Christmas is coming – Visit to the Strasbourg Christmas Market
A special Christmas market with our French neighbors
La Capitale de Noël, the “Christmas Capital”: When it gets darker and colder outside and Christmas draws unerringly closer, our French neighbor Strasbourg – more commonly known as the “European Capital” or Alsatian metropolis – can only be found under its wintry nickname. And anyone who tries a step into the city is immediately convinced of its authenticity.
The Christmas market, as it can be found in more or less large versions in all corners of Germany, has little to no tradition in France for the most part. The situation is different – for understandable historical reasons – in Alsace. Since 1570, people have been happy to stroll through the richly decorated squares, wrapped up thickly, with a bag of roasted almonds in their hands or sipping mulled wine, in order to browse and sample handicrafts or regional delicacies. Strasbourg, as by far the largest city in northern Alsace, leaves nothing to be desired in order to live up to its – admittedly slightly pompous – title every year. And this is especially thanked by the guests from both sides of the Rhine, who every year throughout December come to the city to admire the glittering alleys, decorated with abundant stars and snowflakes.
The central highlight, which has been a tradition for many years, is the 30-meter-high fir tree, which is taken from one of the Alsatian forests and set up on the Place Kléber, one of the central squares in downtown Strasbourg – of course not without several Christmas tree balls on the green needles.
Strasbourg is a wonderful place for pleasure and entertainment at Christmas time
The Christmas market stretches throughout downtown Strasbourg and offers something for everyone, from arts and crafts to souvenirs to mulled wine and Christmas cookies. The Place Gutenberg opposite the cathedral traditionally hosts another European country – this year the “village islandais”, the Icelandic village, will be set up there, where merchants will offer Icelandic – especially culinary – specialties.
For those who prefer not to jump into the big fray, the Salon “OZ les métiers d’art” is recommended – a small handicraft market for regional creatives in the Résidence Charles de Foucauld (1 Rue de la Comédie). Similarly manageable, but already somewhat more crowded is the “Marché des délices”, where bakers and patissiers from Alsace offer cookies in all shapes and forms.
Last but not least, the off-Christmas market should also be mentioned: away from the tourist crowds, on the edge of the old town on Place Grimmeissen, there are stalls here with sustainable products from the city and the region – be it handmade clothes, recycled products or organic Christmas cookies. Time and again, this is a place to take a breath and find inspiration for environmentally conscious visitors.
This year, the Strasbourg Christmas Market runs from November 23 to December 30, 2018. If you can, try not to visit the Christmas market on weekends, because as beautiful as the city looks at Christmas, the streets and alleys can get unbearably crowded at peak times. Since during the opening hours of the Christmas market the entire city center is car-free and there is a corresponding lack of parking outside, it is recommended to arrive by car service.