This past weekend I was down in Strasbourg visiting the Frenchman and … the Christmas Markets!! I think I was giddy with excitement a full week before I left. My coworker kept looking over at me saying geez Molly it’s like it’s the first time you’ve been down to Strasbourg. hehe And it was- well the first time I was going to see a real Christmas Market in the Capital of Christmas in France! I’d been to the markets in Paris on the Champs Elysees, La Defense, around Notre Dame and even to little pop-up ones- but this was different. Located close to Germany, Strasbourg has an interesting twist of two cultures especially due to the fact that the area moved back and forth between the countries so many times. As recently as the World Wars, Alsace was in Germany!
Germany = epic Christmas Markets
Strasbourg = epic Christmas Markets with a French twist
et voila- and so I listened to Christmas music solid for two weeks before in preparation.
On Sunday we visited a small town nearby called Ribeauvillé and got lost in a makeshift Medieval Christmas Market with hand-pressed cider (juiced on site!!), donkey rides for the kids, and tons of pain d’epices (gingerbread)!
Monday was the main event! And seriously perfect timing. The Frenchman and another couple that were in town visiting went by and saw them Friday night and Saturday before I got in and said it was insanity.
I went around 3:30pm on Monday right before the sun was about to go down and was pleasantly surprised by how uncrowded it was. Apparently it had been impossible to move more than lurching inches at a time on Saturday because of the herds of people.
I didn’t really know where exactly the markets would be but figured that they would be relatively easy to find. My friend Jenni had said last year you would turn a corner and just happen upon a market. So I ambled down to the ridiculously magnificent Cathedral figuring that would be a good place to start.
The stalls were fun, if a bit touristy (ok yes a lot touristy), but less so than the Champs Elysees. I saw several stalls from stores around Strasbourg that I recognized or from smaller farms or cities nearby (as seen by the addresses on the stand).
Just like my friend had said, there were little market stands around every corner and gorgeous lights strung across the streets. I picked up a Vin Chaud and texted Francois saying “Pajama work from home day” was officially over and to come join – especially because there was a makeshift protest happening right outside his apartment with people chanting “PJs another day!” Surprisingly the protest dismantled and he showed up 20 minutes later, market bag in hand for the multiple purchases that were happening.
Some of the markets were themed like “La Marche des Delices” which contained all sorts of fabulous food-stuffs from Alsatian cookies to foie gras to samples of Reisling.
A particularly interesting market was the “Off Christmas Market” aka “Marche OFF de Nöel” which was around the corner from La Petite France (the area of Strasbourg you always see in the pictures) in an out of the place area. The market was similar to the hip pop up outdoor hang out areas that had been cropping up around Paris this summer where the goal was that the area was a temporary set up with food trucks brought in, wine (of course), and places to hang out and chill. The OFF Market took this concept and rolled with it in a unique Christmas way- with red lights, and Christmas “stands” made out of train storage containers.
The Vin Chaud was killer and about a euro more than that at the more mainstream markets but SO worth it! for the better quality wine and more interesting spices. The stalls were in the hipster category: vegetarian stand with kale and beet chips, farm stand with awesome looking veg canned purees and preservatives, a recycled kitchen appliance stall in an igloo (?) (I guess in case you were looking to pick up a second-hand toaster at the Christmas market… because that happens?), homemade cute knitted things, and of course wine.
We made our way back toward the center of Paris in a hunt for more pain d’epices because I had decided I hadn’t gotten nearly enough.
A quick walk through Place Kleber ended the night in a big Christmas tree of splendor 🙂 and a stop in Galerie Lafayette for macarons from Pierre Herme 🙂 ok not a bad evening hehe
Merry Christmas 🙂