Christmas in Strasbourg (& Metz)
Every December my life seems to get quite hectic, so I don’t have much time, or energy, to plan for the holidays. I don’t travel internationally because it’s too expensive, and too many delays. This year with one day notice I booked a train to Strasbourg – near the France/Germany border – to check out the Capitale de Noël (Capital of Christmas) famous for their marché de Noël – there are 11 Christmas markets in Strasbourg alone! Lucky for me, my friend Alison has been living in Strasbourg and working as a teaching assistant (the same program I did years ago, but in Paris), and she was my awesome insider guide pointing out things like the popularity of the stork in the region, the best vin chaud (mulled wine), best crêpe, best hand made ornament stand, and things I probably wouldn’t have noticed, like they also serve vin chaud blanc, because the region of Alsace is known for white wine. Alison wrote a great post herself about Christmas in Alsace, so be sure to check that out too!
The one downside in my lack of ability to plan ahead is that the price of train tickets was much higher than desired (it also is peak season). It was one of the pricier tickets I’ve paid to go a mere 2 hours from Paris, yet, still it was completely worth it. (Note: I find Capitaine Train much nicer to use to buy train tickets than SNCF). I also would have saved a bit of money had I not missed my return train because I went to the wrong train station (the trains to Paris leave out of “Gare Centrale” not “Gare Strasbourg” as I mistakenly looked up on my Google map — the ticket just says Strasbourg). On my train to Strasbourg it was slightly cheaper to change trains in Metz. I had never been, so I thought the ~1.5 hour layover would be a good excuse to scope out the city. The Pompidou–Metz is in easy walking distance of the train station, however, it did not open until 11am, and my train left around 11:20. So instead I explored the old city and happened upon their holiday market, which was delightful. I definitely will go back. In fact, I think Metz will be more appealing in years to come because it doesn’t have quite the hype of the Strasbourg Christmas markets as a tourist destination.
Christmas market in Metz. 11am before crowds (but generally much calmer than Strasbourg).
Overall, I was away from Paris for less than 24 hours, but my “day trip” (I did stay the night, but left very early the following day) was exactly what I needed to get in the festive mood from decorations to lights and vin chaud. Also, both Metz and Strasbourg had far superior Christmas markets than Paris, which even tourists have told me they’ve been disappointed by during their visits. For more about Christmas in Paris, see this post. Maybe next year I’ll try to venture to an even smaller city – I think the less publicized markets are probably the best!
More after the jump!
Alison, my guide in Strasbourg!
There are a million more pictures I could have posted, and the sunset alone was amazing. Hopefully this is just enough of a taste to encourage you to plan your own trip!
Follow me @pretavoyager on Instagram + Twitter + Medium! I teach MAPS, InDesign, and Redesign Your Résumé on Skillshare, and give Paris tours through Vayable!