Discover Benelux | Culture | Christmas Markets
We wish you a crafty Christmas TEXT: CHÉRINE KOUBAT | PHOTOS: MAIRIE DE PLOMBIÈRES-LES-BAINS
Over the centuries, the picturesque spa town of Plombières-les-Bains has attracted the favour of Montaigne, Lamartine and even Napoleon. But for the last two decades, it is the nostalgic charm of its traditional Christmas market that has had 120,000 visitors flocking. Nestled in the lush greenery of the Vosges regional nature park, the small but idyllic Plombières-les-Bains Christmas Market is as authentic as it gets.
The 100 food and craft stalls are in the same spirit and include homemade clothes, hand-carved wooden bird houses and jewellery made out of recycled coffee pods. Foodies will find plenty to sample, from cheese, saucisson and mulled wine sourced from small producers, to escargots and locally grown saffron. Live music, a petting farm, a carousel, a living Nativity scene and a baking station with Mother Christmas add to the merriment. On the weekend of 15 December,
sky lanterns adorning the local gardens will set the night alight for a truly magical evening. The market runs every weekend in December, and daily from 26 December until 30 December. Web: www.marchedenoel-plombieres.com
“Our motto is ‘all things local’. You’ll never find anything shop-bought here, from our festive decorations to the items we sell in our chalets,” says Sandrine Lecomte, head of the Christmas Market Association. Every year, she and her team of 25 volunteers devote a full 12 months to hand-making ornaments, recycling, painting and sewing their way to Christmas. An army of 30 whimsical elves (up to 1.50 metres tall) is among the latest addition to the market’s handcrafted decor.
A magical Christmas experience in Alsace TEXT: LIDIJA LIEGIS | PHOTOS: VILLE DE MULHOUSE
Set in France’s beautiful eastern region, the Mulhouse Christmas Market sets the city alight. The market has over 90 chalets situated in the downtown historical square. Highlights include the big wheel – with a puzzle which can only be solved by seeing the chalets from above – and the array of stunning, local textiles adorning the city. Mulhouse has a history as one of Europe’s printed textile capitals, and last year, over 7,000 metres of fabric were sold at the market. It is the only French city to create a brand-new Christmas fabric annually. “The city wanted to keep the link between the textile industry and creation, which is why we highlight these in the Christmas market,” explains Nathalie Motte, Deputy Mayor in charge of the event. This year’s market gives pride of place to the Nativity saints, and events include guided tours, storytelling, carol singing, Advent concerts plus a treasure hunt. New events include
a workshop to make Christmas elves, family photoshoots (which is free on Saturdays), and a seven-step gourmet tasting tour. The market places emphasis on locals’ involvement, and over 30 artisans, including clothing, jewellery and textile designers, present their collections. The entire city gets involved, with several artists decorating buildings. One such example is the residents of skyscraper Tour de l’Europe organising for the building to be lit up to look like an Advent calendar. The city is easy to reach due to its proximity to EuroAirport, which serves Mulhouse, Basel and Freiburg. The Christmas Market runs until 27 December, from 10am to 8pm on Sunday to Thursday, and until 9pm on Fridays and Saturdays. Please check the website for full details of events. Web: www.noel-mulhouse.fr www.mulhouse.fr www.euroairport.com
Visit Mulhouse Christmas Market’s unique sights and sounds.
Issue 60 | December 2018 | 131
Promoting Belgium, The Netherlands and Luxembourg.