As a cultural bridge between France and Germany, Strasbourg is a city rich in both country’s cultures. It is the capital city of the Grand Est region, formerly Alsace, located in northeastern France. It is the formal seat of the European Parliament and it has several architecturally stunning buildings including the Cathedral of Notre Dame.
Every year, Strasbourg hosts several Christmas markets that makes it a terrific holiday destination, but there is plenty more to do when you visit the city. Read on to find out what you should be adding to your to-do list during your vacation.
Strasbourg is not a huge city so you might think it would be enough to have one or two markets, but Strasbourg is actually filled with several markets during the holiday season. In fact, there are 11 total in the city with distances between them ranging from 50m to 800m. In other words, it can be difficult to tell where one starts and the other ends.
The market that’s traditionally known as the Strasbourg market is the oldest one in France. It started in 1570 when France was still under German rule.
Originally lasting three days and featuring just a few vendors, it now goes from November 22 to December 30 and is open from 8 AM to 10 PM. It includes over 300 vendors.
The center of the market is in front of the Cathedral of Notre Dame, but with so many vendors, it spreads out into the streets. As you walk, you wlll begin running into other markets including the following:
· Alsatian: This is a great market for local delicacies. It is located in Place Des Meuniers.
· Three Kings Market: An ideal place for finding food and gifts, the Kings Market is located in Place Benjamin-Zix.
· The Children’s World Market: If you are looking for children’s toys, this market in Place Saint Thomas is the place to be. It features arts and crafts, cookie decorating and visits from Santa.
· The Sharing Вёска: The Sharing Village is set up for those looking to make charitable donations that can be left under the Great Christmas tree. It is located at Place Kleber.
Other markets in the area can be found in the following locations:
· Place Gutenberg
· Place Broglie
· Place du Chateau
· Place du Marche aux Poisson
· Place du Temple Neuf
· Place Satin Thomas
· Place Grimmeissen
Besides terrific shopping and great food, visitors will also be impressed by the Great Christmas tree.
A different tree is used each year and some effort is put in to find one that stands out. The tree usually stands at least 100 feet tall and a design team is called in to decorate it according to the annual theme.
While at the markets, there are certain food items you will want to try. Mulled wine is a favorite and it can be ordered as vin chaud (French) or Gluhwen (German). There is also a nonalcoholic kids version called Kinderspunsch.
Cultural dishes you will want to try include “Choucroute”, a shredded cabbage pickled in wine and served with sausages and cured meat. “Flammekueche” is another dish to check out. This is a French wood fired pizza topped with cream, onion and bacon.
If you want a sweet treat, try “bredele” which are bite sized Christmas cookies that come in a variety of flavors including citrus, cinnamon and anise. Treat your children to “mannel” a brioche bread shaped like Santa and filled with chocolate or raisins.
If you want a snack, grab a cone of chestnuts that vendors will have, quite literally, roasting on an open fire.
The many markets of Strasbourg have earned the city its nickname as the “Capital of Christmas”. This came about in 1992 as part of then Mayor of Strasbourg’s plan to make the market a city-wide event.
However, it’s not only the markets that make Strasbourg such a festive town. It’s also lit up with countless lights that blanket the city in a sparkling glow.
Nativity Scene Tour
A Nativity Scene Tour is another great Strasbourg festive activity. There are dozens of scenes located across the city including wood carved scenes, creatively crafted scenes and living nativity scenes. There are also scenes located in the Episcopal Place and the Strasbourg Cathedral. Take a tour to make sure you don’t miss out on any.
The Promenade of Stars at the Docks
The Promenade of Stars can be viewed from Boatman’s Dock. During Christmas time, it provides a breathtaking view of the lights, the cathedral, the illuminated houses and Palais Rohan. It’s a great place to take photos.
Ice Skate at Place Kleber
Ice skating is a great holiday activity. If you want to take a few turns around the rink, there’s one located at Place Kleber. They even have a special area where children can skate.
Visit Strasbourg Cathedral
The Strasbourg Cathedral is a can’t miss sight. It dates back to the 13th century and, until 1874, it was known as the world’s tallest building. It features an astronomical clock and an elaborate rose window. Climb to the North window to enjoy a stunning view of Black Forest, a city located just 30 km outside of Strasbourg.
Take a River Cruise
A river cruise is a great way to see the city. Batorama will take you on a 70-minute boat ride to see sights like river Barrage Vauban, Ponts Couverts, Petite France, the Neustadt imperial quarters and modern European institutions. It’s also the perfect way to see all the holiday lights.
If you are thinking of traveling for your Christmas vacation, Strasbourg is the ideal destination. The many markets and charming European aesthetic make it the perfect backdrop for your holiday. What will you be doing when you’re in town?