Fountains and Lights in Strasbourg

Trip Start Aug 02, 2012
Trip End Aug 02, 2013

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Where I stayed
Camping Montagne Verte

Flag of France  , Alsace,
Sunday, August 26, 2012

We arrived in Strasbourg at the camping which is very conveniently located for heading in to town. When we checked in, the man gave us bus and tram instructions for heading in to town. He also suggested we pick up the Strasbourg pass which gives free entry and discounts on many sights for €14. It was valid for 3 days although we aren't sure how they would tell how many days you had been using it since there was no date anywhere on it.

We headed in to town and got off at the tram stop near the cathedral. We went in for a quick visit, but they were closing shortly afterwards so we decided to go back for a longer stop later. Our pass gave us entry in to the Astrological Clock showing at 12:30 in the cathedral so we waited by the gates until they let us in. The clock is 18 m tall and was built between 1838 and 1843. As well as showing the time, the clock tells you the day of the week, month and year. It also shows you sign of the zodiac, phase of the moon and position of many planets. There was a 20 minute video presentation at 12:00 that explained some of the history and mechanics behind the clock, as well as what parts would be moving in what sequence. Anoop took a video which hopefully will show the clock in action better than explaining it. The moving parts are as follows: an angel rings his bell, the old man moves in front of death, the apostles go before Jesus to be blessed, the rooster flaps his wings and crows 3 times as the 4th, 8th and 12th apostles go before Jesus, a different angel turns over his hourglass, death rings his bell. It was all quite incredible to see and it would have been great to get a look at the mechanics behind it all as I imagine they are quite impressive. Once we were done, we headed out in search of a good menu for lunch.

We followed the recommendation in Let’s Go which is always good for more budget options for eating out and wandered down a cute street right beside the cathedral. We liked the "plats du jour" at "Le vieux Strasbourg" and sat down at one of the tables outside. For lunch, Anoop had “choucroute garni”, hot sauerkraut with different cuts of meat on top and potatoes which is a specialty of the region. I had the “bouchées de la reine” which were small pieces of chicken in a mushroom cream sauce with noodles and a flaky butter pastry. It was absolutely delicious! We both staggered out of there thinking that we could easily have shared a plate and had a salad to go with it.

We then headed back to the cathedral to take photos and admire the stained glass and amazing organ. It was also a bit emptier so we were able to get some more photos of the clock. Afterwards, we walked down along the river bank to “Petite France” which was a very cute area with lots of half-timbered houses.  We got to watch the tour boats going through the lock and ended up at the tower bridge. The bridge had 3 watch towers built along it to defend the city. Also behind it was the Vauban dam which we couldn’t see because of scaffolding. We continued wandering along the walking route until it starting raining and we decided we were ready to head back to camp. 

The next day, we headed back in to town so that we could take advantage of the other things in our pass booklet. We headed to the Batorama pier first because we got a free 1 ¼ hour tour down the river on the boat with an audioguide to explain what we were seeing. Normally we wouldn’t head to this sort of thing, but since it was included, we decided to check it out. We arrived at lunch time for the 12:30 trip and had the whole aisle to ourselves as well as no one in front or behind us for several rows. It was definitely a good time to go for a tour! One commentary that particularly stuck in our mind as we passed a building was that there had been a fire and everyone had to climb out the window and leap to safety below. Unfortunately, a monk got stuck climbing out and about 25 others were left stuck in the building. We quite enjoyed the ride and felt it was a nice relaxing way to start the day. Afterwards, we headed up the cathedral tower for an incredible view from the top. You climb 332 steps until you are (66) metres above the ground. Luckily there is an up and a down staircase so we didn’t have to move over as we encountered people; the staircase was a spiral and quite narrow. The view over the rooftops was amazing and it was great to see the tower and bell from so much closer. There was an older man there with his granddaughter and he was telling her that when he and his wife were small, they could climb right to the very top of the tower. I don’t think I would have liked the smaller viewing area up there and an even narrower staircase to get to it!

Also as part of our pass, we got free admission to one of Strasbourg’s museums. We were deciding between two of them and Anoop went with the Lonely Planet recommendation for the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art rather than the Palais Rohan display of rich furnishings and decorative pieces. We were lured by the description of Picasso, Monet and Renoir and since we quite enjoy their work, thought that it might be interesting to visit. The top floor reminded us of why we don’t like contemporary art. As we were baffled by many of the items on display, including a large wall size canvas that was painted entirely the same shade of brown, we finished the top floor in no time flat. Deciding that we did have time for a café after all, we headed out to the rooftop terrace for a great view of the tower bridge and the Vauban dam from the other side (this time not covered up) as well as the cathedral in the background. We enjoyed a café au lait in the sun and admired the view. Anoop, feeling the creative energy after the contemporary art exhibit, decided to artfully arrange the sugar cubes and take some photos which he felt were worthy enough to donate to the museum later on. Afterwards, we headed back downstairs with higher hopes for the ground floor. We were pleased to see art that we recognized and many of the artists we do enjoy. They had several Picaso pieces, Rodin’s “the thinker”, one Monet and Renoir as well as many others. They had it set up as a timeline of the first sort of modern art and how it evolved over the years. It was much more enjoyable than the top floor! They also had a short term exhibit of works by Max Klinger who is famous for his etchings. It was incredible how detailed they were and how many lines were used to create a single picture.

We headed back to “Petite France” to look for a tarte flambée since Anoop had only sampled mine the other day. Instead, we were pleased to find our first “menu” for a reasonable price. Our “menu” was a 3 course dinner with lots of choice for each course. Since the restaurant wasn’t open yet, we headed over to take some more photos and to call Anne to say hi. Once it opened, we sat in the lower part in a glassed in terrace on the water. It was on the back part of the water, not the touristy part, so the prices seemed more reasonable than across the street. First we had ½ tarte flambée each which was delicious. It was followed by “confit de canard” which is a leg of duck which has been left in a salted brine and then cooked. It was served with a stuffed tomato, side salad, potatoes with a mild sour cream and sauerkraut on the side. For dessert, Anoop had a “fondant au chocolat”, a soft-centered brownie with a runny custard sauce and two huge helpings of whipped cream. I stuck to my trusty vanilla ice cream which never fails to please! We left feeling stuffed, but glad that we had finally found a tasty menu for dinner for the bargain price of €14.60 each, including tax and gratuity.

We finished up around 8:30 and decided to walk over to the “Place des étoiles” where there was a light, fountain & musical show at 10:00. Apparently, Strasbourg does this every year and it is much anticipated. This year, they had done a history theme with Strasbourg over time, all done through different genres of music. We found a spot along the riverbank and sat along the stone wall to wait. It definitely got more crowded as 10:00 approached. We had no idea what to expect and were definitely wowed once it started. The display was incredible – I’ve never seen anything like it. They projected various images up on to the side of the building as they progressed through the history. As this is being projected, music is playing and the fountains are spurting up in time to the music, along with various lights. They would also make a fine mist and project scenes on to that which was really amazing to watch. There were fireworks and everything. The whole show was 25 minutes long and we couldn’t believe how fabulous it was – definitely a highlight so far!

We then walked back to the cathedral because they were having a sound and light show there as well. It was about 15 minutes long and they projected different coloured lights on to the side of the cathedral in time to music. Everyone stood in the street in front of the cathedral to watch. The colours were quite impressive and it was great when they lit the stained glass window from behind because they colours really stood out. They would light up different parts of the cathedral in time to the music which was also amazing. We headed back to camp tired, but really glad that we had decided to stay in late and see both events!
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Mom on

Lovely photos, kids. I think the traditional costume of Alsace is very becoming, Anoop.

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