Famous for its distinct identity, architecture, landscapes and cuisine, the French region of Alsace is all the more magical at Christmas. Mother of two children, Philippine and Côme, Caroline uncovers all its treasures for us. She takes us to her favorites places, shares the local traditions of the area and that of her own family.
Our favorite spots
Capital of Alsace, Strasbourg is a must-see. The spirit of Christmas fills the entire city : the smell of warm mulled wine, carols sang in the streets, music in boutiques, decorations everywhere! All our senses awaken to the beauty and joy of the city!
Every year, a huge Christmas trees stands proudly on the Place Kléber and all the streets leading to the cathedral, described by Victor Hugo as a ‘gigantic and delicate marvel’, glow with garlands and lights. We love strolling along the criss cross narrow lanes while eating a warm Bretzel. Close to the German border, it's a traditional bread of Alsace's local bakeries.
Capitale of the wine region, Colmar is just as mesmerizing during the holidays! With its medieval half timbered houses, bridge laced canals and cobblestone lanes, "Little Venice" as locals like to nickname it, feels as if plucked straight from an ancient folk tale. What a delight to wander around as night falls. The Christmas lights shine even brighter!
At Kaysersberg, we never fail to enjoy the traditional Christmas market before stepping into the church to admire the Nativity scene. It's always a sweet and peaceful moment as we sit all together in silence before the manger.
In Obernai, charming fortified medieval city, the children had the loveliest surprise. Adorable teddy bears with bright red bows were sitting at the windowsill.
Last but not least, one of the things we enjoy the most is playing in the snow with our sleigh. Taking time to appreciate the beautiful winter landscapes where time seems to stop, delights both children and parents. We love singing the traditional French song “Sur le long chemin tout blanc de neige blanche” along the way!
A document dating back to 1453 suggests that gingerbread was already part of monks’ Christmas feast in Alsace at the time. We enjoy baking one each Christmas. Nothing like a homemade "pain d'épices"! Here is my recipe :
Ingredients for one loaf :
200 g of flour
200 g of honey
25 g of brown sugar
25 g of butter
10g of baking powder
10 cl of milk
1 tablespoon of spices
- Cut the butter in small pieces. Heat it with the milk, honey and butter. Leave the mixture to cool.
- In a bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, sugar and spices. Then add the egg and milk mixture. Stir to obtain a smooth dough.
- Preheat the oven to 170°. Pour into a greased mould and cook for 30-45 minutes.
- Leave to cool.
Another favourite family recipe is the “sablés de Noël”. Philippine loves to add chocolate and sparkles as she calls it. We also keep plain cinnamon ones which are the perfect to end a meal with a cup of coffee.
You will find my recipe here.
And of course you can't possibly visit Alsace without enjoying a traditional Kougelhopf. It's a yeast risen brioche baked in a bundt pan.
Our Christmas decors
One of the things we love doing the most each year is drying orange slices! They fill our home with such a delicious smell! It’s also a lovely way to add a sweet finishing touch to our wrappings. Philippine likes to create garlands with them too, using wooden pearls and cinnamon sticks along with the orange slices.
We also love making handmade paper ball ornaments for our tree! All you need is pretty paper and the trick is done!
Here are the instructions :
- Cut equal length strips of paper, the longer the strips the bigger the ball. Use a 0.4 inches width.
- Make a hole at both ends of each strip.
- Put the strips together using paper fasteners.
- Put a thin golden thread through the hole at the top and fix it with the paper fasteners.
Follow Caroline on Instagram : @carolinesfamily
Two French families which inspire Caroline :
@myfourlittleblondies : A family of 5 darling children
@majoliesizaine : Family life in all its sweetness along with couture/sewing inspiration.
Two French decor accounts which inspire Caroline :
@mmemoutarde : A dreamy and poetic account with a slight nostalgic feel
@la.maison.normande : Interior decor of an XVIII home and gardening in the heart of Normandy