I'm from Montreal, Canada, and I will be in France for the Christmas vacation. I was wandering if there was special things that I must see during that time of the year? Me and my boyfriend are starting to plan 2 short vacations of 3-4 days anywhere cheap with things to see. I if possible we would try to avoid very rainy places, but cold we are used to! I would love to have your suggestions and comments about past experiences
Western Europe around Christmas time is mixed. Usually you have temps around freezing point or slightly above during the day. Some rain does come down, but it is not the season for huge downpours. White Christmas is possible but unusual.
For Christmas in Europe you essentially have two choices: See the cities and spend a lot of time indoors in museums or go up into the mountains and ski.
Christmas in Germany is very beautiful and romantic. There are Christmas Markets in every city and the streets are beautifully decorated with lights, boughs, trees, etc. They sell beautiful clothing, crafts, delicious food, jewelery and sundry other items. You must try gluewein, a hot malt wine that comes in a mug you get to keep. A great souvenier. One place especially quaint is Rotenberg ob der Tauber, one of my favorites. It is a charming village surrounded by a castle wall. The Christmas store has amazing handcrafted decorations. If not to stay for a few days, it would make a good day trip, if you can fit it in. The larger cities, though exciting, would be more expensive, but Germany is a worthwhile thought around Christmastime. It snowed while I was there . . . Boy did it snow!
I was in the Austrian Tyrol for Christmas awhile ago. I stayed in a village called Kirchdorf. It was just wonderful and so pretty. The hotels are incredibly clean and the food was fantastic. In the evening there were sleighrides and choirs singing in the town square. Turkey and hot wine on Christmas day followed by street pantomimes in the snow. Get a flight to either Innsbruck or Salzburg, many budget airlines fly there from Central Europe for around €60 one way mid-week, then its about two to three hours by bus from either airport. Kitzbuhel is closeby too. Probably the finest ski slopes in the world.
Thank you everyone for you suggestions! We will probably go to Strasbourg,Fr, just before Christmas for the market and the spirits. but after Christmas, we will probably head more south ( Spain, south of France or Italy) because I have already known 25 white Christmas, it would be a bit different for me to have a 10 degree than go skiing in the snow.
Don't be shy to send me other suggestions, I'm really opened minded and plans are always made to be changed!
If you want 10 C and warmer your best chances in Continental Europe are Andalusia, Spain and Sicily, Italy. There even 15 C and sunshine are possible at this time, although 10 C and a torrent of rain is far more likely.
The Canary Islands and Madeira are another option, but these are typical package tourist resort destinations. (Think Cancun, Mexico.)
Hmm, what else? Well, there is Turkey. Weather in Turkey will be similar to weather in Spain or Sicily, temps around 15 C and frequent rain. The good news: During the winter months there are special discounted package tours to Turkey. (Curtesy of the Turkish Tourism Authorities who rather not pay any unemployment benefits to hotel staff.) Usually these trips are for one week to a resort near Antalya, and with a 2-day trip to Pamukkale. Flights are leaving from many airports around Germany and neighboring countries, price is between 100-200 EUR per person. That is a really good deal because usually the flights to Turkey alone are around 150-200 EUR. You can book these package tours through almost any travel agency in Germany or in the country you want to leave from.
Further south: If you'd like Christmas at the beach look at Morocco or Egypt.
You can probably fly into Sevilla or Jerez de la Frontera, and make your way to Cadiz. The weather there is likely to be nice, at least during the days. If you would be tempted to go to Granada, you have to know that it will be colder there, but you could go skiing in the Sierra Nevada.