Colmar VS. Strasbourg {which one should you go to for Christmas?}

Tuesday, May 31

The towns of Colmar and Strasbourg stand out as two heavy-hitting destinations in the Alsace region of France. And for good reason. Both are charming in their own way, and have a plethora of Christmas programs offered during the holiday season {which is when I visited}.

However, after visiting both, I clearly have a favorite. And it's a sentiment i've heard from a lot of my friends who have also visited both places. If I had to choose between visiting either Colmar or Strasboug at Christmas time, I would choose Colmar every time. 

While both cities were all dressed up for Christmas, Colmar just felt more spirited to me. Here's why:

1) Size: Colmar is quite a bit smaller than Strasbourg, and for that reason, it just seemed cozy. A good majority of the streets were closed to cars, so pedestrians ruled the day! This meant that getting around was so easy, and took relatively little time to travel on foot from market to market. Strasbourg is bigger, and while it was still beautiful, it seemed a bit more impersonal and disconnected to me. People in Colmar just seemed friendlier!

2) Christmas Markets:  The Christmas markets in Colmar were just better than those in Strasbourg. I'm not sure why this was, but on the whole the products sold in Colmar seemed more authentic. I found so many items I wanted to buy in Colmar, and had trouble finding anything I wanted to buy in Strasbourg. Strasbourg's markets had more commercialized items than Colmar. One whole market in Colmar is devoted to home-made crafts, which I found charming. My sister and I chatted with so many "mom and pop" vendors who had honed their craft in their own home.

3) Christmas Activities: I found there to be more holiday activities at your fingertips in Colmar (and maybe this was in part to how accessible everything was!). While both cities have events going on all the time, Colmar's were just more obvious. They had an ice skating rink, a kids carnival, a Christmas tree market, so many food vendors, and loads of Christmas concerts in the local church a few blocks from our apartment. To be fair,  because of the terrorist bombings in Paris, many activities in Strasbourg were shut down.

4) Architecture: Both cities have stunning architecture and quaint buildings, but Colmar seemed a bit more fairy tale like to me. Both cities have canals, timbered houses, and typical Alsatian style, but Colmar was just more colorful. Strasbourg did have some lovely areas, but they were more spread out and just bigger in mass. If you love old churches, Strasbourg has a very impressive cathedral that's worth seeing.

Essentially, Colmar being a tiny little hamlet just compounded the Christmas spirit in a deeper way. There was So much to do and see (in some ways, even more than Strasbourg!) and I would go back in a heartbeat. This is not to say that Strasbourg is not worth seeing, as it totally is, it just has a bigger city feel that isn't as cozy.

Hope this was helpful! Let me know if you plan to add Colmar to your itinerary!! Don't forget to check out my posts with pictures and recommendations on both Colmar and Strasbourg! xoxo 

Almost Summer!

Thursday, May 26

Summer, summer summer! 

I love everything about it (mostly!)

I know, i'm crazy, but I do love the heat. I love that I can swim in warm waters, drink cold drinks and not be freezing (like I am the rest of the year), and wear my bathing suit and dresses all the time! We are on quite the budget this year, but i'm loving these 5 items above and am hoping to add them to my wardrobe…don't they just scream summer?!?! 

I love summer fruits. I could eat nectarines, peaches, cherries, and apricots forever and amen. I just bought my first batch of apricots today and they just smell like summer. Growing up, my grandmother would take me to apricot orchards where we would pick crate after crate and then go home and can them. I love to eat them raw, in cobblers, or cut up in oatmeal or my cereal. Yum! 

I love beach bonfires and bbq's. I love how everyone just seems to linger a little longer at night. I love summer camps and vacations. I love 4th of July. Kevin and I have a few fun trips planned this summer, and possibly a bigger trip, we'll see! 

And, this year, we have all sorts of house projects I want to get done. This weekend Kevin promised we could work on building our own shutters for the front of our house. I'm working on turning our little ranch style house into an English cottage, and what's an English cottage without shutters and window boxes filled with flowers?? I'm so excited! 

Happy almost summer to you all!! xoxo 

Christmas in Strasbourg France, the capital of the Alsace

Monday, May 23

Strasbourg was given the honored distinction of being the "Christmas Capital in 2015", so of course, we had to put it on our European Christmas itinerary! And it's not without reason. Strasbourg is touted as having the oldest Christmas market in all of Europe, originating in 1570. The city of Strasbourg is really quite beautiful and is the economic and cultural capital, as well as largest city, of the Alsace region. The Alsace region has quickly become one of my favorite places in all of Europe. You can read more about our time in the magical city of Colmar, as well as the wine route through the area.

A few of the fun things we did in Strasbourg included:

1) Walk the city at night! The whole city is lit up with a beautiful light show. There is a huge lit Christmas tree in the main plaza, as well as strings of lights for miles. It's gorgeous!

2) Enjoy one of the free Christmas concerts. My favorite Christmas concert on the whole trip was in Strasbourg. I found the listing on this website here (for Christmas activities in the Alsace). One night we sat in a beautiful church, cozied up on benches, and listened to two a cappella groups sing Christmas carols in French, German and English. It was so wonderful and really helped us ring in the Christmas spirit:)

3) Wander through the Christmas markets. My favorite market was the one around the huge cathedral of the city. We drank Vin Chaud (hot mulled wine with spices, yum!), and feasted our eyes on the gorgeous ornaments and other handmade crafts:)

4) Stroll through Petite France. The oldest area of Strasbourg is called Petite France, and is made up of the quaint half timbered homes made famous in the Alsace. The area has canels and the river flowing through it, and it makes a fun walk going over bridges and surveying the old town!

5) Take a ride on the Battorama. This little boat cruise, complete with headsets in your language is a fun and informative little jaunt around the city. While I would have liked to learn more history of the city, it did help me get my bearings and see a lot of the city I would never had encountered just walking.

Strasbourg is a fascinating city. Unfortunately, because of the bombings in Paris a few weeks before we went to France, many of the regularly scheduled Christmas events were closed. However, it's still worth a visit at Christmas, it's just beautiful! I just could not get over how charming the architecture was, and loved the vibe of the big city. It's certainly bigger than any of the other towns in the Alsace, but has a lot of fun restaurants and fun to enjoy:)