Strasbourg ― the capital of Christmas
Traditionally, the French city of Strasbourg is called the capital of Christmas celebrations. One of the main centers of united Europe became famous for its fairs and bazaars, bright illumination, and colorful Christmas performances. Initially, the fairs were timed to coincide with the feast of St. Nicholas, but in the 16th century, the city council decided to hold fairs on Christmas days. At the same time, the tradition arose to put Christmas trees in houses and squares. This custom was also born near Strasbourg. Beginning in the town of Celeste in 1521, it quickly gained a following and spread throughout Alsace. The Christmas trees symbolized the apple tree of paradise. Therefore, apples were hung on them as decorations. But one day there was a bad harvest. A severe drought led to the fact that none of the peasants had apples until December. Then French glassblowers made apples from glass, which decorated Christmas trees. This is how the tradition arose to decorate the Christmas tree with glass balls. Want to see Christmas Alsace? Then feel free to go on an exciting excursion audio guide (Russian version is included), during which you will be able to visit the local Christmas markets, learn a lot of new things, and feel the magical atmosphere. Merry your Christmas with our 10 best ideas for fun during winter adventure in France!
Admire the main Christmas tree
They begin to mount a huge tree in November. For the main tree, huge spruce is chosen, the height of which can reach almost 30 meters, and the weight ― 6 tons. The installation and decoration of the tree with colorful toys and luminous garlands last two weeks. All this beauty is located in Kleber square. Despite the festive bustle, the number of tourists on the streets of the city is not much higher than at other times of the year. You can freely walk up to the tree and admire its decoration to your heart's content. Long garlands of 11,000 light bulbs, 300 large balls (each weighing 3-4 kilograms) make a strong impression on those around you. Some interesting actions are constantly taking place around the tree. The main night festivities take place here.
Visit the Cathedral
Celebrating Christmas is an ancient Christian tradition. You cannot do without visiting the majestic Cathedral. days, especially solemn services are held in all city churches, in which prominent church ministers of the Roman Catholic Church take part. The main center of Christmas services is the main temple in Strasbourg, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ. There are no excursions during services, but no one will be kicked out of the temple if you quietly and calmly examine the interior decoration.
View nativity scenes
On the days of Christmas, nativity scenes are erected in all churches in Strasbourg. They represent scenes related to the birth of Jesus Christ. Some nativity scenes show only the main characters. There are those who show the complete story of the birth of the baby Jesus.
Taste Alsatian wine
Many Alsatian wines are famous all over the world. It would be a mistake to visit Strasbourg, the heart of Alsace, and not taste at least a few local wines. You should not get carried away with this, because aromatic vapors can distract from further hikes, but enjoying a few glasses of the sparkling drink is quite acceptable. Fine wine is produced throughout the area, but it is from Strasbourg that the famous Alsace wine road begins, which runs through all the surrounding wine-growing villages. The symbol of this road, a huge wine barrel, can be seen in one of the squares of Strasbourg.
Go to a restaurant
Winter temperatures in Strasbourg hover around zero degrees. In such weather, from time to time it is necessary to go into warm rooms and warm-up. A hearty lunch or dinner also warms up well and helps to restore physical strength faster. Not far from Kleber, the central square of the city, there is a cozy restaurant Gruber. It is within walking distance of Strasbourg Cathedral. The restaurant opens at half-past ten in the afternoon and is open until eleven in the evening.
Go to the market at Broya Square
Since the end of the 19th century, the Christ the Infant Market has been located on the square. From the very beginning, it was completely dedicated to pre-Christmas goods. Today craftsmen from all over France come here. On the market, you can buy original gifts made in accordance with ancient traditions and objects of modern art.
Go to the book market
For avid bibliophiles, philatelists and numismatists, the book market will be a must-see. It appears in the open air on Halberd Street and Kleber Square three times a week (on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday). The group of second-hand booksellers who regularly go out on the street is small. The permanent backbone consists of 10-15 people. However, here you can acquire treasures that you will not find elsewhere. The market also sells rare postage stamps and coins.
Visit a flea market
Flea markets exist in all countries of the world. Strasbourg is no exception. Here you can buy antiques and jewelry, art and antiques, even furniture. During normal weeks, the market is open on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 7 am to 4 pm. It is better to ask the townspeople about its exact location and opening hours. It should be borne in mind that it is better to shop at the flea market from the early morning until the merchants have sold out the most interesting specimens.
Enjoy mulled wine
On Christmas Day, a large market emerges in front of Strasbourg Cathedral. In numerous shops, travelers are treated to food and drink, and gifts are sold. The spicy aroma of mulled wine is in the air, attracting the attention of tourists. Translated from German mulled wine means "hot wine". The drink contains aromatic herbs, cinnamon, and fruits. A glass of mulled wine will invigorate and warm you on cold evenings. Depending on the place of sale and the composition of the spices, one serving of the drink can cost about two euros or more.
Listen to a concert at the Cathedral
During Christmas, many concerts are held in various places in the city. The most grandiose and solemn one takes place within the walls of the Cathedral. The lucky ones who get on it will have a story to tell upon their arrival home.
Which program should you choose?
To celebrate Christmas, the city publishes free pocket-size magazines, which contain full information about all the events. The schedule for each day indicates the place and time of the performance. Visiting the city on holidays, you will receive an incredible charge of cheerfulness and optimism. Everything around is filled with a feeling of festive glee. The shining lights of Christmas Strasbourg will give every traveler a piece of warmth and expectation of a miracle. A fairy tale in Strasbourg, by the way, is not at all limited to Christmas ― it is here all year round! This city is full of stories and secrets that you should definitely discover. Do you want to learn about the secret world under the cathedral, look into the 800-year-old pharmacy and find yourself on the street where the best treats are? Download the TouringBee app to explore Strasbourg up and down with an audio guide.
Paris to Strasbourg one day
If you find yourself in Paris or Alsace on Christmas days, you just need to stop by Strasbourg for at least one day. The impressions received are enough to remember the journey all your life, retelling its delightful details to relatives and friends! The high-speed train ride from Paris to Strasbourg takes just over two hours one way. The trains have a very convenient timetable, so it is imperative to take this opportunity to visit the famous European capital of Christmas. However, if you want to explore France on your own and experience all the holiday atmosphere charm of one of the most romantic countries in the world, we advise you to rent a car from GetRentacar.com. You can choose the appropriate vehicle at the best prices! There are Audi, BMW, Fiat, Mercedes, Mini Cooper, and others. Prices start at $159 per day. Use promo BLGLVSK5 to get an extra discount. If there is an opportunity to pay more attention to the festive Strasbourg, do not postpone your decision!