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France in January

My husband, teenager (17-year-old), and I will be traveling through Europe during the last week of December through the first week of January. We will wrap up the trip with a couple of days in Paris and would like to explore more of France beginning on January 1 for six days prior to arriving in Paris. Would you recommend visiting France during this time of year, and if so, what towns/region would you recommend? Our concern is that some areas may close down or become very quiet (in terms of tourism) at that time. If not France, perhaps some charming towns in Switzerland? Thank you!

Posted by
401 posts

It's true that some châteaux (especially privately-owned ones), museums, hotels, and restaurants are closed in the off season. But a lot of places are open and with some planning you should have plenty to do and see.

What kinds of activities are you envisioning for this portion of your trip? A little more description of your interests and dislikes might help generate more accurately targeted and useful responses.

Posted by
28 posts

Thank you very much for your response. My husband and I visited France as part of our honeymoon 20 years ago, but it will be our son's first visit to Europe. We loved the charm of Beaune and Avignon. We are not skiers, nor will we want to spend much time in museums. We LOVE food (a cooking class would be fun), would like to see chateaus, anything midieval or historic (my kid loves world history), off-the-beaten-path activities /places. Any suggestions, including places to stay, eat, visit are very welcome.

Posted by
15329 posts

I think Alsace would be more interesting and perhaps due to the onslaught of tourists for the Christmas markets there may be more restaurants still open, and maybe even holiday decorations still up. There's enough to see in Strasbourg for 2 days, then stay in/near Colmar, see its sights and the charming Alsatian villages.

Posted by
28 posts

Thank you so much, Changi. This is very helpful information. I have never explored the Alsace region and love this idea.

Posted by
28 posts

Thank you so much, Changi. This is very helpful information. I have never explored the Alsace region and love this idea.

Posted by
28 posts

With regard to Alsace, does anyone have recommendations on hotels, where to eat, wonderful activities, etc. (including Strasbourg, Colmar, and any other amazing towns)? Based on research so far, it seems that the Christmas markets will wrap up by December 30th, so we will sadly miss those.

Posted by
22514 posts

I very much enjoyed the Unterlinden Museum in Colmar. It's known as the home of the Isenheim Altarpiece, which is stunning, but it has an impressive overall collection. I ate in a restaurant very near the museum (not inside it). I do not recommend that restaurant. Sorry that I don't remember the name.

Colmar's architecture is lovely; allow time for wandering

Posted by
4554 posts

We stayed at Maison Martin Jund in Colmar. It was a working winery. It was quirky, clean, inexpensive and had a great breakfast. Employees were very nice. We also stayed 3 nights in Eguisheim, I think along with Riquewihr the cutest little villages in Alsace. In Eguisheim was stayed at L-Hameau-Eguisheim. It, too, was a working winery. The B&B was in the same building as the tasting room. It was lovely, super clean and with gracious hosts. The breakfast was lovely and plentiful. www.hameau-eguisheim.com/en

Posted by
15329 posts

Oh, definitely no Christmas markets. However, the towns put up decorations and lights, and many of the shops to as well. Those may still be up at the beginning of January. Even if there aren't, you'll have lots to enjoy.