Nothing captures the Christmas mood better than Alsace, with its lights, markets, mulled wine and music. We’ll plunge into this special atmosphere in style, mixing historic visits of castles, luxury accommodation and authentic cuisine found off the beaten track. While Paris boasts of its brasseries, and Provence its cafes, Alsace has its winstubes which are cozy wine bars, with tiled stoves, carved chairs and hearty fare.
A fairytale trip into the heart of Christmas, Alsace does it best. Medieval castles, storybook villages, twinkly lights and hearty meals will inspire and transport you, putting you in the mood for the season. We’ll start and end in Strasbourg, the heart of Europe which straddles modernity and antiquity in the most delightful way. We’ll indulge ourselves in the stunning waters of a cutting-edge spa, and then munch on delicious bites at the colorful markets full of amazing finds and ambience.
Your host for this trip is Katrin Hodapp, who hails from both Freiburg, Germany and Bedford, NY, and knows the Alsace and Basel area like the back of her hand. Her perfect French and German doesn’t hurt, plus she’s a LOT of fun. She is a former literary agent with superb taste and style, and has been a resident of Paris for over 20 years. She also does our Bespoke Paris itinerary planning. You can read more about her here.
Arrive in Strasbourg, either via train (under two hours from Paris) or by plane (easy connections via Paris).
Our first stay will be at a stunning 4 star spa hotel in the charming town of Obernai located just 20 minutes from Strasbourg. Depending on your arrival time, you will be able to enjoy some quality spa time to acclimate and settle after your travels.
For our first evening, we’ll visit the local Christmas market for a little walk and shop and then enjoy a cozy authentic dinner in the hotel’s Winstube.
Hotel: LE PARC HOTEL
What better place to start our day than with a medieval castle? We’ll visit Haut-Koenigsbourg which dates back to 1147 and boasts turrets from which one can look out as far as the black forest. Each room has some element that is dressed up for Christmas, in a fairly unusual yet authentic way. (Shh…its a surprise!)
We’ll enjoy a simple satisfying lunch in the quirky and delightful Taverne du Château on the property which has a cute souvenir shop which you can peruse while waiting for your meal.
After lunch we’ll visit the bucolic towns of Riquewher and Ribeauville that inspired Beauty and the Beast. They both have markets and ambience galore.
We’ll return to our hotel in the late afternoon, in time to have another dip in the delightful pools of the hotel before a gourmet dinner at the gastronomic restaurant at the hotel.
Hotel: LE PARC HOTEL
Today we’ll check-out of the hotel and head to the mountains to visit one of the most picturesque villages in France, Kaysersberg. Here, we’ll stroll through the paved winding streets lined with charming half-timbered buildings and then enjoy a wine tasting at the world-famous Domaine Weinback winery. After, we’ll have a savory lunch at Flamme and Co. which has reinvented the traditional Alsatian pizzas with a modern twist.
In the afternoon we’ll visit the Eco-museum. This is an open-air museum/village made up of typical Alsatian homes that are 200 years old or more. Christmas comes to this open-air museum with gusto as the houses are festooned with seasonal décor. You’ll smell vin chaud brewing in one of their many hands-on workshops. Here you’ll see craftsman at work, enjoy beautiful, rural, traditional Alsatian Christmas decor and you might even spot Pere Noel riding by on a horse-drawn sleigh. Witness, feel and taste what life used to be like in Alsace.
Then we’ll cross the border into Switzerland and arrive at our lovely 4-star hotel on the banks of the Rhine. We’ll have time to wander the riverfront before having a delicious dinner with a view at the hotel’s prized restaurant.
Hotel: KRAFFT HOTEL
Today we’ll explore this enchanting cosmopolitan city with its incredible chocolatiers, charming streets and world-famous museums.
In the morning we’ll take a little boat to the other side of the river, amble up the streets to the glorious Cathedral and the impressive Christmas market in the square that surrounds it.
