The Strasbourg Christmas Markets are some of the oldest in France, and possibly even in Europe. In existence since approximately 1570, they encompass the entire Old Town and Petite France area of Strasbourg. They have beautiful lights creating a ceiling above you and decorations on almost every facade, lining every street. It’s like a walk thru a winter wonderland, day or night!
Strasbourg’s historic city center is actually an island surrounded by the Île River and is a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1988. It is less than 1 mile long and about a half-mile at it’s widest, so it’s quite easy to walk the Grand Île, but there are a couple tram lines that run through it as well. It’s a beautiful city with a mix of old and new architecture.
The Christmas Decorations are just as pretty during the day, so be sure to pay attention to the building facades to see just how differently they’re decorated. Some of my favorite decorations were the animals!
Cathédrale Notre Dame de Strasbourg
Cost: FREE (Film about Astronomical Clock: $4)
The Roman Catholic Strasbourg Cathedral is the 6th tallest church in the world. (And, from 1647 to 1874 it was the world’s tallest building!) The site of the current cathedral dates as far back as the Argentoratum period (12 BC) and has been the site for many different religious buildings. Construction of the current building began around 1176 and lasted over 200 years. The cathedral houses one of the largest astronomical clocks. You can walk thru the Cathedral for free, but at noon each day, you can also see the film about the Astronomical Clock and the Apostle Procession that follows – the film & procession requires a ticket which can be purchased daily for $4.
Capital de Noël – Strasbourg’s Christmas Markets
The entire Grand Île area comes alive at night during Capital de Noël! With a ceiling of lights leading you down one street to the next, you can walk the entire Old Town area. Each square has a unique feel despite being in the same city. There’s a beautiful Great Tree at Place Kléber, the Guest Country market highlighting Christmas traditions from another country (it was Iceland when I was there in 2017 and is going to be Finland in 2018) and the interesting OFF Market that highlights mindful consumption in the holiday season.
One of the women at the front desk of my hotel suggested I take a boat tour around the island, so I did that the next morning. Just over an hour long, it is on a covered flatboat, so cozy enough in the December weather and includes headphones with commentary in a multitude of languages. During the ride, you learn about the history of Strasbourg, the old and new parts of the city and get to see the European Parliment Building in Strasbourg.
Museum Pass (1 Day)
If you enjoy art or history museums, then Strasbourg is the place for you! There are over a dozen museums here. You can visit an individual museum or buy a 1- or 3-day pass to visit as many as you wish!
On my 1-day pass, I saw:
1) the Musée Historique, where I tried out different armor helmets;
2) L’Aubette 1928 to see the art deco designs that were shocking when the building first opened in… 1928;
3) beautiful Renaissance and Baroque art at Musée des Beaux-Arts;
4) incredible Medieval stained glass and statues at Musée Œuvre Notre Dame; and finally,
5) the Musée Alsatian which offers a view into the life of everyday rural life in Alsace in the 18th and 19th century.
Food in Strasbourg
I did enjoy my first lunch at the Christmas market with the ever-popular vin chaud (mulled wine) and pretzels! The second day, I escaped a brief winter rain with a delightful quiche lorraine for lunch at Le Part Thé. And the first evening, I had an amazing pork chop and gnocchi dinner at Restaurant Les Saveurs. (Breakfast, not pictured, was at the hotel buffet.)
Where to Stay in Strasbourg: Best Western Plus Hôtel Monopole Métropole
Best Western Plus Hôtel Monopole Métropole was the perfect place to stay! It’s a short walk from the train station and another couple blocks into the Grand Île Old Town area. The rooms were spacious and comfortable. Plus, there were beautiful sitting areas on the first floor and a breakfast room with a full buffet every morning. The front desk staff was very friendly and offered recommendations when asked.
Budget for Strasbourg
My budget for 2 days at the Christmas Markets in Strasbourg, France came to a total of $253:
My budget has been translated to USD, based on my final credit card charge or a google conversion where I paid in cash.
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