November 23 marks the start of Christmas celebrations in Alsace with the opening of its famous holiday markets. Here’s your chance to (re)discover the region and its traditions in a fairy tale setting.
The air is filled with sweet and spicy fragrances intermingling with Christmas melodies, and the lights and decorations twinkle long into the night. As Christmas approaches each year, the towns and village people of Alsace don their best holiday attire, and hold their Christmas markets until the end of the year.
Bredeles, Gingerbreads, and Pretzels
In 2018, the Christmas markets were launched in Strasbourg on November 23, with small wooden huts covering several of the city’s squares and major streets. People take to the streets to savor bredeles (typical Alsatian cookies), gingerbreads, pretzels, and other artisanal goodies, as well as to find that special something to help decorate their homes and Christmas trees. For social and eco-responsible Christmas shopping, head to Place Grimmeisser in the Petite France district, for the “Off” Christmas market, where people practice upcycling and exchange.
Strasbourg is not the only city with holiday spirit. In December, the whole region of Alsace is filled with Christmas markets. Colmar, for example, boasts six themed markets, including one dedicated to gourmet foods with nine onsite chefs. Explore a traditional market in Riquewihr, get to know artisans in Barr, and stock up on local products in Bouxwiller. For a journey back in time, head to Ribeauvillé, where the Christmas market takes visitors back to the Middle Ages.
Strasbourg, the Christmas Capital
Created in 1750, the Christmas market in Strasbourg has become a secular tradition. It is the oldest in France, as well as one of the oldest in Europe. Back then, it took place around the cathedral for three days, and continued to expand from there.
Today it is held in several places around town and lasts until December 30. The markets are adorned with abundant lights and decorations, including a giant tree at Place Kléber, making Strasbourg the true Christmas Capital.