‘Tis the season for Christmas markets in much of Europe and European Waterways is eager to introduce people to some French ones that were influenced by Germany, where the seasonal attractions are particularly popular.
The company is enabling its clients to see Christmas markets in Alsace, markets European Waterways’ managing director Derek Banks notes have a long history.
“The Christmas markets of Alsace have been a welcomed attraction for hundreds of years. The tradition of a Christmas market originally hailed from Germany by way of boosting local economies and community spirit during the darker days of winter. Until the mid-17th century, Alsace-Lorraine was actually under German rule and although the region now forms part of northeastern France, the festive German tradition remains a huge part of Alsatian culture,” Banks tells Travel Courier.
“The 13 Christmas markets of Strasbourg, known as Christkindelsmärik, are Europe’s oldest at around 450 years old. Top tip: be sure to take a festive photograph beside the enormous Christmas tree in Strasbourg’s Place Klébler, which towers high above the gorgeous chalets! Colmar’s six “themed” Christmas markets are found in the heart of its Old Town and could be considered one of the region’s most picturesque, thanks to the pretty half-timbered buildings with window frames and roofs that sparkle with Christmas lights. Haugenau’s Christmas market is where visitors can enjoy a more traditional Alsatian ambiance, with regional delicacies and artisanal products galore which are available daily from pretty chalet-style stalls. Haugenaus is also famed for its impressive nativity set, at a whopping sixteen meters long!”
European Waterways made its Christmas market debut in November, sailing in Alsace-Lorraine aboard hotel barge Panache, with Banks reporting that the area has always been a popular choice for its clients, thanks to the region’s picturesque scenery,, as well as its unique experiences, such as the “thrilling” Arzviller boat elevator, which carries canal craft like Panache 450 meters up and down the mountainside.
“Because of this, we felt certain that our clients would enjoy the opportunity to experience the very best of our Classic Cruise with the addition of the enchanting experiences that the festive season has to offer in Alsace and Lorraine and we were right,” Banks states.
European Waterways Christmas Markets Cruises mention three Christmas markets – Strasbourg, Haugenau and Colmar – but the company actually offers the opportunity to visit at least 20, with Strasbourg alone home to 13, while Colmar features six, and Haugenau offers a very traditional Alsatian Christmas market for guests to explore.
“Of course, you can’t plan a trip to see this famous Christmas market without seeing more of what makes Alsace-Lorraine the perfect region for a Christmas cruise.” Banks adds. “That’s why we’ve included our other favourite Christmas markets in this festive 6-night cruise itinerary. We enhance this experience with additional, holiday-related excursions, such as a stop at the Meisenthal glassworks — birthplace of the Christmas Bauble, the opportunity to watch artisans work their magic at the Musée du Chocolat and much more.”
Banks adds that guests on a Christmas market tour will be reminded that Dec. 25 is drawing very near while on their vessel as well.
“Guests will be delighted by how Panache is bedecked with a Christmassy décor of cozy throws and scatter cushions, twinkling Christmas lights and of course a tastefully decorated Christmas tree,” he says.. “As well as this, the barge chef is sure to delight with a selection of seasonal meals using fresh, locally sourced produce, and a range of festive drinks, such as an indulgent hot chocolate or a glass of ‘vin chaud’ (mulled wine) served by the dedicated host. They’re all sure to get everyone in the Christmas spirit.”
Meanwhile, Banks reports that demand is leading European Waterways to again offer its Christmas Markets Cruises in 2024, with three 6-night cruises departing between late November and early December. “With only these three departures available, for now, we encourage travellers to secure their space now to kick start the 2024 festive season in style,’ he continues.
For more information, visit https://www.europeanwaterways.com/themed/christmas-market-cruises/.