Okay, enough about the incessant snowfalls at our place (which still continues even today, by the way) … and let me share about Mulhouse instead lah!
The trip to Colmar and Mulhouse was not planned. At least it was not in any of our travel plans … but actually came about because the mum had mentioned being interested in going to Colmar to check out its Christmas market (Marché de Noël) … when we were at the parents a few weeks ago. So we told her that we would take her there … as her birthday present for this year.
Well, we had hoped to take her there lah! But in the end she ended going there on her own, joining a one-day coach tour from the area where they are staying in France … preferring to do so rather than go with us via the train and spending the night in Mulhouse (since all hotels in Colmar were fully booked) even though we had already booked the hotel stay! Oh dear, oh dear … what can I say … except that we hope that she will not change her mind for this coming weekend trip to Davos!! That is right, we will be taking the parents to spend the Christmas weekend in Davos … and we have already paid for the accommodation in Davos and their train tickets!!
Anyway … we cannot criticise too much lah because for our part we had nearly cancelled the trip, with the hubby deciding to go ahead with it almost at the very last minute. What was this change of mind attributable to? Well … difficulty in cancelling the hotel booking is one reason … and the other was the realisation that Mulhouse and Colmar are respectively only about 3 hours and 3 hours and 30 minutes away by rail from Lausanne … just as far as Zermatt and Gornergrat lah! And we were glad that we did go ahead with the trip … because we had a lovely time in Mulhouse and Colmar despite the cold!!
So before I share the many, many pictures that we took of beautiful Colmar and its equally lovely Marché de Noël … let me show you Mulhouse, a town in Alsace, France … that is prettier than what the (French) guidebooks we had borrowed from the municipal library of Lausanne seem to suggest!
Making our way through the Swiss snow-covered landscape (finally!!) that Saturday morning to Mulhouse, where we had booked our hotel stay.
It was lovely to be able to see such a scene, again … even though it means that there is always a higher risk of the train schedule being de-railed! We had to change trains in Berne and again in Basel to reach Mulhouse … but despite the slight delay in reaching Basel, we managed to catch our connecting TGV train to Mulhouse within the two minutes that we had … pheww!
Arriving in Mulhouse, France … our first visit to this city.
Mulhouse is the second largest city in the Alsace region, after Strasbourg (another French city very famous for having the oldest Marché de Noël in France) … situated in Eastern France.
The area just outside of the train station in Mulhouse … quite nice and spacious. From here, we made our way to our hotel on foot … which is only about 5 – 7 minutes away.
Arriving at our hotel (which used to be a mansion before it was converted into a hotel) called Hôtel du Musée-Gare (because it is located not far from the Musée de l’Impression sur Etoffes, the Museum of Printed Textiles). Although the room itself turned out not to be as nice as some of its sisters on their website …
… but overall the hotel has a lovely ambience and cosy setting … and, best of all, not very expensive, either. We loikee! 🙂
On the first day, we spent the whole afternoon and evening soaking up the atmosphere in Colmar. But on the second day, after checking out of our hotel … we decided to go to the city centre of Mulhouse to check out this city … before taking the train back home.
We did not really know what to expect in Mulhouse, unlike in Colmar, … since from the photos displayed in the guidebooks that we had borrowed from the library there seemed to be not much to see in Mulhouse, except for the various museums that Mulhouse is supposed to be known for! But we were surprised … pleasantly so … when we found that they are some pretty things to see in the old town!
Our first stop was this big shopping centre about two tram stops away from the railway station … to buy something which I needed. But we did not stay long here … because shopping in one has never been in any of our travel itineraries … unless we needed to look for something!!
Luckily, the old town was not far from this shopping centre called Porte Jeune, just next to the three-sided Tour de l’Europe (a tower built in 1972 symbolising the city’s particular geographical location, at the convergence of France, Germany and Switzerland). And so from here, we spent the next few hours walking through the city centre and part of the old town to soak up the atmosphere … as well as its Marché de Noël (albeit on a smaller scale compared with the one in Colmar)!
The area and streets just across from Porte Jeune.
We decided to go through this particular street after crossing the roads from the shopping centre.
And saw some nice buildings along the way.
