12-23-15 STRASBOURG, FRANCE: Judy and I left EWR with granddaughter Maggie on Tuesday bound for CDG in Paris. Once we got there we bumbled around and found the train station where we caught the TGV for Strasbourg. There was a layover of a couple hours so we breakfasted at the airport Sheraton.
The train was crowded, but we eventually found our assigned seats. The ride was very smooth, no clickety-clack at all, just gliding along, no ups or downs, watching the countryside slide past, when not napping.
The countryside is beautiful. It’s gently rolling with small hills and shallow valleys, meandering streams and a few canals, and scattered villages. All the buildings are brownish stucco, and each village has a stone steeple with a tile roof in the center of town. The fields, most of the land is planted with something green and short, are bordered with stands of leafless deciduous trees. We saw a few cattle and sheep, occasional deer and one egret-like bird. A few of the trees have balls of something on the branches, but I couldn’t tell if they were nests or parasitic growths.
After a few stations, we got to Strasbourg and taxied to our hotel, the Cour du Corbeau, a modern hotel stitched into a couple of sixteenth century buildings. Old weathered and worn exterior walls are now interior walls. Maggie crashed, but Judy and I walked around the old city. Strasbourg calls itself ‘The Capital of Noël’ and truly capitalizes on Christmas. Scattered around the old city are a dozen Marchés de Noël, Christmas markets with bunches of stalls selling clothes, chotskies, food, jewelry, ceramics, crafts, vin chaud all like a giant, Norwich, VT farmers market. The old city is actually a big island in the river L’Ill.
The architecture has lots of half-timbered buildings and lots of smart looking official buildings, maybe 18th century, with statuary and flourishes. We happened onto a courtyard with a big stone church that we assumed was the cathedral until we found the cathedral, which dwarfed that church in size and ornateness. The central square, Place Kléber, has a huge tree. Around General Kléber’s statue is a memorial for the Paris terrorist murders. The streets are strung with Xmas lights and stars, gingerbread men, bells and angels.
Exterior timbering and lots of little dormers, newer buildings to the left.
Big tree in Place Kléber.
Hat stall, but the mistress isn't wearing a hat.
Shops are decorated above the display windows with seasonal stuff.
Entry to our hotel.
Cour du Corbeau lobby.
Cathedral spire and floating angels.
The cathedral at the end of the street.
Back at the hotel after our walk, we found Val, Steve and Lucy. Lucy, Maggie's sister, is doing her junior year of high school in France, and we were impressed with her French.
After naps, we had dinner at La Corde à Linge, a re-purposed clothing manufacturer, with sewing machines still on the premises. The French do so much with food, it is hard to believe how good things taste. After dinner, we all staggered out to walk some of it off and see the town at night with all the lights on. Then, finally, to bed to recover from the jet lag.
'Capitol' of Xmas in more than one sense.
Big tree at night.
La fenêtre blanche.
Angels fly at night, too.