Visiting Strasbourg was a dream since I took the ICE from Frankfurt to Paris in December 2003. The first stop in France after we crossed the German border, I remember my delight when after months of not understanding much beyond the basic greetings and numbers, I was suddenly able to follow most conversations. I was still a student of the Alliance française back then, so this was a major feat! When I read up about the city, I was enchanted with the idea of a French city, with strong cultural and architectural influences from across the border. It was, in my mind, the perfect amalgamation!
When we planned our trip to France this year, I knew we had to visit Strasbourg and see its world renowned « Christkindlsmärik.»
With a 450 year old tradition, the Christmas Market of Strasbourg was voted as one of the best in Europe, but none of my reading and Instagram drooling prepared me for the magic of Strasbourg’s marché de Noël. A magical land where a gigantic Christmas tree presides over hundreds of wooden chalets selling delightful baubles and winter treats, Strasbourg’s markets are truly enchanting.
Visiting the Christmas Market:
✨ Visit the Marché at Place Broglie, which hosts a hundred stalls, soaking in the festive ambiance, and slowly meander around the city center to the smaller setups in front of the Cathédrale de Notre Dame, and other squares, ambling along the cobbled streets of Petite France, the city’s tourist center.
You can buy all kinds of seasonal baubles for your house and artisanal objets d’art, like miniature Alsatian houses and hand embroidered objects, and even local culinary specialities, like sausages, jams and pain d’épices (ginger bread) and much more!
🎄 Watch the Christmas tree come alive at Place Kléber at 5 pm, with a spectacular light show accompanied by music. The 30 meter tall tree seems to sway in time with the music, as the lights twinkle, swirl and dance, setting the ambiance for the rest of the evening.
✨ Once the spectacular light and sound show is over, head back to the many lanes of the city center to admire the creative illuminations in each street. Don’t miss the unique decorations on the shop fronts, or the gorgeous half-timbered buildings. Almost every storefront has a spectacular window display, and the buildings are decorated with great creativity.
🎄 The city is a treat for shopping fans, with hundreds of quaint and elegant boutiques. In addition to shops for clothes and accessories, there are also some delightful shops like the Village de la Bière, a real treat for beer lovers…and of course, the many shops for wine (Alsace is one of the wine regions of France) and French liqueurs, including Wolfberger, a local special.
Eating and drinking in Strasbourg:
✨ Home to a wide range of cafés, restaurants and brasseries to suit every budget, Strasbourg is known for pretzels (locally known as Bretzel), tarte flambée (thin dough grilled in a wood oven with various toppings), Baeckeoffe (a stew with three kinds of meat and vegetables), and of course Choucroute (sauerkraut with meat and potatoes). Wash it down with a glass of Alsatian wine, locally brewed craft beer, or a a glass of vin chaud…and if you think that mulled wine is all about red wine, you might be surprised! They also sell mulled wine made with white wine, in addition to cidre chaud (hot cider) and even bière chaude (hot, spiced beer).
Our favourite was La Corde à Linge, situated at Place Benjamin. On a clear day, it’s the ideal place for a casual or even a romantic meal, thanks to its great location, with the river III flowing right next to the restaurant and the square in front of it. The food featuring Alsatian specialties is excellent and the drinks too!
🎄 You can also eat the the market itself, since there are many stalls selling crêpes, bretzels, tarte flambée, and much more! We indulged in portions of curry wurst and munstiflette, washed down with vin chaud…
When we planned our trip, we had thought that two days in Strasbourg would be more enough…I think we should have stayed for at least another day, or two!