We left Brussels nice and early as we had a long trip ahead. We had to return to Paris to catch a train to Strasbourg, a quaint city in Alsace, to the east of France by the German border. Alex’s old friend from Costa Rica lives there.
Our train to Paris was slowed down due to a broken window. We arrived back in Paris at Gare du Nord and only had 5 minutes to catch the connecting train which was departing from Gare de l’Est. We ran and managed to find the station in record time (it’s only about a 5 minute walk but via the streets so a map was required). It turned out our train to Strasbourg was running late so it was no big deal in the end. We noticed that Paris was much warmer than when we left it a few days earlier. Since arriving in Brussels, Europe had been experiencing a late-Spring heatwave.
In just over two hours, we had arrived at Gare de Strasbourg and were welcomed with a scorching 35°C.
We met Alex’s friend, his wife and their two absolutely gorgeous children. We had lunch and wandered around the phenomenal city for a while. Strasbourg is just so perfectly beautiful.
We caught the tram closer to the city centre and walked a few blocks until we reached La Petite France, a small island in the city centre which houses some of the most gorgeous buildings I’ve ever seen. We lunched at a restaurant serving true Alsatian cuisine, which is almost a mix of French and German cuisine, but also with a few dishes particular only to the region. We ate in the beer garden overlooking the river and many spectacular timber-framed buildings.
After lunch we continued our short tour of the city and came across the enormous gothic cathedral of Strasbourg, which is very grand, beautiful and even more intricately detailed than the Notre Dame.
We purchased some delightful gelato (Speculoos flavour for me!) to at least allow our insides to cool down somewhat. We sat down for a while to people-watch. It was a public holiday (Lundi de Pentecôte) yet there weren’t many people to watch, probably due to the weather.
Alex’s friends drove us to our hotel to drop off our luggage, and then we headed off to the nearby Mont Saint-Odile, a mountain housing a medieval convent that also overlooks the magnificent Alsace region.
We spent the rest of the afternoon at our friends’ house in a nearby town called Obernai. The town was gorgeous and we could have spent a day there just waking up and down the streets. The buildings there, like Strasbourg, are very Germanic in style and have their wooden trusses showing. Our friends live in one of these styles of buildings, although the interior was much more modern. From their window you could see the ruins of a fortress and a moat, which was literally across the road from them. It was unbelievable to be in such a fairy tale town.
Our friends served us a variety of French cheeses, from mild to smelly. We preferred the mild as we’re not very experimental when it comes to smelly cheese. All served with a baguette, of course.
Before leaving Obernai we took a walk around the beautiful city at twilight.
The following day after my follow-up x-ray (my arm was healing well, yay) we went on a one-hour road trip to Weil am Rhein, a small town in the south-west of Germany, by the French border. I like that we went on a road trip to another country. I wish we could do that in Australia. We were also contemplating road tripping into a third country (Basel in Switzerland) but ran out of time. Europeans are so lucky!
The reason we went to this small German town was to visit the Vitra Design Museum, which is a place that architect husbands dream of. The museum, or “campus” as they call it, is really a collection of buildings designed by famous architects. The collection is owned by this wealthy guy who happens to like collecting things, and in this case, designer buildings (as you do). We ate an extraordinarily delicious lunch of vegetables fried in butter atop the most amazing pesto spaghetti. We then went on a campus tour to view some of the buildings. Alex’s favourite was Zaha Hadid’s fire station.
Personally I liked Herzog & De Meuron’s houses-shaped house. I sound pretty clever reciting the names of famous architects don’t I?!
I also enjoyed a furniture exhibition they had in this house, which showcases many famous furniture and homeware designs over the past century. I love furniture exhibitions.
My favourites were all the chairs and also Alexander Girard’s dolls and colourful display.
The campus was also full of cherry trees, and we ate some of the cherries which were so sweet and delicious.
We returned to Strasbourg and farewelled Alex’s friend. We ventured back to the enchanting La Petite France one last time for dinner. We tried an Alsatian kind of pizza called tarte flambée, as recommended by Alex’s friend. The base was thin like a tortilla and it was loaded with crème fraîche, onion and cheese. Our final French treat was a decadent and rich chocolate fondant.
Strasbourg was another one of my favourite cities on this trip.