A mix of French and German culture makes Strasbourg one of the most interesting towns to visit in France. Located near the German border, the region has a strong identity and traditions built on both country’s customs. It’s also home to some of the prettiest Christmas markets in France! Check out the city’s highlights, in our guide to Strasbourg.
Our Guide to Strasbourg
Where to stay in Strasbourg
There are lots of different options around the city for fabulous hotels. We prefer staying close to the center where there’s lots to see and do and it’s easy to get around on foot.
One of our favorites is Haras Hotel. This 18th-century property was the former Royal breeding stables. In 2005, the horses were removed and the building was transformed into a sophisticated hotel and brasserie. Completed in 2013, the 4-star hotel is exquisitely designed and boasts a brilliant brasserie. It is located in a quiet neighborhood, behind high stone walls, and just a 15-minute walk from the center.
23 Rue des Glacières
Where to eat in Strasbourg
Strasbourg is famed for its distinctly regional cuisine, that is a mix of French and German influence. Our Strasbourg guide must visit is Aux Armes de Strasbourg.
Just around the corner from the Cathedral, this restaurant serves delicious classic Alsatian fare. Try choucroute, a hearty and delicious regional dish of sauerkraut cooked with bacon and topped with sausages. Expect red-checkered tablecloths, fantastic service, and a good mix of locals and tourists. Get there early (midday) or book – the restaurant fills up quickly.
Aux Armes de Strasbourg
9 Place Gutenberg
Alsatian pastries to try
No guide to Strasbourg is complete without a run down of the best pastries you have to try. There are several fabulous pastry shops in the city. The top three that locals prefer: Patisserie Christian, Thierry Mulhaupt, and Helterle. Be sure to check out the tea room at Patisserie Christian’s two beautiful locations.
Try a kugelhopf, brioche bread dotted with raisins and often rolled in sugar. The classic kugelhopf shape is rather unique. Legend has it that the recipe was found in Marie-Antoinette’s clothes, left in the Alsatian countryside as she crossed the border from Austria into France and changed into her royal French dress. Our favorite in Strasbourg is at Thierry Mulhaupt (18 Rue du Vieux-Marché-aux-Poissons).
Alsace is famous for its Christmas cookies, called bredele (above), which means “little bread” in the regional dialect. You’ll see them in varying shapes and flavors on the Christmas market stalls and in shops around town starting at the end of November. They also exist as a savory biscuit.
What to do in Strasbourg
La Petite France is an area in Strasbourg known for its highly photographed colorful Alsatian buildings and narrow winding streets. We’d recommend wandering and getting lost for a bit here. Stop for a chocolat chaud, and do some more wandering.
Strasbourg Christmas Markets
From November 22 to December 30, Strasbourg hosts some of the best Christmas markets you’ll find in France. There isn’t just one but several spread across the town in squares and down long boulevards.
Allow yourself several hours, or even a long weekend to fully experience the markets here.
Our best advice, go early in the day and just wander. The stands open around 11 a.m and are fairly crowd-free until the sun sets. Visiting mid afternoon allows for a different perspective and certainly less worry that your glühwein or mulled wine will be jostled by a fellow market goer.
The markets are often set up in surprising places, so the best is to walk around and see what you find. Be sure not to miss the huge Christmas tree and ice skating rink in Place Kleber.
If you want to widen your Christmas market experience, visit nearby towns, Obernai, Kaysersberg, Colmar (above) or Barr. Germany is just a 30-minute drive from Strasbourg and the markets at Baden-Baden are certainly worth the trip.
The original version of this article appeared in the November/December 2019 issue of My French Country Home.