Bonsoir from our village of Bonnieux in the Luberon region of Provence, France! After hosting 18 groups this year, I’ve just wrapped up 2022 with two European Christmas Experiences trips. What a wonderful way to end the year! I’ll be flying back to the USA tomorrow to celebrate a quiet Christmas and New Years at home with my husband Charley.
I’ve been celebrating Christmas intensely for the past four weeks! I arrived in Europe on November 27 and have hosted two different European Experiences Christmas trips! I’ve celebrated Christmas in Salzburg and the Salzkammergut region of Austria; in Munich and the Bavarian Alps in southern Germany; in the Alsace region of northeastern France; and finally in Provence in the south of France. I’ve loved sharing this time of year with our European Experiences travelers as they experience the unique Christmas customs, traditions, and cuisine in these distinctly-different areas of Europe. After four weeks, I’m definitely filled with the Christmas spirit!! (And I’m carrying home an extra suitcase filled with Christmas gifts.)
The European Christmas Experience
Our first Christmas trip began in the beautiful Austrian city of Salzburg, where my daughter Kelly and I welcomed our European Christmas Experience group for their special 12-night trip.
After four nights in Salzburg, we traveled by train to Munich, Germany for four nights. Our last four nights were in the colorful town of Colmar in Alsace, France. Many Christmas tours change locations every day or two; our groups enjoy basing for longer in these three very different and interesting places.
Salzburg is a magical city of music, nestled in the mountains. Our group enjoyed a special Mozart dinner concert, and we also had a private concert with two young musicians. Our local guide Michaela accompanied us for a day in the countryside, including a fun visit to the salt mine at Hallein.
Munich is a busy, very welcoming city in Bavaria. Our hotel is located steps from the Marienplatz and Munich’s main Christmas market.
A highlight of our time in Munich was our day trip to the Bavarian Alps. We enjoyed our time in the pretty village of Oberammergau (home of the famous Passion Play), and we also visited Linderhof Castle. A bit of snow enhanced the beauty of this area.
Our group also enjoyed a special evening with Alexander at his cooking studio in a Munich neighborhood. We helped Alexander prepare our five-course meal, learned a lot about cooking and Bavarian food, and enjoyed a delicious meal in a relaxed setting.
And then onward to Alsace, which celebrates Christmas in a big way. The decorations and the lights are incredible! Our groups base in the colorful town of Colmar, which hosts six different Christmas markets.
We enjoyed a day trip to Strasbourg (with 11 Christmas markets) and also a day trip to visit smaller villages near Colmar. We host our Alsace Experience trip in this area in warmer months, so it’s fun to also enjoy Alsace in this very different season.
The Luberon Christmas Experience
After saying farewell to our first group on Saturday morning, I traveled by train to Provence for a few days off before welcoming our inaugural Luberon Christmas Experience group on December 13. Christian Linke joined me as the co-leader for this trip.
Our group based for the full week in our village of Bonnieux, enjoying outstanding hospitality from our local hosts and friends. Most of the group had been with us here in Bonnieux before for our Luberon Experience week and wanted to experience the special Christmas traditions of Provence. It’s a quieter, simpler Christmas here in the countryside.
Highlights of our week included a truffle hunt and truffle tasting; a private visit to the Christmas creche in our village of Bonnieux hosted by its creator, with 500 santons; an afternoon exploring the tiny village of Castellet and a visit to the home of the mayor and his wife to learn about the “Treize Desserts” of Provence; a day trip to Aix-en-Provence hosted by European Experiences team member Jennifer Dugdale; and a special tour of the village of Lacoste hosted by the Executive Director of SCAD Lacoste.
We went to two outdoor markets and a special Christmas market in the village of Lourmarin. And we enjoyed fabulous food and wine throughout the week, always an important part of the Christmas season in France.
Thanks to the 26 travelers who joined us for these two special trips. We had such compatible, enthusiastic groups… always an important part of a European Experience! We also want to thank our local hosts and guides, who extended such a warm welcome and created the experiences that make our trips unique.
My husband Charley, our daughter Kelly, our partner Jennifer in Provence, and the rest of our outstanding European Experiences team join me in wishing you the blessings of this holiday season and all the best for the coming new year!
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We’ll announce dates and more information in early January. If you’re interested, please email us to join our waiting list. You’ll then have first priority to book one of these trips when the dates are confirmed.
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Enjoy our other blog posts focused on Christmas traditions in Europe and our European Experiences Christmas trips:
Kathy and Charley Wood founded European Experiences in 2006, offering week-long “slow tours” in some of the most beautiful areas of Europe. Their trips include The Luberon Experience in Provence, France, named one of the top 50 tours in the world by National Geographic Traveler magazine.
Kathy has personally organized and hosted over 150 Experience groups. She hosts Experience weeks in the Luberon, the Chianti region of Tuscany, Puglia, Alsace, the Dordogne, the Cotswolds, and Normandy. Charley is now mostly retired but continues to co-host The Cornwall Experience and our Christmas trips with Kathy every year.
Kathy has been traveling in Europe for 30+ years and loves sharing her special places in Europe with other travelers. The Woods have a second home in their beloved village of Bonnieux in the Luberon. Read more about Kathy and Charley here.
Slow Travel Tours is an affiliation of small-group tour operators who offer personalized trips in Italy, France and other European countries.