Now as promised to start the recap of our caravan trip to Rome and back last fall. Logically I should lead by giving you an overall view of the route we took on this adventure and some itinerary notes. Which I will do at some point, but right now I just want to share with you the beauty of Strasbourg, France!
After our journey to Saverne, France and setting up the caravan our first tourist outing was to take the train from Saverne to Strasbourg for the day. Above is the modern looking train station at Strasbourg. But all is not as it seems as you can see by the second photo that it is a facade in front of the original train station beneath. Which I thought was a genius way to blend the new with the old while enlarging the area. From what I have read about Strasbourg this is representative of the overall city, going forward with modern ideas and yet staying respectful to the past.
The historic past is where we were headed. A short walk from the train station and crossing over the river Ill you reach Petit France and the island bordered by the river and canals that has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage sight. One way of seeing the area is by canal boat as this group is doing in the photo below.
We began our walking tour at the Ponts Couverts (covered bridges) where three bridges connect between the four medieval watchtowers. Originally the bridges had wooden roofs or covers, and even though they were removed in 1784, the name remains. You can see the spire of the Cathedral Notre-Dame in the distance.
A closer look near one of the towers built in the 13th century and classified as a Monument historique since 1928.
I have heard that this area is beautiful at night with the ambiance of the lights along the inner narrow streets, or that it was amazing at Christmas time with the markets, and festivities. But for me it would be hard to beat seeing it as we did when the flowers were in full bloom. This was the second week of September and I was just completely in awe of the surroundings.
In many towns and villages of France and across Europe you see the bridges lined with blooming flower boxes. Just stunning.
I don’t know how many times I said, “Wow, this is better than any postcard I have ever seen.”
As Strasbourg is in the Alsace region, which borders Germany, you will see an influence and blend of both cultures. Baeckeoffe is a dish typical of the region, which means “baker’s oven.” There are different versions of how it started but it is a slow cooked dish of potatoes, meats and spices. One version of the story is that the women of the region would drop off the dish at the bakers on Monday morning while they were busy doing laundry and then pick the dish up again in the evening.
A view from a bridge further along. Many of the buildings in this area were originally used as tanneries and mills during the Middle Ages. I would refer to it now as half timbered heaven.
We wandered into a little square where there was a small food market set up. For the reasonable price of 6 Euros we chose a fresh baked tarte flambé just out of the wood burning oven. This is another dish typical of the Alsace region, with a thinly rolled out dough base, which is covered with various versions of a cream layer, and then topped with onion and ham. Delicious.
Cute dolls dressed in a costume of the Alsace area and on the edge of the windows you see the dishes displayed like those used for baking the Baeckeoffe. Many of the gift shops had a wide variety of the ceramic ware in bright colours and often in hand painted patterns.
The rose stained glass window and the tower with intricate carving in the sandstone of the Cathedrale Notre Dame. Inside the cathedral is an astronomical clock which chimes with figures at 12:31 pm. (If you want to see it in action you need to get a ticket.)
The massive door and ironwork of the cathedral.
On a corner of the cathedral square is the famous and well preserved Maison Kammerzell, which is now a hotel and restaurant.
In another section of Petit France across the open square is the Maison de Tanneurs which is a restaurant serving local dishes in a former tannery dating from 1572.
Back to the bridge where we started and another wonderful setting along the canal.
In the afternoon light one last view of what has just been a brief tour of all that Strasbourg has to offer. Alsace it now, and I Alsace it again, go to Strasbourg, you won’t be disappointed!