In the Alsace region of France, near the borders of Germany and Switzerland, lies the medieval and former industrial city of Mulhouse. This oft-overlooked old city is a fantastic destination any time of year, but come Christmas, the city gets a major boost of fairytale energy.
While Christmas markets are a staple throughout Europe, it makes sense that being so near the German border, Mulhouse takes this German tradition seriously. Mulhouse Christmas Market is as quaint as quaint can be and an amazing place to get your festive cheer on.
Forget the usual holiday hustle; Mulhouse welcomes you with the tempting scent of classic French treats and Glühwein, all basted in a twinkling ambiance of Christmas lights and unique decorations made from local cloth.
Marvel at artisans skillfully crafting wooden wonders, find unique gifts and wonderful souvenirs, and, of course, indulge in some “vin chaud” to add a warm Alsace French glow to your experience! In Mulhouse, Christmas magic comes with a distinctive French flair, making it a winter destination like no other. So join us as we embark on a one-hour train journey from Strasbourg to discover Mulhouse and its Christmas market.
What We Cover
Reasons To Visit The Mulhouse Christmas Market
- Enjoy a less crowded and intimate Christmas market experience in one of Alsace’s most unique markets
- Warm up with hot coffee, mulled wine, and yummy treats, and do some Christmas shopping
- Witness talented local artists, such as the impressive wood carving demonstration at the small market on the side
TL;DR Mulhouse Christmas Market Exploration Tips
|Opt for a midweek visit to experience Mulhouse’s Christmas market with fewer visitors, enhancing the intimate atmosphere.
|Local Culinary Delights
|Explore the city’s eateries and try regional specialties to complement your Christmas market adventure.
|Use online maps to plan your route and pinpoint attractions, ensuring you make the most of your time in Mulhouse.
|Mulhouse Christmas Market Dates
|The Christmas Market takes place 24 November to 27 December.
|Operating Hours Vary
|You can check out the times here.
Getting to the Mulhouse Christmas Market
Public transport is the best way into town, specifically by train. You can get there in under three hours from Paris or Lyon or less than one hour from nearby Alsatian towns Colmar or Strasbourg. Arriving in Mulhouse after a reasonable €43 train ride for two from Strasbourg, you’re greeted by crisp weather.
From December to January, you can expect average temperatures to hover around freezing (32 F / 0 C), with the mercury occasionally wandering a few degrees either way. When we visited, it dropped to 25 F, so I was really looking forward to warm Glühwein. Or any wine.
Bring a good coat, hat, gloves, and a scarf, and embrace the cold, as it’s all part of the authentic European Christmas market experience! If you’re lucky, there will be a light dusting of snow on the ground, adding to the atmosphere.
Stroll To The City Center
A 15-minute walk from the train station leads you through narrow side streets to Mulhouse’s city center, home to the market that promises a delightful escape from the bustling crowds found in larger cities. Feel free to take some extra time wandering around town, especially if you arrived earlier in the day.
Mulhouse is a unique city with a fascinating blend of architectural styles. There’s a mix of medieval timbered homes, renaissance buildings, and 19th-century terraced houses that line cobblestone streets, and the Old Town Hall, beautiful Hôtel de Ville, and the stunning Société Industrielle building showcasing the city’s historic roots.
But intermingled among these old buildings, there’s also a surprising array of cool modern architecture, not to mention a bunch of cool sculptures and street art around town. There’s even an odd mural of Millhouse from the Simpsons that’s worth tracking down.
You’ll immediately note that the city is draped in festive finery, and many decorations are made from fabric. This is a local Alsatian Christmas tradition, an homage to Mulhouse’s contribution to the French textile industry with many decorations and a signature fabric known as the “Christmas Cloth.”
This Christmas fabric adopts a different theme every year and dictates how the rest of the Mulhouse region is decorated. You can learn more about this cloth-making history at the Museum of Printed Textiles (or Musée d’Impression sur Etoffes), which even has its own Christmas market.
See Related: Best Christmas Markets in Germany For Holiday Magic
Mulhouse Christmas Market
You’ll find the Mulhouse Christmas Market in the main square, Place de la Réunion, in front of the highly photogenic Gothic-revival Saint-Etienne church. The market is a decent size, stretching down to the Place des Victoires and the rue des Cordiers, with the Christmas tree taking center stage.
Despite the chill in the air, Mulhouse’s Christmas Market provides a warm and inviting atmosphere that’ll bring out the Christmas spirit in the frostiest of Grinches. This is absolutely aided by the beautifully quirky, eclectic blend of architectural styles surrounding the market.
This is one of the most visited Christmas markets in the region, so to avoid crowds, it’s better to visit on weekdays. No matter the time of week, it’s busiest right around opening and any time after around 3:30 p.m. until closing.
The absence of overwhelming crowds allows you to leisurely explore the variety of shops, stalls, and chalets, each offering a unique holiday experience. And you’ll need that time and space to explore if you want to make the most of it.
There are a ton of shops to be explored and foods to sample. Here are a few magical highlights:
Gifts, Arts, Crafts, and Produce
This place is great for getting some Christmas shopping done. There are all sorts of gift stalls selling everything from candles, knick-knacks, and perfumes to locally produced clothes and ornaments, including traditional cloth decorative objects.
There is a ton of handmade stuff here that you won’t find anywhere else, including a lot of traditional wooden toys, along with sculptures (which I’ll elaborate on in a bit). You can also sample some local produce and festive treats.
In addition to a decent array of food and drink stalls (again, I’ll elaborate), you can find all sorts of vendors selling candies, chocolates, and liqueurs that make great stocking stuffers. Speaking of good eats…
Christmas Food and Drink
As with anywhere in France, you can expect to find great food here. Mulhouse has a top-notch culinary scene, and the Christmas Market is no exception. You’ll find some damn fine restaurants and cafes around the rue des Cordiers end of the market, but there are plenty of chalets with cheap eats.
The most popular fare you’ll find to scoff around here is “walking around food.” You’ll find a ton of fresh pastries, waffles, crepes, and the ubiquitous croissant. But you’ll also find a few regional Alsatian treats like bredalas (sweet, spicy Christmas cookies) and European fair food like toffee apples.
As far as drinks are concerned, oh yeah, there’s a lot of Glühwein, but there’s a lot of regular wine, too. Alsace is known for riesling, a crisp, sweet, white wine. But I find that red wine is the way to go on a cold day, as do the locals. There is a lot of red wine to enjoy here, mostly from local vineyards.
For those who aren’t inclined towards a tipple (or if you need a break between glasses), there are plenty of places to grab a strong coffee or some sweet hot chocolate. Remember, you’re in France; these folks know how to handle chocolate.
See Related: Traditional German Christmas Foods
We made a discovery! I’m not sure how much of a discovery, since the locals probably found it first, but just off the central Mulhouse Market, we found a small “side market” on the edge of the square.
Around here, we saw a man with a chainsaw doing a live carving display, crafting a giant acorn out of a massive stump. It turns out it wasn’t just a display; he was making unique wooden sculptures and souvenirs for people to buy then and there.
That’s one way to top the obligatory live spoon-carving stall you’ll see at most Christmas markets. More importantly, we found more food and mulled wine here.
Where to Stay in Mulhouse
As mentioned, Mulhouse is a good-sized city well worth exploring if you have the time. Staying for a day or two will give you the benefit of sampling more of Mulhouse’s food and wine, as well as its cultural hotspots.
You’ll also have a better chance to explore the Christmas Market during the day and at night, which brings very different, equally lovely vibes. Here are a few of our top recommendations: