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Strasbourg Christmas Markets

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Église Catholique Saint-Pierre Le Vieux

Église Catholique Saint-Pierre Le Vieux

We checked the hotel breakfast buffet and it was crowded and boring so we got our coats and headed out to look for breakfast. We found a nice boulangerie behind the church and each got a beignet that we ate walking back to church. We found seats and song sheets and settled in when one of the very friendly priests came down to welcome us. He spoke English and asked if we’d like the readings in English. Yes! He got them for us and we appreciated it. They also observed a moment of silence for the victims of the “fusillade” in California (terrorist attack in San Bernardino near where we used to live) and got a lecture on how we must all get along together and respect each other. Too many fusillades lately . . .

Christmas Market at Place Kleber

Christmas Market at Place Kleber


After church we walked downtown to Place Kleber which had a very small Christmas market, le Village du partagé, and a little model village under a giant Christmas tree. It is set up for all the local charities and they were selling crafts and food. Place Kleber is large and the market was small so it looked rather lost in the huge square. There was another Paris Bataclan Memorial at the foot of the Statue of Général Kléber.

*****

Christmas Market at Place du Temple Neuf

Christmas Market at Place du Temple Neuf

Christmas Market at Place du Temple Neuf

Christmas Market at Place du Temple Neuf

Christmas Market at Place du Temple Neuf

Christmas Market at Place du Temple Neuf

Christmas Market at Place du Temple Neuf

Christmas Market at Place du Temple Neuf


Took photos and walked on to Place du Temple Neuf where a tiny Christmas market, le Marché du Carré d’Or, was set up under some trees in front of the Protestant Eglise du Temple Neuf. It was small but perfect with colorful hand-crafted items, wonderful foods and lots of people. Somehow Ed talked me out of having a pretzel that early in the day. It took some effort on his part as I'm addicted to soft pretzels. The little market was wonderful with colorful scarves (another addiction), beautiful decorations and ornaments and a few food booths in front of the church. In the end, it may have been my favorite of the Christmas markets because the things were all so lovely.

*****

December flowers on the rue des Grandes Arcades

December flowers on the rue des Grandes Arcades


We walked on to Place Gutenberg passing huge round moons of flowers hung above the streets on rue des Grandes Arcades. We were surprised to see flowers blooming this late in the year and they were spectacular. At Place Gutenberg we found another small market and a blue glass tree that was not impressive . . . until we passed it much later after dark. Lit at night it was amazing! Pl. Gutenberg holds the guest market each year and this year the guest country was Luxembourg.

*****

The Strasbourg Cathedral from Place Gutenberg

The Strasbourg Cathedral from Place Gutenberg


We spotted the lone spire of the Strasbourg Cathedral and headed up the narrow, crowded rue Mercière snapping pictures. There was a market in front of the Cathedral and a million people at it. We walked past to Maison Kammerzell, the gorgeous old building (from 1427) on the corner of the square and checked their menu. It looked good and we really love the building so we decided to see if we could get seats. Amazingly, a table for two had just opened up in the Léo Schnug Room and we were seated between a Chinese couple who spoke French and two Chinese young women who spoke Chinese. The inside is stunning with ancient bottle-glass windows, arches and murals by none other than Léo Schnug. The staff was unfailingly cheerful with a melange of customers ranging from several French families, a German family, a handicapped gentleman who seemed to be a regular, the Chinese couples and us. Ed ordered the salmon and I ordered the chicken in Reisling sauce with spaetzle. It was homemade and sautéed spaetzle. We were delighted with the meals and Ed got cheesecake for dessert while I tried the crème brulée on top of raspberries. Terrific! The inside of the building has been decorated on all floors with charming frescoes by Alsatian painter Léo Schnug (1878-1933). [Maison Kammerzell, 16 Place de la Cathédrale, 67000 Strasbourg; tel: +33 (0)3 8832-4214; info@maison-kammerzell.com; http://www.maison-kammerzell.com/]
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Christmas decorations on rue Mercière