Basel is the museum city, with the highest concentration of museums of any city, with its crown jewel being the Kunstmuseum where we’ll have a gourmet lunch followed by a trip of its incredible collection of everything from old masters to Picasso and beyond.
Later we’ll have time for some prime shopping and a visit to the scrumptious Läderach Chocolatier.
There’s nothing more Swiss than fondue, so tonight we’ll be transported to a Mountain Chalet in the heart of the town to feast on this cheesy delight.
Hotel: KRAFFT HOTEL
We’ll check-out this morning and head back to France. Our first stop will be Mulhouse, a former factory town that has been re-imagined by artists and artisans. Every year, a special Christmas fabric is made that is unique to that year. We’ll have a chance to view the new 2021 fabric and enjoy an opportunity to purchase items at their own Christmas market.
Later we’ll head north to the town of Colmar and visit its little Venice, enjoying a lunch at Wistub Brenner.
Afterwards we’ll drive to Strasbourg where we’ll stay in the lovely design hotel Hotel du Dragon, a luxury hotel which exudes modern French-Alsatian charm – a quiet oasis steps from the river.
After dropping off our bags, we’ll visit the Historic wine cellar of Strasbourg Hospital, an ancient cellar where you can see the oldest barrel-stored wine in the world and have a trip and tasting.
Tonight we’ll enjoy a traditional Alsatian meal of Choucroute at the cozy and authentic Maison des Tanneurs which overlooks the river in an 16th century setting.
Hotel: HOTEL DU DRAGON
We’ll start our day with a two-hour boat trip of Strasbourg where you’ll learn a little bit of history starting from the middle ages to the Neustadt to the modern European institutions.
After a hearty Alsatian lunch, we’ll tour the famous Strasbourg Christmas market, called Christkindelsmärik. This market has been operating near the cathedral in Strasbourg ever year for over 450 years, making it the oldest in Europe. Sip vin chaud (mulled wine) to warm your bones as you shop for loved ones (or yourself). If we get peckish, we’ll nosh on Alsatian specialties that we find at the market from bretzels (pretzels) to tarte flambée, (Alsatian pizza). Whilst shopping, we can also sample some of the unique Alsatian specialties which abound all over the central part of the city.
In Strasbourg it is de rigueur to make a stop inside the enormous Gothic cathedral of Strasbourg, which dates back nearly 1000 years, and light a candle. There will be an option to go up to the top of the church to enjoy a panoramic view of the city.
To cap off our journey together, we’ll reminisce while enjoying the stylish cuisine at Les Haras Brasserie.
Afterwards we’ll view the lights on the 100 ft. Christmas tree, which is placed in the Place Kléber before heading back for a relaxing rest.
Hotel: HOTEL DU DRAGON
Sadly, it’s time to head home, or onwards, either by train or by plane, but first we’ll have a hearty breakfast together!
GG2P always reserves the right to alter the itinerary based on weather or availability as well as exciting opportunities that might crop up!
NOTE -> Not to worry – Vegetarians will be well fed in all cafés and restaurants as well as those allergic to seafood or gluten. Options are plentiful.
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If you’d like to come, press the Reserve Now button above. You will be prompted to complete a form with your pertinent details, put down a refundable $250 deposit, and schedule a time to speak with a GG2P representative. We like to speak with everyone before they embark on their first trip with Girls’ Guide to Paris & Beyond. This allows you to ask any questions or voice any concerns you may have. These are intimate, small group trips; a quick yet personal conversation allows you to get to know how our trips work and make sure it’s right for you. If it’s not, we’ll immediately refund your $250 deposit.
If it’s a Go! after your call, we’ll bill you for a non-refundable deposit, usually 35% of the trip’s cost (less the $250 place-holder deposit, if you already paid it) and your place is reserved. At this point, you’re committed to the trip, so we recommend that you purchase Travel Insurance to protect you in case your plans change unexpectedly. The balance will be due approximately 2 months before the trip.
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