Strasbourg

We spent a few days in Strasbourg at an amazing airbnb outside the city center. We had the most gracious hosts that spoiled the kids. They completely stocked our fridge with breakfast items, made sure the boys had toys and candy,  and even set up a Christmas tree for us. I tell ya…I am loving airbnb! We saved money by buying other groceries at the market down the street. Crazy cheap prices! As much as I love french food, you have to cut costs where you can when travelling… and frozen pizzas help with that.

We walked around Petite France a bit, eating crepes, stopping at playgrounds, and feeding ducks along the canals. This is a charming historic quarter with half timbered homes, cafe’s and shops. If I were to stay in Strasbourg again this is the area I would choose. Very picturesque! This was the day before the opening Christmas market so the business owners and home owners were all out decorating.

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The reason we came to Strasbourg was for the opening night of the famous Christmas market. It’s called the Capitol of Christmas as its been held since 1570! There are 12 market locations spread over the city and they really do go all out with decorating. We almost didn’t make it to the event as just days before there was an arrest of some men in the city  whom had been planning a terrorist attack. We read and reread every piece of media pertaining to the arrests and whether the event would be cancelled or if it was even smart to go. There wasn’t a lot of information released as to where the attacks were planned, just that the attack was “long envisioned” and “multiple locations”.  By the day of the market opening information started to trickle out that the attacks had been planned for December 1 (a few days later) and that the market would go on (with heavy security). So we decided to go but not to linger in the areas that were heavily populated.

I’m so glad we went because it was such a magical event. The Notre Dame Strasbourg was absolutely stunning at night. The food was amazing, the street performers, and the ambiance was just a fun experience. I preferred the smaller, more intimate markets with the boys but it was worth going just to experience how grand it was. I didn’t get too many pictures because we were on high alert with the terrorist scare but here are a few of the ones I was able to shoot. Wish I had more to do it justice!

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Strasbourg Notre Dame

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Pretzel beignet. We bought one to share and it was so good we had to go back for more.

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We’ve now visited a few French cities in the north and now we need to plan  Paris and French Riviera trips! Oh, and Normandy too. There is just so much to see in this country I don’t know where we will find the time.

Colmar

We had a day in France where we had no plans so we decided to visit a small city an hour south of Strasbourg. It has such a well preserved, charming, and picturesque old town. There are cobblestone streets, canals, and of course plenty of amazing food. There is nothing like eating crepes in France! Colmar is on the Alsace wine route so it’s a popular destination for wine lovers.

You really could spend an entire day walking around old town but it was cold and we opted to take the little green train tour. The tour is about 45 minutes long and provided headphones to listen to information on the sites. I imagine this city would be gorgeous in late spring but Christmas is such a magical time to visit cities in Europe. Europeans do Christmas right with the homes and shops so festively decorated. We visited the day before the opening of the Christmas market but I can imagine it would be beautiful.

A fun fact about Colmar: the creator of the Statue of Liberty was born here!

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Beautiful half timbered homes in Old Town

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Kellan said this green house was his favorite

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chocolate!!!!!

 

Lille

During our three days in Belgium we decided to take a day trip into France. I pretty much looked at the map and randomly picked a city not far from the border. Lille, France it is! We knew we wanted to do something outdoors so I just looked for green patches of land indicating a park and we headed straight there. It took about an hour driving from Bruges.

Thankfully we ended up at a complete gem. This park was beautiful; right on the Deule river with a carnival, cafe, playground, and best of all a free zoo! It ended up being a perfect outing for the kids. I couldn’t believe it didn’t  cost anything! In England we would have paid at least £10 per person. I never did catch the actual name of the park but the zoo is called Zoo de Lille if you are ever in the area.

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After the zoo we drove into the city center and spent about an hour walking around the square. We didnt go into anything, just admired the architecture and took pictures. The day was very windy and cold so the kids weren’t exactly feeling it anymore. Naps were much needed. So we cut the day a little short and headed back to Belgium. All in all it was a good day trip and would be a good place to stop if you were driving through the area.

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