Christmas decorations on rue Mercière

The Christmas Market - Cathedral Le Marché de Noël - Cathédrale

The Christmas Market - Cathedral Le Marché de Noël - Cathédrale

The Christmas Market - Cathedral Le Marché de Noël - Cathédrale

The Christmas Market - Cathedral Le Marché de Noël - Cathédrale

*****

Steel drum player at The Christmas Market - Cathedral Le Marché de Noël

Steel drum player at The Christmas Market - Cathedral Le Marché de Noël


We waddled back out to Place de la Cathédrale in front of the church, looked at some of the chalets and listened to a steel drum player doing Christmas carols. We wandered slowly back through the Luxembourg Village de Noël, and through the Petite France markets to St. Pierre le Vieux for a Christmas concert. Mme. Aurélie Becuwe-Schalck was conducting a group from the Gaités Lyriques in the Schubert Mass in G Major and Christmas songs. Marc Baumann, organist at the Cathedral, was organist. The Mass was lovely as Schubert Masses are, but the carols were pure fun. They even did “White Christmas” or “Noël Blanc” in French . . . a first for us. It was very Christmaslike.

Evening Christmas Concert at Église Catholique Saint-Pierre Le Vieux

Evening Christmas Concert at Église Catholique Saint-Pierre Le Vieux

*****

Decorations on the rue des Meuniers

Decorations on the rue des Meuniers

Christmas Market in Petite France, Strasbourg

Christmas Market in Petite France, Strasbourg

Enjoying the Christmas Market in Strasbourg

Enjoying the Christmas Market in Strasbourg

Petite France Christmas Market, Strasbourg

Petite France Christmas Market, Strasbourg


It was now dark and we left the church and walked to Petite France to explore. It was busy but not a mass of humanity like the Cathedral square. The entire center of town was decorated and lighted and it was like walking through a fairyland. There were different Christmas markets in different places and we went through them all snapping photos. I bought a tiny candle holder with flying angels and hope I can get it home safely. We walked clear down to St. Thomas and then up toward the Cathedral and it was even more crowded. We gave up and returned to Petite France looking for bretzels and hot mulled wine in lieu of dinner. The bretzels had all disappeared so we gave up and got the wine and managed to find a bench where we could sit and enjoy it. We were nearly finished when it started to rain ever so lightly. Time to go home and catch up on bills, cat, e-mail and journal. Strasbourg is indeed the Capital of Christmas. It is purely magical here. To think it all started in 1570 . . .

Walking home along the Grand Rue

Walking home along the Grand Rue

Posted by Beausoleil 12:32 Archived in France Tagged christmas_markets Comments (1)

Strasbourg Beaux Arts and the Alsatian Folk Museum

Monday, December 7, 2015

Nativity Tableau at the Cathedral

Nativity Tableau at the Cathedral


Nativity from the Tableau at the Strasbourg Cathedral

Nativity from the Tableau at the Strasbourg Cathedral

Shepherds and Wise Men from the Tableau at the Cathedral

Shepherds and Wise Men from the Tableau at the Cathedral

Went to Le Part Thé for breakfast. Very nice apple crumble (crumble pomme). Walked on down to the Cathedral and got in line for Security, yes, Security to go into the church! They have everything under control. You get in a long line and shuffle through a clean Cathedral sans beggars. There is a tableau of the Nativity story arranged along the north wall and we were all taking pictures. Then you continue along the north wall with its newly-cleaned and repaired stained glass windows to the main altar where you turn and pass in front of the altar. The entire nave and south aisle of the church was off limits, pristine and utterly empty . . . and lovely. The church was clean, orderly and almost quiet. I’ve never liked the Cathedral in Strasbourg before because of the dirt and extremely aggressive beggars. This was a revelation and we both thoroughly enjoyed it. You are marched out past the astrological clock and I actually managed some pictures of it. www.frenchmoments.eu/strasbourg-cathedral/

