Strasbourg, capital of France’s Grand Est region, sits close to the German border and is home to one of the oldest Christmas markets in Europe. It first took place back in 1570, so it’s no surprise to hear it’s regularly referred to as the ‘capital of Christmas’ – hence the ‘Capitale de Noel’ sign you’ll see as you enter!
Open every day from the end of November until Christmas Eve, you’ll find the markets dotted across the city. They stretch from Place Broglie, the main square, out into the smaller streets across the Grande-Île, the UNESCO-protected island that’s home to the Old Town.
The markets are all within easy walking distance of each other, so why not see how many you can tick off? Most stalls only accept cash, so be sure to have some to hand so you don’t miss out!
Not sure if the Strasbourg Christmas markets are the ones for you? Read our handy guide and you’ll soon be convinced…
Christkindelsmärik – Grande-Île
Let’s start with the biggest of the markets – Christkindelsmärik. Set on Place de Cathedrale, you guessed it, right in front of the city’s stunning Cathédrale Notre-Dame, this twinkling setting will have you feeling festive in no time.
Weave your way through the wooden stalls selling a whole world of trinkets and traditional treats. Local handmade Christmas tree decorations are available in all colours of the rainbow, while pretty pottery, hand-blown glass ornaments and wooden toys are equally as dreamy.
And when it comes to food, you name it, they’re probably selling it. Think high quality charcuterie, choucroute – a traditional Alsatian dish, sweet and savoury pastries, and bretzels, a French adaptation of the German pretzel. Wash all that down with a mulled wine, mulled cider, hot chocolate or pint of local beer. Cheers!
If you’ve got kids in tow, they’ll love a ride on the magical carousel that glows in gold. Visit during the day and shop ‘til you drop, but be sure to visit at night too, to see it all lit up in thousands of lights.
Sharing Village – Kléber Square
It’s here where you’ll find the Great Christmas Tree, the city’s festive centrepiece that’s donated by France’s National Forestry Office each year. Great by name and great by nature, this towering installation has to be at least 30 metres in height and has an impressive seven kilometres of fairy lights draped around it. Talk about a high electricity bill!
Surrounding the tree, you’ll see around 60 charity stalls selling food, drinks and souvenirs to raise money for local causes. Years ago, people used to place presents under the giant tree as donations to charity.
Christmas Village – Place du Marché-aux-Poisson
Foodie fans make a beeline for this line-up of tasty market stalls. You’ll be able to sample authentic flammekueche, which is a wood-fired pizza bread topped with cream cheese, bacon and thinly-sliced onions. Hankering for something sweet? Don’t miss out on trying a Nut’Alsace crêpe. It’s the local version of Nutella and tastes even better layered with cream and dusted with cookie crumbs!
Gingerbread is also very popular here, so keep an eye out for this tasty treat in all kinds of shapes and sizes. Bredele cookies are a staple in the Alsace region too, so you’d be missing out if you go without trying them.
The street runs parallel to the III River and it’s only minutes from the cathedral, so you shouldn’t have trouble finding it.
Posted: 15th Oct 2019.