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A Few of My Favourite Things!

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Strasbourg's Christkindlemarkt

Strasbourg, a city that used to belong to Germany but is now part of France, is well known for its French-German cuisine. In addition to hosting France's oldest Christmas market, this lovely city is also the birth place of Christmas trees, the tradition of cutting and decorating of which began in the 1600s.

Having heard about the beauty of their hometown from P & S, who are themselves currently living in Australia, we decided to spend the week before Christmas here. We stayed in a quaint and extremely pretty section known as La Petite France, whose timbered houses could have come straight out of a fairy tale. I felt like Gretel (of Hansel & Gretel fame) and was mightily tempted to try breaking off bits of the gingerbread-like houses to see how they would taste! La Petite France can be accessed by any one of the many bridges that cross the Ill River. In the photo below, you will see the pedestrian bridge that has been roped off and rotated 90 degrees to allow the boat through:

The most well-known Christmas market in Strasbourg is probably the one held under the imposing gaze of St Nicholas cathedral, but it is by no means the only one. We visited at least five other markets around the city area, some small and others large and one, the Bredel Market, which sold nothing but bredel (cookies), kugelhopf and pain d'epice.

We spent our time in Strasbourg wandering the streets, especially the elaborately decorated ones around St Nicholas (one had Baccarat chandeliers hanging overhead for the length of it). We drank vin chaud, pomme d'epice or jus d'orange chaud and ate crepes, the most delicious of which was the one served with lashings of caramel made with salted butter. Here's a picture of the Raclette Crepe that A had for lunch:

We also had to try the Alsatian Tarte Flambee, also known as Flammekueche, a thin crust pizza topped with with bacon, onion and a creamy fromage blanc that is baked in a wood-fire oven (thanks for the suggestion, Fab!):

At the other end of the market, we spotted rows and rows of Christmas trees that were being sold to residents to put up at home & to decorate:

One of my favourite sights was of the men capturing the trees and trussing them up like prisoners:

We also spotted another type of Christmas tree but unfortunately we didn't think one would make it home whole:

Gingerbread decorations and other goodies:


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