Kicking off the season in Strasbourg!

4 Dec

Regardless of how much you know about Europe, one thing you’ve probably heard of is their Christmas Markets. All over the continent, but especially in Germany, Austria, eastern France, Switzerland and northern Italy, cities large and small pull out all the stops when it comes to ushering in the season with their town squares and pedestrian streets turned into the most elaborate, twinkly, sparkly, fragrant Christmas awesomeness. Open air wooden stalls with intricately decorated rooftops line the way selling food, drinks and seasonal wares. You can find manger scenes, live music, carnival rides and dancing, depending on which market you’re visiting. In my opinion, it’s simply one of the BEST holiday traditions around!

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Well, the list of Christmas markets is endless. There are no less than 10 within a 20 mile radius of our house, including the main one downtown that you saw pictures of earlier in the week. Since Stuttgart is known for its markets, we knew it may be tough to beat when we decided to venture to another. Luckily, we made a good choice with Strasbourg (France), the original Christmas Market in Europe. AWESOME SAUCE.

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John and I visited Strasbourg for the first time in the spring of 2006 when our best friends, Sam and Chuck, lived there. Those were the days- none of us had kids, we only had pups, not a care in the world… 🙂 We loved everything about it- the cobblestone streets, the half timbered houses, the rivers and the bridges…It’s just a gorgeous little city. We knew we wanted to go back one day and when we found that it was not only the oldest, but considered one of the most beautiful and festive Christmas markets, we knew we’d found the perfect time- and the perfect market to share with my family.

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Strasbourg is the capital of the Alsace region of France. It sits close to the German border and therefore, is a marriage of both French and German cultures. It’s evident everywhere you look- architecture, cuisine, language…It’s just lovely. In fact, many historians consider the city to be a shining example of different cultures living together peacefully, in harmony, prospering from one another. It’s no surprise that the European Union Parliament is seated there.

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It’s probably the prettiest city I’ve ever seen decorated for Christmas and I’ve been to NYC and Paris! Seriously, you’ve never seen so many lights, so many elaborate window displays and roof tops, so many Christmas trees and ornaments…Oh my goodness, there just aren’t pictures to do it justice. And I hate to even think about the work- and expense!- that had to go into it!

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The historic city center, the Grand Ile (yes, it’s an island), was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988, the first entire city center to get such a distinction.

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St. John’s Church

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Look closely at the corner of that building. It looks like a bullet lodged in the concrete. Yep, that’s an unexploded bomb from WWII that still resides where it landed.

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We took this boat tour around the city…Learned a ton!

Aside from the markets, the city’s other claim to fame is its famous Strasbourg Notre Dame Cathedral, built in 1040 and still fully operational today as a Roman Catholic cathedral. Until 1864, it was the tallest building in the world- today, it’s the sixth tallest church in the world and the tallest structure built entirely in the middle ages. WOW. It’s also considered to be one of the best examples of Gothic architecture in the world. I believe it. I’ve been to many a gorgeous cathedral in my day- including some doozies in Rome itself- but I still count this one among the most breathtaking. The stained glass alone is just exquisite.

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What a beautiful backdrop for a Christmas market, right?!

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We sure did have a lovely time in Strasbourg. Really can’t say enough good things about the city or its markets! Definitely the perfect way to usher in the season! Oh, and here’s how we gauge a day’s success:

 

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Back to the room to take a bath, followed by some playtime, of course.

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But in less than 10 minutes…

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Life sure is good and my heart sure is full these days. Happy Weekend!

One Response to “Kicking off the season in Strasbourg!”

  1. Eleanor December 4, 2015 at 7:47 PM #

    Beautiful pictures! Great Blog! Thank you for sharing your experiences with your family and friends. Tell Miss Neve, that Santa is waiting for her list! Ha! I think she will be a model! Love to you and your family!

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