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Views of Strasbourg in 2011

Long weekend getaways series


There's not enough work at the moment to make it worth sitting around waiting for more to drop over the transom, so we're off for a four-day exercise in gawking at half-timbered buildings.

You may not find this terribly rewarding unless you're included here, so this is a good time for casual and random browsers to turn back before they get too caught up in the sweep and majesty of the proceedings and can't let go.

Strasbourg, and La Petite France

We're very well settled in, and the neighborhood is starting to feel like home. Sort of.

Greeted by the Maison Kammerzell as we march out each morning for our breakfast crêpes

I'm on the look-out for University of Kansas sweatshirts, but everything's just about Strasbourg here. This is the Rue du Maroquin (once the leatherworkers' street) between the Cathedral and the river.

Kristin's searching out the perfect gift for Marlowe's new baby, William Tyson Clark Filippov (but I'm recommending waiting to find a University of Kansas bib).

A long procession of great restaurants ("choucroute garni"!)

There's no downside to memorizing every menu in the city if you can manage it.

The scenic heart of the city, the Piglet Market (the Marché-aux-cochons-de-lait), near the river

The Marché-aux-cochons-de-lait on a fine day

The Cathedral looming over the neighborhood

The Place des Tripiers. We're wandering scenically towards the Petite France.

Along the river Ill, nearing Petite France

We're just in time to see the Batorama going through the locks

Up she goes, evidently about two meters or so.

The Petite France district was built over a number of small parallel islands in the Ill at the western, downstream end of the main city island. Defensive towers were built over them in the 13th century, and this section of the city was occupied chiefly by the tanners, or leather-makers, a big deal here in early times, as well as the fishermen and sundry others.

The Place Benjamin Zix in the tanners' neighborhood of Petite France. The young lady is trying to get her lines right in some sort of televised presentation.

Her cameraman is reassuring her that it's all looking fine so far.

Period architecture. The area is called La Petite France because of late-medieval associations, both causal and medical apparently, with the 'French disease', syphilis.

That's the Maison des Tanneurs (Choucroute Garni!) . . .

. . . and the main street, the Rue du Bain-aux-Plantes. The tannin plants were grown right here and laid out everywhere to dry. (That'd be called littering now, but they didn't even have sewers back then (just the river).)

The Rue du Bain-aux-Plantes -- what's not a restaurant is a boutique. We don't care for boutiques but, otherwise, what's not to like.

Place B. Zix from the other direction

The dried tannin plants were known as 'lohkas', and lo -- a 16th century tavern still celebrates the grand tradition (not on its menu).

We're trying to imagine what this street would be like at midsummer.

Crossing bridges from one little island to the next.

Ditto

Until we've run out of parallel islands and prepare to turn back

Guild emblems all down the street (the pelletiers were the furriers)(the leather-makers got their leftovers)

The 'Awakening of the Senses'. A bold claim for a restaurant with three levels of the tourist menu.

We've come along now to the Château Rohan, tossed together in the 1730s, the (presumably) bachelor accommodations of the century-long Rohan dynasty of Strasbourg bishops. Famous guests, back in the day, include Louis XV and wife; Marie Antoinette before she got to be a queen; and Napoleon hisownself in 1805 (after the city donated the palace to him, likely hoping for some quo for the quid).

Totally bombed silly in 1944, like what wasn't, the palace has been beautifully restored and now it's got the superb Musée des Beaux-Arts for the beaux arts, an archaeological museum, and another one for decorative arts (mainly a walk around the restored rooms). They knew how to live, those old bishops!

Here's another superb masterwork of my favorite artist, Joachim Beuckelaer -- just in the past few months, we've scored six in the Capodimonte in Naples and another one in the Uffizi in Florence. This is the Marché aux poissons, or fish market, 1568.

With a whole palace to throw things around in, the curators don't have to cram it all in your face at the same time (like the Doria Pamphili in Rome). (For example.)

The museum was hosting an awkward exhibition of Hendrik Goltzius, who on the evidence here seems to have specialized in scrotal shots of renowned classical heroes falling through space -- this is his famous Icarus (1588), one of a set of six tastefully arranged here.

And this is Goltzius' notion of heroic musculature. That's Hercules. (The Wikipedia says that "his masterpieces . . . have perhaps been overpraised". That's not Michelangelo's David!)

The main courtyard of the Palace de Rohan, as we leave, forever disconcerted by Goltzius' sense of anatomy.

Just time for another quick refresher on the local menus (choucroute and ham-based, mainly, but Kristin's looking for rognons)

The Cathedral square resting up for the summer

"I wonder what the city would look like from up there."

-- Want to find out? (Tomorrow. It's on.)

Another boisterous demonstration in the Place Kléber -- not Berlusconi this time, not Fascism; certainly not the 2009 Gaza Massacres. Just some Strasbourg residents drumming up mass support for Senegal's consul to the city to be recalled.

Trams, take your marks. Get set! GO!

Back in the Place Gutenberg, near the Cathedral -- that's an 1840 bronze Gutenberg himself presiding over the Sucré-Salé snackbar. It's here that his movable type printing press first set off the Print Revolution, in the 1440s, that first provided inexpensive books to nearly everyone. (That was fun, but now we've got Kindles.)

Warming up under the covers before venturing out again to cruise the restaurant menus.


Feedback and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative, . All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Posted 19 March 2011.


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