I am pleased to present a new Solo Travel Destination Post from Sandra, a member of the Solo Travel Society on Facebook. Sandra is from the United States, and submitted the following report about her solo trip to visit Christmas Markets in Germany and France. Do you have a solo travel destination that you would like to recommend? Submit your description here, along with a few photos, and share it with fellow travelers!
Solo Travel Rating: 1.5 (1 is easiest, 3 is most difficult. Please see chart below)
Languages Spoken: German, French, English
Costs at Destination: Reasonable (local transportation, dining, tours, events, and attractions)
Enjoying Christmas Markets in Germany and France Solo
I’m a Christmas Market aficionado!
With passport, mask, and CDC vaccination card in hand, I was off toward more cheer and Glühwein.
I landed in Frankfurt, but it was not my favored destination. After an overnight, I took a train to Mainz, famous for Glühwein, fresh-off-the-grill potato pancakes, and a few flurries of snow. Mainz market usually has an abundance of handmade ornaments, but this year the pickings were slim. With only one night at the AC Mainz (a Marriott) I was hopping another train to a destination not yet visited: Cologne.
Oh, my! I stepped out of the train station to a stunning Cathedral. Lucky for me the Ibis Hotel was right across the plaza from both the Cathedral and the lively, fragrant, and colorful Christmas market.
Cologne has five markets. There’s a little green train (Christmas Market Express) that takes you around to each market for €10. It’s a bargain compared to a taxi, and it’s fun!
I disembarked at the Harbour Market, added another Glühwein to my belt, then toured the Chocolate Museum (tip: they give samples!). I thoroughly enjoyed the museum (not just for the sample), and I learned where the cocoa bean comes from and how it’s processed so we can enjoy the delights of many kinds of chocolate. With a round-trip ticket, I boarded the green train that took me back to Cologne Cathedral and my warm Ibis hotel.
Part of my journey to Cologne included joining a river cruise, another first. Okay, I’m in love! Usually I’m fiercely independent, but as I’ve become “of a certain age,” I wanted to experience the Christmas markets in style and comfort.
Amadeus River Cruise did not disappoint. My room was slick and modern, decorated with hints of gray. The cuisine was top notch, varied each night and abundant, usually with at least four courses, including wine. The waiter for my table was a gem. If I didn’t like the offerings for the evening, at my request he would order a large salad for me, no questions asked. He even remembered that I liked an extra pat of butter with my bread!
The journey on the Rhine was five very busy days, with excursions both morning and afternoon. There were stops in Koblenz, Speyer, and Rudesheim, ending in Strasbourg. With the exception of Rudesheim, whose market wasn’t open, Christmas markets and historical walks awaited us at every stop.
Rudesheim didn’t disappoint, however, as we were offered a tour of the Music Museum. Afterwards, a few of us enjoyed a Rudesheimer Coffee—a flaming strong coffee with a sugar cube, Asbach brandy, and a dollop of whipped cream—to warm us before walking back to the ship.
After a day of touring Strasbourg, we were set free for the evening. Strasbourg has by far the most beautiful Christmas market I’ve visited. There are several small markets with the pièce de résistance being the one at the Cathedral, soft lights reflecting its tower.
I smelled Vin Chaud and butter cookies calling my name, so off we went in search of treats before heading back to our final dinner on the ship.
Alas, all good things come to an end. I thoroughly enjoyed my trip to visit Christmas markets in Germany and France. In 2022, I’m hoping all European Christmas markets will be open because my tummy is running low on Glühwein!
Solo Travel Rating
- Safety – 1 (1 very safe, 2 safe in most areas, 3 be cautious at all times.)
- Language – 2 (1 English is first language, 2 English speakers easy to find, 3 English speakers rare)
- Navigation – 1 (1 easy to navigate by transit or car, 2 poor transit, car necessary, 3 not easy to get around)
- Culture – 2 (1 Similar to North America or Western Europe, 2 Different from above but relaxed and easy, 3 Challenging)
- Average Rating – 1.5 (1 is easiest, 3 is most difficult)