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Trip Report Christmas in Strasbourg: Jamikins and Bikerscott Celebrate the Festive Season in France

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After having so much fun in Bruges last year at Christmas, we decided to go to another festively decorated town for our annual trip – this year was the self-declared Capital City of Christmas, Strasbourg France.

We post and read regularly, but we are 2 30 somethings (early 30 something ehm) from Vancouver Canada living in London. We love good food and travelling new places. Our budget is fairly modest (try to keep to no more than 100 GBP a night). This trip was 3 nights and 4 days.

We flew out of London City Airport, which is so much more convenient than any of the other London airports – just a few stops on the DLR. It’s actually a pretty small airport and mainly services the financial/business district of Canary Wharf, so there aren’t any queues and as they generally don’t have to deal with many tourists, the staff are all fairly pleasant.

The flight was uneventful, except that Air France provides snacks and drinks free of charge – it’s been a while since we’ve had that! Scott managed to stick to script and fell asleep almost immediately and thus found the flight impressively short.

We arrived at Strasbourg airport, and despite some initial confusion with the bags we made our way to the little train platform for our shuttle train to the city. Another city tram and a short walk through Christmas crowds from actual hell we found our hotel (Cardinal Rohan right across the street more or less from the massively lopsided Cathedral (it only has one tower, but looks as if it should have two). Lovely cathedral...but does anyone know why they didnt put up a 2nd tower??

We dropped our bags in our tiny but affordable room (only 75 euros) and headed back out into the crowds.

One of the problems, as we discovered, with the whole “going to a festive Christmas-y” type place at Christmas is that everyone else has the same idea. There were a LOT of people in Strasbourg – mostly French and Germans from what we could tell – very few English-speakers around at all.

We had our requisite over-price cup of Gluhwein (hot spiced wine – very tasty on a cold winters day) and found the place that Jamie wanted to have lunch – La Cloche du Fromage (the cheese bell, should have been called “Holy Crap, That’s A Lot Of Cheese”).

Jamie ordered the cheese fondue, and I had the cheese plate. Her fondue arrived and it was enough to feed a small army (unless, apparently it was an Alsatian army – damn those people eat a lot), and mine was even bigger. I’d read on the menu that it was 15 cheeses but what that meant didn’t really sink in until the plate arrived. 15 pieces of cheese a LOT of cheese, I can tell you.

We were given our instructions by a very harsh-sounding Germanic looking French waitress and were a bit scared. Jamie got yelled at (with humour) for stirring her fondue while I was getting my descriptions. The French in Alsace are an odd group – they’ve switched back and forth between Germany and France so often that they’re sort of a mix of both. Even the language is different – not quite German, but certainly not entirely French either.

We didn’t even come close to finishing everything on our plates but nevertheless ate until we were slightly (and by slightly I mean severely) sick. We rolled out of the restaurant and wandered around a bit, trying to work off lunch. It didn’t work. We had some wine and some coffee but didn’t eat anything else for the rest of the day. Lunch was that big. I mean honestly, who needs that much cheese?!? (Ok, we do!!! YUM!!!)

The Christmas Markets in Strasbourg are really impressive. They have about a dozen scattered around central Strasbourg, ranging in size from just a half dozen or so stalls to the largest which covers an entire square. The booths sell everything from crap bulk Christmas tree decorations to gluhwein to candy and pastries to beautiful handmade crafts. Every street in the centre of town is strung with lights, every window has some sort of decorations, and all the restaurants have special Christmas menus. Strasbourg definitely puts London to shame in terms of sheer festive excess for the holidays.

Day 2 and pictures to come...

HAPPY NEW YEAR everyone!

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