For a few years now I’ve been wanting to see the Strasbourg Christmas markets- an obvious destination for me given my obsession with all things sparkly- and this year we finally got to make that happen!
Before heading south for the holidays, we left Paris on a bitterly cold Sunday morning on a high-speed train heading east. Strasbourg is really easily accessible from the French capital- only two hours by train- so doing these markets as a day trip is definitely feasible, especially if you book tickets in October when the holiday season sales are going on. I had a friend nab tickets for 25€ each way! By contrast, we paid 47€ as a last minute deal with our Carte Jeune (the SCNF youth travelcard).
Once arrived in Strasbourg, which was even colder than Paris, we walked the 10 minutes or so from the train station to our hotel, suitcase wheels clicking on the cobblestones. Fortunately, we were welcomed into a very warm lobby and an even warmer reception from the staff of the Best Western Hotel de l’Europe. Our room wasn’t ready yet, but someone had never shown up for their reservation the night before, so we were switched to a room on the first floor of the hotel (which is the second floor in the US).
After dropping our bags, we happily discovered how close the hotel was to Strasbourg’s old town, Petite France. This is the super-photographed area where all the buildings have exposed beams that you’ve probably seen in photos.
The city really doesn’t skimp on Christmas decor- it was everywhere! Unsurprising from a place that has been dubbed the “Christmas Capital”, with 7 separate Christmas markets, the first of which took place in 1570. We picked up some Alsatian wine and foie gras for my boyfriend’s parents at the gourmet market south of the cathedral, and I discovered my new cookie obsession: Maison Alsacienne de Biscuiterie. If you go to Strasbourg and don’t get some of these cookies, you’re doing it wrong. I picked up a little bag for myself and we got a box for my boyfriend’s brother’s girlfriend- though after tasting them we weren’t sure if we could keep them long enough to give them to her!
As you can see, though, it was CRAZY busy. Since we were there for a Sunday and Monday and knew Sunday would be absolute mayhem, we decided to try our luck in a smaller town that I’ve dreamed of probably more than Strasbourg: Colmar.
A quick 30 minute train ride away, Colmar is like a miniaturized version of the charming parts of Strasbourg. Unfortunately for us, that also meant just as many people squeezed into a smaller space. I’ll definitely be back to visit Colmar, but perhaps a Sunday one week before Christmas was not the best time to go!
After our little break in Colmar, getting back to the hotel in time for their complimentary apéritif was more than welcome. This is something all HappyCulture collection hotels offer, and it changes depending on the location of the hotel. Since we were in Alsace, we got to try a traditional kugelhopf, a pastry made of a soft yeast dough with raisins and almonds, and local wine (Riesling for me, Pinot Noir for him). The bar area of the hotel is really nice as well, making it a good place to thaw my frozen toes and take a little break before going on a hunt for Christmas lights.
If you turn right when coming out of the hotel, within about 50 steps you’ll find yourself in Petite France, but if you turn left, just around the corner is Place Kleber and its INSANE Christmas tree. 27 meters high! (which is 89 feet)
To kick off our second day of exploring the Strasbourg Christmas markets, we needed a solid breakfast. Thankfully, the hotel did more than deliver. Breakfast in bed for the win!
The hotel was kind enough to hold onto our bags and put our valuables in the office while we wandered the city on Monday, and we were able to warm back up in the bar before heading to the train station to catch our train to Marseille.
Definitely one of the best Christmas getaways I’ve ever had- can’t wait till next year when I can hopefully go discover a few new Christmas markets! Which ones would you recommend?
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The Glittering Unknown (and boyfriend) were welcomed to Best Western Hotel de l’Europe as guests; however, all opinions remain my own.