Today we spent the day in Strasbourg for the first day of the Christmas market. A ten-minute walk from the station, we quickly encountered the Cathedral and the surrounding market- right in the centre of town - just in time for lunch.
We had hoped to dine at the historic Maison Kammerzell but had failed to estimate it's popularity with any degree of accuracy and it was fully booked - reserved! Every table on every floor! Gone! On our next visit to Strasbourg, we're going to damn well eat here! Anyway, we headed into the more touristic Brasserie au Dauphin (13, Place de la Cathedrale, Strasbourg 67000). We both elected for the Menu au Dauphin a three course meal at a fixed price of 28EUR per head. OK - not cheap but worth the money. We both took the Foie Gras which was quite enjoyable - if not the finest France has to offer. For the main I took the Baeckoffe - a kind of gigantic caserole - which was more than ample with its layer of spuds and chunks of stewing meat.
After luncheon, we headed through the market to the Romanesque/Gothic-style cathedral which is one of the best known style pieces of architecture in it's style in the area and in France itself. The stained glass windows are amongst the oldest in Christianity and date from the 13th and 14th centuries and tell stories from both the Old and New Testaments. The pulpit is worthy of closer examination. Apart from being highly detailed and displaying a high level of craftsmanship, the maker has carved a small puppy, asleep, into the pulpit. I won't tell you where that cute little puppy is - you'll have to find him for yourself! The Cathedral is noted also for the tapestries that line the nave.
After the Cathedral, we pottered around the market itself. Strasbourg Christmas Market is spread over the town in 7 different locations including the impressive Place de la Cathderal and the picturesque Petite France - one time home to a hospital for syphilitics.
In spite of the oft-repeated claim that Strasbourg Market is one of France's oldest and biggest, an unhealty obsession with the mass-produced trinketry is more than in evidence. For all the fuss made my the Frenchies about regional food produce, finding any at this old and fragmented (large) market proved quite a challenge - actually we only managed to find around a dozen all in Place des Meuniers where we picked up some rather enjoyable Pinot Gris from Domaine Loew who also do a rather enjoyable Gewürztraminer.
Strasbourg - Christmas tree at Place Kleber - The Christmas tree at Place Kleber at the Strasbourg Christmas Market
Strasbourg - "Statues" at the Christmas Market at the Cathedral - A pair of statues outside the Christmas Market near the gothic Strasbourg Cathedral
Strasbourg - façade of Strasbourg Cathedral - Façade of the impressive Strasbourg Cathedral in Alsace, France
Strasbourg - façade of the Cathedral - Façade and tower of the Strasbourg Cathedral in Alsace, France
Strasbourg - River view - View of the River running through central Strasbourg in Alsace
Basel - Fasnacht background information - General information on and about the Basler Fasnacht
Basel - getting around - How to get around Basel
Basel - getting there - How to get to Basel
Basel - staying safe - Top tips on staying safe in Basel
Basel - where to stay - Recommended hotels and accomodation in Basel city
Mark Sukhija is a travel and wine blogger, photographer, tourism researcher, hat-touting, white-shirt-wearing, New Zealand fantatic and eclipse chaser. Aside from at least annual visits to New Zealand, Mark has seen eclipses in South Australia (2002), Libya (2006), China (2009) and Queensland (2012). After twelve years in Switzerland, Mark moved back to London in 2012. You can follow Mark on Twitter or Facebook