Yayyy! My sister Erin and my new brother-in-law Douglas (coolest brother in law ever by the way) came to visit me for Christmas! Erin and I have a tradition going way back of getting Mexican food on Christmas morning while we wait for the rest of our family to travel to Atlanta. This year there was no Mexican food but at least we were together! We spent a couple days exploring the celebrated Noël du Marché Christmas Market in Strasbourg.
I met them in Strasbourg which is where I basically lived this month between traveling there with guests and performing Chaplin there. This time instead of staying at my regular hotel we stayed at the lovely Bouclier d’Or in the heart of Petite France.
Petite France is the most beautiful part of Strasbourg with all half-timbered house and beautiful flower boxes in the window. You can bet you will hear accordion played and in fact that’s where I met Erin and Douglas- standing on the corner listening to an accordion player.
Christmas markets are a huge part of this region’s holiday traditions. Every town has its own market but Strasbourg is king of them all. It is called the Capital of Noël. And for good reason. The market in Strasbourg is huge. I saw them setting up when I performed in November and it was still up when I performed in the middle of January. It’s like each business tries to outdo the next when it comes to Christmas decorations. Stalls are set up selling vin chaud (hot wine), trinkets and Alsatian specialities.
We tried flammekueche, a traditional Alsatian dish and I took Erin and Douglas to some of my favorite spots to eat and sightsee in Strasbourg. We stopped at a game store and spent the next few days playing a lot of Rummikub.
Christmas Eve we took in the Cathedral. Construction on the Cathedral began in the 12th century but it wasn’t completed until 1439! The stained glass windows were taken by the Nazis and later found by American soldiers in a salt mine. They have since been restored. There are tons of other fascinating stories about that Cathedral! We had dinner right next door at Maison Kammerzell. The building dates back to 1427! Though Alsace is white wine country we learned that one variety of red grape is grown and tried the pinot noir from a vinery just up the road.
Christmas morning in Strasbourg I woke up quite sick but receiving presents of bags of Atlanta coffee lifted my spirits before we headed out to spend Christmas day in Switzerland! To be Continued….