Due to unanticipated, and to me at least, deeply disturbing events in our world this past year, I’m really craving some comfort and joy this Christmas time. Happily, there’s plenty on offer at Christmas markets across Switzerland this November-December, including some very special ones right on our doorstep in the Lake Geneva region.
Here are a few of my highlights for you to consider, all of them within easy distance by car or public transport.
La Noyère – the little jewel in the Christmas Market crown
I“discovered” the Marché de Noël de la Noyère only last Christmas when one of my favorite artisans, Isabelle Jeangros, told me she would be selling her beautiful knit creations there. (You can read all about the Christmas Market’s Spring counterpart at La Noyère in my interview with founder Anne-Catherine Goetschin at La Noyère Spring Market: artisanal creativity blossoms in a magical garden setting )
Located in the cellars and outbuildings of Anne-Catherine’s 17th-century manor house in the heart of the village of Mont-sur-Rolle, this Christmas market boasts an intimacy and charm that other, oversized markets cannot achieve. She carefully chooses 25 artisans for the quality and creativity of their work, which includes clothes, jewellery, paper creations, pottery, sculpture, handmade candles, knitwear, food and decorative items for the holiday season. This market definitely puts you in the mood for Christmas!
Tip: Register for one of professional florist Anne-Catherine’s floral “Advent Wreath” workshops on the 25 or 26 November or for her gastronomic/floral workshop “A Table for Christmas” on 17 December.
Marché de Noël de la Noyère
Friday, 2 Dec. 14h-21h (from 19h wine tasting and jazz band on hand);
Saturday, 3 Dec. 11h-18h; Sunday, 4 Dec. 11h-17h
Floral and Gastronomic workshops
La Noyère, Route de la Noyère
Château de Coppet Christmas Market – under a nobleman’s roof
The Château de Coppet, the former residence of King Louis XVI’s popular Swiss Finance Minister Jacques Necker, offers a magical setting for a Christmas Market especially at night when the fairy lights come on. Beneath the vaulted, beamed ceiling of its central hall and cozy former stables you’ll find everything you need or want for seasonal celebrations: Christmas tree baubles, Nativity scene figurines, mouth-blown glass creations, artisanal candles and “photophores”, seasonal Swedish decorations, sewing kits and materials, furnishings for home and chalet, jewellery, hats, linen and cotton tableware, and much more.
In the Chateau’s converted wine cellar you’ll find gastronomic delights including European Christmas specialties, spice cake, pannetone, dried herbs and spices, gourmet nuts, and of course, delectable chocolate confections. In case you need something warm and tasty to eat right on the spot, the castle’s courtyard and garden will once again host stalls offering a variety of food and drink, including, of course, mulled wine.
Children can participate in baking workshops and enjoy visits from Saint Nicholas (please consult Animations au Bourg/au Château for times and applicable fees.) The skating rink in the garden of the Château is also open to the public (the entrance is off Rue des Murs).
Coppet Village: Be sure to take the 2-minute walk from the Château down to Coppet village where Saint Nick will also be stopping in on Wednesday from 16h00 to 17h00; Saturday from 15h00 to 16h00; and Sunday from 15h00 to 16h00. Under the illuminated archways of this lovely medieval village, shopkeepers will be offering artisanal wares, hot chocolate, oysters and champagne, raclette, and also, painting and sewing events for children.
Marché de Noël au Château de Coppet
Wednesday, 30 Nov. 14h00-20h00; Thursday, 1 Dec. 14h00-21h00;
Friday, 2 Dec. 14h00-20h00; Saturday, 3 Dec. 11h00-20h00;
Sunday, 4 Dec. 11h00-18h00
How to get there and where to eat
Morges Christmas Market – shopping on a grand scale
he biggest covered Christmas market in the Swiss Romandy — the Morges Christmas Market — runs this year from the 2nd to 11th of December in the cavernous wood hall of the CFF railway company located just steps from the train station at Morges.
Sadly, 2016 marks the last Xmas Market at Morges as the wood hall will be dismantled in January 2017.
