When you arrive at a picturesque French town at Christmas time, the first thing you’ll notice is the baffling array of different scents wafting from seemingly endless varieties of stalls, leaving you overwhelmed when deciding what to eat at French Christmas markets.
Whether you’re on a Christmas market break in Strasbourg, in Reims, or in Champagne, you can be certain that there is no end of wonderful local produce and unique Christmas specialties on offer at the little wooden chalets packed into a snowy square.
And as we’re just starting the run-up to Christmas, we thought this would be a good time to tell you what to eat at French Christmas markets in these very cities that we run Christmas market breaks too, so that you don’t miss out on any local specialties we would describe as unmissable.
Christmas Market Food in Strasbourg
Strasbourg sits in the heart of the Alsace region, just a stone’s throw to the border with Germany. For this reason, you’ll notice a distinct German twist to all the food you find in a Christmas market in Strasbourg.
At one of the oldest Christmas markets in Europe, you’ll find the locals putting on a spread of German-French cuisine you won’t find anywhere else in the world, making Strasbourg an incredible, unique destination for a Christmas market break.
As well as the locals’ passion for Christmas market food, it’s this hybrid cuisine that draws visitors from all over the world, thanks to treats like these.
This absolute staple of Alsatian cuisine should be your first stop when you’re looking for what to eat at a French Christmas market in Strasbourg. Essentially the French answer to pizza, a Tarte Flambée differs from the legendary Italian cousin by being crispier, and generally thinner, as well as being far less popular around the world – not that we can see why.
It’s made by topping thin, pizza-like dough with crème fraiche, bacon lardons, Emmental cheese and onions, before being baked into a delicious, crisp, and flavoursome Alsatian snack you’ll find irresistible.
A result of the German influence just over the border, don’t adjust your set, a bretzel is not a typo, but a classic example of the Alsatian cuisine found when you’re wandering the Christmas market at Strasbourg, wondering what to eat.
Essentially, a bretzel is what you might know as a pretzel, a soft, knotted bread-like dough snack, sold in their thousands in the Alsace region at Christmas. Topped with cheese or butter and served hot, they’re the perfect snack for strolling through the snow and Christmas lights.
This French spiced bread is a traditional food that dates back over 350 years, to the very region that Strasbourg sits in. Made with rye flour, honey, and spices such as cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon, this sweet loaf has all the tastes and scents of Christmas, and is quintessential to the region.
You’ll find it at any number of boulangeries and Christmas market stalls in Strasbourg, and in our eyes, if you miss out on this comforting snack, you’re missing out on a piece of true Alsatian heritage and Christmas cuisine.
Another dish that belies the German influence on what to eat at this particular French Christmas market, Choucroute garnie finds its roots in the 17th century, and is a very much Alsatian way of cooking the eastern European and German ingredient of sauerkraut.
To create the warming, homely dish, the sauerkraut or cabbage is cooked in white wine, most often Riesling, along with traditional sausages, charcuterie and other salted meats. Trust us when we say you’ll be able to smell this succulent dish from a mile off, and it forms the perfect partnership with…
We all know what a Christmas treat mulled red wine is. Hot red wine with cloves, star anise, cinnamon, and many other variations of spice create a scent and a taste absolutely synonymous with Christmas, and a cup as you wander a beautifully lit, crisp, cold Christmas market can hardly be beaten.
But when you’re in Strasbourg, it’s well worth branching out to something you won’t find in as many places around Europe. Mulled white wine is generally made with dry white wines and similar spices, and the scent of a mulled cider with a big dish of Choucroute garnie? Perfection.