Strasbourg: Capital de Noël
Strasbourg in December resembles a scene out of a classic Christmas film. Proudly named Capital de Noël, or Capital of Christmas, the historic town transforms into a festive wonderland throughout the period. Take a trip this year and enjoy the magic of the town’s lights, mulled wine, and sounds of carolling that drift across the canals and wind through the cobbled streets.
Strasbourg is the capital of the Alsace region in France, straddling the border with Germany. The whole Alsace area is one of the prettiest in Europe, but Strasbourg in particular sticks in the memory of travellers. The striking and historic architecture and culture of the city blends German and French influences and during Christmas their traditions make a magical combination. From the end of November until after Christmas, Strasbourg is in its prime. The city’s streets, houses, churches and ornamental balconies all twinkle with thousands of lights and decorations. The 28-metre-tall Christmas tree stands proudly in the centre of the city; a symbol of their festive pride. Dotted around the city are many other trees, like the Blue Tree in front of Place Gutenberg, and the crystal white tree before the Rivetoile shopping centre. One of the splendours of Strasbourg’s decorations is their ability to keep them classy, traditional and aesthetically beautiful.
Of course, Strasbourg’s markets are unmissable; they’re among the oldest and biggest of their kind in Europe. Outside of the iconic Strasbourg Cathedral are the most traditional markets, first held in 1570 and selling a variety of handmade gifts and regional delicacies. At Place Broglie is the Christkindelsmärik (Christ-child market) at Place Broglie, where you can pick up regional produce, crafts, traditional Alsatian Christmas decorations and much more. Local craftsmen share their secrets and expertise on how the gifts you buy are made, as well as share some of the region’s traditions with you. There are different stalls stretching down every street of the historic centre, so wrap up warm and spend your evenings there in the chalets or udner the twinkling lights of the streets with a vin chaud.
This year, Strasbourg are putting on Christmas Food Tours throughout the period. Take a guided walk through the Christmas markets with Food Experts sharing anecdotes, legends and traditional tales from the region. Taste all the Alsatian Christmas delicacies like Vin Chaud, gingerbread of Bredele, the local biscuits. Tours are available throughout the week in small groups. As we always suggest with exploring somewhere new – eat your way around.
For the 3rd year in a row, Strasbourg is hosting the Refugee Food Festival during December. From 17th – 23rd, the festival will take over the city with its smells and tastes of delicacies from other countries. Original dishes by refugee chefs will be served, allowing you to sample food from all over the world. The Refugee Food Festival is a fantastic event, it has taken place in 14 cities around the world this year already. More than 80 restaurants have shared their kitchens with chefs from Iran, Somalia, Ukraine, Syria, Afghanistan and other countries. The universal power of food means this festival brings together people from all walks of life with one common passion.
Another wonderful way of celebrating Christmas in Strasbourg is by visiting the OFF Market. Located at Place Grimmeissen, every day until Christmas Eve, this market is made up of small Alsatian producers who are dedicated to celebrating Christmas in a sustainable way. They recycle, exchange, bargain-hunt, create and invent different fair-trade and original Christmas gifts. The eco-friendly market sells vintage furniture, clothing, original art pieces, second-hand appliances, organic food and local organically produced delicacies. There’s also a full calendar of events that discuss mindful consumption and let you taste some fair-trade dishes.
Finally, with any trip to Strasbourg be sure you don’t miss the striking city Cathedral and the Petite France are. A historic quarter in the city, Petite France is one of the most charming areas in all of Europe. The half-timbered houses line the river and canals and look even more beautiful when lit up with Christmas lights. The cobblestone streets lead to cosy traditional cafes and gift shops and you could spend an entire afternoon just wandering through the chilly air and taking in the romantic views.
Here’s some eyewear to help you with your holiday packing list:
Tom Ford are renowned for their refined style. These rose gold glasses feature in a thin-metal wire frame design that is both sophisticated and quirky at once. Perfect for exploring the Christmas markets.
The most glamorous way to accessorise your Christmas hat is with a pair of these stunning cateye frames from Hook LDN. The red berry colourway is very seasonal and ideal for a festive trip away. Hook LDN’s cateye glasses are on sale now for Christmas for only £20.
Have you visited Strasbourg at Christmas? Share your memories in the comments section below.