Visiting the Christmas Markets

We had a busy and fun Christmas season around here!  Since we were traveling in the U.S. for the whole month of December last year, we missed out on all the Christmas markets so this year we were extra excited to check them out.  I think we hit all the popular ones in the area and by the end of our quick post-Christmas break to France, I was a bit glad that the season was over.  But it was fun while it lasted!

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  1. Our first stop was to the one holiday place we squeezed in before our trip home last Christmas since they are open year round-Le Hameau de Pere Noel, a.k.a. Santa’s House!  This place is really adorable and the level of detail they have put into it is great.  You go from room to room of Santa’s childhood and current homes and even see the room where the elves live complete with elf-size beds, tables, and food.  Santa’s kitchen looks like he’s just stepped away from an extravagant feast and there is an infirmary where an unfortunate reindeer is recovering from too much Nutella.  At the end, the children creep past “Santa” who is snoring in this bed while he rests up for the big day.  There’s a sweet little creperie where you can enjoy a crepe and hot chocolate before mailing off your letter to Santa at the post box and then stop by the shop on your way out to pick up some sweets or Christmas trinkets.

2.  Next, I was lucky to get away with the ladies for a day trip to the Montreux Christmas Market, probably the most popular market in the area.  The setting for this market is just stunning with the lake and the snow-covered mountains, but I have to say that I was disappointed with the actual items for sale-nothing that interesting and way overpriced!  Despite the lack of any actual shopping, we still had a great time drinking vin chaud (hot wine), wandering through the crowded stands, having a long, lovely lunch, and just enjoying uninterrupted conversations for once!  I would still recommend this market just for the lovely setting, but don’t expect to do your Christmas shopping here!  😉

3.  The Village des Flottins is advertised as an alternative to the Christmas markets and it is in Evian, France.  This was probably my favorite of the season just because it was so different-it really was like stepping into a fantasy book.  Elaborate creatures were created by these huge, carved sticks, woodland characters were walking around among the crowds and playing instruments, fires were burning in metal cans, and candles were everywhere.  Many of the structures were made for kids to climb, sit, and play in and there was an alleyway that had different games and inventions for the kids to try out (for free!).  The boys went on the most magical carousel ride where the music was played from an old-fashioned, hand-crank machine.  The people working at the carousel were all in costumes and they blew handfuls of feathers into the air as the children went around.  It was really so unique and we all really loved this market.  There was nothing for sale except for a stand with food and drinks, but the tiny streets of Evian have some lovely shops that were open longer hours for the holidays.

4.  The last big market we checked out was in one of our favorite towns, Annecy, France.  This market was not huge but in a pretty setting along the canals of Annecy with the mountains in the background.  At night, there is a light show on the Hotel de Ville that’s really fun.  We got some vin chaud and chocolat chaud to enjoy while we watched and it was really the highlight of the market.  There were lots of interesting stands at this market and Annecy itself is a great little town for shopping with a large mall and lots of unique, small shops.  There was also an ice skating rink at the smaller market near the shopping mall.  Annecy is beautiful at any time of year, so we knew this market would be one not to miss!

We weren’t quite ready for the Christmas season to be over, so the day after Christmas we went to one of the cutest little towns in France  which happened to have five Christmas markets that stayed open until New Year’s Eve.  I will recap our trip in the next post!

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