A weekend in Strasbourg: Nov 11-13 2022

We attended the fun bull-fighting at Lunel last weekend, after being given tickets by Hadrien who owns the Le Cartel Restaurant at Vauvert and also runs the bull fighting. We popped along for a rather entertaining couple of hours. At this event no bulls die and the blokes in the ring with the bull are very agile and very quick to jump over the fence as the bull runs after them after they have tried to tag it with their hand between its horns. It can be best described by the short video below.

Thursday 10 November 2022

Late afternoon we drove to Lyon, about 3 hours north of us. We had decided to stop the night here to make a stop on the way to Strasbourg. We hit heavy traffic on the way into the city and somehow ended up driving through a bus depot on the way to the hotel L’ Abbaye in the old city. Once again the car parking was some 800m from the hotel. It is a comfortable boutique hotel with a two star Michelin restaurant, which we had not booked for.

Friday 11 November 2022

After what was definitely not a Michelin star breakfast at the hotel we headed off north to Strasbourg. Once again the the roads were great and as we headed north past Grenoble the land became very flat, opening out into a wide plain which was extensively farmed.

Our first stop was Colmar, a pretty little town just south of Strasbourg. It’s another place that just makes great photos, especially with its waterways and half-timbered buildings, some of which look like they have sagged a little over the years.

Arriving at Strasbourg we checked into Hotel Leonore in the old area – this time the car park was only 200m away. It’s quite a big hotel, at some stage converted from someone’s mansion.

Like all the old cities of Europe, Strasbourg dates back to pre Roman times, originally being a Celtic Village renamed Argentoratum by the Romans. In the 5th century, well after the Romans, it was captured by the Franks who called it Strateburgum. They held onto it for 300 odd years. In 842 Charles II of West Franks and Louis II of East Franks took an oath of alliance, the Serment of Strasbourg, the text of which is the oldest written document in Old French. In the Middle Ages it became a city of the Holy Roman Empire. It, like most places in Europe, went through the 30 year war of the 1618-48. In 1870 it was captured by the Germans and returned to France after WWI.

After checking in, we went for a wander into the town centre and enjoyed a drink and some people watching in the square by the cathedral. It was dark by 5pm and a mist settled over the city so we headed back to the hotel for a drink. The restaurant was booked out so we enjoyed a meal at the Sofitel Hotel’s restaurant behind the church across the road before settling in for an early night.

Saturday 12 November 2022

After a good breakfast at the hotel, we took a wander around the old city, heading first along one of the many canals to the area, known as Petite France, which still has some of the old towers standing. Originally there were some 30 of these surrounding the city in a defensive wall. Stone buttresses at the bottom of the towers had canon ports in them, just above the water level. The L’ILL River surrounds the old town making it into an island. They had also built a dam (barrage) that still exists, with some 17 gates that could be opened to flood the areas when under attack. Not only did this river make for a good barrier if the city was attacked but also the water was used to power much of the industry that sprung up in the town. Large tanneries, abattoirs and factories existed along the banks of the river. Like most old cities, many of the factories have been turned into accommodation and office buildings. We popped into the church of Notre Dame, with its large Pipe Organ, which blurted out something I think they call music but to me sounded more like a cat screaming when gripped tightly around the neck by a large dog. Bodies were buried in the floor plus in the odd cask sitting in alcoves.

Arriving back at the main square, the spire of the cathedral was covered in fog on this wintry day when the still waters gave off reflections of the colourful buildings situated along the river and canals. We had arranged to meet Marlyn at the Gurtlerhoft, a restaurant situated in a basement,on the edge of the square. There we enjoyed a lovely lunch and a good chat. I had met Marlyn on a walking tour of Berlin in early 2020 while there watching my daughter race in the track cycling world champs. She lives in the nearby German city of Karlsruhe. Thanks for the lunch Marlyn we look forward to meeting again soon.

After lunch we headed down to the river to catch a boat cruise around the city. The boat headed up river to a lock not too far from the bund. Dozens of people watched as the gate opened and our boat headed in, the gate closing and the water flowing in until we reached the height of the upper river level. We then motored up to the bund then headed down the other side of the island after going through another lock to drop us back down to the river level. Passing the end of the island and the old city we headed a couple of kms down river, passing some nice old buildings with the commentary telling us about several of them as we went.

One included a large church, built to accomodate the 1300 soldiers of a previous army so they could pray together. Reaching a fork in the river, we were informed the a building on its bank was the home of the European Court of Human Rights along with some other administrative type buildings. Then we turned around and headed back to the start point. We had planned to do the climb up the cathedral spire but it was still clagged in with fog. We went into the main building which is very grand and also looked at the astronomical clock, situated down the back on the right-hand side. By this stage night was setting in so we wandered back to the hotel.

Sunday 13 November 2022

On the drive up we had spotted, on a rise near the motorway, what looked like a large old fort, which turned out to Belfort. The town is relatively young only occupied since Roman times. Once in Austrian possession, it was handed back to France as part of the treaty at the end of the 30 year war in 1648. After this the fortifications were extended, and in the 1870s it held out against the Franco-Prussians and survived a 3 month seige. The place is impressive with a moat and walls around the old town and the large hill to the to the east. With the Savoureuse River looping around the west side it was a pretty magnificent fort for its day. We had planned to stop in the fort cafe at the top of the structure but it was closed, as was the museum, despite Google saying it would be open. The whole town was covered in mist making it not a very good day for photos. After checking out the tunnels that were open and taking a look at the large lion sculpture on the side of the hill we continued on our journey home.

2 thoughts on “A weekend in Strasbourg: Nov 11-13 2022

  1. judy james says:

    I loved that trip…but please let me stay in the hotel when you go to watch that bull fighting!!!!!!! (or go shopping)

  2. Rosie says:

    Thank you again you two. Looks like a great way to spend a weekend.

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