Dorota, a Polish friend in Fribourg, and her mother make beautiful handmade pottery.  During the Christmas season, Dorota typically participates in selling some of the family’s pottery at one holiday market or another in Switzerland.  This year, she opted for a venue in Martigny,  a village of about 15,000 in the canton of Valais to the south.  A friend, Rana, volunteered to drive, so together with another friend, the three of us headed south to visit Dorota and to do a little shopping at the Martigny Christmas Market.

The main highway from Fribourg to Martigny skims the eastern tip of Lake Geneva.  The French Alps tower over the lake from the opposite shore.  Martigny is a southern travel hub – several main roads in town converge to link Switzerland with its borders with France and Italy just 25 and 40 km away, respectively.

The venue for the Martigny Christmas Market is classy and festive.

We spent a couple of hours browsing past stalls, sampling tasty edibles like absinthe wafers and flavored honeybee candies.  I couldn’t resist buying several giant chocolate-covered marshmallow cream bon bons: vin chaud (mulled wine), mocha to take home to Travis, and stracciatella.

Spice vendor at the Martigny Christmas Market in Switzerland

One booth sells spices from every corner of the globe.

Unfortunately, since we’re currently on a tight budget here, Trav and I decided to forego Christmas gifts entirely this year.

Sorry, friends and family back home.

My only non-edible purchase was a teal mug that Dorota made.  I thought Trav would really like it, which he does, but since blue is my favorite color and I’m always using it, I might need to get him another one.

We’re trying not to buy too many things while in Switzerland since we’ll be moving again before too long, but I love this style of pottery.

The market was a fun and festive way to spend the day with friends, though I was a bit disappointed with the lack of variety across the vendors.  It’s common for the vast majority of stalls to sell edibles or wine, which garners the most customer traffic and sales.  You can expect to find an excess of jewelry vendors also with a few other booths selling things like candles, note cards, and knickknacks.

Where were the photographers, painters, hand blown glass artists, sculptors, iron and metal workers, the craftsmen making wooden kids’ toys?  With a whopping price tag of 400-600 chf for a booth for the weekend, perhaps these artists couldn’t afford it.  But if you like pottery, jewelry, sweet concoctions, and local wine, you might want to pay a visit to the Martigny Christmas Market this holiday season.

Looking for other Christmas festivities near Fribourg, Switzerland?

You might like the annual Saint Nicholas parade on December 6th.

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