01 December 2009

Marchés de Noël - Christmas Markets

The Marchés de Noël have commenced in Metz, transforming the city into the veritable Land of Christmas.  The Christmas markets, which originated in Germany in the 15th century, are now also popular throughout Austria and Alsace-Lorraine region of France. Typical Christmas markets sell a variety of goods, which, depending on the area, range from artisan-made crafts like toys, pottery and jewelry to overpriced commercial holiday knick-knacks.  While open all day, the markets are best enjoyed after dark, when the city is lit in all its Christmas splendor.

Metz boasts one of the largest Christmas markets in France (second only to Strasbourg), and has clusters of chalets situated in various city squares.  The scent of German and Alsatian sausages, cheeses, cooked chestnuts, and hot mulled wine fills the frigid air, offering warmth and cheer to the crowds of families who brave the elements to celebrate a timeless tradition. The hot spiced wine (glüwein in German, vin chaud in French) is prepared with cinnamon, vanilla, oranges, sugar and brandy is served in delightful little mugs which can be purchased after the drink is enjoyed. I also spotted visitors enjoying a variety of chocolates, frog legs (cuisses de grenouille), snails (escargot), oysters (huîtres) and churros, a deep fried Spanish doughnut.  

My dad, who has been to Germany on a number of occasions, has always regaled me with the charm of the Christmas markets, so I have been looking forward to Advent for quite awhile. Adorable as they are, I suspect that the markets in Metz are a bit more commercial than those in the quaint villages, so I may need to venture outside of Metz for something a bit more authentic.  

Commercialism aside, I find this tradition quite captivating, despite the fact that the Christmas music and visions of blissful frolicking children leave me yearning to be home for Christmas. Bizarre that I'm consistently teary-eyed when I wander through the markets, knowing fully well that in a few weeks, "I'll be home for Christmas..."

Marché de Noël at Place Saint Louis

Cheese from various regions in France

Sausages and meats from Germany and France

Hélène and Nicolas enjoying churros and chocolat chaud 
(hot chocolate)

Marché de Noël at Place Saint Jacques

Train shaped Marché de Noël near the train station... how appropriate!


  1. I can almost taste the hot spiced wine! Mom

  2. You reminded me that I needed to start my advent calendar! So thanks for that.

    I've been craving me some Christmas markets, so I've been considering Nancy-Metz, or Strasbourg. Not sure what to do, but if I head your way, I'll let you know!

  3. Happy to show you around Metz!

    And I also want to visit Strasbourg, and I know a few other assistants in Metz do as well. Let me know, we can coordinate something!

  4. mmmmhhh Christmas markets ... hot Wine .... ok so i go to Place st louis after work!
    Good taste!


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