Because we had not quite OD’d on the Christmas markets surrounding us yet, we opted to see the oldest and biggest one in France. This was of course several weeks ago (the weekend before Christmas), because I tend to photograph things compulsively and then dread the moment when I need to sort them all out. Anyway. This was a nice pre-vacation before we spent Christmas in Madrid; between the two cities, my desire for these markets is now satiated.
Based on this bit that I just cut and pasted from Wikipedia (what am I, a fucking professor?), Strasbourg is “the capital and principal city of the Alsace region in eastern France and is the official seat of the European Parliament.” The region has vacillated between Germany and France for a few centuries (which I did actually remember from school), and thus has a healthy dose of the cultures of both. The architecture alternates between the two, making this city on the Ill (an unfortunately named tributary of the Rhine) quite beautiful any time of the year. You’ll miss out on the Christmas markets if you go in the Spring or Summer, but you also won’t freeze your tits off. I’ve heard that the Spiderman and Barbie balloons (see above) are available year round. So don’t despair, if you want that bit of local flavor.
Let’s get the photos of the Cathedrale de Strasbourg out of the way first. It was right there–unavoidable–in the middle of one of the markets, and it does look rather spectacular. Besides, it’s nice to be reminded that the Church at least made some pretty buildings with all the money and land they raped from the local populations over the centuries. Marvel at the beauty and the creepy Jesus imagery.
Next, I would like to share some photos of the Christmas markets. There was Gluhwein, gromperekablahblah, and sausages (which I only eat in the figurative sense). There were locally made wares of all kinds, as well as some crap that was likely made in China. The markets really are lovely, but we’ve OD’d on them, and that’s why I’m being slightly bitchy and sarcastic about it. We had a lot more fun exploring the city away from the Christmas markets. But they were still lovely. I swear. Just look at these photos; they’re quite convincing.
The highlight of the trip for both of us was the Rohan Palace; it was built between 1731and 1742, and its guests included Louis XV, Marie Antoinette, Napoleon and Josephine, etc. It currently houses three museums: the Archaeological Museum, the Museum of Decorative Arts, and the Museum of Fine Arts. All three have stunning collections, so I would recommend buying tickets for the whole thing.
Because I sometimes insist on defiantly speaking French here despite still being fairly terrible at it, I accidentally ordered a three day pass for the museums, instead of a single day pass for all three. So multiple day passes are available, but I’m not sure they’re necessary as all three museums can be fully explored over 2-3 hours.
Finally, here is what one might see on a stroll around town. The weather was all witch titties in brass bras, but it was still well worth it. Petit France is a can’t miss area, and there were some nice non-Christmas market shops all over the place. Old Town is also loaded with Indian, Thai, and Middle Eastern restaurants, so I was in vegetarian heaven. My final slideshow of the excursion.