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Strasbourg Christmas Market Blends Traditions & Modern Customs
The spices and cinnamon may not have appeared in force yet, but wherever you are, Christmas is now an inescapable presence. In the UK, the decorations are already in full-swing in many places, while over in France, people are becoming excited about the impending Christmas markets that see scores of people descend every year.
A long-adored aspect of French winter living, Strasbourg will host its Christmas market – Christkindelsmärik as per the local dialect, and Marché de Noël in French – between 30th November and 31st December 2013. And, considering the city's ancient allure what could be a better place? Strasbourg, featuring Place Broglie is home to the oldest festive market in the land. The city has hosted a Christmas market for an impressive 444 years, no less.
Comprising of as many as 300 market chalets, it's not hard to see why 1.6 million visitors make the journey to Strasbourg to shop, enjoy local cuisines, marvel at Place Kleber's giant Christmas tree and go ice-skating on Place du Château. Standing over all this, of course, is Strasbourg Cathedral, complete with its astronomical clock and dominating Gothic towers.
Some cities have just one or two attractions, and this is where Strasbourg separates itself by providing a wealth of diverse goings-on. If the skating doesn't take your fancy, then a wander around the picturesque buildings and a journey to the gingerbread bakery and sweet-shops surely will. Food lovers will rejoice as ever, but in this place that goes without saying. Picked cabbages (choucroute) will be one favourite on the menu, and three-meat baeckeoffe stew is bound to be another – that's aside from all the wine and beer which is a worthy factor on its own.
This year, Strasbourg will welcome, as ever, a host of musical acts. Not limited to the market and Cathedral area, the entire city will thrive with music, making it an ideal destination for both a dash of Christmas shopping and sight-seeing before 2014 kicks-in with a bang.
If you're going by train, it should take you around 3 hours from Zürich, with a quick change in Basel where you'll cross French territory. Once you're at Strasbourg's main train station, known as the Gare Central, you'll be able to walk to the Cathedral in just fifteen minutes, or take a taxi to get there in a flash.