The Strasbourg Christmas market is a vast outdoor public space spreads all over the Old Town which sells anything to do with Christmas. It is locally called Christkindelsmärik (Marché de l’Enfant Jésus) and is one of the oldest in Europe.
Strasbourg, Capital of Christmas
In 2013, Strasbourg’s Christmas market will start on the first weekend of the Advent that is on the 30th November and will end on the 31st December.
Everyday from 10am to 8pm (except on the 25th December), the little stalls made of wood (called châlets) will sell decorations, local products and craftsmanship, without forgetting “vin chaud” (mulled wine), Christmas cakes, biscuits and gingerbread.
The market’s decorations and illuminations are particularly treated with great care. Sometimes, a market will feature street parades, sound and light shows or bands playing Christmas music.
Strasbourg’s Christmas market is the oldest in France, dating back to 1570, at a time when the Alsatian capital was not even French. In Alsace, it is locally known as the “Christkindelsmärik”, and takes place in the Old Town.
However, due to an important renewal of the Christmas markets in the 1990’s, they have become more linked to a commercial motive, to which some Alsatian markets respond by redefining their appearance. Since the opening of the new high-speed-train between Paris and Strasbourg in 2007 (TGV Est-Européen), which links the two cities within 2.45 hours, a day spent in the capital of Alsace’s market has become an extremely popular outing for Parisians. Strasbourg is a heavily crowded-city each weekend in December, so if you can, it is maybe preferable to go to the villages along the Alsace Wine Route.
The Christmas Markets of Strasbourg
Strasbourg proclaimed itself the “Capital of Christmas”. Despite whether it is true or not (our German friends may not agree with that one as the markets of Dresden and Nuremberg also date back to the Middle-Ages!), the Christmas Market in Strasbourg has certainly become world famous. It is actually spread throughout the Old Town in separate themed-locations:
The traditional “Christkindelsmärik”, is held in Place Broglie. It specialises in Christmas decorations.
The Christmas market of Place du Temple Neuf features the stands of the Carré d’Or Traders’ Association.
The Christmas market in Place du Corbeau, the “Bredalas Market” (Christmas delicacies and gingerbread) and the Kingdom of the “Couronne d’Or” Wine Growers, in Place d’Austerlitz.
The Christmas regional specialities and crafts markets, situated in Place de la Gare.
The Christmas Market on Place de la cathédrale is famous for its superb location at the foot of the Cathedral. Other markets are found in Place du Château (with an outdoor ice-skating rink) and Place d’Austerlitz (with its Nativity scene made from wood).
The Village of Sharing is located in Place Kléber. It is said that the “Strasbourgeois” used to put presents for the poor at the foot of the Tree. Today, more than 60 charities have stalls and invite the visitors to get involved with their generous cause. There you can also admire the 30 metre high Christmas tree which comes from the Vosges Mountains, and whose elaborate decoration changes every year.
The European village market stands on Place Gutenberg. Every year, Strasbourg honours a particular European country (in 2009: Russia, in 2011: Switzerland, in 2012: Georgia and in 2013: Croatia, the newest member of the European Union).
The Foie Gras market in the Ancienne Douane, Rue de l’Ancienne Douane where local producers of foie gras organise degustations, cooking and historic workshops.
The market of the “Invincible Small Producers of Alsace”, on Place des Meuniers, and “The trading place of the Three Kings”, on Place Benjamin-Zix, both located in the Petite France district.