Strasbourg has a large political presence with bragging rights to the official seat of the European parliament and being one of the de facto capitals of the EU– but we aren’t here to talk politics! We want to bring you up to speed with the best of the Christmas markets this year. We’ll be covering everything you need to know to make the most of a festive break, covering everything from where to go to how much currency you’ll need.
Strasbourg is a personal favourite of ours. The first markets were held here in 1570 – making them the oldest and largest in France. With its famous Christmas tree, twinkling lights, wooden chalets and bredele cakes, there’s a unique magic in the air at this time of year. People flock here from all around the world to experience the special festive charm. So what is it about Strasbourg that has kept people coming back for over four centuries? Read on to find out...
First and foremost, you’ll need to know how to get there. London Stansted have direct flights which can get you to Strasbourg in just 1 hour 25 minutes! London Gatwick and Bristol airport can fly direct to Basel, which is just over an hour away from Strasbourg.
At this time of year you’ll want to bring your woolly hat and the puffer jacket to keep the chill off. You are more than likely to experience chills of 2 degree Celsius at its lowest point. But prepare yourself for the milder temperatures of 5-6 degrees Celsius during the day. A rain mac could be your best friend here.
Whether travelling solo or with friends and family, you’ll find plenty to keep you entertained with over 300 wooden chalets spread out across 11 different markets. Here is our run down of the best ones to be heading to, and what to look out for:
Attracting over 2 million visitors each year, not only is this a big thing for the locals, it’s a must-do for any traveller. Open from 24th November – 30th December, this market offers all the magic you’d expect from a traditional Christmas extravaganza. Located on Place Broglie and around the Cathedral, you’ll find local craftsmen and women demonstrating their skill, selling their wares and keeping you full of delicious food!
Stroll around the stalls, take in the delicious fragrance and stock up on mulled wine – this one can’t be missed.
Marche de Noel place de la Cathedrale Notre-Dame
A scenic Christmas Market on the square of the large Gothic cathedral – open from 24th November – 30th December. This one is worth a visit just for the location!
Le Marche des Delices de Noel d’Alsace
One for the foodies! Of course, being France, this is something special. The finest bakers, winemakers, farmers and brewers come out in force to provide some of the best food you can find during the festive season. This one is located right by the river, providing a gorgeous setting, and will be open from 24th November – 30th December.
Le marche des irreductibles petits producteurs d’Alsace
More of a specialist market this one. Focusing purely on Alsatian producers and the love of local products made by locals. Tradition is right at the heart here. The tagline ‘Made in “here”’ tells you all you need to know about their focus. The locals within the cottages are the experts behind the products on the counter.
Le Village du Partage
This is one of the more thought-provoking markets. The Village of Sharing is based around a huge Christmas tree, designed to keep the spirit of giving alive. Organised by 80 charities, Strasbourg locals continue an ancient tradition of leaving gifts under the tree, which are given to the less fortunate come Christmas day. There are all the typical stalls and sellers, and proceeds of which are earmarked for charity. A heart-warming reminder of what Christmas is all about!
When it comes to the Christmas Market food & drink, you could seriously eat your way around Strasbourg! They’ve got everything from bretzels (soft pretzels), Kougelhopf brioche, Bredeles (star –shaped spice bread cookies), Pain d-Espice (spiced bread), every kind of pastry, crepes, tartes flambes, to flammeskeuche (wood-fired pizzas made with crème fraiche, bacon, onions and Gruyere cheese), knacks (sausages) and choucroute (sauerkraut). Drinks range from mulled wine, to hot spiced orange, apple of lemon juice. Drinks will come served in a decorated festive mug – for which you pay a deposit of €1, but can be returned if you don’t want to keep it.
Like most European Christmas Markets, there is no guarantee that the market sellers will have card machines. If you plan on making any purchases, it’s always advisable to carry cash with you. This is particularly the case for food & drink vendors as they like to make transactions as quick as possible.
Getting around Strasbourg is pretty straightforward. Hopping on and off the metro and/or tram is an almost frictionless experience. Take a pacey shuttle train direct from the airport and into the city centre for as little as €4.30 (lasting a whole nine minutes and coming every 15 minutes). Once you have made it into the festive city you’ll find getting around really easy. Either walk, cycle or take the tram. You have the choice of six different tram lines - hop on and off without any problem with a one day ticket for one person (€4.30), or grab yourself a pass for 2 -3 people (€6.80).
So now it’s time for you to go and build your own memories! Use our hints and tips as guidelines but don’t be afraid to stray from the norm. And, as always, don’t forget to pre-order your Euros before you go. Our Reserve & Collect service offers our best rates, and allows you to order your currency up to 2 weeks in advance (minimum 24 hours in advance) for collection at all of our airport and central London locations. Order now for one less thing to think about in the run up to Christmas!