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Strasbourg is THE "City of Christmas" - California Globetrotter

Strasbourg is THE “City of Christmas”

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If ever there was one place in the world that embodied the spirit of Christmas, it would most definitely be Strasbourg, France. Historically known as the town which held the very first Christmas Market in 1570, making it the oldest market in Europe.

Since 1570, the “Christkindelsmärik” (market of the Infant Jesus) has grown exponentially and today caters to some 2 million visitors every year, with hotels being booked a year in advance and selling out quickly.

The whole city is lit up with festive Christmas lights and half-timbered houses are extravagantly decorated, creating that extra holly jolly Christmas spirit. The smell of sweet mulled wine (here called Vin Chaud) wafts through the air, the mouth-watering smell of warm crepes entice you to be naughty and off in the distance someone is playing Christmas music on an accordion.

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The main market takes place around the beautiful Cathedral of Notre Dame, as well as throughout the town in 11 different locations, making it one of the largest in Europe. With over 300 stalls to peruse for Christmas goodies such as decorations, yummy treats, Christmas beer and unique wine decorations, there is something for everyone to enjoy.

Strasbourg’s Christmas Market rivals any German Christmas Market ten fold. Here you will be hard pressed to find any Bratwurst stands as they have all been turned into Flambee and Crepe stands.Plus, it helps that Strasbourg is one of the most picturesque half-timbered towns in Europe!

Before you can enjoy the good stuff, you should be forewarned that security is high at the moment in Strasbourg, and France is taking extra precautions to ensure the safety of all Christmas Market goers. This extends to no driving within the historic center, parking is available beyond the boundaries, bags will be checked at the gates and you will see heavily armed military and police personnel. It is nothing to be intimidated about, and if anything, made me feel even more safe knowing that their presence in the area was well known.

Having previously visited back in 2007, before I became the traveler and photographer I am today, my pictures just didn’t do it justice and I was itching to re-visit this market because it is definitely top notch! It was everything and more than I remembered!

Place de la Cathedral

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The best-known of Strasbourg’s Christmas markets can be found surrounding the majestic Cathedral of Notre Dame. As it is the historic part of the Christmas market, there are over 100 chalets (stalls) here offering everything from mulled wine to Alsatian pastries. Here, the cathedral towers high into the sky, occasionally ringing it’s bells.If you have time, take a look inside the cathedral, but I warn you, during the holidays there are some pretty extreme lines to get in! If you do get in, I suggest climbing the tower of the cathedral for a view over the town.

Here we even discovered that Strasbourg even had some Russian influence and found hand crafted wooden Santas and we had the best Nutella Crepe ever! There was no skimping out on the Nutella!

Place du Chataeu (Palais des Rohan)

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Just opposite from the cathedral is the Rohan Palace, where a small Christmas carousel awaits little children who have been good all year, while on the other side of the palace, along the river, you will find a second portion of the market. Here I discovered the most exciting thing in the entire market: Macarons!! And not much further was an adorable hut to get Vin Chaud with a few chairs and benches to sit and enjoy the beautiful sunshine we were having!

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Place du Marché aux Poissons

Next to the Palais des Rohan, you can taste the delicious food and wine from local bakers, winegrowers of the Couronne d’Or, Alsace foie gras producers, the Tribu des Gourmets d’Alsace and local beer brewer.

Place Kléber

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Known as “The Sharing Village”, this market keeps alive an old tradition of Strasbourg;s citizens leaving gifts under the enormous Christmas tree for the poor. Here you will find a Christmas market of charities such as UNICEF and other outreach programs. The tree has been known to reach a height of 107 ft (32.5 m) but has been averaging around 98 ft (30 m) since 2010.

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Place Benjamin-Zix

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Known as “The Three Kings’ market, this market can be found in the historic Petite France neighborhood of Strasbourg. Once known as the filthiest part of town during the Napoleonic Wars, but today is one of the most picturesque corners of town with a plethora of half-timbered houses. Here we enjoyed a delicious sugar donut in the shape of a pretzel.