Glittering chandeliers make for a cocooning ambience in which the 160 participants, ninety per cent of whom are artisans from the Swiss Romandy, offer a tantalizing range of goods. From handmade soaps and candles, to leather goods, paintings, sculptures, glasswork, knitwear and of course, mouthwatering preserves, cakes, food and drink — its all here for you to enjoy. There are also food and drink outlets available on site in case you get hungry or thirsty while browsing.
The best homemade Swiss Christmas biscuits can be found at the stand Les Biscuits de Séverine. Instead of settling for the packaged variety at your local grocery store, opt to buy a few bags of Séverine’s handmade zimtsternli (cinnamon stars), brunsli (soft, dark chocolate), chräbeli (anis-flavored), and sablés (shortbread). She also makes the best Basler lackerli outside Basel.
The Christmas Market at Morges
Friday, 2 December to Sunday, 11 December 2016
at these times:
Monday to Friday: 16h00-22h00
Closed Monday, 5 and Tuesday, 6 December
Saturday and Sunday: 10h00-19h00
Christmas in Carouge – a Sardinian village decks its halls
The artisans and shopkeepers of Carouge pull out all the stops at Christmas time. In addition to its “official” outdoor Christmas Market from 9-11 December at six locations in the village (Place de l’Octroi; Rue du Pont-Neuf; Rue Saint-Joseph; Place du Temple; Place du Marché and Rue Ancienne) more than 130 businesses will also keep their doors open on Sundays (November 27; December 4, 11, and 18) to accommodate Christmas shoppers.
Again this year, there’s a full programme of special events and activities, including sleigh and pony rides, clowns, balloons, theatrical productions for children, a “living creche”, free concerts at local churches and of course, Saint Nick will stop in from time to time. Don’t try to resist the temptation — just join in the fun.
Carouge Village Christmas Market
9 – 11 December
Montreux Christmas Market – a village of diverse delights
A sprawling Christmas market — a village unto itself, really — that takes over the Grand Rue and quays of Lake Geneva until 24 December, the Montreux Christmas Market is the largest outdoor one of its kind in the Swiss Romandy with more than 160 illuminated chalets. In addition to the market, Montreux also offers a “Lumberjack Village”, a “Magic Garden”, and new this year for families, the “Elves Village”, located in the garden of the Casino Barrière (entrance fee applies).
Of course, children can still look forward to “Medieval Enchantment” at the Château de Chillon, the Christmas Village at Caux, and Santa’s House at Rochers de Naye as well as Santa’s flying exploits over the quay every evening between 5 and 7pm. Please visit the homepage for all practical information, including the location of special events and fees, where applicable.
Montreux Christmas Market
24 November to 24 December
There are a few more Christmas markets to partake of in the Swiss Romandy, including Geneva’s own Marché de Noël du Mont-Blanc; the Christmas Markets in Lausanne; and, the Yverdon-les-Bains Christmas Market.
Christmas Markets elsewhere in Switzerland
If you would like to be a bit adventurous and discover a Swiss Christmas Market beyond the Swiss Romandy, here are some links to homepages of the some popular ones. A tip: if you plan to travel to a distant market in Switzerland or a neighboring country, check out Swiss Railway’s discounted package offers for travelling there by train.
- Basel Christmas Market: 24 November – 23 December
- Christmas Market in Bern: 3 – 24 December
- Zurich and Lucerne Christkindlimarkt: Zurich from 24 November – 24 December; Lucerne from 25 November – 24 December.
And here’s another, just in, for you to enjoy in the Swiss Romandy:
Les Dames de Hautecour Winery
Route de la Noyère 10, Mont-sur-Rolle
Small Christmas Market in solidarity with Association Maili, offering aid to the people of Nepal
Wines, pashminas, foie gras, biscuits, jams, oils, soaps, jewels, and other crafts
17 – 18 December, from 11h00 to 19h00
Information tel: 079.618.09.18/Facebook
I hope you find a Christmas Market that puts some seasonal joy in your step, peace in your heart, and cheer on your countenance.♥