Oct 25th, 2017, 03:55 PM

Four Christmas Markets Within Four Hours of Paris

By Leona Caanen
Image Credit: flickr/Wilf James
Hop on a train to visit some of the best Christmas Markets in Europe.

As the holiday season approaches, so do festive spirits. The buying of presents, apartment decorating, and drinking gluhwein (vin chaud/mulled wine). Though, as France is still in a state of emergency, the City of Light has regretfully decided to cancel the Marché du Noel on the Champs Élysées this winter. The Parisian authorities believe that this is the best way to ensure safety for both the locals and the tourists.

While this is an inconvenience, it should in no way hinder your holiday spirit. We have provided a list for you of Christmas markets in neighboring countries. Hop on a train, and in less than four hours you can be surrounded by the Christmas Markets of Northern Europe.

Image Credit: Flickr/Yee-Kay Fung

Brussels, Belgium:

Book a ticket on the French Thalys train, and within an hour and a half, you will be able to enjoy the Belgium capital. From November 24 to December 31, there will be stands all throughout the city. The main squares that are a must see are The Grand Palace, Place de la Monnaie, Bourse, Place Sainte-Catherine and the Marché aux Poissons. As you shuffle through the crowd of people, past the 200 stalls, you can enjoy a variety of foods, hot beverages, and music. Besides walking around, there are also fairground attractions such as a Ferris wheel and a merry-go-round. If these are not appealing attractions to you, there is always the ice-skating rink!

Other Christmas markets in Belgium: Antwerp (Anvers), Brugge, Ghent, Liège

Image Credit: Flickr/Pok Ng

Amsterdam, The Netherlands:

If you plan to go a bit further, then you can take the train to Amsterdam. The capital of the Netherlands is only a three hour and 20-minute train ride away. The Dutch have, besides the Christmas stalls spread out around the Museumplein, two ice-skating rinks that are open for use until early February. Besides beautiful decorations and drinking hot chocolate, Amsterdam brings you the holiday spirit through its canals: the Amsterdam Canals are covered in lights, and boat tours are one of the most popular attraction this time of year.

Other Christmas Markets in the Netherlands: Leiden, Groningen, Haarlem, Maastricht and more!

Image Credit: Flickr/Steff

Stuttgart, Germany:

Book a ticket with the SNCF or Deutsche Bahn and within three hours and thirty-five minutes you will be in the heart of Stuttgart's Christmas Market. This market is definitely worth seeing as it is one of Germany's oldest and largest Christmas Markets. Five big squares covered in over 300 stalls are filled with the sound of choirs and musicians that perform nightly. Besides coming for the stands at the market, there is also an ice-skating skating rink, a miniature steam railway, fairy-tale figures spread out throughout the market, and to top it all, a huge, twenty-meter tall Christmas tree.

Additional Holiday Market locations include Heidelberg, Munich, Nuremberg, Dresden, Cologne (note that most of these are outside of the four-hour range).

Image Credit: Flickr/Dave Shafer

Basel, Switzerland:

Basel holds Switzerland's largest Christmas Market, and just like Amsterdam, this city becomes extra charming thanks to the Rhine river that flows through it. Besides being the largest, the Basel Christmas Market is also known as the prettiest. The market holds over a 180 stalls in the main squares: Barfüsserplatz and Münsterplatz. If you are looking for a beautifully lit up tree, you should go to the latter location. If you are not in the mood for a hot drink, there are always the delicious Swiss treats to choose from.

Other Market locations in Switzerland include Geneva, Lausanne, Montreux, Zurich, Luzern, though some of these are further than four hours away.

As you make your winter break plans, keep these in mind! They are also a great place to find beautiful gifts. Push through the last six weeks of the semester and enjoy the holiday atmosphere.