Saturday, December 29, 2012

Colmar

I've been wanting to visit Colmar since the last time I was in France. I knew it was a picturesque city (town really) but I didn't know anything about it beyond that. It's only about 40 minutes away by train from Strasbourg so I took my last day in the area to check it out. From the moment I arrived in the city center, I was beaming! It was exactly what I had hoped for, and as a pleasant surprise, the Christmas markets we open as well. I thought they would be shut up by then, but no- luck was on my side!






I wasn't sure why there were bunnies in the Christmas market, but I was just happy they were there!

Blue skies, all day!



Many towns seem to have that one quintessential or picturesque street, but past that, there's not a whole lot going on- not the case with Colmar. I must have taken a photo of just about every single building there!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Strasbourg- Part 2

After a delayed start caused by forgotten keys, we were off! Muriel had told me she needed to get some grocery shopping and errands done- in Germany! Strasbourg is right on the border, and through different points in history, part of the Germany. Food and other goods can be significantly cheaper, and with no passport checks and only a 10 minute drive, it's easy enough to go. My excitement over going probably seemed a bit excessive, especially as it was a bit like someone saying "You're going from Michigan to Indiana for groceries!?! Can I come?"

Honestly, except for the change in language on products, there was no real difference, especially since it is mostly the same stores in France as Germany. Still- Germany!

The most German thing I could find!
Afterward I was dropped off in town, which allowed me to get some food and then explore the town as night fell. The day before we had left too early, but this time I had a chance to take photos of all the lovely Christmas lights around town.









Another advantage of Strasbourg is the it is one of Kzoo's study abroad partners. Helene, my sophomore year French TA lives there, and 4 years later, we were able to see each other again! I went out for drinks at the Waikiki bar with her and her friends and then we continued on to Brazilian food for dinner (which was amazing!) It was quite an experience to have conversations in French with the person who taught me numbers in French!



Thursday, December 27, 2012

Strasbourg- Part 1

I left Moulins early on the 26th to get a carpool up to Strasbourg. The drive took most of the day, but I arrived in time to meet my couchsurfing host before she headed to work that night. While Muriel was at work, it gave me an oppurtunity to hang out with the family; her boyfriend, son (Theophile, age 4) and daughter (Thais, 2). It also gave me the chance to watch Cars 2, Theophile's Christmas present. While I got settled in on the first night, on our first day together Muriel, Theophile, Thais and I headed out into Strasbourg to visit the city and all of the Christmas markets.

Strasbourg calls itself the "Capital of Christmas" and I have to say that I'm inclined to agree! 

Large Christmas tree in one of the main squares- oh and me!

The little village under the Christmas tree
The Christmas markets have all kinds of things for sale, though ornaments, snacks, confections, lights and artisan products are the most popular.

I love you, ginger bread!
I think Shane would like this stall!
Astronomical clock in the cathedral
Stained glass inside the Cathedrale
More gingerbread decorating the Tourism Office

The ornaments I bought at the market :)

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas in Moulins

Last night Brenna and I celebrated Christmas Eve in Moulins with the very traditional dinner of pizza, salad and bouchettes ( little pastry Yule logs). Oh, and champagne of course.

We had a walk around today and while we didn't make it to church last night or this morning, we did peak out heads in today to see the baby Jesus finally in the nativity scene. We have some others arriving tonight to continue the festivities and then I leave for Strasbourg early tomorrow morning to see the famous Christmas markets.

I live and miss you all.
Joyeux Noël

Friday, December 21, 2012

Christmas Treasure Hunt

I love my roommates before, but I lived them even more when I saw what they left behind for me as they headed home for Christmas.

As I returned to an empty apartment after my last class on Friday I had a card waiting for me on the table. It wasn't just a card, it was a map for a scavenger hunt and Christmas presents.


Maria was clearly in charge of the decorations as I had some faces staring back at me as I opened the hall closet and the one in her room.


By the end, I was crying because of the thought and effort they had put in. It was a marvelous start to the vacation.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

English Club Christmas Lunch


Every year the English club of Montluçon holds a Christmas meal. What makes a Christmas dinner English? Well, from what I saw; Christmas crackers, figgy pudding, bourbon butter, carols and, to the shock of all the French people in attendance ENGLISH CHEESE!


I had a wonderful time with lovely conversation and delicious food. It made for a wonderful Christmas ambiance.

Moi et Murielle :)

Later that night we went to the Christmas concert of Murielle's choral. It was lovely and held in a beautiful chapel I had never been in before.


A good start to the Christmas Festivities.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Christmas Music

Note to self: take off "I'll be home for Christmas" from Christmas music playlist when living abroad...

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Fête des Lumières à Lyon

Fete des Lumieres is held annually around December 8th each year to honor the Virgin Mary. In 1643 Lyon was struck by the plague and if they were spared, they would pay tribute to the Virgin Mary in part by placing candles in the windows of all the buildings in Lyon.


In 1852 a statue of Maria was erected by the basilica and since the inauguration the festivities have been held in a more official, organized celebration. 

We only had one night in Lyon but we fit in many of the lights, the Christmas Market, and the animated spectacle. We could have seen more but the VERY cold weather meant we were often ducking into the bars to warm up our feet. 

At the Christmas Market- I can't wait for the Strasbourg one!





So many lovely lights!


Candles lit in church for the Virgin Mary

During the show at le Place de Terreaux

These looked like lit up tulips to me :)

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Sunsets over Montlucon


That's the Chateau on the right with the bell tower

I arrived back home at Lycee Madame de Stael just in time to see the sky turn a beautiful pink, purple, blue and red as the sun set. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

It may be only a foot tall, but I still have my Christmas tree here on my desk in France! Complete with "tinsel" and stars. It also has some very French company of and Obelix figurine and a France travel guide pedestal. Oh, but what's that? A letter from home/ Santa waiting for the 25th!


It even lights up!