The cocoa has been finished, the Christmas hallmark movies checked off the list one-by-one. We’ve eaten way too many cookies, attended a few holiday dinner parties, and even had our own Christmas party in our tiny 40 square meter apartment with our new friends in Strasbourg. Over the past week, Alex and I have truly reveled in the spirit of Christmas. This was our first Christmas spent together in the four years that we’ve dated, and being in our first six months of marriage and now living in France, where Christmas is highly celebrated and monumental, we have lived in the constant cheer for the last month.
After going on a road trip with a few friends to the nearby French Christmas villages in Alsace, we enjoyed the villages so much that we decided to go on a day-long trip to Colmar, a nearby town just thirty minutes away from Strasbourg via train! The air was dark and gloomy, and the ice-cold thirty-degree weather was bitingly bitter, but we jumped in our layers and went out in search of some jolly Christmas cheer. And Colmar, upon closer inspection, was definitely by definition jolly.
From the train station, it’s a 15-minute walk to the town center of Colmar, and it was a hell of a miserable walk in the cold temperatures, but after walking past all the empty and closed down shops and barren streets – and second-guessing whether or not the market was actually open the day after Christmas – we finally found some light, color, and music at the end of the road!
The houses in the old part of the town’s center are designed in traditional Alsacian style – with the wooden shutters, colorful pastel tones, old German type fonts, and German-influenced wooden carvings with shapes like hearts, clovers, and diamonds. Just like our recent visit to the little town of Fussen, it reminded us of the story of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. It had more of a Alsacian feel like traditional Bavaria, but it was still similar in the general feel of the small town.
Alex and I took our time, wandering and gazing at the Christmas market stalls, getting lost in the cobblestoned side streets, and hopping in and out of chocolatier and patisserie shops to keep our toes from freezing. We split a traditional vegetarian Alsacian pizza called Tarte Flambee at a French cafe along the canals and enjoyed coffee and dark chocolate at an upstairs, cozy coffee shop, reading the new novels that we gifted one another on Christmas the day prior.
We spent roughly six hours in the small town of Colmar, as we took our time, slowly observing all the decor, Christmas stall displays and pastry shops. We devoured a single slice of Bouch de Noel chocolate “Venezuela” mousse cake overlooking the Cathedral, and Alex pointed out a traditional French pie in a patisserie called Galette-au–roi . An almond pie often eaten in the winter months, this flakey dessert contains a hidden porcelain figurine inside the pie! Each person gets a slice and when eating, one must eat it very slowly so as not to choke on the figure! Whoever finds the figurine wins the golden crown – a shiny, paper crown that comes with the dessert. How neat is that? When Alex explained this to me, after having it all the time as a kid (he grew up in France), I fell in love with this unique treat.
It’s no surprise that the French people love their pooches. Since moving to France, Alex and I are often found befriending many of the cute and fashionable dogs walking through town. French people seem to love their furry companions and often dress them up in the cutest plaid, puffer jackets – sometimes with little hoodies to match! If there is a Westie nearby, prepare for some high-pitched squealing from me followed by an excited “Est-ce que je caresser votre chien?”
Translation: Can I Pet Your Dog
A.K.A. The first sentence I learned in French. Of course.
Colmar is an enchanting little town to wander in during the holidays, and even after being told by a baker in town that the Christmas market was closed the day after Christmas, we were delighted to see everything was still in full swing, tourists and families milling about the stalls and plenty of holiday cheer and music in the air. Alex and I still are pinching ourselves everyday that we get to live in France for our first two years of marriage. With Colmar just 30 minutes away from our home in Strasbourg, it made it a great holiday stop! If you’re in the Alsace region of France, be sure to visit Colmar and Strasbourg and let me know how you enjoy it! 🙂
December 27, 2018