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Place des Meuniers

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A small unique market is located here, offering only a taste of small growers and producers of Alsatian goods. It was here I discovered my favorite purchase of the day: a Raspberry Liqueur Egg Nog, among other flavors.

Place du Temple-Neuf

Located in front of a small Lutheran church, the Carré d’Or offers more Christmas goodies including our first glimpse of the popular Christmas beer.

Place Gutenburg

Here, in front of the Johannes Gutenburg statue, you will find a Christmas village dedicated by Strasbourg to the country that has been asked to host a Christmas market from their country. This year, Portugal was invited to display goodies.

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Other markets include:

  • Place d’Austerlitz: The Alsatian Christmas delicacies market offers excellent local products.
  • Place Saint Thomas: known as “Children’s World”, it is definitely well worth a visit for families.
  • Place Grimmeissen – The OFF Market will be open from 1 to 24 December from 12.00 to 20.00, and until 21.00 on Fridays and Saturdays. On 24 December, the OFF Market will close at 18.00.

As the crowds are massive, it is best to arrive as early as possible to try to enjoy the market before it becomes unbearably crowded. We arrived around noon, which was already full, so that we could enjoy the market in the daylight. Around 445-5p, the sun started setting, which offered the most magical part of the day as the Christmas lights switched on and the “Blue Hour” was set in motion. If Strasbourg wasn’t already completely and utterly magical during the day, the evening made it absolutely, marvelously enchanting!

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We easily meandered from one market to the next as there were banners hanging between buildings in the alleys, as well as street signs pointing us in the direction of the markets. Even the large map of Strasbourg was converted into a Christmas Market map.

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Tips for Visiting Strasbourg’s Christmas Market

Markets are open:

  • 25 November from 2-9pm
  • 26 November to 23 December from 11-8pm every day
  • 24 December 11-6pm
  • Fridays and Saturdays, the markets stay open until 9pm

Getting to Strasbourg:

  • Park & Ride: Get a group ticket that covers parking charges and a return trip by bus and/or tram for both driver and passengers (maximum 7 people), open 24/7
  • The City Tram will not stop at the station Brogliefrom 25 november to 24 December
  • The City Tram will not stop at the station Homme de Fer during the opening hours of the Christmas markets

If you’re interested in visiting France and are looking for more information, I highly recommend using the DK Eyewitness Travel Guide or the Lonely Plant Travel Guide! Without these guides, I would be lost! These are my travel Bibles!

      

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you click on one and make a purchase, I might make a little extra spending money, at no extra cost to you. As always, all opinions are my own and these products/services have been found useful during our travels and come highly recommended to you from yours truly!

Other Posts from France:

The Charming Town of Colmar

The Beauty of Strasbourg

The Top 10 Most Adorable Towns in Europe!

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Author: California Globetrotter

At 14 I started traveling the world with my parents and was hooked! By 21 I was studying abroad in Heidelberg, Germany. By 26 I sold all of my belongings and bought a one way ticket to Germany to teach English. Little did I know, I'd meet the love of my life and end up traveling to the most romantic and idyllic towns in Europe and becoming a long-term expat in Bavaria! My name is Lorelei and I'm just your typical CaliGirl, Sunset Chaser, Fairytale Dreamer, Dress Lover, Traveloholic, Beer Drinker!

52 thoughts on “Strasbourg is THE “City of Christmas”

  1. it does look very festive! I’d love to visit it one day:) #farawayfiles

  2. I agree, Strasbourg really is THE place to go for Christmas markets. I nearly linked up a post I wrote about it for today’s #farawayfiles but decided to add a new one instead. Maybe next week!

