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Christmas Markets in France and Switzerland

We visited some wonderful Christmas markets for a few days. Our first stop was in Basel, Switzerland. The city is near France and Germany. During the holidays, the streets are lined with over 100 Christmas trees. The famous Freie Strasse becomes one of Europe’s longest displays of decorations. They have Christmas markets on two large squares in the Old Town. The city is worth visiting. It lays on the Rhine River. You can take a river cruise from Basel all the way to Amsterdam. Basel is Switzerland's oldest university city. They have a lot of museums and one of Europe's best zoo.

After a couple days in Basel we drove to Strasbourg in France. We stopped for lunch is Colmar, a medieval town sometimes named "Little Venice". They have six Christmas markets over the old town. Each market is a separate mini-village with its own collection of craftsmen. It's a great town and we regretted that we could not see it at night...we had to drive to our next stop, the city of Strasbourg.

Strasbourg is the formal seat of the European Parliament. The Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A must see are the Cathedral and La Petite France, a neighborhood surrounded by four canals. We took a cruise that took us around the canals end all the way to the site of the European Parliament. Strasbourg is also know for having one of the best European Christmas markets. We spent a couple of days visiting the different squares of the Old Town. All the shops are decorated. The main squares have their own Christmas market. It's really a wonderful place to visit during that special time of the year.

Our next stop was in Montbeliard, another French town that made the list of the top Christmas markets to visit. It's a two hour drive from Strasbourg. On our way we stopped in Riquewihr, a medieval town right in the heart of the Alsatian vineyards. It also has a lot of Christmas decorations and a small market at the entrance of the village. We spent the evening in Montbeliard, a city in the Doubs department in the Bourgogne-Franche-Comté region. During the time of Advent, the city organizes a Christmas market with 170 stalls full of authentic items and wonderful French food. They also have an ice skating ring in one of the main squares.

The last day we drove back to Switzerland and visited the Montreux Christmas market, located on the shores of Lake Geneva. For an entire month, Montreux celebrates Christmas with one of Switzerland’s largest markets. 172 chalets on the lakeside promenades sell typical dishes and handcrafted gifts. It's a spectacular location for a Christmas market, only a few miles from the Lavaux vineyard terraces, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Great decorations in the village of Riquewihr in Alsace (France)

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