Well, we made it! We have officially moved in to a cute flat on Grand Rue in the heart of the city of Strasbourg. We arrived in France a few days ago and the adjustment has been quite the whirlwind. After a record number of hours traveling, we arrived at what we shall now call “home,” exhausted, nervous, and excited for the new adventure we were starting.
After all night on a plane plus 4 hours on a train, we pulled our suitcases over the cobblestone for about ten minutes.. just enough to have every local Frenchman and woman stare at us for making so much noise on a Sunday. (It was silent.. we were very loud. Not a great start to blending in.) The good news is the flat is in the middle of EVERYTHING, it is a perfect location we couldn’t be happier with.
The day and a half here were a little rough. The adventure we just embarked on finally hit us full force. The realization that for the next month we would we living in a town where no one spoke our language and we didn’t know how to find groceries or even how to ask where they were. Our first dinner out was a wake-up call when our google translate app wouldn’t translate our menus and we didn’t understand a word the waitress said. Luckily, she was very kind, and at least pointed to things and said “Cheese,” “Sausage,” “Onions.” We ended up ordering a traditional tarte flambeé and immediately placing ourselves into Alsatian culture.
After the initial adjustment day, things quickly went from nerve-wracking to awesome. It only took us a day or so to take a deep breath and learn some helpful french phrases and we can now say we are loving our time here. We are on day four and already feel so much more comfortable.
Brad, as ALWAYS, doesn’t need a phone or a map to get anywhere. He literally always knows where we are and where to go. Even when you toss him into a new country, after the first walk from the train station he can now get us anywhere on the island. It’s insane. I, as always, am perpetually lost. But that’s ok, that’s why we work. He guides us around and I photograph where he takes me. It’s a good system 🙂
Anyways, let’s get to the good stuff. Enter: PETITE FRANCE.
Petite France is the quaint and historic section of Strasbourg. The architecture is specifically Alsatian and you feel as if you have stepped onto a page of Hansel & Gretel. We cross every street in awe of it’s beauty. Every alleyway is an adventure. Every windy corridor opens to another beautiful square with colorful tudor buildings everywhere you look. I honestly say to Brad “This is my new favorite street!” probably 10 times a day.
The River Ile cuts through the city and combines with the canals to situate Petite France on it’s own little island. The island is only about 2.5 miles, I believe, and we have literally walked everywhere for the past 3 days. Even when you venture off the island and into mainland Strasbourg, the city is so setup for walking and biking, you don’t see many cars at all. (Which is a good thing- the streets are incredibly narrow and winding.)
This ‘Petite France’ area is just a dream come true. Some streets are shopping streets with shoe stores, jewelry shops, and typical high-end brands. Some streets seem to have endless pastry shops, while some streets are full of cheese shops and little markets. We have stopped for pastries once so far, although I’m sure many more stops are in our future. A crepe shop is our next indulgence! The restaurants are plentiful, although we can never read what they serve, we will do some research and pick a good one later this week.
We have learned a lot about the culture, although we still have a lot of research to do! For example, there is one little strip of town where all the touristy shops seem to be. We have wandered through and noticed that storks seemed to be a common theme. There are storks everywhere! There are storks in store logos, stork slippers, postcards, figurines, ornaments, clothing. However, the downside to not speaking French is we can never just ask someone… “Hey! What’s with all the storks??” We have to wait till we are back in our apartment and can research it. It slows down our learning process a little bit, but we are still picking it up. (For those wondering, we did the research. Apparently storks are in a lot of Alsatian folktalkes and fables, always bringing good luck and peacefulness. So they adopted it into their culture. Think, shamrocks for Ireland and seagulls for Salt Lake City.)
For now, I will just leave you with a few more pictures of Petite France’s beautiful architecture, as I literally can not get enough of it. I took 400 pictures on day 2… mostly of houses and buildings. 🙂 Let us know what you think so far – comment below!