Samstag, 1. September 2007

Christmas Market Trip to France and Germany!

Following many years of requests, I am teaming up with another European expert, Maribeth Clemente, to finally organize a trip for a small group of people to visit two of our favourite European countries.
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Christmas Market Tour to Germany and France
November 30-December 9

Discover the fairytale lands of Bavaria and Alsace as you visit the famed Christkindlmärkte and Marchés de Noël with two experts, Mary Dawn DeBraie and Maribeth Clemente.

These incurable devotées of fine European goods are right now in the midst of planning a tour that will allow you to experience the warmth and wonder of Christmastime in some of the most culturally-rich regions of Germany and France. Highlights include behind-the-scenes visits to special places such as artisans’ workshops, restaurants, vineyards, and more. Whether you’re truly out to shop or just interested in taking in the festive ambiance of centuries-old villages, brightly festooned streets, charming boutiques, world-renowned museums, and some of the finest food and wine of Europe, this is a trip that is sure to leave you with many warm and fuzzy memories for the rest of your life.

And it’s the experts that will be leading you on this tour that make all the difference. Here’s just a bit about these two passionate ladies from Telluride, Colorado…

Mary Dawn DeBriae lived in England for eight years and then in Bavaria, Germany for five. She is fluent In German and highly knowledge about the culture and traditions of Germany and most of the Alps having traveled extensively throughout Bavaria, Switzerland, Austria, and Northern Italy. Once back in the United States, she began her own business called Alpen Schatz (Alpine Treasures), importing some of the finest traditional “treasures” to be found in the Alpine region of Europe. This import business later expanded into a flagship store, located in Telluride, Colorado. More information can be found at

Maribeth Clemente lived in Paris, France eleven years and is, of course, fluent in the French language and l’art de vivre français. She founded a shopping service in Paris at that time that organized tours to the off-the-beaten-path boutiques of the French capital, visits behind the scenes to the big names, and culturally-driven excursions to the provinces of France. Maribeth has authored four books on France including The Riches of France: A Shopping and Touring Guide to the French Provinces and the recently-released second edition of The Riches of Paris: A Shopping and Touring Guide to Paris. Visit to learn more about Maribeth and her work and also to discover an abundance of information about shopping and travel around the world.


November 30-December 9
FRANCE: November 30-December 4 GERMANY: December 4-December 9

Friday, November 30 STRASBOURG

  • Late afternoon check in to the contempory style fourteenth century Hotel du Dragon ( ) in Strasbourg, France, the biggest and most beautiful city of Alsace. Welcome aperitif at the hotel.
  • Evening walk around Les Marches de Noel de Strasbourg, a Christmas market that has existed here since 1570. (I can already smell the mulled wine and salted pretzels!)
  • Dinner at a winstub, an authentic wine bar/bistrot of Alsace, will follow.

Saturday, December 1 STRASBOURG

  • After breakfast, we will go on a guided walking tour of the pink-stoned Strasbourg Cathedral and a couple of the city's most historic districts. Go to for more information on Strasbourg; for Alsace info.
  • Late morning arrival at Le Crocodile ( ), a two-star Michelin restaurant. Brief kitchen tour of the restaurant, followed by a gastronomic lunch in Le Crocodile's elegant dining room.
  • Free time after lunch for rest at the hotel or discovery on your own.
  • Late afternoon guided walking tour of the shops (especially all the wonderful food purveyors!) of Strasbourg with Maribeth.
  • More shopping and touring at Les Marches de Noel. (Note that most of the shops stay open until 7 p.m.; the Christmas Markets remain open until 8pm.)
  • Dinner on your own; Strasbourg restaurant recommendations will be provided.
  • Second night at the lovely Hotel du Dragon.

