New Friends in Strasbourg

19 06 2008

Strasbourg is a lovely town in France near the German border.  The Grande Île (“Grand Island”), the centre of the city,  is a World Heritage site and, as the name suggests, is surrounded by waterways.  The highlight is the huge cathedral, Notre Dame de Strasbourg.  Completed in 1439 (started in 1015!) it is 142 metres tall which made it the highest man-made structure, beating out Khufu’s Pyramid at Giza.  Despite deciding to not finish the south tower (making it look a little lopsided) the cathedral is nonetheless spectacular.

Cathedrale de Strasbourg 

There are also many beautiful buildings in Strasbourg, many in that black-and-white exposed timber style especially in the area known as Petit France.

One of the streets in Petit France

The first night we had dinner at the famous Maison Kammerzell which is a stunning old building.  Food was OK but it’s the architecture and view that are the real draw cards here!

Maison Kammerzell to the left, Notre Dame to the right

Maison Kammerzell

Jogging around the city revealed some beautiful parks and gardens, notably Parc de l’Orangerie, Parc de la Citadelle and Jardin Botanique.  It’s also worth noting that the European Council meets at Strasbourg; if visiting the city take care to check if the council is going to be in session as it’s very difficult getting accommodation during that time.

We found the people very friendly in Strasbourg.  Case in point; we wandered in to a clothes shop (OK, Melissa wandered in and I followed like a puppy) and started talking with one of the sales staff.  After a couple of visits to the store (Melissa really liked the clothes!) Sophie invited us to come out with her boyfriend for drinks after work.  Sophie and Olivier turned out to be wonderful hosts and we had a lively discussion over flammenkuche (a speciality of the region) in a local pub.  They were so generous and friendly it was a shame that it was our last night in Strasbourg, it would have been great to have spent more time with them. 

Meeting people as lovely as this pair – on the other side of the world – is one of the true joys of travelling.  Thanks Sophie and Olivier; hopefully we’ll be able to return the favour if you ever make it to Melbourne! 

Strasbourg was relaxing and pretty; a charming European town with good food and friendly people.  I’m glad we were able to stay there a few days.

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