. In fact, most will not. As much as it's nice to discover new and exciting Christmas markets, it's also nice to visit some old favorites. Some are small, quaint and local, others require a passport a full tank of gas, and a Czech polka cd for the ride. This weekend kicks off the season for us with a market in the nearby town of St. Jean de Gonville, a market we haven't been to in a few years. Last time we went to this market there were handmade ornaments, roasted chestnuts served in newspaper (really that's the only way to eat roasted chestnuts, in my humble opinion), a buvette serving vin chaud, activities like basket weaving for the kids, and Christmas trees for sale. Dan carried our tree home on his shoulder well over a mile from that market in the freezing cold, and that made us love that little tree all the more. That is also where I mistakenly took a sample of pate thinking it was peanut butter, and had to force myself to eat it so as to not insult the purveyor. Talk about a rookie expat mistake! 

We're also gearing up for a little road trip next week, one that the mere thought of makes me giddy and causes me to dance around the house like a doofus. Yes, we're heading back to Freiburg, Germany to our favorite of all of the Christmas markets! We included Freiburg on a bit of a European Christmas Market tour last year, which included Mulhouse (France), Freiburg and Basel (Switzerland), and it was so good that returning this year was a non-negotiable for us. We've rented an apartment not far from the market, which means reprieve from the cold and a full kitchen, which we've learned to appreciate more than ever now that we're traveling with a little one. We've planned this trip to maximize not only our time at the Christmas market, but also to be able to attend Freiburg's weekly Friday Munstermarkt at the cathedral, where we had the best brats of our lives....

...because we are the Duggans and we will travel for food. 

We're hoping to hit the Basel Christmas Market on the way home, as we did last year, but omitting Mulhouse as it was a tad expensive (though the lights are amazing). The same ornaments could be purchased in Freiburg for half the price, and in some cases it was even more expensive than Basel! 

I've been a bit slow in updating the "travel" page of the blog, but I'm using my Christmas Market excitement to get going on that. There you will find, hopefully by the end of the day, a nice little guide to the European Christmas markets we've been to, as well as links to the posts from those markets. European Christmas Market one stop info at your fingertips. Hooray for technology!

What are your favorite European Christmas markets? I'd love to have some new ones to add to our wishlist!

Stay tuned for a lot more about the European Christmas Markets coming your way!

A la prochaine friends...


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