Sunday, December 2 STRASBOURG/COLMAR

  • AM Guided tour of the Musee Alsacien, the number one attraction in the region (in Maribeth's opinion) for learning about les arts et les traditions populaires d' Alsace.
  • Lunch on your own---perhaps just a sandwich to eat on the train to Colmar.
  • Early afternoon departure on the train to Colmar, a pretty little city at the southernmost end of the Wine Route of Alsace; check out
  • Afternoon check in to the Maison des Tetes hotel ( ), a handsome seventeenth-century dwelling, built against the fortifications of the old part of Colmar.
  • Late afternoon tour around the Christmas Markets of Colmar, followed by dinner at an incredibly charming country French restaurant, situated within the vineyards of Alsace, just outside of Colmar. Taxi transfer will also be provided here.

Monday, December 3 COLMAR

  • Early morning departure (9am – still civalized!) for a full-day and evening adventure along la route des vins d'Alsace in a chauffeur-driven minibus. Incontestably the most picturesque wine route in all of France, this most scenic excursion will be punctuated by half-timbered rosy-colored houses topped with red-tiled roofs and centuries-old villages that showcase an eclectic array of artisans and craftspeople. Highlights include the following:
  • A special behind-the-scenes visit to Beauville ( in Ribeauville, a textile maker founded in 1838. Best known for their brightly colored, magnificently designed tablecloths that are turned out in a broad range of patterns, Beauville's creations have enjoyed particular success at dinner parties around the world these past two decades. The Beauville factory discount shop is also located here so definitely plan to do some shopping!
  • Wine tasting at a well-known winery followed by lunch nearby at a quaint winstub.
  • Gingerbread tasting at the region's best known maker of this special holiday treat. Known as pain d'epice by the French, here you'll also be able to visit the gingerbread baker's kitchen and his specially-assembled gingerbread museum. Indeed it is all very Hansel & Gretel-like and oh-so yummy, too!
  • Shopping and touring for traditional Alsatian arts and crafts in at least two other villages.
  • Late afternoon wine tasting at another well-known vineyard.
  • Visit to Les Marches de Noel de Kaysersberg, the most charming Christmas market in all of Alsace. Here some thirty vendors set up their wares in little wooden stalls interspersed throughout this Medieval village.
  • Dinner on your own in Kaysersberg. (There are many restaurants from which to chose.)
  • Return to Colmar by 10:30 p.m. Second night in the cozy confines of the traditionally-styled Maison des Tetes hotel.

Tuesday, December 4 COLMAR/FREIBURG

  • 9:30 a.m.- Guided visit of the Musee Unterlinden, a world-renowned museum in Colmar that boasts an important collection of paintings, sculpture, and Alsatian folk and decorative art. Tour around the most historic buildings of Colmar, conducted largely in a little train that circles the old town.
  • Lunch on your own. Early afternoon departure for Germany in chauffeur-driven coach.
  • Arrive mid- afternoon in Freiburg, a charming medieval town nestled in the hills of the Black Forest, Germany. See Freiburg is surrounded by a scenic wooded landscape interspersed with luscious vineyards, which add to the ambiance of the area.
  • We will be staying in Germany’s oldest hotel, Hotel Zum Roten Baeren, Zum Roten Baeren has been in service as an Inn since 1120!
  • An afternoon tea & cake reception will welcome us upon arrival.
  • Free time for a couple of hours to relax in your room, or explore the surrounding area.
  • Meet for a 4 course dinner in the Inn’s 900 year old Restaurant, classified as “the oldest Parlour” in Freiburg!

Wednesday, 5 December 2007 FREIBURG

  • Following breakfast, we will meet for a private two hour walking tour of “The Historical Highlights of Freiburg”.
  • The afternoon will be free for shopping at the Christkindlmarkt and visit to the old pedestrian shopping area. Lunch will be on your own.
  • Meet at 6pm for an evening stroll to the nearby gondola for a scenic ride up to the Schlossberg Restaurant Dattler for a panoramic four-course gourmet dining experience. The Restaurant is in what was once an old eighteenth-century fortress, which later became a restaurant – over 125 years ago in the year 1892! See
  • Ride the Gondola back to the hotel.


