Travelling with children is a little bit daunting. The extra packing, the additional costs, finding something to do that suits both the oldest and youngest. The challenges are endless but so are the rewards. Our three are just like any others - full of energy (unless they have to walk anywhere or look at anything history related), always hungry and super cheeky but we decided to go for it and explore the Christmas Markets in Strasbourg, France.

We agreed that driving was the easiest way for us, as we usually do, and once again, it was. We packed up the car in the early hours of the morning, transferred the children from their beds into their carseats and set off on our journey. Considering we left at 4:00 am, in theory, our plan was perfect. Sleeping children, beat the traffic and no queue at the Eurotunnel but in reality all three children were wide awake and there was a wait at the Eurotunnel because we just missed the first train and at that time, they don’t go all that frequently! That said, our children were amazing on the trip. We made full use of colouring books, eye spy, snacks and of course, the iPad! The drive itself was picturesque. Each French village scattered throughout the countryside was so beautifully coloured and each had a church in the centre.

We made it to Strasbourg at 3pm and decided to chill out at our Airbnb for a while first. Oh my goodness… our Airbnb was beyond awesome! The ad had said it was close to Strasbourg Cathedral and the Christmas Markets but it was seriously right in front of it! The view was fantastic and the location meant that we could easily retreat for some downtime and warmth as needed without leaving the action of the Christmas markets behind.

I’m just going to add a quick history lesson in here… Strasbourg Cathedral was built on the site of a Roman temple and was initiated in 1015 but was unfortunately destroyed by a fire. The second wave of construction started in the early 12th century and wasn’t completed until 1439. It is 142m tall. The picture below of the Cathedral (the one without any people) was taken at 12:30am… thats how long I had to wait until the streets around it were empty! Its simply incredible.

So, back onto our holiday. The first afternoon (which felt like night time as the sun sets at 4:30pm), was like a dream come true. As soon as we stepped outside, it started snowing! Now, for an Australian, and to quote a friend of mine, “its white, crumbling sky magic that turns the city into a Narnia kingdom and otherwise sufficiently adulting expats into giggling, frolicking, snowball-throwing idiots.” I may have become one of these otherwise adulting  expats… the Christmas lights above, the smell of vin chaud (hot, spiced, red wine) and now snow!!!

The downside about travelling with children in a very busy city is that not many restaurants accommodate large groups - meaning a family of 5! So we grabbed the children hotdogs, bacon and cheese pretzels and of course some crepes and headed back for the night. For us, we ordered in - and of all things, Vietnamese!

The next day our eldest who is always an early riser, woke at 4am and wouldn’t sit alone in a strange house, so up I got to keep her company. Doesn’t sound great but it was such a nice moment. She even said, “Mummy, do you know what I love the most about holidays? Spending time with you.” :)

Once everyone else rose, we walked the streets of Strasbourg until we all turned into walking icicles. The kids were complaining until they realised that a great way to warm up was to have a giant, cream topped hot chocolate. Afterwards, Nicholas was due for his nap so we walked back to our temporary home.

Some of our Sydney/ London friends happened to also be in Strasbourg at the same time so they came to visit us which was a nice surprise. The children were super excited about having them over and went a little bit nuts (they would have definitely walked away second guessing if they ever want to start a family) but it was nice to have them drop by.

That evening we went to see the beautiful Christmas tree in Place Kleber. Perfectly decorated and lit. It reminded me of the time I went to New York with my mum, just because I wanted to see the huge Christmas tree from Home Alone. From there we were on a mission to locate and purchase a notepad that Helena had seen on our previous explorations and wanted (i.e.: needed!). We eventually found it. Most expensive notebook ever but it made her super happy. The boys however were just as happy with a Christmas cookie!

On Sunday, we all woke to Nicholas shouting out “snow, it snowing!” And sure enough, that glorious sky magic was floating down. We got dressed and spent the next hour having so much fun throwing snowballs, trying to catch it in our mouths and just enjoying the beauty of seeing snow fall whilst in France, at the Christmas Markets. We walked towards Petit France, a lovely little section with a real German influence….. but I caved just as we arrived. I was so cold! For anyone that knows me, the only temperatures I’m ok with are between 24-26, anything outside of that is either heater or air con territory. The children were over it too and were asking to go back so we did. In retrospect, throwing snowballs and the children falling in piles of snow is fun, but not great for keeping dry or warm.

Monday morning popped up before we knew it. Boo! We packed up our things, loaded the car and then spent a bit more time enjoying what Strasbourg had to offer. Milos took the children to the carousel so I could leisurely wander the Christmas Markets. They are just like the pictures I’d seen. Pretty little handmade ornaments, vin chaud, gingerbread cookies and honey cake galore. There was so much to choose from. So much so that I couldn’t decide on what to buy so came away with nothing more than 2L of Jus de Pomme Chaud (hot, mulled apple juice - perfect for the non-drinkers like myself!).

When we got back to the car, my wonderful husband, Milos surprised me with a Christmas snow globe and a porcelain house. Yep… I’m a lucky lady!

We are currently on our way back and have hardly heard a peep from our kiddies. Perfect holiday for everyone, both young and old.

Update: We just arrived home. We finally made it, almost 10 hours after we left. We travelled through rain, hail, thick snow, a snowstorm and iced roads. It was quite the ordeal but our children were real troopers and are now tucked up in bed, fast asleep!