Glittering Streets of Strasbourg, France

In Christmas, En-Route, Europe, France, Our Journeys, Trip-Types, World Travel by JanisLeave a Comment

What to see at Strasbourg's Christmas Markets... the 'Capitale de Noël'
This was our 2nd visit to Strasbourg at Christmas; the last time was back in 2008.
The bright illuminated arch over the Rue du Vieux-Marché-aux-Poissons that declares Strasbourg as the Capitale de Noel, or Capital of Christmas.

Strasbourg - Capitale de Noël

Part of us was looking forward to discovering the changes, but also, we hoped to find still the little familiarities that we fell in love with the first time around.

Quick Links

Strasbourg was our first stop on our 2017 Christmas Market road trip before we headed on to Munich, Frankfurt & Cologne. So, we were having a soupçon of France prior to our wurst fest in Germany.

Where we stayed

Our accommodation for the two nights in Strasbourg was at the Mercure Centre. Lovely friendly staffed and welcomed you with a vin chaud, what could be better.

Parking was good. However, security around the Grande Île was extremely high, with vehicles only being allowed to enter before and after Christmas market hours.

Grande Île

The festive atmosphere here is all around the Grande Île, so head in and enjoy the fun.

We visited Place Kléber first to see the amazing Christmas tree, and it indeed is a sight not to be missed.

The height of the tree is astonishing; I think they must have used a crane to decorate it.

They even have a viewing platform for it, so that you can get closer.

Looking up at the giant Christmas tree in Place Kléber at night.  This is the centrepiece of the cities Christmas Markets in Strasbourg.  The Christmas tree is brightly decorated with fairy lights and illuminated decorations.

The tree in Place Kléber

Although the centrepiece of Place Kléber is the tree, the lighting and the decor on the Aubette (Orderly Room) are wonderful, it makes such a grand statement.
A scene across Place Kléber at night to the Aubette, a historic, mid-18th century, building brightly decorated in a mix of gold & red for Christmas.  The square in front of the building, damp from some earlier rain, reflects the lights of the building.

The Aubette

It’s all about the lights

While strolling the streets and lanes of Strasbourg, our outstanding memory is the illuminations throughout the city.

The street lights at Christmas along Place Gutenberg this year are gingerbread men holding candy canes between red curtains.  They extend down the street as far as the eye can see.

Gingerbread illuminations

It’s not just your average twinkling street lights; there are eye-catching themes running all the way through.

One lane was even lined with huge boxed chandeliers.

A beautiful chandelier, encased in a translucent cube suspended between two sides of the street, acting as a regular street light.

Boxed chandeliers

The ornately decorated gable end of a historic building brightly lit in pink with candy canes, reindeers, baubles and even Santa.

Decorated in Pink

There is no expense spared here for exterior illumination; you’re all going to be dazzled while sipping your vin chaud.

Did you know?

That the Grande Île was inscribed onto the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1988, all the more reason to visit any time of the year.

Ancient history

There has been a Christmas market held around the Cathedral in Strasbourg since 1570, making it one of Europe’s oldest Christmas markets. So, it’s not surprising it holds the accolade of Capitale de Noël.

A low angle shot looking up at a Christmas market stall in front of the illuminated Cathedral of Strasbourg.

The cathedral as a backdrop to the market

Angels with trumpets illuminate the way along Rue Mercière to Strasbourg's cathedral.

Avenue of Angels

At the feet of the Cathedral are bustling little market huts selling a variety of gifts, decorations and local delicacies, all the while a children’s carousel is whirling around.


At the edge of a Christmas market drinks stall in the Place De La Cathédrale.  There are two neon signs, one offering vin blanc, the other vin rouge.

Vin Rouge or Vin Blanc

Take your time and wander around the Place de la Cathedral, and we highly recommend sampling the vin chaud, it’s a little bit sweeter than gluhwein but certainly just as warming.

Two plastic beakers of vin chaud on the top of a wet tabletop at one of the Christmas Markets.  The cups are decorated  with angels and labelled with the cities Christmas tag - Strasbourg, Capitale de Noel.

Two Vin Chauds

Before we left for Strasbourg Gary and I looked through his photos from 2008, and when we arrived at the vin chaud stall that we remembered visiting nine years ago, the same happy chap was still there. Now that brought a smile to our faces…

A mature man, wrapped heavily against the cold ladling out hot spiced orange juice at a stall in the Christmas markets.

A familiar face

A picture from 2008 of the same guy as the earlier shot, again ladling out spiced drinks from the Christmas Market stall in the Cathedral square.

Pouring the warming nectar

Attention to detail

We always say that the Christmas markets come alive when the sun goes down, however, Place de la Cathedral is stunning day and night.

A small group of people gather between a Christmas market stall and the carousel in Place De La Cathédrale.

