Hey, What Are You Doing in December? (Eating Macarons & Bratwurst?)

Roasting chestnuts. Spicy gingerbread. Sure, pumpkin latte season may have just started, but here’s the truth: the holidays will be here before you know it. And if you want to escape abroad to celebrate, you’d better start planning now.

Need some inspiration? We’ve scouted three top destinations united by one common thread – like-nothing-you’ve-seen-before holiday markets.

Paris Travel

PARIS, FRANCE
Starting in November, the streets and shops of the aptly named “City of Lights” illuminate in preparation for Noël and the opening of the city’s famed holiday markets. Wander through them and find buckets brimming with lavender macarons, rich brie, and hot spiced wine – or vin chaud, as the locals call it.

Try the city’s largest market on the Avenue des Champs-Elysées, or our pick – the over 350 chalets that usually comprise La Defense, a gem of a market near the La Defense arch on the city’s quieter outskirts. Come after dusk when the slew of fairytale lights render everything a little more magical.

VIENNA, AUSTRIA
Vienna’s had a holiday market since the 13th century, and today it has numerous. The largest fills the Rathausplatz, the square in front of the city’s stately, neo-Gothic City Hall. Walk through the 140 or so stalls to find everything from traditional miniature wooden houses and toys to gingerbread hearts and leather goods. Then stroll into the surrounding Rathaus Park, where trees glitter with lights and snowflakes, and old-fashioned carousel rides await.

NUREMBERG, GERMANY
Germany is known for its holiday markets – the entire country has almost 2,500 – and the 180 or so wooden stalls that line Nuremberg’s Hauptmarkt square are the country’s most famous. Carved wooden toys. Enamel music boxes. Roast bratwurst. Mulled wine. It’s all here for the taking (and the children’s market nearby, with hands-on stalls, keeps the little ones aptly entertained, too).

Ready to book your trip? Our Paris for the Holidays: A 4-Night Escape Boutique opens Tuesday, September 24, at 11AM ET.

By Joanna Berliner, Editor 

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September 24, 2013