Let me begin by saying Strasbourg is worth a visit at any time of year. On the shores of the Rhein river, the astonishing French city is one of the most beautiful and cosmopolitan in the country, filled with traditions as well as multiculturalism. Its location and history, being a disputed territory between France and Germany for centuries, and hosting the parliament of the European Union, make it an easy place to visit. You can get around in mainly French, English or German, but roaming the streets you will find people from many nationalities who live there.
Enjoy the beautiful streets of the old town and La Petit France, try the local dishes sitting on one of its river terraces, visit the gothic cathedral, admire the views from its tower, enjoy crossing Barrage Vauban and its sights, follow the river on a Batorama boat, and much else. In any case. Why December?
It’s fairly simple. Strasburg is recognized as the ‘Capital of Christmas’, and this is not for nothing. Because in the past it was part of Germany and the Germanic Rhinelands, where Christmas markets have an older tradition than in France. In facts, its Chrismas market is the oldest in the whole country. The Christkindelsmärik dates back to the 16th century, when it was opened during the Calvinist reform to replace the St. Nicolas market, which had been celebrated every 6th of December since the 12th century.
The Christkindelsmärik still exists today on Place Broglie, one of the main squares in the center of Strasbourg. Its longitudinal shape creates a space perfect for the placement of several stalls that create a corridor form one side to the other. The tram passes through one of the sides of the square, so it’s easily accesible, and it’s also the largest Christmas market in the city.
Since the 16th century things have changed a lot, because the one market multiplied, and now there are several Christmas markets. The Grande Île, which is the island where the center of Strasbourg is located, is decorated from one side to the other. It closes to the traffic, the streets are illuminated with Christmas lights, many shops become Christmas themed, and everything is full of life. You can find handcrafted local products, Alsacian souvenirs, drinks, food, and much more. Check all the different markets because each one is unique.
The Place Kléber, in the main shopping area of the city where all the ‘big’ stores are, has the Christmas tree of the city. The market there is not big at all, but on one of the sides there is a stand that sells French oysters, so if you have never tried them it’s not a bad idea to do it there. Following the Avenue des Grandes Arcades you will reach Place Gutenberg, where there is a market dedicated to a foreign country, which in the case of this year it’s Iceland. The view of the gothic Strasbourg Cathedral from there is one of the most recognizable images of the city.
The Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Strasbourg, or Straßburger Münster in German, was from 1647 to 1874 the tallest building in the world. Next to it, due to its enormous scale, the Christmas stalls that surround it seem small, but the Vin Chaud (mulled wine, also known as Glühwein) is definitely tasty. From there, head to the Christmas markets of Le Petit France, where you can try the typical baguette flambée as plenty of other things.
So, if you still haven’t enjoyed this Advent enough, book a trip to the French city of Strasbourg and live the city to the fullest. The Christmas spirit of the town will definitely not disappoint you.
When to go
While I said December is the best month, the Christmas markets actually open from the 24th of November to the 24 of December, so if you go after that, you will enjoy the city but will have missed that special magic. I would recommend going during the week because on weekends it tends to be too crowded. An advantage of weekends though, is that the markets are open until a bit later.
– 24th of November: 2pm – 9pm.
– 25th of November to 23rd of December: 11am – 8pm (On Fridays and Saturdays they are open until 9pm)
– 24th of December: 11am – 6pm.
For more information go to: https://noel.strasbourg.eu/en/
Pulsa aquí para leerlo en español.