Welcome to Strasbourg and its Christmas Markets !
When one arrives like myself in the 3 Borders Country and one speaks about Christmas Markets, one name comes back on everyones lips, Strasbourg ! The largest, the most beautiful and famous Christmas Market of all and as I discovered while researching prior to my visit, the Capital of Christmas, nothing less !
And as I boarded a comfortable double decker grand tourism bus for the very reasonable price of only 19.00 Euros return filled with a joyous crowd of people coming from all parts of the country, I wondered if the city of Strasbourg which I was about to discover, with such a fame and reputation would live up to my expectations, and I must say it even exceeded them !
To say that I arrived on this December 05th in a city dressed up to celebrate Christmas in style is a sweet understatement as Strasbourg posess the Art and the Way to make Christmas sparkle like nowhere else thanks to the efforts of the talented Strasbourg Window Dressing Association which counts no less than 700 shop owners amongs its members and who create the magic one can enjoy throughout the City centre by decorating the shops and the fronts of the buildings with an Art that mixes exquisite craftmanship with a touch of magic.
One must say that the tradition of the Christmas Market in Strasbourg dates back to 1570, year in which the first and Europe's oldest "Christkindelmärik" or Christmas Market came to life.
Strasbourg is a big town where one travels using a modern and well appointed system of tramway and the City Centre where the historical and architectural splendours are gathered is easily accessible by foot and one can discover the sublime Cathedral Notre Dame, the famous Rue des Orfèvres, the popular Place Colbert or the unique architectural ensemble of the Petite France district at its own pace and time.
I was Lucky to discover Strasbourg by a beautiful sunny day, which is always a plus at this time of the year and I must admit that the Capital of the Alsace region has not only seduced me but also blown me away !
The 2013 Christmas Market offers a number of 300 chalets gathered in 11 locations in the city centre which welcomes this year Croatia with a Christmas Village dedicated to the traditions and Art & Crafts of the Croatian people. I can recommend you little digestive drink made from brandy and figs called the Rajika, as delicious as original.
The Streets décorations of the city centre dressed up in festive colours and lights will simply blow yourself away from the sublime Rue des Orfèvres to the picturesque art of the Petite France district. I have travelled a lot and saw quite a few cities at Christmas time, in France and abroad, but the festive décorations of Strasbourg belong to these things that one must see at least once in their lifetime with the pinacle being the huge 30 meters high Christmas tree of the Place Kléber dressed in silver and blue by the Designer Antoinette Pflimlin with no less than St Louis Crystal baubles !
My recommendations for Foodies like myself, beyond the tasting of the many regional delights of the Christmas Markets enjoyed with a glass of Mulled Wine, will be the venerable Maison Kammerzell with its Renaissance wooden architecture which contrasts so magnificently with the nearby Cathedral Notre Dame where I enjoyed a Christmas beer called Grimbergen. A must visit is also the Auberge de la Chaîne d'Or located on 134 Grand Rue which dates back to the medieval times for a very affordable price of only 15.70 Euros for a starter and a main course. The sweet delights afficionados will gathered to Christian Tea Room and Pâtisserie located on 10 rue des Mercières with its front wall decorated in a Baroque style and where cakes are mini works of Art. And my personal crush will go to little Weinstube as original as picturesque, Pfifferbriader or "Pfiff" for the locals, located on 14 Place du Marché with its little tables dressed in traditional Alsatian fabrics, mullioned Windows and exquisite stained glass, and a Young and dynamic Team. An absolute Must to discover !
So this is to a visit of Strasbourg dressed up in its finest festive outfit which I invite you starting from the Place Broglie with its traditional Christmas Market to the sublime and imposing Cathedral Notre Dame which 142 meters high Arrow made the highest building in Occident history up to the 19th century, to the Rue des Orfèvres straight out of a Christmas tale to the unique architectural ensemble of the Petite France district with its black and white medieval houses enchanting subtle pastel colours.
You will excuse the artistic fuzzy of the last pictures which can be explained in a few words : Christmas Beer and Mulled Wine associated to two hands increasingly filled with shopping bags !