While in Strasbourg, you’ll see lots of storks in the shops – plush dolls, ceramic storks, stork books, and anything else you can imagine someone putting a picture of a stork on. What is it with storks and Strasbourg?
The white stork is a symbol of Strasbourg and you can see their nests high atop buildings and church towers. It is said that if a stork builds a nest on your home then you will have good luck. Folklore has mentioned storks for centuries, with the first known mention in the 1600s.
The stork population was threatened in the early 1970s because of modernization and other factors, so a plan was put in place to repopulate the region with these graceful birds. Today, there are more than 600 pairs in Alsace, with a number of them in Strasbourg.
As we walked along the canals near the Parliament, we were able to see a pair of storks flying and landing atop a home. And as we have since traveled more extensively in the Alsace region, I typically look for their large nests on buildings.
- Arts and Culture
Bathrooms – WC – Toiletten
When traveling in Europe whenever you are visiting a restaurant or a museum, try to use their WC facilities if at all possible. Typically they are maintained and are free. But sometimes you are just walking around the town and find you have a need. If you find yourself in this predicament, it is helpful to know where to “go”.
My typical comment in this section of my pages is to bring change since many cities charge for public restroom usage and to bring supplies (paper, hand sanitizer, etc.) because often the WCs do not have these necessities. However, in Strasbourg – this is not the case. The city has thought of the basic needs of weary travelers and has provided clean, free, and fully stocked facilities throughout the city. I have often wondered why other cities haven’t considered this as a needed part of the tourist industry. After all, they want people to come to their cities and see all the wonderful things, but people do have certain needs that can’t be ignored.
As a result of Strasbourg’s planning, I felt that the city was cleaner and lacked certain smells that other, less prepared, cities seem to have.
Look for the WC signs around the city center of Strasbourg. They are also conveniently noted on the map available from many hotels. Locations that I saw while in Strasbourg included near the cathedral, two in Petite France, one at Place Kleber, Place Broglie, and the Parc de la Citadelle.
- Women's Travel
- Family Travel
Il est interdit de scotcher!
From this sign in the Palais des Fêtes I learned that there is a verb in French called scotcher, which means to fasten something with Scotch tape.
You're not allowed to paste, pin, nail, tack or tape anything to these walls, okay?
Update: Several years later in Lille I learned that there is now a verb in the French language called biper (first conjugation, je bipe, tu bipes, il bipe, nous bipons, vous bipez, ils bibent, etc.) meaning ‘to beep’. See the review je bipe, je passe on my Lille page.
HOUSE OF COVERED BRIDGES
I must admit I was quite surprised when I saw children playing in a playground at this house.
Why you may ask? Well, it is surrounded by water on both sides and only has a low fence to prevent them from falling/jumping into the water.
This house is the one you see near the Covered Bridges in Petit France.
This house is where divorced or separated husbands or wives, [the non-custodial parent] can come and meet their children on neutral land. Social workers and psychologists are at the house to help the recovery.
A good idea, I think so!
The Covered Bridges House is a detached house which consists of several rooms adapted to the age of the children.
House Covered Bridges
3 Covered Bridges
Tel. +33 (0) 3 88 32 74 69
What is Picon
Walking around the city, I noticed a lot of advertisements showing a bottle of Picon. When we stopped at the Academie De La Biere was asked our waitress what is was. Her English was very good (and our French was even worse) so she ended up bringing out a small glass of it. She mimed that the glass contained about 1/3 Picon and 2/3's beer. The taste was very syrupy with a strong hint of orange.
Here is what I read on Wikipedia: Picon is a caramel-coloured, flavoured bitters drunk as an apéritif, which traditionally accompanies beer in the east and north of France. It is made from a base of fresh oranges which are dried and mixed with a solution of alcohol which is distilled. Picon also contains gentian and quinquina in equal measures. Sugar, syrup and caramel are added last.
So, if you need an aperitif to help you digest your dinner, try one.
- Food and Dining
Big animal lovers!