Nave and organ at the Cathédrale Notre Dame de Strasbourg

Nave and organ at the Cathédrale Notre Dame de Strasbourg

Rose Window and organ at the Strasbourg Cathedral

Rose Window and organ at the Strasbourg Cathedral

Astronomical clock at the Strasbourg Cathedral

Astronomical clock at the Strasbourg Cathedral

*****


Palais de Rohan with the Beaux Arts Museum

Palais de Rohan with the Beaux Arts Museum

George Jones, View de la Place Gutenberg

George Jones, View de la Place Gutenberg


We exited facing Palais Rohan and got great views of the side of the Cathedral. Walked through the arch into the Palais to a mob of noisy school children. We followed signs up multiple flights of stairs to Beaux Arts and were informed the billet was downstairs! Always the gentleman, Ed volunteered to hike back down and get our tickets and left me perched comfortably on a bench by the window. In due time he returned with tickets and we entered. They have a very nice, though small, collection including an El Greco, Courbet, Lippi, Rubens and several Corots. [Palais Rohan, 2 Place du Château 67076 Strasbourg; tel: +33 (0)3 6898-5160] http://www.musees.strasbourg.eu/index.php?page=Musee-des-Beaux-Arts-en]

*****


Restaurant L’Ancienne Douane from the river

Restaurant L’Ancienne Douane from the river

Restaurant L’Ancienne Douane and the square beside it

Restaurant L’Ancienne Douane and the square beside it


We completed our tour and walked over to L’Ancienne Douane for lunch. It was beautifully decorated, brightly lit and filled with several office parties and we were seated in the midst of all the celebrations which was great fun. Ed got pike quenelles with a nice Riesling and I got a ham knuckle on sauerkraut with a good Alsatian beer. Both meals were very good. The servings were huge so we skipped dessert and left to visit the Folk Museum across the river. [Restaurant A l'Ancienne Douane, 6 rue de la Douane 67000 Strasbourg; tel: +33 (0)3 8815-7878; www.anciennedouane.fr; e-mail anciennedouane.rv@elior.com]

*****


Alsatian Folk Museum in Strasbourg

Alsatian Folk Museum in Strasbourg

Alsatian Folk Museum in Strasbourg

Alsatian Folk Museum in Strasbourg

Alsatian Folk Museum in Strasbourg

Alsatian Folk Museum in Strasbourg


The Folk Museum gave us a senior discount! We got the audio guides and they are excellent. You listen to what you want for as long as you want . . . unusual and nice. You also climb up and down a million stairs so the museum is not for the handicapped. It was a fun collection of Alsatian history and nicely presented. [Musée Alsacien, 23-25, quai Saint-Nicolas, Strasbourg; tel. +33 (0)3 6898-5160; (0)3 6898-5152; http://www.musees.strasbourg.eu/index.php?page=musee-alsacien]

*****

Lady feeding a swan across from the Alsatian Folk Museum

Lady feeding a swan across from the Alsatian Folk Museum

We walked out and along the river toward our hotel. I stopped to take pictures of a young woman feeding a very happy swan. Walking back, we stopped in St. Thomas Church that we had seen last night. One of the organs was designed by Albert Schweitzer and built in 1906. When we got to Petite France, we crossed the river and found the Spice Bread shop we’d seen yesterday and got two decorated heart cookies for Jean and Peg. Fun! Walked on and got two bretzels to go for our supper.

*****


Gare de Strasbourg at Christmas (with penguins)

Gare de Strasbourg at Christmas (with penguins)


Christmas Market at the Gare de Strasbourg

Christmas Market at the Gare de Strasbourg

Pretzels at the Christmas Market by the Gare de Strasbourg

Pretzels at the Christmas Market by the Gare de Strasbourg

The Luxembourg Blue Tree at night, lighted . . . pretty

The Luxembourg Blue Tree at night, lighted . . . pretty


Stopped at our hotel and left packages and took a short nap to rest our feet. Then we walked to the train station and through the Christmas market there. We got felt gingerbread-looking ornaments for all the kids and grandkids and he threw in a heart for us. At another booth we got Alsatian soaps for Edie and Carol Lynn. Fun. Walked through the train station so we’d know where to go tomorrow and then went back to the market for hot spiced wine that we drank with our bretzels for a picnic supper while watching all the people at both market and train station. It was dark and all the lights were on so we walked slowly back toward the Cathedral enjoying the lights and much lighter crowds. The blue glass tree from Luxembourg at Place Gutenberg was stunning at night. When we arrived at the Cathedral, there were a group of young women singing Christmas carols on the square. We stayed to listen for a while and enjoyed another rendition of Noel Blanc. Strasbourg is definitely the place to be for Christmas. We have loved it here.

