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The Great Christmas Tree

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Le Grand sapin et son écrin lumineux

Standing in the heart of the city, the Grand sapin, soaring 30 meters high, is the unmistakable symbol of Strasbourg, the Capital of Christmas, and revives the traditions of yesteryears. Place Kléber and the facade of the Aubette Building, transformed into an enchanted setting, sparkle with a thousand lights, instantly immersing you in the magic of Christmas.

Here, we look at the story behind the magic, giving you the facts and figures, explaining how it’s erected, and exploring its sumptuous decorations.

30 metres. That’s the minimum height of the tree. It weighs between 7 and 9 tonnes. Its trunk measures up to 120 cm in diameter. Henri-Pierre Gangloff, head of the production unit at France’s National Forestry Office (ONF), drives hundreds of miles through the forests of Alsace, Moselle and the Vosges Mountains in search of a rare gem. He starts his search in March each year.

120  man-hours. That’s how long the ONF and its tree surgeons spend getting the tree ready for its trip to Strasbourg. The first task is to cut down the vast tree to size and place it on the trailer, using two cranes – one each side of the tree – weighing 100 and 50 tonnes. The tree is affixed to the cranes before being felled to stop it toppling over. The hardest part of the process is getting it onto the trailer without causing too much damage – a painstaking task that takes a good two hours to complete. Then, each branch is carefully folded down and tied to the trunk so the tree can be transported into the city.


180 branches from other trees are hand-picked by the ONF. Between 50 and 80 of these branches are implanted onto the tree to give it a fuller appearance – a meticulous task that’s completed once the tree has been erected in Strasbourg. The ONF spends 250 man-hours on preparing the tree, which it gifts free of charge to Strasbourg City Council.

7 kilometres of twinkling fairy lights will adorn the Christmas Tree this year, along with more than 300 flashing lights, around 40 vast baubles (65 cm) featuring golden stars, and 180 illuminated angels, biscuits, candles, apples and stars.

240 illuminated cherubs, 200 twinkling bouquets and 400 gold and red baubles will be hung from the tree at Place Kléber, creating a stunning display of lights. 

Sapin Noël Strasbourg