I'm an American expat, writer. photographer. and old-fashioned romantic in love with celebrating the simple joys of daily life. I appreciate timelessness, the natural world, and a slow life lived with simplicity and intention. When I'm not photographing families or  slowly traveling the world and writing about it in a little notebook, I'm happily grounding myself in nature and cozying up with my sweet husband.

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Strasbourg: The Most Magical Place to Spend Christmas

The Christmas chalets are rolling down their wooden covers. The last droplets of the hot mulled wine (vin chaud) being served.

The stinky, warm cheeses are finished, the foie gras run out and the last of the bredele boxes sold.

Christmas in Strasbourg – Europe’s “Capitale de Noël” over and past, but the twinkle lights and golden star lanterns still hang brightly in the dark sky and the violinists still play outside of the Notre Dame cathedral. My photography studio has one last Strasbourg engagement proposal on the books, after a very busy Christmas engagement season in Alsace this year, and I will be spending the remaining cold months escaping into novels, meditation and creative writing. 

The glittering Strasbourg Christmas tree will stand tall and gallant until the 22nd of January – thank God, Strasbourg in the grey and gloomy winter will be miserable without its shine – and “Strasbourg Mon Amor” events will begin shortly thereafter.

It is these reasons why I love Strasbourg so much: the care and importance placed on community and city-held events.

The city caters to its residents and encourages people to come together to celebrate the seasons of the year.

With the summer comes music festivals and all-night dancing in the streets. With winter comes the famous Christmas market and Valentine events.   While the taxes are high, the environment is always clean and pleasant. The parks perfectly manicured, the library’s books well-stocked and maintained and the silent tram gliding peacefully along the grassy streets – with automatic sprinklers running periodically to hydrate it. Not to mention, the medical coverage comforting for all!

Another Christmas is gone, and I can only hope, only dream, that we’ll still be here one year from now to experience it again.

Christmas in Strasbourg

Our Dream to Stay Long-Term in France

Alex and I dream of staying here, of continuing our pleasurable lives in little Alsace for another year or two.

In 2019, we found community, friends, and daily routines that we love. We discovered our local fields and biking trails, we formed connections with colleagues and groups of fellow expatriates. In 2019, I collaborated with the local senior center homes in Strasbourg and begun my first round of exhibits. Later, in 2020, I am photographing portraits of the residents in those centers – thanks to the connections I’ve formed this year living abroad in Strasbourg. 

It took a full year to build this foundation, to form this network of community, of flow and abundance – financially, socially, and career-wise. The idea of moving again, of leaving all that we have built together in this time, feels wrong. Of all the places I’ve lived in my short 25 years of life thus far – NYC, San Diego, Washington D.C. – Strasbourg feels most like home. Strasbourg feels most right in our hearts. 

May our prayers and wishes be granted, may we experience the magic of Christmas here in Alsace again next year. Cheers to a wonderful 2019!

Helena Woods at Christmas market in Strasbourg France

Kleber Square Christmas Tree in Strasbourg, France

american expat in Strasbourg France Christmas market

Strasbourg France Christmas Market – 2019 Vlog

If you’re curious to see the Strasbourg Christmas market in video form, where we take you around the Strasbourg marches and show you our favorite treats, Christmas chalets and views of our city, click here – or watch video below – , as well as here for last year’s vlog.

Strasbourg Christmas Market – 2018 Vlog

Thoughts on Our Second Christmas in Strasbourg France

December 29, 2019

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I'm Helena! As a creative storyteller, I document magical, emotionally honest family and children's portraiture. A lover of childhood, fairytales and natural light, I photograph families across the world. I'm the ultimate Disney nerd, and I'm obsessed with cats and expressing my love for the simple joys of slow, daily life.

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Helena Woods is a destination newborn and family photographer based in France and New England and travels worldwide. She is known for her natural light, modern classic, and emotive photography style.

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