HI Hostels Blog

Alsace: For a border-free stay in the heart of Europe

Ah, Alsace! It is usually known for the beauty of its half-timbered houses, its renowned gastronomy and its famous Christmas markets. However, it is also a cultural crossroads in the heart of Europe. It links France, Switzerland and Germany through an incredible diversity of landscapes where, flanked by mountains and the banks of the Rhine, open-air activities abound.

Strasbourg, the beating heart of Europe…


Like New York and Geneva, Strasbourg is the headquarters of international institutions (the European Parliament and Council of Europe, among others, are based there) despite the fact that it is not the state capital. A visit to the city centre, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a must. Strasbourg is also an ideal starting point for excursions across the Rhine, to châteaux nestling in the heart of vineyards, villages perching on the mountainside between lakes and forests, and other delights. Visitors can then stay in Strasbourg Deux Rives Youth Hostel. On the agenda: peace and quiet, leafy surroundings and biculturalism!

Saverne, at the foot of the Ballons des Vosges


Saverne, a historical city with a turbulent past, is also an ideal base for excursions into the heart of an exceptional natural environment. In particular, the Northern Vosges Regional Nature Park, listed as a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO, will satisfy all those wishing to get drunk on fresh air! As for the Saverne Youth Hostel, guess where it is: inside the Château des Rohan itself, with its monumental façade of pink sandstone towering proudly. This is a unique opportunity to live like kings in an unforgettable setting!

Christmas markets: visit the East of France in a magical setting!

Alsace is full of treasures but it is at Christmas time that it is decked out in all its finery. Take advantage of the Christmas holidays to visit the East of France and enjoy a magical experience. In December, towns and villages are decorated in red and white and glisten with thousands of lights. Colmar, Thann, Haguenau, Sélestat, Saint-Louis, Riquewihr, Obernai and Struth (the venue for the smallest Christmas market in Alsace) in particular vie together with Strasbourg to dazzle visitors with their enchantments.

In the capital of Alsace, the magic is at its peak. December in Strasbourg is above all a huge Christmas market! There is a unique atmosphere, particularly towards the end of the afternoon. As night falls, the sun disappears, yet everything starts to shine. Shop windows are lit up, decorations embellish the facades of the buildings, the aromas of spices and cinnamon tickle the nostrils, and Christmas carols fill the church choirs. The Christmas market takes over several roads and squares in the city centre, in particular Place Broglie and Place de la Cathédrale. Shopkeepers and market sellers in their hundreds sell decorations for cribs and Christmas trees, as well as presents and sweetmeats, fritters, vin chaud, and so on.

Now you know, if you want to experience the magic of Christmas in full, visit the East of France.

©CRT/B. Naegelen, CRTA/Hamm

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