Sunday, December 6, 2015
06.12.2015 - 07.12.2015
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 . . .
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.
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.
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.
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; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.maison-kammerzell.com/]
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.
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 . . .