*****

Carolers at the Cathedral Square . . . fun

Carolers at the Cathedral Square . . . fun

Back to the hotel and bed.

Posted by Beausoleil 10:40 Archived in France Comments (1)

Back to Paris on the TGV

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Up early to pack and check out. Walked down to the train station and got breakfast at Paul’s. Now we wait . . .

Leaving Strasbourg for Paris

Leaving Strasbourg for Paris

They finally posted our track and we went out to wait by a cold, windy, empty track. No security this time. A double-deck train eventually arrived and our car managed to stop right in front of us. Great luck. Ed stowed the luggage and we hiked back to our seats. Not as much space as the TGV to Strasbourg but much better than a plane. We zipped through the French countryside at 300+ km per hour and soon arrived in Paris . . . and rain. We found the #47 bus to our hotel and our room was ready so we checked in and Ed walked over to St. Médard to check Mass times for the Holy Day. It’s 7:00 PM so we have the whole afternoon free.

Arriving in Paris, passing Résidence Michelet

Arriving in Paris, passing Résidence Michelet

*****


Verse Toujours Brasserie

Verse Toujours Brasserie


After we checked into the hotel, we left to find lunch and decided to head away from rue Mouffetard. We found Verse Toujours a block away at the corner of ave. des Gobelins and rue du Fer à Moulin. It looked good and they were still serving so we went in and got a nice warm, dry table by the window. We both ordered the magret de canard and when it arrived, it was skewered and served on a slate with a wonderful ratatouille. The magic ingredient seems to be a bay leaf. We loved it. Ed noticed they had Berthillon ice cream so we decided to order dessert. He got a Liégeois and I asked the waiter if he could make the Dame Blanche a Dame Noir by substituting chocolate ice cream for the vanilla. He could and did, and announced a “Dame Noir” when he brought it. The staff were all terrific as was the food. [Verse Toujours, 3 Avenue des Gobelins, 75005 Paris; tel: +33 (0)1 4331-0698; https://www.versetoujours.com/]

Fragonard Exhibit at the Luxembourg Museum

Fragonard Exhibit at the Luxembourg Museum

After lunch we decided to hop the Metro to Odéon and visit the Fragonard exhibit at the Luxembourg Museum. It was drizzling when we entered the Metro and pouring when we exited at Odéon. Up with the umbrellas and off we went through the rain. We finally arrived at the museum wishing we’d gotten off at the Mabillon exit. Semi-serious security in the rain and it was a nuisance but we got through and into the museum.

Fragonard Exhibit at the Luxembourg Museum

Fragonard Exhibit at the Luxembourg Museum

Bought our tickets, checked our coats and umbrellas. They gave us plastic bags sealed at both ends . . . not too smart, but we finally got them open at one end and deposited our dripping umbrellas. We skipped the audio guides and entered. Photos were allowed but not a lot of Fragonard is worth photographing. His work has always seemed too precious for my taste. The cute pink cheeks turn into a stereotype. He's done some wonderful portraits of old men but they were not in this exhibit. It was interesting and we did enjoy it and best of all, the rain had stopped when we left. We love the Luxembourg Museum because it always has a different exhibit. They only have visiting exhibits and they are all interesting, ranging from superb to okay but always very well done. This particular exhibit was "Fragonard in love: Suitor and Libertine." [Musée du Luxembourg, 19 rue de Vaugirard, 75006 Paris; tel: +33 (0)1 4013-6200; http://en.museeduluxembourg.fr/]

