The arrival of December for those studying in Mannheim means two things:
- Christmas markets.
Being a footloose, fancy-free exchange student, my priority is obviously the latter and I celebrated the first weekend of December by exploring two lovely Christmas markets.
Although Christmas markets are a German speciality, Strasbourg’s marché de Noël is meant to be the best in France and one of the best in Europe. Craving some vin chaud and tacky French souvenirs (and la langue française, comme toujours), my friend Emma and I decided that there was no better time to return to Strasbourg, visit our friend Jack, and experience a Christmas market à la française.
We and our friend Rachel took an ICE train at 7.45am so we could enjoy the whole day in the Alsatian capital.
Afternoon-long rainfall meant it was more a wet Christmas than a white Christmas, but we didn’t let the drizzle dampen our excited Christmas spirits. We wandered around sipping our raindrop-ridden vin chaud, admiring the trinket stalls and food stalls.
However, the rain eased when it got dark and the market really came to life. It seemed that every street in the city was draped in Christmas lights, and the market’s massive Christmas tree looked like something from the North Pole.
But we weren’t satisfied with just one Christmas market. We returned to Mannheim with Jack in tow and on Saturday a big group of us caught the train to Heidelberg to explore the Christmas market there.
Being in Heidelberg, the Christmas market was obviously very pretty. With a castle for a backdrop and the sugary scent of Lebkuchen lacing the air, it was like a Netflix Christmas fairy tale film.
There wasn’t one big Christmas market, but rather little Christmas markets scattered all over the town. Around every corner there was another cluster of stalls selling gifts, food, and Glühwein. It was magical.
After a lovely first weekend of Christmas Market Season, we all have the Christmas Market Bug and aside from wandering around Mannheim’s every day, I can’t wait to visit other German Christmas markets before I fly home for Christmas.