Saturday, May 30, 2009

Cheating on Paris.

About six months before I launched Queenie Takes Manhattan, Louisa and I took a two-week trip to Europe. In addition to being a two-week long confirmation of the fact that we were destined to be best friends (we traveled together really, really well), it was a fantastic tour of some of Europe's most beautiful spots (Épernay excepted, though it gets a pass for the fantastic, sparkly hooch.).

We started off with five days in Prague, and knew we wanted to spend time in Champagne and Paris - but had no stop in the middle. Louisa wasn't terribly keen on Germany, so I did a little research and decided we would spend three days in Strasbourg as a way to break the journey from Prague to Reims.

We loved Prague, we had a fantastic, posh, tipsy time in Champagne, and Paris is Paris - but Strasbourg took us by surprise. It's an amazing place. Tiny but cultured (thanks in no small part to the university and the EU Parliament and Court of Human Rights), it's a gorgeous little mashup of French and German culture - luxurious but down-to-earth, fashionable but practical. It's flat and walkable, with a great tram system and miles upon miles of bike paths.

We had our best meal of the trip at Chez Yvonne, a vinstub (a sort of wine tavern) on one of the old town's tiny cobblestone streets. We also had some of the best pastry of our lives (Thanks, Pâtisserie Christian!), stayed in one of the most unexpectedly adorable hotels, and woke up each morning to the bells chiming in the pink - PINK! - cathedral.

In short, we found Strasbourg to be a most magical place - I'm still toying with the idea of moving there - and I would love to go back as soon as possible.

Barring that, I comb the interwebs for doses of Strasbourg-eosity whenever possible. This morning I came across this Flickr set (courtesy of Mike G. K.), and was promptly whisked away by a fantasy in which I decorate an apartment in central Strasbourg with finds from Paris' flea markets and some well-chosen Ikea bits and bobs, and then spend my days wandering Strasbourg's streets and writing about the city's magical charms. And, of course, get paid very, very well for it all. Sigh.

Thanks, Mike.

Photos of everything but the pastry courtesy of Mike G. K.'s Flickr stream.

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