Warm treats and pastries, beautifully lit ice rinks, pine trees decorated with ornamets, and a chance to wear your favorite scarf and sweater - it must be Christmas. A magical season that hosts Europe's famous Christmas Markets. The very first of which was held in Strasbourg, France in 1570. It was called Christkindelsmärik meaning "market of the Infant Jesus" and has grown to become a true winter wonderland.
The market is located in the city center and typically opens in late November and remains open every day of December. The first day is known as the Great Opening Evening, which includes the city's Christmas lights being turned on and the lighting of the Great Christmas Tree. Visitors who miss the lighting ceremony can catch it again and again as it takes place every day from 5:30 PM to 8 PM every 30 minutes, debuting a new lighting design each week.
The market is collectively made of 11 smaller markets all of which are located in the city center:
- The Christkindelsmärik located on place Broglie
- The Cathedral Christmas Market located on place de la Cathédrale
- The Belgian Village located on place Gutenberg
- The Market delights of Alsace Christmas located on place d'Austerlitz
- The Market of the invincible Small Producers of Alsace located on place des meuniers
- Christmas Market of the Three Magi located on place Benjamin-Zix
- Christmas Market of the Carré d'or located on place du Temple neuf
- Christmas Market located on place du Corbeau
- Christmas Market located on place de la Gare
- The Village of Sharing located on place Kléber
- The children's village located on place Saint Thomas
Visiting the markets is easy. You can walk and take in the city's Christmas atmosphere as you venture from market to market. Another option is using public transport. The bus and tram systems offer convenient ways of traveling around city center. A single trip costs €1.60, a return ticket costs €3.10, and an unlimited 24 hour pass costs €4.30. Paying €6.40 gets you an unlimited group pass good for up to 3 people.
- CTS Official operator of the bus and tram systems in the region. Tel. +33(0)3 88 77 70 70
For Android users, there is an app called "U'GO" that allows you to buy and validate bus and tram tickets.
- U'GO for Android Official CTS app that allows you to buy and validate bus and tram tickets. App doubles as ticket if your phone has an NFC chip.
The entire market is a must-see. Trinkets, toys, crafts, specialty foods and drinks, decorations, ornaments, lights, and of course the Great Christmas Tree. Special mentions include:
- The Lighting Everyday from 5:30PM to 8PM every 30 minutes. The show lasts between 10 and 15 minutes and features a new design and show every week. Located at The children's village.
- The City of Lights Strasbourg has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. It's lighting and architectural styling create a unique journey for all travelers and visitors.
- Nativity Scene A free admission short show with poems and music to be reminded of the origins of the celebration. Friday the 5th, 12th, and 19th at 5:30PM and Saturday 6th, 13th, and 27th at 3PM at Saint-Pierre-le-Vieux Catholic Church, rue du 22 Novembre. Tel. +33 (0)3 90 29 66 62.
Here are some notable picks of activities at 2014's Christmas Market:
- Shopping The entire market is a treasure trove of crafts, cuisines, ornaments, holiday pastries, toys, and anything Christmas that you can imagine. All together there are about 300 vendors and stands to visit.
- Ice Skating An 300 m² ice rink set up in place Dauphine. Has an ice skating area reserved specifically for children.
- The Belgian Village 2014's guest of honor is none other than Belgium. Visit The Belgian Village and explore a wide range of arts and crafts as well as an array of culinary specialties descending from their motherland.
- The children's village Shows, games, and activities for the little ones. The village features entertainment and show areas. Entrance is free of charge, but only children accompanied with an adult can enter.
The market's pièce de résistance? Food! It is a market after all. If you can make it past the handcrafted toy stands, the dazzling ornaments and lights stands, and the countless other sights - you'll find yourself surrounded by France's best.
Pretzel and Bretzel Stand
- Croques Monieurs Sandwiches with layers of grated ham and cheese on the inside and layers of melted cheese on the outside.
- Bretzels Along with pretzels, bretzels are a staple in the Strasbourg Christmas Market. A local specialty is known as the mauricette and is filled with ham and eggs.
- Half Baguettes Served with melted toppings and in a variety of cultural flavors.
- Candy Stalls For just about any age so long as you have a sweet tooth. Choices include: chocolates, caramels, taffies, truffles, and many other confectionery goods.
- Dipped Fruit Traditional dipped fruits include apples, strawberries, and bananas, but you can also find skewers of graps, kiwis, raspberries, pineapples. Dippings include caramels, chocolates, and white chocolates with a fair dusting of sprinkles, almonds, and hazelnuts.
- Tarte flambée This dish is made of a bread dough that is rolled extremely thin. It has the shape of a rounded rectangle. It is covered in a fresh chees called fromage blanc, thin slices of onions, and on occasion bacon or ham.
- Waffles Covered in chocolate, served with rich cremes, or bathed in jam and fruit purees.
- Crêpes See a line? It most likely leads to a crêpe stand. These versatile treats can play as either a meal or desert depending on how you order them. The batter is either savory or sweet. In addition, variations go from meaty(such as ham and roast turkey) to sweet (such as cinnamon glazes or strawberries with whipped cream.
- Pain d'epices More commonly known as spiced bread. Most commonly known as none other than the Gingerbread man.
Learn more about Strasbourg's Christmas Market by visiting the the official site!