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The Christmas Markets in 2 days: Heritage, crafts – and plenty to eat and drink!
Start your tour of Strasbourg in one of the city’s most iconic quarters – Petite France, a picture-postcard scene complete with canals, locks and half-timbered houses. At the Market of the Magi (Marché des Rois Mages) at Place Benjamin-Zix, you’ll find chalets selling local crafts, as well as pain d'épices (spiced bread) and Christmas beer. A few streets over stands Place des Meuniers, which houses the Alsace farmers’ market, where producers serve up the best local produce such as spirits, nougat, mushrooms, honey and compote.
Next, head along the Grand’Rue until you reach Place Gutenberg, where you’ll find this year’s guest-country village. For 2017, Iceland takes centre stage, following in the footsteps of Portugal and Belgium in previous years. Icelandic stall-holders will be on hand throughout the Christmas Markets period, sharing their culture, crafts and traditional dishes with visitors. It’s the ideal place to stop off for a lunch with a difference.
Amble among the wooden chalets at Place de la Cathédrale and Place du Château, where you’ll find plenty of gift ideas. Why not bag yourself a wooden toy to place under the tree? After a brief walk, you’ll find yourself at the Alsace Christmas food market at Place du Marché-aux-Poissons and the Palais Rohan terrace, where you can sample bredele cakes from the Alsace bakers’ federation and hot wine made from Tribu des Gourmets Alsatian white wine.
If a full day’s walking has left you feeling tired, then hop aboard a river shuttle and admire Strasbourg and its imposing European Union buildings from the water as night falls.
Neustadt (New Town) is an unmissable part of the city, and a recent addition to the UNESCO World Heritage list. Built by the Germans during the Reichsland period (1871-1918), it includes Place de la République (surrounded by the university library), the Palais du Rhin (the former imperial palace), and the National Theatre of Strasbourg. Continue your walk towards the famous Christkindelsmärik at Place Broglie, where you’ll find fair lights, crib figures, baubles and the inviting scent of hot wine. Little ones can also have their photo taken with Father Christmas – the real one of course! And now is a good time to sample a traditional baguette flambée, if you haven’t already.
From Place Broglie, head into the famous Carré d’Or quarter, once home to the city’s goldsmiths, with its stunningly decorated and illuminated shop-lined streets. For fans of local cuisine, Place du Temple-Neuf is a real treat – truffée d’Alsace (truffle sausage, or “knack”), craft beer, pastries and Alsatian whisky. Round off your day at the majestic Place Kléber, where you’ll find the city’s Christmas Tree. The Village of Sharing (Village du Partage) is home to 85 charities and humanitarian organisations, including Médecins du Monde, the Red Cross and Humanis. Head over to the Humanis stand to sample a soup made by a local Michelin-starred chef to support the charity’s work.