After visiting the Christmas market in Strasbourg, it's no surprise that it's designated the Capital of Christmas! Strasbourg boasts the largest and oldest Christmas market in France, dating to the 16th century. Its 13 separate markets are spread out across the Grande Île, the beating heart of the old city. Each one has its own character and all are easily walkable.
With only one day to explore, I have to admit that I didn't make it to every one of the 13, but I was able to visit the major ones and they were wonderful.
Place de la Cathédrale
The largest (and most impressive in my opinion) is at Place de la Cathédrale, the square directly in front of Notre Dame de Strasbourg, the stunningly beautiful Gothic cathedral that graces and dominates the square.
You can wander around the stalls that surround the cathedral while gazing at its soft rose-colored sandstone from the nearby Vosges mountains.
The bears and penguins of the Hotel de la Cathédrale even enjoy gazing upon it from across the square!
The view of the cathedral from rue Mercière which leads up to it was beautiful.
And looking down rue Mercière away from the cathedral...
Place du Château
Bordering the cathedral to the south is Place du Château.
The stork has been the symbol of Alsace for centuries and it was proudly displayed at Place du Château.
Around rue du Maroquin
The rue du Maroquin is a quaint street roughly leading from the cathedral to the river. The shopkeepers have gone out of their way to celebrate Christmas. It was one of my favorite areas, probably because the bears stole my heart.
Nighttime is magical on the rue du Maroquin.
Around rue des Orfèvres
Rue des Orfèvres is a narrow and picturesque street that leads from Place du Temple Neuf to the cathedral. It and the pretty rue du Chaudron just off it were full of Christmas spirit.
Everyone (including me) loved the bubbles on rue du Chaudron.
If you take the train to Strasbourg, the first market you'll likely come across is at Place Kléber. This is also the location of the Sapin de Noël, Strasbourg's official Christmas tree.
At 5:00pm every evening, there's a short sound and light show on Place Kléber which shouldn't be missed!
The different faces of the Sapin de Noël...
Place du Temple Neuf
As you make your way toward the cathedral from Place Kléber, you'll happen upon the tiny Place du Temple Neuf. The Temple Neuf is a Lutheran church and its small square has a handful of stalls.
The Christkindelsmärik is a bit out of the way, but it's the oldest in Strasbourg and well worth the few extra steps. It's filled with colorful stalls and a friendly Santa.
Blue is the theme at Place Gutenberg!
And by night...
Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Strasbourg
Strasbourg's cathedral is stunning any time of the year, but it, like the rest of the city rolls out the red carpet for Christmas.
These 14 exquisite tapestries hanging in the nave were obtained by the cathedral in the first half of the 18th century. They depict the life of Mary and are only on display during Advent and Easter.
The nativity scene ran along almost the entire south wall.
The steps leading to the main altar were decorated with candles and stars.
Just about everywhere you turn on the Grande Île, it's a feast for the eyes!
➜ Top Tips
The Strasbourg market is open from 11:00am to 8:00pm, but if you plan to go, make sure you check for the opening dates and times the year you visit.
It's possible to visit the Strasbourg market as a day trip from Paris. The high-speed TGV takes about an hour and a half from the Gare de l'Est.
Having said that, your experience will be better if you can spend two days in Strasbourg.
Book your hotel early. Not surprisingly, hotels fill up early and the closer to Christmas you get, if you can even find a room, it's pricey. I stayed in Mulhouse, about 50 minutes away by regional train for a reasonable price. Read about the Mulhouse Christmas market and the wonderful hotel I stayed in here.
Try to visit during the week if possible. It's one of the most popular markets in Europe and busy every day, but weekends are especially crowded.
Don't miss the interior of the cathedral, but check opening hours.
Take cash. Many vendors accept credit cards, but some don't.
Wear comfortable shoes, take a good camera and soak in the Christmas spirit!