Holiday Travel

Exploring Christmas Markets in Europe: Montreux, Switzerland

This is my first Christmas in Central Europe and I have to admit, I’m excited! We live near all the wonderful European Christmas markets—it doesn’t get more festive than that. We checked out the one closest to our house in Montreux last weekend. I wasn’t sure what to expect … with 146 “chalets” featuring local crafts and food, I knew it was going to be big and busy.

First impression? This is not a good place for a diet. Many of the stalls featured candy and various other holiday treats.  Our eyes popped out when we saw these piles of chocolate and caramel candy.  We managed to spend $70 within our first hour in the market on food (apparently there is no break from Swiss prices, even here).

There is a giant ferris wheel in the center of the market that offers beautiful views of the lake and mountains if you are willing to brave the wind.  There was one other kiddie ride we didn’t get to, but that seemed to be the extent of that kind of entertainment.

My biggest tip for going to one of these markets? Bring layers!  It’s bone-chilling cold to be wandering outside for hours and there are very few indoor places to sit relative to the number of people milling around. Fortunately, the vin chaud (mulled wine) takes the edge off the chill for adults and the chocolate chaud will make kids smile.

Although the candy is enticing, there are only a handful of toy-focused stalls in this market and my 7-year-old was not overly enthralled with the event — in his eyes it was all about shopping. True. More kid-centric is the Maison du Pere (Santa’s house!) in the mountains above Montreux. We’ll check that out in a few weeks.

I know there are other markets that have more rides and kid-focused activities within the main market area like Tivoli in Copenhagen.  If you’ve experienced a wonderful Christmas market in Europe with kids, please share!

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