The town of Colmar in France’s Alsace region looks like it has been lifted straight out of a fairytale, especially at Christmas. Here’s how to make the most of its family-focused festive charm
Every Christmas, choirs of children from Colmar and its region float along the town’s quaint canals on illuminated boats, singing carols. The buildings lining the canal are festooned with decorations too, making it a truly magical experience.
Head to the ‘Petite Venise’ district around 5pm every Wednesday and Saturday, grab a spot beside the canal or on one of the bridges, and get ready to sing along.
Colmar knows how to cater for kids at Christmas. The town sets up a special Christmas market for children, with stalls, a vintage carousel, an ice-skating rink and even a seasonally-themed roller coaster.
Also set in ‘Petite Venise’, on Place des 6 Montagnes Noires, the market even has a giant post box for kids to send a letter to Santa.
In the unlikely situation that your kids are having a hard time thinking of presents to put on their Christmas list, Colmar’s incredible Toy Museum could help. Located in a former cinema, the Musée du Jouet features a collection of toys from the 19th century to today.
The toys are displayed according to themes and include old teddy bears and the first Barbie dolls right through to video games. There’s even a train set that runs over the entire second floor.
Colmar really is a picture in the festive season. The already quaint and colourful buildings are even prettier when decked out in Christmas bunting, vintage stalls offer all kinds of tempting trinkets, and even the quietest cobbled corner features vendors selling delicious hot chocolate, bretzels and warming mulled wine for mums and dads.
Your kids will love wandering through the streets, sampling the wares and buying a gift or two for granny back home. Whichever way they turn, they’ll feel as though they have stepped into the pages of a fairytale book.
Escape the dazzling Christmas lights and the temptation to have just another pastry with a day trip to Lac Blanc, a family-oriented ski resort just 25 kilometres from Colmar.
Accessible by bus and car all year round, the Lac Blanc ski resort is lively and fun and offers something for everyone. There are pistes at all levels, a ski school for beginners or improvers, and snowshoeing trails for nature enthusiasts and the six-seater demountable chairlift will get you to the top in no time flat – even if it is just to toboggan back down again.