|Away from the hustle and bustle of the holiday
festivities the city is still beautiful
Located on the Ill River along the German border in eastern France, Strasbourg's location is reflected in everything from its architecture to its food. It is truly a diverse city that feels a lot like Germany while being located in France. The historic city center is essentially an island surrounded by the flowing canal like river making me think of Brugge. In 1988 the entire city center was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site marking the first time an entire city center received such an honor. Strasbourg is capital of the Alsace region, the official seat of the European Union Parliament and home to the Grand Mosque, the largest place of Islamic worship in France. There is also a grand cathedral, broad squares and winding cobblestone streets and alleys where you can get pleasantly lost for hours at a time. And if shopping is your thing you are in luck because here you can find everything from upscale designer boutiques selling "Paris" fashions to gourmet shops filled with local wines, foie gras, cheeses and chocolates. (You will never go hungry here).
|Welcome to the markets
Today,with over 300 individual stalls spread out over eleven markets, the Christmas market of Strasbourg is collectively one of the largest in Europe. The stalls are divided into themed markets which include a Village of Sharing (a market filled with NGO vendors such as UNICEF) and a Children's Village where the smallest visitors are treated like royalty. There are markets dedicated to selling the speciality items of Alsace (lots of hand crafted wooden items, foie gras and wine sold here). And each year a different country is invited to set up a market dedicated to highlighting their country's products. This year's guest country was Belgium where chocolates and pomme frites were on display. And the food. Whether it be spicy gluwein (of both the red and white varieties), baguettes slathered with cheeses and meat or cookies and baked goodies of every shape, size and flavor are there for the eating and enjoying.
|Sweet treats of the chocolate variety
|Build your own nativity
|Traditional Alsace houses
So if you want to get into the holiday spirit, are looking for something special for yourself or someone else or simply want to experience a traditional European Christmas, visit the Christmas markets of Strasbourg. I went this year and plan on returning again.
If you go:
67000 Strasbourg, France
+33 (0)3 88 52 28 28
From 28 November to 31 December 2014 (check dates for future years)