  3. Amazing post! I wish I could visit this city right now!!

  4. I’m going to start calling you Mrs Claus! You’re so Christmassy and I love it. We were in Strasbourg over the summer and I thought it was a pretty city then but this is nothing short of magical. Putting on the list for next year. Thanks Lolo for being the spirit of Christmas on #FarawayFiles

  5. Strasbourg was already on my list of cities I wanted to visit, but I think it just moved up a little 😀 It looks absolutely gorgeous in Christmas dress! Lovely photos..!
    Cheers,
    Maria @ http://momentumtravels.com

  6. Your photos are fantastic! Love the look of those wooden Santas too. I’m so fascinated that you’ve described it as a market to rival any in Germany – that is high praise indeed! Thanks for sharing this on #FarawayFiles

  7. I’m so jealous, I’d love to visit this for myself!

  8. The Strasbourg Christmas market sounds so enchanting! I must admit, there is something about the Christmas markets in Europe that the markets in the US can’t match. Giant skyscrapers being the backdrop to the markets don’t hold a candle to beautiful and historical cathedrals. Awesome post! #FarawayFiles

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  11. What a lot of markets! Thanks for this – I never knew the first Christmas market was held in Strasbourg, or that it was quite such a celebration. It looks magnificent – I really must try and go next year.

  12. So so pretty! I wanted for a while to visit Strasbourg and Munich on the same trip, looks like I should plan it around Christmas 😉

  13. I love Strasbourg and all of Alsace, and I agree that they do Christmas right. I love how much they get into decorating! How fun. Happy Holidays!

  14. The Alsace region is definitely a place I’d love to return – a great mix of French and German culture and it sounds like they do Christmas markets very well!

  15. Love your photographs! They make me want to hop on a plane and head there. What a beautiful Christmas Market!

  16. Strasbourg is such a pleasant city to visit but it looks like it hits the next level at Christmas time. I have to say, I think you’re the Christmas Market expert Lorelei! Mm macarons!

  17. Strasbourg is one of my favourite cities ever, and can see that at Christmas it is just magical. We stayed in an art gallery there and it made it even more special

  18. You couldn’t fail at getting u to the heist as spirit here. Beautiful #mondayescapes

  19. Wow, it really is beautiful! I must, must, must get to a Christmas market next year! #mondayescapes

  20. This looks so amazing! Would love to see that tree at Place Kléber in person one day. Such a heartwarming tradition to leave gifts there for those who need it most.

  21. Wonderful city. It was colourful when I went in June but Christmas is a whole new ball game! Lovely post and beautiful pictures. Wilbur. #citytripping

  22. The buildings decorated with polar bear toys and gifts look really cute. I love the concept of the sharing village and the gifts left under the Christmas tree. Wishing you the best of the season, Lorelei! #CityTripping

  23. Well I never … I did not know that Strasbourg held the first Christmas market, what an interesting fact! It’s a shame that due to recent events, security has been heightened as it is a sad reminder, however, as you said, at least you feel safe and that’s always a good thing in amongst crowds of hundreds/thousands of people, especially where there is yummy mulled wine (and of course plenty of nutella!!) to be consumed. What a fantastic backdrop as well, a Christmas market at Notre Dame? Stunning, who could ask for more (and I would say your photos this time around definitely do it justice!) Merry Christmas to you Lolo! #CityTripping

    • Awe thank you! I certainly tried to do it justice this time! Even back in August last year there was a lot of security in Strasbourg – might also be because the European Union is there but still. It’s an weird feeling to see military walking around with huge semi automatics

  24. I’ve heard such great things about Strasbourg’s Christmas market- it’s one I’d love to go to. I can imagine how incredibly busy it gets though. Love the photos too. #citytripping

  25. Gosh those Christmas markets look fab, I’d definitely like to go, crazy busy though. Fab photos my night photography is terrible. #citytripping

  26. What beautiful light displays, I like little delicate lights!
    #citytripping

  27. Oh wow your photos are incredible! You must feel very festive after visiting all of these Christmas markets;) Great tip re: Lonely Planet books too. I am also a big fan! Thanks for linking to #MondayEscapes

  28. I have wanted to go to Strasbourg for a while for the Christmas markets and you have confirmed why. It looks just so wonderful and magical!! Really helpful guide. Thanks for linking to #citytripping

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  30. I can’t believe there are SO many different markets and festivities in Strasbourg. I love all things Christmas and really would love to see that! #citytripping

  31. I had no idea Strasbourg was the original Christmas market. What a wonderful experience to be able to walk from one market to another. It must have made you feel super festive! #MondayEscapes

  32. Nice pics! I’ve been to Strasbourg Christmas market last year, it really is one of the most beautiful Christmas market!!

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