French Christmas Markets Barge Cruise in Alsace
Christmas in Alsace is truly magical. The Christmas market is a longstanding tradition and has had an enormous influence over Christmas celebrations in France. Christmas markets are traditional in Alsace, and most of the towns have their own local Christmas market.
The setting is perfect with old half-timbered houses richly decorated; the air is fragrant with the aroma of spices, honey and citrus fruits. Christmas carols form the backdrop to the festive atmosphere, where you’ll find an abundance of Christmas lights, market stalls, classical concerts in local churches, and fabulous food and delicacies.
Birthplace of the Christmas Tree
The birthplace of the Christmas tree was in Alsace, in the little town of Sélestat, between Colmar and Strasbourg. The Great Christmas Tree (Le Grand Sapin) in Strasbourg stands at Place Kléber. Its height of 30 meters (99 feet) makes it one of the tallest, decorated natural Christmas trees in Europe.
About The Winter Christmas Market Barge Cruise Aboard Panache
We are excited to present this new winter cruise in Alsace Lorraine aboard the Hotel Barge Panache. The Christmas Markets cruise has three departures available in 2023:
- November 26 - December 2
- December 3-9
- December 10-16
You may book one of these special weeks as either a cabin cruise or a private charter.
A Few Highlights
Visit Colmar and tour its six famous Christmas markets, including a gourmet foods section. Colmar town center is essentially pedestrian and comprises many architectural treasures, such as monuments, churches, museums and alleyways, full of imposing buildings dating from the Middle Ages to the 19th century.
There is a magical atmosphere in Colmar, framed by fairytale half-timbered houses, festive scenes, and white Christmas trees at every corner. Along the streets there are Christmas lights on display, troubadours and minstrels playing flutes, wooden toys, stained glass, wreaths, choirs and traditional concerts, live nativity, outdoor ice skating rinks, and Santa’s mailbox. Sample the typical products of Alsace, such as bredle aniseed, and mulled wine with cinnamon and orange.
The Christmas market in Strasbourg dates back to 1570 and is the oldest market in the country; thus deeming Strasbourg as the capital of Christmas.
The Christmas market in Strasbourg is one of the largest in Europe, with 300 stalls spread over 11 sites. The market is full of local products and traditional items, sweets, mulled wine, pancakes, decorations for the tree and the nativity scene. Besides the traditional stalls, there are many organized events, including concerts, entertainment, and boat rides for the kids during the Christmas season.
We also visit the Musée du Chocolat and its workshop to observe seasonal candy being made. Afterwards, take some time to wander through Place Gutenberg and la Petite France, with its cobbled streets, boutique shops, and cafes. Dinner will be ashore this night at a traditional Alsatian restaurant.
Saverne / Haguenau
Moored in the enchanting town of Saverne at the foot of the beautiful Château de Rohan, often called the “Versailles of Alsace”, we visit the Haguenau Christmas market. Situated 30 km north of Strasbourg, Haguenau is a town rich in historical monuments, the oldest of which dates back to the 1100s. This small town has an interesting historical museum with an archeological collection, coins, and local handicrafts.
The annual Christmas market in the town’s historical center comprises small wooden chalets exhibiting and selling traditional Christmas gifts, handicrafts, and decorations. In the evening, take a walk through Saverne to soak up the atmosphere of the Christmas decorations and perhaps go skating on the ice rink.
In the pretty village of Lutzelbourg, Panache’s mooring is surrounded by hills and overlooked by the ruins of the medieval castle. We visit the Meisenthal Glass Bauble factory, the original birthplace of this iconic Christmas decoration, to watch the glassblowers in action. You can also view the outstanding René Lalique collection and see over 500 exceptional examples of art nouveau and art déco glassware.
Another interesting point of this cruise is ascending the unique Arzviller boat elevator that carries Panache 450 feet up the mountainside in minutes. Enjoy a candlelit cruise through the two Arzviller tunnels to the mooring at Niderviller.
Stretch your legs with a walking tour of the ancient town of Sarrebourg, which includes visits to the 13th century chapel containing Marc Chagall’s remarkable stained-glass window, and the impressive museum of Roman and Medieval artefacts.