Thursday, January 20, 2011

La Vie En Rose: New Year in Europe

Tuesday, December 28, 2010: Strasbourg, France
We woke up late to the pleasant knocking of the French cleaning woman, and quickly headed over to the Rive Gauche for two cafés aux lait and croissants. To make sure we had a way to get to Paris on Wednesday, we made our way to the Gare Central and purchased two tickets for the TGV, the “fast train.” I’ve always thought it was prohibitively expensive, and at 60 euro, I wouldn’t say it’s cheap, but it’s definitely better than the $200 I’d expected.
All of that settled, Roger wanted to check out the Musée d’Art Moderne et Contemporain, which was actually fantastic. For a city of this size, you might not expect such a large collection or interesting building. They had several Dores (he was born in Strasbourg) and a variety of other modern pieces, but their best works were contemporary pieces, including the most beautiful installation by Celeste Boursier-Mougenot, a small pool filled with floating bowls. The water moves very slowly, and as a result, the bowls hit against each other, creating a very quiet sort of music. It’s probably the first installation piece I’ve ever seen that I would like to have in my home. It was tranquil and beautiful, and certainly the highlight of a tranquil and beautiful museum.
After, we wandered around Petite France for some time, walking along the icy river path. I still find something mildly charming about the lack of salting, but it’s terrifying to walk downhill with no railing, along what is certainly a freezing river, on a solid sheet of ice. It seems as though someone must have fallen in at one point. The view from along Petite France is just beautiful, but the most interesting sight I saw was a certain creature. I can’t say for sure what it was, but it resembled a rat, except extra-large. Truly the largest rat I’ve ever seen in my entire life. So large that I’m not sure it can be a real rat. It was about a foot and a half long, not counting the tail, and about 6 inches around. It walked off someone’s deck into the river, and then swam down river a ways, where we met it a few blocks down, being hand-fed by some French tourists, who were also calling it “raton,” and their children, who said, “Au revior, Raton” when it started to swim away. This seems like the most beautiful children's story ever written. If anyone can identify this animal, I would be most appreciative. If it’s actually a rat, I think that might be the greatest thing I’ve ever seen.
Post-rat sighting, we walked over to the Gutenberg book market, which, despite being located in the birthplace of printing, turned out to be only two booths selling some novels translated into French. From there, we wandered some more, seeing a variety of Christmas markets we’d missed earlier, and buying what we thought were mousse-filled chocolate puffs. Walking over to A La Tete de Lard, a restaurant recommended by a clerk at the hotel, we stopped in the Place Kleber to see the Strasbourg Christmas tree, which was very nice and tall, with an interesting, thin shape. The restaurant was quite good, although ordering was a bit of a crapshoot. With nine semesters of French and six months of living in Senegal between us, we weren’t sure of most of what was on the menu. But, my faux-filet poivre vert and Roger’s canard avec pommes et miel were both very good, and even better was our appetizer, tarte flambé. This seems to be a Strasbourg speciality of sorts, with a thin crepe-naan type bread covered in melted goat and munster cheese with bits of ham. It was incredible, softened our bottle of Metz Bleger pinot noir perfectly, and was ordered by nearly everyone else in the crowded restaurant (and, we noticed, was ordered five times by the three guys behind us). If you ever get to Strasbourg, make sure you try one for yourself. Dessert, a gewürztraminer ice cream and a pommestrudel, was pretty nondescript.
After the large, three and a half hour meal (our first since Friday night, unless you count meals on airplanes as meals), we headed back to the hotel, where we tried to eat the “mousse-puffs” which turned out to be overly-sweet marshmallow-fluff-filled chocolate shells. Not nearly as good as the bretzel aux lardon from the night before. And, of course, Roger discovered yet another episode of New York Police Judiciaire.


7 comments:

  1. Au Revoir, Raton is a children's story just waiting to be written! This guy looks like a nutria to me. I think there is a European population. Thanks for sharing your journey, and for your email. :)

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  2. I second "nutria" (we've got them here, too, although I doubt ours speak with adorable French accents), thought it saddens me that this is the only contribution I can make to this lovely post.

    Except to say: I love the new theme you're using! And I wish I were watching New York Police Judiciaire right now, because I secretly love Law & Order and everything is better when dubbed out of its native language.

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  3. Ladies, I think you are correct! If only I had some sort of a prize to give. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coypu

    And thanks for the comment on the theme, Carlea! I wanted to lighten it up a little. I loved the world map at the top of the old one, but the dark brown was getting a little too dark for me.

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  4. DON'T LET THAT RAT TOUCH YOU.

    I love Law & Order.

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  5. Ladies, I think you are correct! If only I had some sort of a prize to give. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coypu

    And thanks for the comment on the theme, Carlea! I wanted to lighten it up a little. I loved the world map at the top of the old one, but the dark brown was getting a little too dark for me.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Au Revoir, Raton is a children's story just waiting to be written! This guy looks like a nutria to me. I think there is a European population. Thanks for sharing your journey, and for your email. :)

    ReplyDelete
  7. The rodent looks like a Ondatra Zibethicus or Musk Rat

    ReplyDelete