This is a demonstration by "don' kill animals" group. Two bloody people are laying down in a box, saying "Do not kill animals". I asked them if they wanted a cup of coffee! The answer was, "that would be nice".
This activity together with other "don't kill animals" demonstrations in Place de Kleber - the city center place of Strasbourg.
Enjoy open market!
Open markets are integral part of the French culture. It exists in many countries but the French ones are very lively and exhibit very interesting objects from fish and vegetables to antiques and paintings. I found the market in Strasbourg enjoyable and eye-catching.
Go in the morning to Place du Marche Aux Poisson (Fish market place).
The Emblem of Alsace: The Stork
The Stork is symbol of the Strasbourg and the hole Alsace. When you walk all around you will see a stork. Storks have been a symbol of the Alsatian for many centuries. They would return every year from Africa to announce the coming of spring in France.Alsatian custom used to have a child who wanted a little brother or sister place a piece of sugar on the window ledge to attract the stork, in the hope it would leave the precious bundle in exchange for the treat.
- Historical Travel
Unlike other cities Strasbourg does not have one big Christmas market but several smaller ones all over town. The largest market is the one round the cathedral. But more or less every square in the city centre, big or small, has its own Christmas market. You'll find a new one after every second street corner. Some occupy a whole square, others consist of a few stalls only. Some sell arts and crafts of fine quality, others more factory kitsch. All of them are worth a look. Get lost in the streets of the old town and explore.
In addition to the well known mulled wine, an Alsatian Christmas market speciality is spicy hot orange juice. Tasty, warming and alcohol-free.
- Arts and Culture
The Kougelhopf (in German: "Gugelhupf") is a traditional Alsatian cake with raisins. Unlike other cakes, Kougelhopf is not sweet and not intended to be served with coffee or tea. The appropriate drink to have with this cake is a dry Gewürztraminer, a variety of white wine that has a flowery, perfumed flavour.
- Food and Dining
- Wine Tasting
Enjoy the Christmas Decorations
During Advent, the four weeks before Christmas, the town centre is full of light. The decorations are, I'm inclined to say, the most beautiful I've ever seen. Each street is different. In addition to the 'official' decorations set up by the city, people decorate their houses and shops. Stroll, best after dark, and enjoy.
See my travelogue page for more pictures.
- Arts and Culture
While visiting the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Strasbourg, we happened across the saddest gargoyle Sarah and I have ever spotted. We can only assume that since he was located at the bottom of the cathedral that he had done something terribly wrong and was banished to guarding the very bottom stones. In terms of gargoyle-dom, this must be one level above gum remover from the bottom of the ground. Hopefully he will have an opportunity to regain his stature at or near the top.
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
- Budget Travel
Comptoir des rois Mages, Place Benjamin Zix 3
That would not be the Marché de Noël if there were not several booths with vin chaud, called Glühwein in Alsatian. Here, you can get a 25 cl vin chaud for 3 euros, water, Coca or Orangina for 2 euros, a bretzel for 1 euro or knacks (Strasbourg sausages) for 2 euros.
- Wine Tasting
Place Gutenberg, Village des artisans Roumains
On Place Gutenberg, Rumania is the invited country of the Marchés de Noël for 2006. The Village des artisans Roumains (village of Rumanian craftsmen) presents in a dozen boothes several aspects of Rumanian craft. In the middle, a group from Bucharest gave to the passers-by a sample of their traditional songs and dances. That was excellent! May be that we will go to Rumania for next vacations!
The Alsatian language
The dialect spoken in Alsace is not homogeneous following the districts as it is not usually written but only spoken. It is one of the Alemanic languages that together with standard German, Francic and Bavarian, make the Hochdeutch languages (Higher German).
The Alemanic languages are three : Elsässisch (Alsatian), Schwäbisch (Souabe) and Schweizerdeutsch (Switzerland). The standard written form of these dialects is "hochdeutsch", standard German.
According to recent surveys, the number of dialect speakers is rapidly decreasing. Some 60% of the 1.6m inhabitants of Alsace speak the Alsatian dialect while only 36% of primary school pupils can speak it.
- Arts and Culture
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