Including this older type of building found in profusion in the old town of Colmar … hidden away in one of the small alleys at the side of the street. I just love the way this half-timbered (to use the technical term) building is decorated for Christmas … including the building to the left of it. I find the Christmas decoration on many of the buildings here (and especially in Colmar) very attractive … definitely more so than in Lausanne or Geneva!!
We decided to turn towards this street, after stopping to admire some of the pastries on display at the pâtisserie on the right …
… and after I had finished admiring its beautiful Christmas decoration! 🙂
Until we came to this junction of the street. If you look very closely, actually one of the buildings is not as what it appears to be.
Errr … can you guess which?
Here it is …
The building has actually a trompe l‘oeil painted on the whole of its eastern façade!! Quite nicely done, no? 🙂
As we walked further through the nice old town of Mulhouse, we then saw another interesting thing …
… this!! In case you wonder what they are … ??
Well, they are reindeer in a pen … on loan from the Mulhouse Zoo … to highlight the danger of extinction that these animals are facing! They also sold reindeer soft toys at the little hut near the reindeer’s pen. We had thought of buying one to show our support, but did not know whom to give it to … so in the end we did not buy any. So sorry, ladies!
We then found ourselves at the Marché de Noël in the old town square, Place de la Réunion.
Although there were far fewer stalls here than at the Marché de Noël in Colmar, they did have some quite interesting stuff on sale which caught my interest.
One of the stalls which I quite liked was this stall selling chocolates. They are not meant to be eaten as is but to go along in drinks and cooking. The ones on the far left are meant to be broken into pieces (the reason for the little wooden hammer provided in the package).
Although I am not much of a chocolate person (but the hubby is) … we could not resist trying one of these chocolates … especially when there were so many different flavours to choose! We just bought the small one (which you dip into a cup of hot milk) costing 3 Euro … to try. The verdict?? Hmmm … I thought that it was quite good but of course the hubby did not find it so lah. He, on the other hand, thought that it was … delicious!! hehehe … 🙂
In fact, it was wonderful to enjoy a cup of hot chocolate in the cold blistering weather!!
Other stalls selling a different variety of chocolates … those made into biscuits and candies (left) and ones which have letters printed on them (right).
A stall selling churros and raclette (melted cheese) which seemed a hit that afternoon (top) and a stall selling Christmas teas and infusions (bottom). There were some infusions that smelled heavenly …. and I wanted to get a packet for myself. But after standing there for a few minutes waiting for any of the two ladies there to attend to us … and being ignored, we decided simply to leave instead!
Some of the Christmas cookies and biscuits that were on sale … where one can choose and mix as one prefers! Very tempting, indeed … but I decided to be kind to the hubby and not buy any!
Err … why did I say that? Well … because it is most likely that he would be the one to finish off these cookies instead of me … if I were to buy some! And then he will complain that I am trying to make him gain weight by tempting him with such stuff!! So, better to keep the peace and not buy any lah! hehehe … 🙂
An interesting looking building located at one corner of Place de la Réunion (where the Christmas market is located) … which seems to pay tribute to its neighbouring country … Switzerland!
There were flags of some of the Swiss cantons painted at the top of the building, including that of Geneva where the hubby is from, a statue of the famous Swiss legendary icon, William Tell, jutting out of the corner … and the street named after him! Interesting …
And just as we were walking away from the Marché de Noël … guess who … or rather what … did we bump into?
Just one of the three reindeer that we had seen earlier … making his grand walk through the old town … that’s what!
He certainly created a stir as he did his walk and caused many to take a second look. However, his companion … the one walking with a broom and a scoop … caused me to take a third look! hehehe … 🙂
A roadside seller trying to sell his creative works made from empty drink cans not far from the Christmas market.
And then as we were passing by a door in one of the small alleys in the old town, the hubby pointed out this to me …
… can you guess what the purpose of this strange, ornate piece of metal was? We also saw one when we were in Colmar.
If you don’t know … well then … I will tell you when I share photos of the same item that I took in Colmar lah! hehehe … 🙂
And just before we left the old town … to make our way back to the train station … we saw another old building with trompe l‘oeil painted on the whole of its western façade. This one is supposed to depict a painting work in progress … cute!