Dwight Peck's personal website

Colmar and Strasbourg

Summer 2002 swooped in fast, blasted by over our heads with an acrid smell, and disappeared over the horizon. Mr Peck, for a very large number of work-related reasons, was unable to plan any holidays from 2001 right all the way through 2002, and probably well into the spring of 2003 for that matter.

Nonetheless, Ms Marlowe Tyson Peck was able to take time from her busy schedule to come over for a two-week visit in mid- to late August 2002, during which time she camped on Mont Tendre, hiked in Italy, and went to see Colmar and Strasbourg in nearby France. And played computer games.

You may not find this interesting 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.


Colmar has a stunning old city, several acres with a solid 16th and early 17th century look to the architecture (half-timbering and jettied floors over the narrow streets), and a presentable cathedral.

Young Marlowe and traveling companion Lisa viewing the sights in Colmar, August 2002

Marlowe and Dad thinking about lunch

An important 16th century merchant's house, with the cathedral over on the right.

Marlowe and friend Lisa strolling round town for an afternoon

The "house of heads" (maison des têtes) - a gazillion little heads stuck all over the front of the house, quite creepy.

The Djerba restaurant (far, far from Tunisia).

Marlowe and Lisa, after dinner, recreating a scene from a 1950s surrealist movie.


has got all that European Parliament new-monumentalist-gothic stuff, of course, luckily in another part of the city, and the Old Town is compactly drawn up around the cathedral, similarly doable in a nice afternoon of strolling all about.

Marlowe and Lisa counting up how many euros they've got left (left), strolling down a street of closed-up shops on a Sunday (right).

The cathedral square, from the front door. The Strasbourg cathedral has got one of the all-time tourist wonders, the "Strasbourg clock" tucked away in a Mary chapel near one of the side doors -- constructed to the plans of a local mathematician in 1574, this enormous mass of interconnected machinery calculates just about everything scientifically known at the time about planets, suns, earth, the whole universe, and in the later 17th century became a metaphor for the emerging empirical views of a causal "clockwork" universe that brought science and technology out of the Middle Ages.

But the admission line for the clock went half round the cathedral, nearly as far as all the fake gypsy beggars on the front steps, so Marlowe didn't get to see the clock on this visit.

The best discussion of the Strasbourg clock as a metaphor in 17th century debates about the nature of the universe is Franklin L. Baumer, Religion and the Rise of Scepticism (Harcourt, 1960), chapter 2.

The Strasbourg cathedral looming over buildings in the next neighborhood.

Just a few hours drive from the Geneva area past Bâle and Mulhouse, Colmar and Strasbourg are fine places that really need to be visited by Pecks more often than they have been heretofore.

And with better timing -- the art museum in Strasbourg had been turned over to a temporary exhibition of some doofus Fragonard knock-off and all our favorite Old Masters had been huddled into a few rooms of just one wing and, worse, the basement.

Summer 2002

Colmar in 2010

Strasbourg in 2011

Feedback and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative, . All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Posted 27 October 2002, revised 19 March 2011, 10 February 2014.

Marlowe Tyson Peck