Eleven Christmas Markets in one town … oh my! Strasbourg is a busy city during the Christmas Market. Not only is it home to approximately 300,000 full-time residents, Strasbourg bulges at the seams with holiday visitors during November and December.
Known as home to one of the best Christmas markets in France, the old city of Strasbourg is closed off to traffic during the market because of the crowds. That means you walk down the center of streets filled with holiday goodies and shops on both sides. Also, it means you must carry your bags through a security check and to your hotel. Fortunately, our hotel was nearby. So after dropping off our things at Hôtel Des Arts, we set off to check out the first of eleven Christmas markets we were to visit on our two-and-a-half day stay.
The narrow streets of the old town were crowded and brightly lit. All we could think about was how glad we were that we were in Strasbourg before the “real crowds” showed up Christmas week. Well, that’s not truly all we were thinking about. Visions of choucroute, spaetzle and beef bourguignon were swirling around in our heads.
The christmas markets, or areas where vendors show off their wares and food items, were set up in little wooden storefronts. They were all very similar.
The differences were that, along the way, permanent merchants lured shoppers with their over-the-top decorations and window dressings. Many spilled out onto the streets. Every alley, every turn in the road displayed street lighting and banners that were better than the one before.
Of all the attractions, the Cathedral de Notre-Dame stood out as the city’s centerpiece.
Its majestic buttresses, vaults and arches dominated many of the streetscapes. Its presence added a special luminescence to those market stalls that were fortunate enough to surround it for the holidays.
Although our visit to Strasbourg was for the Christmas Market only, we took a boat tour along the canal that borders the old town. It was a perfect way to get an overview of the city’s history and to get a glimpse of some of the new parts of town. It’s definitely a place I would love to see again.
In Strasbourg the mix of French and German is visible in the architecture, the people, the language and the cuisine. From foie gras to spaetzle — from German beer to fine wine — Strasbourg is where the best of the best meet today in seemingly perfect harmony.