The Carousel in the market place

The half-timbered dwellings that encircle the square are unbelievable, the care and maintenance taken to keep them looking so beautiful is a tribute to the city.

A Christmas market stall in the Place De La Cathédrale decorated with Christmas scenes of Santa and his sleigh, children with a snowman and an angel looking down at the shoppers perusing its extensive range of Christmas decorations.

Browsing a stall

Don’t forget

Your comfy shoes and warm clothing!

Soak up the atmosphere

The street not to be missed off the square is Rue du Maroquin.

During the festive season, I urge you to stroll up and down here during the day, and in the evening, you won’t stop looking high above you at the décor.

The restaurant Le Gruber with tables and chairs outside at night decorated for Christmas with fairy lights, baubles and glittery bunting.

Amazing decorations

The illuminated Rue du Maroquin in Strasbourg, full of Christmas lights and decorations strung between building.

Rue du Maroquin

Looking up along Rue du Maroquin at night full of traditional half-timbered buildings that look extra special at Christmas.  Lights hang between the buildings and every window decorated with lights and one building, teddy bears.

Glittering Rue du Maroquin

At the bottom of Rue du Maroquin, we turned left, to follow the river along and come across another market (Place du Marche-aux-Poissons). From memory, we don’t believe there was one here in 2008, it had some unusual stalls and had a charming local feel to it.

People gathering around illuminated tables that resemble giant plastic beakers in front of the Christmas market 'Marche-aux-Poissons' in front of the floodlit Palais Rohan.

The market at Marche-aux-Poissons

Petite France

Not quite Christmassed out, there are still more markets to visit. We headed over to Petite France, which will take your breath away at how picturesque it is before you have even reached the festivities.

The cobbled lanes of Petite France between the half-timber buildings of this historic quarter of Strasbourg.

Wandering through Petit France

The view from Pont Saint-Martin over the canals of Petite France, framed by the half-timber buildings typical of this part of Strasbourg.

Petite France

Surrounded by waterways and intriguing buildings, small lanes and cobbled streets.
Overlooking the water in the Petite France region of Strasbourg with the waterside restaurant 'Maison des Tanners' with its decorated window boxes against the half-timbered building.  You can tell it's Christmas at the handrails are decorated with baubles and wreaths.

Looking over Petit France

Fun & Friendly

One of the largest markets on Grande Île is Christkindelsmärik, held in Place Broglie. This is a really friendly bustling market and full of colourful gifts and great treats for everyone.

Folks mingling in front of the entrance to the Christkindelsmärik Christmas market, which is marked by a bright neon signed between two gold and silver striped candy canes created with fairy lights.

The entrance to Christkindelsmärik

Weaving your way through you’ll discover some wonderful stalls, and you won’t go hungry around here.

A collection of beautiful vintage baubles on a Christmas market stall in Strasbourg.

Antique Decorations

A view of a Christmas market stall with copper caldrons full of vin chaud.

Vin Chaud in Copper pots

Why not?

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Land of Fire & Ice

Every year in Place Gutenberg, Strasbourg welcomes a different country to highlight their traditions around Christmas, this year it was Iceland’s honour.

A lifesize artificial Christmas tree made entirely of blue fairy light stand in Place Gutenberg in Strasbourg.

The Blue Tree and the Bear

Christmas market stalls in the international market in Place Gutenberg in front of a historic building floodlit in a purple/lilac colour.

The Icelandic Market

Have You?

Visited any French Christmas markets, we’d love you to share them with us?

Astronomical clock

While in Strasbourg we couldn’t resist visiting the Cathedral and its Astronomical clock, which stands 18 metres high and is one of the world’s largest.
The immensely ornate, 19th century, astrological clock standing over 10 meters tall, with multiple faces telling different details.

The Astronomical clock

The cathedral itself is amazing inside and out, and when it is lit up in the evening it looks very serene.
Inside the gothic Cathedral of Strasbourg looking through two pillars decorated with statues of the Virgin Mary and bishops towards a vaulted roof, from which an ornate chandelier is suspended in front of stained glass windows.

Inside the Cathedral

Local Delicacies

A closeup of gingerbread in small cellophane packets, tied with gold ribbons on a Christmas market stall.

A selection of gingerbread

There are great things to eat around the markets especially if you have a sweet tooth.

A large cast-iron open dish of Knepfle or Spaetzle, alongside another dish of Choucroute Garnie, on a Christmas market stall.

Regional delights

However, a visit to the Alsace region of France, would not be complete without enjoying a tarte flambée.

The traditional Alsatian dish of Tarte flambée, served on a wooden serving slice to be shared.

The traditional Alsatian dish of Tarte flambée

It is loved by everyone young and old.

Inspired to visit Strasbourg at Christmas?

Does a vin chaud tempt you? would you like to see the lights? Why not spend a couple of nights to enjoy the sights, smells and tastes of Strasbourg.

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