*****

Back past Patrick Rogers Chocolate Christmas beside St. Sulpice Church

Back past Patrick Rogers Chocolate Christmas beside St. Sulpice Church

Nativity Scene at St. Médard Church

Nativity Scene at St. Médard Church


From the Luxembourg, we walked to Mabillon past St. Sulpice church and took the Metro back to our hotel where we dried off and checked e-mail before walking over to St. Médard for Mass. It was held in the space between the old altar and the new one and we were a small group. The cantor was excellent and it was a friendly group of neighbors. They had the songs memorized! http://saintmedard.org/
St. Médard Church and a shop on rue Censier nearby

St. Médard Church and a shop on rue Censier nearby

*****

Square St. Médard and fontaine pluie Guy Lartigue

Square St. Médard and fontaine pluie Guy Lartigue

Lighted shops walking to the hotel

Lighted shops walking to the hotel

Walked back to the hotel enjoying the Christmas decorations for the last time, and got everything packed, checked in for our flight and checked e-mail. I arranged a wake-up call for 5:05 AM, set my alarm for 5:00 and we slept.

Posted by Beausoleil 09:31 Archived in France Comments (0)

Time to go home . . .

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

CDG - Waiting for take-off

CDG - Waiting for take-off

The wake-up call came at 4:15 . . . a little early! Turned over and went back to sleep. Fortunately my alarm did go off at 5:00 and we had no trouble getting ready in plenty of time. Went down to check out at 6:00 AM and the desk was empty. I rang the bell. No action. I rang again. After about four tries and beating on the door, a very sleepy clerk arrived. We only owed two euros city tax but he needed to unlock the door so we could get out. When he saw us standing outside in the cold waiting for the shuttle, he insisted we come inside and wait comfortably and got me some hot coffee while he watched for our shuttle. I just love the staff here at Hotel France de Quartier Latin. They really seem to want you to enjoy your stay and the rooms are clean and comfy. The price is very reasonable and the location can't be beat. [Hotel de France Quartier Latin, 108 Rue Monge, 75005 Paris, France; tel: +33 (0)1 4707-1904; http://www.hotelfrancequartierlatin.com/en/]

*****

CDG - Headed down the runway

CDG - Headed down the runway

Taking off over Louvres

Taking off over Louvres


The shuttle finally arrived and loaded us up. On a little extra tour before we had to leave, we drove all over Paris to pick up three other people and then drove to the airport. Some people complain about the shuttle, but we've had only good experiences with it and always enjoy the little extra tour as other riders are picked up and dropped off. [Paris Blue Shuttle; tel: +33 (0)1 3011-1300; http://www.paris-blue-airport-shuttle.fr/] The airport machine refused to scan our passports so we found an Air France man who sent us to luggage check and he printed our boarding passes and checked our bags. Off to security where we kept our shoes on but did have to remove the computer and Kindle from their bags. Easy enough. Found our gate, had a final croissant and boarded the plane. We’re now on a very bumpy flight over the Atlantic.

Clear skies over Greenland

Clear skies over Greenland

*****

Flying into Los Angeles

Flying into Los Angeles


Later: Arrived safely in Los Angeles and went through endless long lines to collect luggage, clear Customs and find our flight to Sacramento. This, of course, involved a long trek to the domestic terminal through a myriad of smokers on break outside. No fresh air here . . .

*****

Flying out of Los Angeles at night - beautiful lights

Flying out of Los Angeles at night - beautiful lights

Another longish wait and boarded and flew to Sacramento without incident. Good to get home and see Mimi, our cute kitty, again!

Mimi, our welcoming kitty in one of her favorite spots

Mimi, our welcoming kitty in one of her favorite spots

If you have questions about traveling in France, you may find some answers here. Check the table of contents. FeeI free to ask questions in the comment section and I'll see if I can answer them. Click here: Questions about France

Posted by Beausoleil 11:51 Archived in France Tagged hotels paris shuttles Comments (0)

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