I did a project on Strasbourg in Madame Richard’s French II class at SJA. (OK, I was totally going to link to an article in the SJA website news archive, but they’ve deleted so many of the past articles that use to come up when you searched my name. This lack of digital proof of my one legacy in life really disappoints me...) Honestly, I remember very little about that project except for the timbered houses and something about sausages. But even though my memory failed me a bit, these two things ended up contributing to why Strasbourg is probably my favorite trip so far. The group we had was great, the city was adorable, the markets were so fun and the weather even held out for us.
Strasbourg, claiming to be the “Capital of Christmas,” doesn’t host one big Christmas market but rather a handful of many tiny ones scattered throughout the city. Stand after stand selling Christmas-y things like crèche figures, ornaments, lights, decorations, etc. And surprisingly, I didn’t get tired of them, the stands didn’t repeat themselves too often in what they sold, and many of the markets centered around different little themes. But the best stands were the ones selling food and hot drinks. The perfect setting to walk through the stalls and grab a little thing here and there to eat or drink. At the markets, I ate galettes (like a crepe but for meats and cheeses), knacks (sausages!), beignets, and pretzels, but the best was the fruit on a stick, especially the clementine, I’ve eaten an average of maybe three clementines a day here since they’ve been in season, they remind me of Louisiana satsumas. At the market they put the slices on a stick and then dip them in dark chocolate. I think this just may be my new answer to the “best thing you’ve eaten” question, at least in the “on a stick” category. To drink, all the hot drinks, like warm pulpy orange juice with nutmeg and cinnamon and honey, blueberry nectar that was delicious but made me look like Violet Beauregard for like 3 hours, and the piece de resistance vin chaud (red or white hot mulled wine), with all kinds of spices that smells just as good as it tastes… very Christmas-y!
Our hostel was far out of the center of town and walking back to it Saturday night proved to be a big adventure… And since we spent most of our time at the markets, we didn’t really get a chance to see much of the town itself, so I’d definitely like to revisit it. This may be the trip for that last weekend with Joy! Oh, I almost forgot about the lights... Sadly, my camera battery died on our last night there so I don’t have too many pictures of them (not that they would come tout that well anyway, too bad there’s no “Christmas market” setting on my camera). But you can see the ones I do have here. Every street had some sort of decoration, and they had a gorgeous huge Christmas tree. (Trivia time: While googling the city, I learned that the first Christmas tree supposedly popped up in Strasbourg.) I noticed the French (maybe most Europeans?) don’t use stars are angels as tree toppers but little spear-like finial things. I kind of like them, another option in the angel vs. star debate, though I’ve always been on team star. Maybe I’ll keep my eye out for a nice one for my future Christmas trees. Something interesting that, as an old lady, I can use as a prompt to tell long-winded, repetitive stories about that one time I lived abroad...
Some of us decided that we should visit every town in the world at Christmastime just to see if Strasbourg can really claim the title as the “Capital of Christmas.” But until that happens, I think I believe them.