Monday, December 17, 2012

Visits of Christmas Markets Past - Strasbourg France

As promised I am back with another past Christmas market stop on my big three country tour from a few years ago. This time enjoy a little visit at the most famous Christmas market in France and a glimpse at a few additional points of interest in this beautiful city.

Christmas Market Round up  - Strasbourg, France

Strasbourg is a city I have wanted to visit since I moved to Europe years ago. I definitely picked the right time as Strasbourg is the self proclaimed Capital of Christmas in France and the city was twinkling with lights and decorations. There are several Christmas Markets throughout the city, many have different Themes.

The river Ill runs through medieval Strasbourg. The Grande Ile, the historic center of the city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This Alsatian city ping ponged between German and French ownership for centuries so both languages are spoken here. Some street signs have French and German names.

Although it is a beautiful old city, Strasbourg is also home to the European Parliament and the European Court of Human Rights making it a progressive one as well.

It was next to impossible to find a hotel here at this time of year. I lucked out and was able to rent a lovely apartment dead center in the city, about a 1 minute walk from the cathedral. The flat was located between two of the biggest Christmas markets at place de la Cathedral and at place Broglie on the chicest shopping street in Strasbourg.

The first market I visited was at the spectacular Gothic pink sandstone cathedral which stretched from the place de la Cathedral to the place du Château where a skating rink was set up. The place de la Cathedral is where the first Christmas market in Strasbourg took place in 1570.

Moroccan trinkets and treats.

Life sized santas and miniature houses.

The Cathedral contains an astrological clock form the 1800s. People gather around it everyday at 12:30pm it chimes and moves.

After visiting these two markets I backtracked past my rented flat to the Christkindelsmârik at Broglie Place. This market is a bonanza for foodies. Every treats (trashy and high end) one could want were all clustered here. There were some other stands with crafts, ornaments and some lovely handmade items, but it was all about food here. I am not ashamed to admit I went back every day for the fresh beingets.

Fruits dipped in everything you can imagine.

Exquisite hand painted Christmas cookies.

Violet flavored chocolate and several different varieties of vin chaud (hot wine).

Fresh crepes of course.

I thought these hand made and painted Christmas tree stands were a real find.

A view of the market at night and day.

Endless amounts od lights and ornaments for sale.

They're everywhere...

At Gutenberg Place there was a Russian themed Christmas Market called the Russian Craftsman's Village featuring crafts and food specialties from many different regions of Russia.

Caviar, Vodka, Blinis and pastries.

Russian dolls selling Russian dolls.

Traditional clothing.

Russian lacquer ware and matryoshka dolls.

Amber jewelry.

In between visiting the christmas market stands, it was worth randomly wandering around to take in the beautifully decorated streets and stores.

A Hotel and Galeries Lafayette does it up!

Decoration above a lingerie store.

Christmas from dusk to evening...

The next day I was off to the Le Petite France section of the city to visit the markets there. Place Benjamin Zix set up as the trading post of the three kings and Place des Meuniers showcasing the flavors of Alsace.

This children's Christmas pageant was just letting out as I passed by.

The stork is the symbol of the city. You can buy all kinds of stork themed items from stuffed animals to crazy hats.

Elaborate coaches and street musicians.

This tree is hundreds of years old.

The bridges are built in all styles and are all different ages. My favorite was the torture bridge from where they used to put women accused of witchcraft and adulteresses in a cage and dunk them in the river for punishment.

This market at place Kleber is called The Village of Sharing. All items sold from the huts in this market went to good causes.

The city under the tree is a replica of an Alastian village. 

Beautiful dove decorations.

Delicious treats encountered along the way.

That evening I visited two markets. The first was the Bredle market. Bredle is a Christmas cookie from the Alsace region. There is an entire Christmas market dedicated to this cookie!

Then it was off to the market at Carre d 'Or, a jewel of a market in a square tucked in off a side street.

Some other sites to see in Strasbourg:

The Alastian Museum is encased within three beautiful renaissance houses and the building itself is worth a walk through. Basically a folk art museum depicting the customs any ways of life in Alsace, it houses Beautiful furniture and pottery. I loved the costumes, especially the headdresses.  There are three rooms dedicated to Jewish life with all kinds of artifacts from menorahs to torahs.

This is the old customs house, now a restaurant. I loved how they hung the santas on the river side of the building.

These plaques are at the site where the Romanesque revival synagogue was located. It did not survive the Nazi invasion of the city.

This is kind of kooky. In the basement of the civil hospital there is a wine cellar from 1395. Here, among 40 other ancient barrels, you can find the oldest wine in the world from the year 1472. The wine has only been drunk three times, once for a Swiss delegation in 1576, once to celebrate the renovation of the hospital in 1716 and the third by the liberators of Strasbourg in 1944.

The Rohan Palace has a spectacular location on the river. It houses three museums. I only visited the once dedicated to decorative arts that features beautifully restored rooms.

Yes, I took the touristy boat ride at dusk. You do get special views of the city not accessible on foot.

On my way to my next stop (Colmar, France) I stopped into the market at the train station which featured Christmas regional specialties and crafts.

That was beautiful Strasbourg. I had a great time there. Stay tuned for anothee market from another country in the coming days.


  1. Great post Lora, looks fantastic. And wow, 'fresh beignets for breakfast every day'? Seriously, how could you NOT?!

  2. Now that was a fun trip/trips. Thanks for sharing that.

  3. What an amazing trip 3 years ago and the photos of France and Germany Christmas markets are gorgeous, as are the photos of the beautiful cookies and treats in Miami. Could you let me know the next time you're traveling so I can pack myself in your suitcase! My BF goes to Germany and France a lot and last year it was in early to mid-December for a week (I had to work). He sent me similar photos and I thought..they really know how to do holidays in Europe! BTW..I've been using the goodies from your Christmas giveaway I won last those cookie cutters!

  4. I'm totally stuck on that violet flavored chocolate! Mmm!

  5. Breathtaking tour post! Those hand-painted cookies are stunning. Love that they have holes in them so you can hang them on your tree. The artisans who made the tree stands are fabulous. Love the detail painting work and the little Christmas characters on them. Did you buy one while you were there? The little tidbit about the wine being consumed on only three occasions was very interesting.

  6. What a lovely trip you had! I went to Strasbourg last year and really liked it. It seemed more German than Berlin. So I guess I just had to go to France to see something "German." :)

    And great Christmas market pictures!


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