48 hours in Strasbourg

Buildings near Strasbourg Cathedral before Christmas
Buildings near Strasbourg Cathedral before Christmas

48 hours in Strasbourg

by Stacy Roman
Stripes Europe

As the beginning of a new year rapidly approaches, the days are often filled with last-minute shopping, crowds and the yearning to get one more quick trip in before the close of the year. Straddling the border of France and Germany in the heart of the Alsace wine region is Strasbourg. Averaging between a two- and a three-hour drive from most U.S. bases in Germany, it makes for an easy and enchanting two-day escape from the ordinary during the hurried holiday season. If you’ve got 48 hours, we’ve got the itinerary.

What to do

During December, Strasbourg draws tourists from around Europe for its “Marché de Noel,” or Christmas market. Twinkling star lights are draped between buildings, a gigantic Christmas tree dominates Kléber Place and plenty of steaming mugs of “vin chaud” are consumed while perusing wares in small wooden chalets. Even if you choose to forgo the crowds at the market, the entire city is enveloped in holiday cheer. Take a stroll through La Petite France, the well-preserved medieval quarter filled with charming half-timbered houses and buildings which feel as though you’ve stepped into the middle of a fairy tale.

If you’d rather stay warm indoors, head to one of Strasbourg’s magnificent museums. Built in the 18th century, the Palais Rohan was once the seat of nobility and clergy. Today, it serves as a museum of art and archeology. Once you’ve explored the Palais, make your way over to Strasbourg Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art. Filled with stunning pieces of art, you can find works by Kandinsky, Monet and more. If you’ve had your fill of art, head back across the river to Cathédrale Notre Dame de Strasbourg. Situated in the city center, this breathtaking cathedral is known for its impressive astronomical clock and ornate stained-glass windows; it’s well worth visiting.

Good eats

If the shopping and wandering have worked up your appetite, you’re in a fantastic spot for delicious eats. Strasbourg draws its culinary influences from its French and German heritage. From the freshly baked brioche pastries and spiced gingerbread, there is no shortage of delectable Alsatian treats. “Kugelhopf” (or Gugelhupf) is a local favorite. Baked in a special Bundt pan, this light cake is a perfect late morning or early afternoon snack. Local patisserie Au Pain de Mon Grand-père on Rue des Hallibardes is a favorite among residents.

For a more savory dish pop over to Le Clou on Rue du Chadron near Kléber Place. This quaint bistro offers traditional French, German and local Alsatian fare. Diners can find everything from escargots in garlic butter to bratwurst and sauerkraut. Or for a lighter, less expensive meal, head to one of the “tarte flambée” vendors. Consisting of a flatbread, rich creme fraiche, smoky bacon and lightly caramelized onions, you won’t leave hungry.

While you can easily spend more than two days in Strasbourg, you won’t regret a quick getaway during the holidays.

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