Are you looking for a magical winter getaway with picturesque sights and delicious smells wafting from every street corner?
Well, I’ve found it in a charming city located in the Alsace region of northeastern France. Once belonging to the German empire, Strasbourg’s culture, cuisine, and architecture are such a unique Franco-Germanic blend that the city has UNESCO World Heritage status. This breathtaking destination is ideal for all seasons, but a visit during winter should not be missed.
To be in Strasbourg during the holiday season is like being a kid in a candy shop. Every street and storefront is decked out in such an extravagant way, you would think it to be the birthplace of Kris Kringle himself.
There are several Christmas markets located throughout the city, each providing a different ambiance. The markets feature local food, vin chaud (hot wine), and beautifully handcrafted items. A few must try dishes include: flammekueche, a thin crispy dough topped with creme fraiche; spaetzle, a German’s version of pasta and bredele, the traditional Alsatian biscuit. Maps are provided at the information booths and are perfect for planning your route.
Off Noel was my favorite market, being less traditional you could find unique goods made by local artists, as well as cozy areas to get relief from the cold. Some highlights were the interactive photo booth, vintage clothing boutique, and giant igloo bar.
Other Off Noel activities, such as ping-pong and various Christmas craft stations were scattered around the city and fun to happen upon!
A walk around Strasbourg must include: stops along the charming canals of Petite-France, shops on Grand Rue and Strasbourg Cathedral, just to name a few. Wandering along the cobbled streets while admiring the half-timbered homes lining the canal, will make you feel as if you are lost in the middle of a fairy tale.
However, if you’re not in the mood for the stair climber, another vista can easily be reached. The Barrage Vauban is a bridge and dam with free access to views of the historic quarter. It’s located at the end of the Petite France district; head there an hour before sunset to enjoy the golden reflections on the water.
Bars & Restaurants
Being a university city, there are plenty of trendy bars and cozy restaurants to keep you hydrated and warm.
A great place to start is a dimly-lit bar called What the Fox, that provides pool tables, happy hour deals, and the famous flammekueche.
Around the corner is Le Douanier, a swanky cocktail bar boasting a creative menu, tropical decor, and comfy loungers.
Along Grand Rue, L’Artichaut is a hot spot with an extensive craft beer menu. It’s ideal for a quaint lunch, happy hour, or as a late night spot.
Three gorgeous restaurants that caught my eye while wandering are Bistrot Coco, La Hache, and Bastardo. I strongly recommend making reservations, as they were all fully booked the night we were hungry and searching. For a typical Alsatian dinner, head to Gurtlerhoft. Housed in a stone cellar with vaulted ceilings, it provides an authentic atmosphere and hearty cuisine.
Enjoy this traditional yet contemporary city in Alsace, I bet it will steal your heart as it did mine!
Until next time,