This weekend we rented a car and spent Saturday in Strasbourg, France. Strasbourg is on the border of France and Germany and throughout it’s history has been a part of each country several different times. Although currently a French city, it is clearly German in heritage…the name, the language, the architecture. One of our goals for the day was to walk into Germany across a pedestrian/bicycle bridge which we did. Unfortunately the bridge was much further from the part of the city we were in so the three mile walk to Germany was unexpected. But, regardless, I’m adding Germany to my list of countries visited this year! Who cares that we were only there for 10 minutes?
We were out the door very early but I had a warm loaf of cinnamon/cream cheese bread from the Paris Bread Co. on my lap and that kept us content for the long drive.
Strasbourg is home of Europe’s oldest Christmas market. Now, I don’t know if that’s really true but it dates back to 1570 and I haven’t read of any that occurred prior. Strasbourg is also home to the largest living Christmas tree and we saw that, too. Very pretty and there was a choir singing while we were in the plaza with the tree, so that was a treat.
It was a chilly day but we attempted to keep warm with hot apple cider and chaud vin (hot wine). The food has a distinctive German flair…pretzels (I’m sorry…bretzels) were all over the place but they had a tough competitor in very large beignets. We ate both. And there was lots of gingerbread. I have a loaf in my refrigerator here and a nice bag of iced gingerbread cookies we nibbled on while we decorated the tree last night.
There are 12 Christmas markets in Strasbourg. The main market, but actually a smaller one, surrounds the Cathedral Notre Dame which is quite beautiful and boasts of an astronomical clock but we missed the 12:30 time when the clock puts on a little “show”. We found very funny hats at that market.
We visited three of the 12 markets and that was plenty. At a certain point they all begin to look the same. But we enjoyed looking at all the Christmas decorations for sale as well as the decorations in the streets. The buildings and alleys were quite beautiful. I can see it being a nice weekend getaway but we only had a day and we all felt we accomplished what we set out to do. We left with a large bag of beignets, gingerbread and some trinkets as keepsakes.
We are now ready to take on the Christmas markets in Paris. While not quite so famous, they are close and quite festive…some with ice rinks and others with ferris wheels. There is just too much to do in December, isn’t there?