I’ve dreamt for years of walking through a European Christmas market, hot beverage in hand. I finally had the chance to do this last December during a trip to France. What better way to go about this than seeing the oldest Christmas Market in Europe, the Christkindelsmärik. The Strasbourg Christmas Market first began in 1570, and is still thriving today as one of the largest in France.
Strasbourg is situated on the border of France and Germany, so both countries’ influence is felt strongly in this picturesque town. From the half-timbered buildings, to the quaint alleyways, you’re sure to fall head over heels for Strasbourg quickly.
The Cathédrale Notre Dame de Strasbourg towers over the town as an incredible example of gothic architecture, dating to the 13th century. Turning down the street to see it for the first time, you inevitably let out an audible gasp at its size and beauty. A trip to the top of the cathedral can also offer views into Germany’s Black Forest on a clear day.
As if Strasbourg isn’t charming enough all on its own, the cute-town-factor goes up 10 fold at Christmas time. Nearly every building for miles is decked out in lights & decor. The spirit of Christmas can’t be felt any stronger than it is while walking though the streets of this town at dusk in December. Gingerbread smell in the air, street musicians playing your favorite holiday jingles, and Vin Chaud in your hands to keep your sprits extra bright. Vin Chaud is a delicious combination of warm red wine with the perfect balance of spices, honey, and orange. In my experience, the Christmas markets in Europe often sell “souvenir” type cups when you purchase your hot wine, which are fun to use back at home. I have one from both the Strasbourg market, as well as the Christmas market on the Champs-Élysées in Paris…. and made sure to hop across the border to Germany to grab one from them as well! (Vin Chaud in French, and Glühwein in German).
While this particular trip for me was mostly spent in Paris, a day-trip to Strasbourg was well worth it. It’s a quick 2.5 hour train ride away, and I promise well worth your time. It was one of our favorite days of the entire trip, and I’m anxiously awaiting my next visit to a European Christmas market.
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