Capitale de Noël

 

Ella S. is currently a senior at SYA France and a blogger for the Campus Reporter program. She comes to SYA from University School of Nashville in Tennessee. 

You haven’t experienced Christmas until you’ve been to Strasbourg. A city situated in the north-east of France, it’s full of wooden chalets and alsacien (a mix of French and German) culture and cuisine. It’s also considered the “Capitale de Noël,” which is why five of my friends and I decided to visit for our first independent travel.

Friday afternoon we rushed out of our last period classes, grabbed our suitcases, and set off for the train station. Our smiles were giddy as we were sent off by our classmates’ goodbyes and “Have fun!”s. We successfully made it to Paris, switched train stations via the crowded metro, and arrived in Strasbourg all in one piece, although a bit tired and hungry. We settled in at our hotel and got some rest in preparation for the upcoming day.

We started off our day in La Petite France, located just outside of the center with half-timbered houses lining winding canals. We followed the cobblestone streets to a small cafe where we grabbed a quick coffee and breakfast. We were pleasantly surprised to find they glaze their chocolate croissants here. We wandered around until we found ourselves in the markets (there are 10 scattered throughout the city!) Decorations adorned every building and lights were strung between every street. Glistening angels with trumpets announced our arrival and plush bears welcomed us with furry paws held wide.

The largest market was situated in front of the cathedral -- the most beautiful building I have ever seen. Its size was intimidating, and its ornate facade was awe-inspiring. Its magic seemed to radiate from the rose (thanks art history!) and animate the market stalls below. Carrying everything from ornaments to wooden figurines to kugelhopf cakes, the stalls were both mesmerizing and endless. It was as if each would transport me into a new world, one of white feathers and sparkling snow and twinkling lights with the smell of pain d'epice wafting through the air.

None of us could have been prepared for Strasbourg at night. The strings of lights we had noticed earlier now illuminated the small streets beneath. Shooting stars and gingerbread men beckoned us as we continued to explore the city, and not an inch had been left undecorated. The central square, Place Kleber, contained a gigantic christmas tree, lit up and covered in ornaments, sparkling against the night sky. As we walked down a sidestreet, lined with white sparking branches, mossy decor, feathers, gold stars and of course many, many lights, the tune of “silver bells” filled the air. We soon saw the source, a man with his trumpet, and we joined the crowd around him. Standing there with the music filling our ears, we were overcome with pure joy and gratitude. We were all together in one of the most magical cities in France, able to experience what I now might consider the eighth wonder of the world. Never would I have considered such a thing possible, yet here we were. Strasbourg, thank you.

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