Flowers and beautiful architecture – we loved Strasbourg
I got a little behind here, apparently having too much fun to post pictures and so on. After our stops in Germany, though, we moved on to two two-night stays each in Strasbourg & Nancy, the major cities of the historic regions of Alsace and Lorraine, respectively.
Strasbourg was definitely the star of the show, simply one of the most beautiful cities anywhere. Just across the Rhein from Germany it has been a bridge between France & Germany for centuries, a fact reflected in the architecture, churches, and cuisine. The historic city center was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site back in 1988, the first time an entire city center was so designated, and it sure seems to warrant the honor.
More of Strasbourg’s beauty
The city’s cathedral, Notre-Dame de Strasbourg, in its late-Gothic style is certainly the highlight. Topping out at 466 feet it claims to have been the world’s tallest building from 1647 to 1874, but my sense is that other buildings also claim to have been the tallest in that pre-modern period as well. It is pretty well documented, though, that it is the tallest building standing today built entirely in the Middle Ages.
Me and Mark with Mat outside Notre-Dame de Strasbourg
Awe-inspiring certainly describes the cathedral and for us it was particularly fun to watch Mat’s face as it came into view. We’ve seen a lot of these old cathedrals but if you’re from a small midwest city and haven’t been around the world a lot, it is pretty awesome. And of course if you can climb the spire you must, so we did. Great views and not really that hard.
Otherwise Strasbourg is just a fabulous city to walk around in. The canals and the flowers and the buildings are all just beautiful. The weather was perfect. There’s a great modern art museum If you walk just a little way out of the historic city you come to the European Parliament, right in the same area as the Council of Europe and the European Court of Human Rights. We found it poignant to be here while our President appears hell-bent on destroying all of it.
Outside the European Parliament. We think the world is a safer, better place when European countries collaborate rather than wage war. Apparently the President disagrees.
Strasbourg is definitely worth a longer stay, but as we knew Mat wanted to see lots of different things we stopped for only two nights before moving on to Nancy, the historic capital of Lorraine. I have to admit, after the beauty and excitement of Strasbourg, Nancy was something of a letdown. It is certainly beautiful, with the UNESCO-recognized Place Stanislaus, built in the 18th century by King Stanislaus of Poland who was also Duke of Lorraine, taking the place of honor. We had the disadvantage of arriving there on the holiday of the Feast of the Assumption which inexplicably means that nearly everything is closed. (I was reminded of our stop in Poitiers four years ago, now, when I needed to go to the emergency room on the Feast of the Assumption and got lousy service from the skeleton crew available. Note to self: avoid France on August 15!)
King Stanislaus of Poland, also Duke of Lorraine, stands in the center of Place Stanislaus. Strange to think of this very, very French city being ruled by a Polish king.
So after a fairly dull first day in Nancy we decided to take a day trip on our second to the nearby city of Metz, the modern capital of Lorraine. That worked out well; the train ride was, as always in Europe, gentle and relaxing. The city was interesting; the recently opened Pompidou Center-Metz, an extension of the major modern art museum in Paris, was fun to tour, and St. Stephen’s Cathedral was another stunner. The latter has the largest expanse of stained glass windows in the world, including not just glorious old windows but also windows by the modernist Marc Chagall. Impressive.
And then again, after just a two-night stop it was off again, this time to Paris.
Did I mention that I think Strasbourg is beautiful? Here it looks more French than German.
Mat discovering the beauty of an Aperol Spritz
Even the entry to our hotel was beautiful
Notre-Dame de Strasbourg
Imagine the terror of walking down the streets of Strasbourg, enjoying the flowers, and stumbling onto a crocodile!
Some of the ornate work inside Notre-Dame
Getting ready for a little lunch
Gustav Doré was a 19th century Strasbourg native, to whom a room in the modern art museum was dedicated. We both liked his stuff, particularly this Calvary scene.
And then there was this, umm, hunk of metal that spoke more to Mark than it did to me…
There was art out on the street, too
This spooky guy was looming over us at dinner one night
These flowers were all over Strasbourg
As we left Strasbourg, Mat wanted to leave ashes of his late brother Dexter in the canal. Dex died just a couple months ago and the wounds are still pretty raw so this was perhaps more powerful than the picture makes it look.
This is a view of Notre Dame de Strasbourg, with all its flying buttresses, on the climb up the bell tower.
Me, en route up to the top. We loved the way the stairs were almost out in the open.
The view of Strasbourg from way up high
Nancy is also important as the first time Mat tried steak tartare. He was an exceptionally adventurous eater, particularly for a 14-year-old. And he certainly seemed to enjoy this dish!
Mat & Mark outside the golden gates to Place Stanislaus in Nancy
More of Place Stanislaus
St. Stephan’s Cathedral in Metz, site of the world’s largest expanse of stained glass
You don’t see a lot of modern art stained glass windows in great cathedrals but here we have some Marc Chagall windows
And more modern art
Metz is also home to an extension of Paris’s Pompidou Center, the major modern art museum in France. One “piece” on display while we were there was the Dream Room, which was pretty dreamy.
Mat learned that he liked this kind of art
And the kind of art that consists of huge strands of spaghetti that you can walk through
Finally, Metz’s attractions included an area with all sorts of guys like this hanging out, just waiting to make friends