  • After breakfast, we will board our small private coach. First Stop will be Titisee, a quaint Black Forest village where Cuckoo Clocks have been made for centuries.
  • Meet with the Craftsmen of an old family run Cuckoo clock company. See their craft in action and do some last minute Christmas shopping at the shop where this family’s Cuckoo Clocks originate! See .
  • Early afternoon, we will leave the Black Forest and continue on to the magical German village of Garmisch-Partenkirchen. Garmisch is nestled in the foothills of the Alps and at the base of Germany’s largest mountain – the Zugspitz (2,962m or 9,718 feet).
  • Our hotel in Garmisch is the luxurious Spa Hotel Zugspitze. See .
  • There will be a couple of hours to relax, before we board our Horse Drawn Carriage, which will whisk us away on a 1 hour ride through the twinkling lights of Garmisch.
  • The carriage will eventually bring us to a small Gondola, which will take us up the mountain to the Forsthaus Graseck, a remote Mountain Restaurant where we will dine in true Bavarian Alpine style. See .

Friday, 7 December 2007 GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN

  • After Breakfast, we will leave the day free to explore the colorful town of Garmisch.
  • Be our guest to indulge in the German “Spa” experience, with a complementary 20 minute Massage “Vital” treatment in the Hotel Zugspitze’s world class spa. Other treatments can also be arranged for an additional fee.
  • Optional Afternoon Excursion ($100 extra) - Exciting round trip excursion up the Zugspitze Mountain– Start up the mountain by a cogwheel train to the Schneefern Glacier, then change to the glacier cable car, which takes you to Germany's highest summit. You will be awaited by a breath-taking 360 degree panoramic view over countless peaks in Austria, Italy, Switzerland and of course Germany. After soaking in the view we will take the Eibsee cable car, with wonderful views of the Eibsee Lake, back down into the valley. At the Eibsee lake we will rejoin the cogwheel train to travel back to Garmisch-Partenkirchen. Lunch not included, but available in the Zugspitze Restaurant on top of the mountain.
  • Early evening visit to Garmisch-Partenkirchen’s Christkindlmarkt!
  • Scrumptious three course dinner that evening at the Hotel Zugspitze.

Saturday, 8 December GARMISCH/MUNICH

  • After breakfast, free time for last minute shopping or relaxing in the hotel spa. Depart at noon for Muenchen (Munich).
  • Get settled into Munich at the quaint 200 year old “Hotel am Englischergarten”. This private Inn is a converted water mill adjoining the beautiful Englischer Garten in the center of Munich. See
  • Optional late afternoon walking tour of Mary Dawn’s “Best of” Munich favorites.
  • Early evening visit to Munich’s famous Christkindlmarkt and then Abschied “Good-bye” Dinner in the Schneider Weisses Brauhaus, one of Munich’s “insider favorite” Sixteenth Century Brewery Restaurant in the center of town.

Sunday, 9 December MUNICH/DEPARTURE

  • Breakfast and then individual departures home.

    * * * *

Price $3495pp (Based on Double Occupancy)
$500 (Single Supplement)

The Trip Iincludes:

  • Nine nights hotel accommodation in three- and four-star hotels
  • Nine Breakfasts
  • Seven Gourmet Dinners (Wine included)
  • Two Gourmet Lunches
  • Transportation between cities, all taxis, all gondolas, and horse drawn carriage ride, as specified above
  • Private guided tours by local experts and of course your private hosts, Maribeth & Mary Dawn
  • Museum entrance fees
  • Exclusive Wine Tastings as specified above

The Trip Does Not Include:

  • Airfare
  • Transportation to and from train stations or airports at the beginning and end of the trip
    Individual Travel Insurance
  • Lunches and dinners as listed above as “on your own”

Limited to only 10 participents to ensure a wonderful personal service!

Sign-up now! Visit to download an application. Applications will be accepted on a first come, first serve basis.

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