Principality governed by the Dukes of Württemberg for four centuries, brought under French jurisdiction in 1793, Montbéliard has remained deeply marked by its German past and the Lutheran religion introduced by the princes. German and French, Catholic and Protestant influences have left the town with a unique identity which expresses itself in architecture and the art of celebrating Christmas: Montbéliard Christmas market is unrivalled.
Montbéliard illuminated by thousands of lights
Visitors are thrilled as soon as they arrive in the City of Princes. Overlooking the town, the impressive Castle of the Dukes of Württemberg is shining brilliantly. Just at the foot of the castle, in the streets of the historic heart of Montbéliard, the visitors enjoy an enchanting sight: Christmas lights everywhere and magic in the air.
During the four weeks of Advent, this former Württemberg principality looks stunning and slips into its past and traditions with an extreme pleasure. At nightfall, the town lights up and comes alive to the sounds of choir music and street bands. Every square and every street are illuminated by multicoloured lights.
The Christmas market itself is nestled around St Martin Church. Bathed in golden light, the oldest protestant church in France (1601) makes us feel like it is looking after the wooden chalets crowned with small lights. We feel timeless, feel like we are in a child’s world, a world of sparkling lights and joyful peace.
The Christmas magic opens the door to imagination. You will go and see Father Christmas in his home; he is obviously the symbolic character of the event but he is not the only one to embody the Christmas spirit.
Aunt Airie, reincarnation of the kind Countess Henriette, is like the Pays de Montbéliard good fairy. You will meet this nice, generous character and her inseparable donkey strolling round the Christmas market. Always surrounded by children, she will give you gentle smiles and “papillotes” (Christmas chocolates).
Saint Lucy, the fiancée of Light, can be seen during the Parade of Light Day surrounded by radiant children with lighted crowns.
Lights shining in children’s eyes
Go skating under a starry sky
It’s playtime, it’s freedom! Whether you are an experienced or a novice skater, you will enjoy it just the same. Music, curtains of blue light, parents fondly watching their children skating…the ice rink changes into a magical stage where people look ready to take flight. And after feeling the excitement of skating, enjoy a hearty afternoon snack just a few steps from the ice rink!
Merry Christmas programme!
Montbéliard thinks about its young visitors a lot. Children and grown-ups alike always have an enduring memory of the new animations created every year to please them.
Settled in a lovely chalet, l’Atelier des Lutins (The Elfin Workshop) initiates children into pastry-making and creating Christmas decorations… Meanwhile, parents can visit the town or do some Christmas shopping.
The Parade of Light. 140 children with lighted crowns and dressed in gold and white tunics stroll through the streets of the town centre to the sound of fifes and bells. It looks like a magical parade of elves, whose cheeks are turning red from the cold. And the whole town seems to follow in their joyful footsteps.
Every year, in the majestic setting of the castle of Montbéliard, you can see toy exhibitions that take you right back to the Christmas of your childhood. In 2009, “ABC…il était une fois un petit navire” will deal with model boats.
Christmas in Montbéliard also means music played in churches, street entertainment, traditional nativity play and Christmas Carols on every street corner, not to mention the barrel organ…
And of course, a very special and magical moment is awaiting children. In a lovely little house, a white-bearded familiar figure wearing a red coat will welcome them …Don’t feel shy, go and see him.
Exceptional products and craftsmen
“We come from our childhood as much as we come from a country” as the author of The Little Prince would say. And Christmas in Montbéliard is like a wonderland for every grown-up. Enjoy the lovely smell of gingerbread and mulled wine, the sparkling decorations, the sight of a beautiful Comtois horse drawing a carriage, the sound of ringing bells and then… have some roasted chestnuts because in the cold, there is nothing like roasted chestnuts! Whatever you do, whatever you see, you will feel like you hold the key to open a memory box. If magic works, if adults feel like children again, it’s no coincidence: this Christmas market is a genuine Christmas market and also an age-old tradition. Craftsmen and artists are carefully chosen; their talent and passion turn this Christmas market into a fairy tale. Christmas decorations, crib figurines, wooden toys, candles, fine lace, jewels, soft fabrics…it would be wonderful to bring everything back in a large wicker basket.
Give your taste buds a real treat!
The delicate smell of spice used in mulled wine titillates our mind and palate in every single place and every street we go. We would like to taste and savour everything. Close to Saint Martin square, in the Sponeck public garden, you will find “l’Allée Gourmande”, a kind of small village with tasty produce. Set up under illuminated trees, the wooden chalets are like kitchens offering savours to everyone’s liking. The Franche-Comté cooking is well represented: smoked and salted meats, foie gras with vin de Paille, snails, frying pan full of potatoes and tasty Montbéliard sausages with hot “Cancoillotte” (strong-tasting soft cheese). Going back to St Martin square where the Christmas market (once called Christkindelmarkt) mostly takes place, you will be tempted by “L’Allée des Saveurs Sucrées”. There, the stalls are crammed with gingerbread, traditional biscuits, sweets and even Christmas characters that you can eat.
Our guest of honour: a country
Ireland in 2009
Christmas can also make you travel and see things from a different angle. Every year in Montbéliard, the visitors discover the charms of Christmas celebrations in other countries. In the area reserved for our guest of honour, you will hear the music of another language, enjoy the smell of dishes totally unknown to you... Sometimes you may talk with your hands… then smiles are widely appreciated and know no bounds.
Christmas in Montbéliard – Useful information:
From 28th November to 24th December 2009.
Illuminations: every day from 4.30pm.
Défilé de la Lumière (Parade of Light): Saturday 12 December 2009.
ABC…Jouets: exhibition at the Castle of the Dukes of Württemberg. Open every day from 10.00am to 12.00am and from 2.00pm to 6.00pm. Closed on Tuesdays.
Museum of Art and History - Hotel Beurnier Rossel, open every day. The museum has the same opening hours as the Christmas market.
Atelier des Petits Lutins (The Elfin Workshop): open every day. This activity for children from 3 to 12 years old is free of charge.
Open-air ice rink in Place des Halles, every day. Thematic evening parties on Saturdays.
Nativity play: on Saturdays or/and Sundays.
- The Christmas market: traditional craft area in St Martin Square, “Allée des Saveurs Sucrées”, “Allée Gourmande” and special area for the guest of honour. Open on Mondays from 2.00 to 8.00pm (except on 21st December, open at 11.00am), on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 11.00am to 8.30pm, on Fridays and Saturdays from 11.00am to 9.00pm and on Sundays from 10.00am to 8.30pm. On 24th December, closing at 6.00pm.
- Each year, a foreign country is our guest of honour. In 2009, welcome to Ireland!
- Mulled wine, covered and heated eating area, thematic evening parties organized by the Comité des Fêtes.
Guided tour (duration: 2 hours): let us tell you about German Christmas traditions.
- For private individuals (guided tours in French), meet your guide at 5.00pm in front of the Tourist Office, only on Saturdays.
- For groups (and guided tours in English): please contact the Tourist Office to make an appointment.
Aunt Airie: meet her every day at 5.00pm (except on Mondays).
Saint Nicholas and old Father Fouettard: please contact us for more information.
A Hike for the Light: 10km hike, 19 December 2009.
Short break packages
All-inclusive or tailor-made
2 days/1 night
From 93.00€ per person (for groups only)
From 102.00€ per person (for private individuals only).
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28.11. - 24.12.2009 von 10:30 bis 18:00 Uhr
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Tourist-Information:Office de Tourisme du Pays De Montbéliard
1 rue Henri Mouhot