La famille Maher en Alsace

Vendredi dernier, I took le train to Saint Louis, followed by un bus to the airport to collect ma chère famille. Après picking up a few of the free mini œufs au chocolat (Basel airport knows how to please its visitors), ma famille est arrivée!


Merci beaucoup Euroairport!

Quelques minutes plus tard, we learnt that ma mère had made an error with the car hire booking; pour les français, 9.30pm is 21:30, not simplement 9.30. Félicitations for that one mum, you truly outdid yourself! That aside, all went (roughly) to plan; plans had to be altered to accommodate the lack of une voiture but it was still un week-end super. Après avoir déposé (?) my parents at their hotel, Vicki and I headed to mon appartement where we watched There’s Something About Mary avant d’avoir a midnight feast.

On Saturday, j’étais le guide de Colmar for my family; “guide” is used in a loose sense ici, as my historical knowledge of Colmar is minimal. After a detour via the market in Place St Joseph and une boulangerie (for the all-essential pain au choco smarties) we met nos parents for le p’ti déj. Having already “researched” Colmar’s meilleur café for breakfast, I led them to ‘Maestro del Caffè’, where €4,50 gets you une boisson chaude (hot chocolate, bien sûr), un jus d’orange (so much nicer than the budget juice…), un croissant/un pain au chocolat (toujours the latter for me) et une petite viennoiserie (apricot flavoured this time).


le p’ti déj; bienvenue à Colmar

It rained toute la journée (which has never happened before!) but the tour continued nonetheless. Tout d’abord, we saw the marchés de Pâques (a little like les marchés de Noël) complete with tous les animaux: adorable little chicks, ducks (y compris les canards mandarins and two entirely green ducks), goats and rabbits.


très mignon


green ducks!


aux marchés de Pâques

Une vendeuse was delighted to offer us tasters of her “resine des Vosges, extra fort” (essentiellement, hard boiled sweets) and I made the mistake of choosing the eucalyptus flavoured one…whoops. Ensuite, we went in la cathédrale; Dad was un peu confused by the fact that the organ was off-centre. We continued the tour of les marchés de Pâques, buying un bretzel sucré for Vicki and pausing for une boisson dans un café. The indoor section was filled with stalls selling various forms of œuf: wooden, au natural, painted, quartz, stone.


aux marchés de Pâques


Place de l’ancienne douane

To fuir la pluie, we went in le marché couvert…where Mum bought un bretzel Munster (ew!).


le marché couvert (à gauche)

Next, on a vu Petite Venise (normalement a tourist hot-spot, but clearly la pluie had driven them all away on this occasion) before exploring the side streets and ending up at ‘Bisch de Bruche’ and having an extensive tasting of pain d’épices.


Petite Venise


pain d’épices

After a short photo stop à la Maison des Têtes, we headed back to mine for a (très) late lunch.


Maison des Têtes

Plus tard, we ventured back into town (with a short detour to obtain a souvenir petite cigogne) for tea at la meilleure crêperie, ‘Le Palais des Légendes’ (crêperie trips are something of a ritual pour ma famille). Comme d’habitude, I had une galette nature (pour ceux who haven’t already tried one, get yourselves to Brittany immédiatement!) whilst ma famille ate more exciting versions.




mes parents

This was then suivi par a delicious fruits de bois crêpe.




crêpe time

On our way back, I pointed out the hôtel de ville (town hall, for the uninitiated), to which ma mère exclaimed “Stop Frank! That’s our hotel!”…spectacular idiot abroad moment right there!

Le dimanche de Pâques began with un pain au chocolat (shaped like a croissant, pourquoi?!) en route to la gare.

Colmar station 5.04.15

A promising start to the day, non?

Le train était un peu en retard but we arrived in Strasbourg with plenty of time to découvrir la ville (and as a major plus, il y avait du SOLEIL!). Comme la dernière fois, the first stop was les ponts couverts and Petite France.

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Les ponts couverts


tous ensemble


Petite France

We then went to the café I went to with Catherine and Sierra pour une verre (or un chocolat chaud in my case), followed by a stop for Vicki to try her first-ever waffle avant d’aller à la cathédrale to join the (very long, because it was gratuit) queue for the tower.

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premier gaufre de sa vie

Après une heure d’attente (and a few comments directed at the queue-jumping Français….how dare they?) we made it up to the top. Depuis la cathédrale, we could see the Vosges and the Black Forest en Allemagne.


Palais Rohan depuis la cathédrale

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vue panoramique


nous sommes best friends

We then went inside la cathédrale, to admire les vitrails and to see the (oh so underwhelming) astronomical clock display.


Part of my favourite stained glass window

Ensuite on a vu le Palais Rohan, taking advantage of the “free entry on the first Sunday of the month” and having a whistle-stop tour of le musée des arts décoratifs (which was more like wandering around a stately home).


musée des arts décoratifs


la cathédrale


What a lovely addition to her head…

We got lunch from ‘La Mie Câline’ (=The Cuddly Crumb, trop cute) before having a(nother) boisson. We then visited le musée alsacien (assez intéressant and also free) avant d’aller au jardin botanique.


musée alsacien


musée alsacien

By this point, nous étions pas loin from the Parc de l’Orangerie, so against the desires of les jambes de ma mère we continued walking vers le parc. We entered the park from a different entrance, which led straight to un lac (?) and une chute d’eau (which avant cette visite, I had no idea existed).


Parc de l’Orangerie

Tous nos rêves came true, when une cigogne descended from its nest and began parading around devant nous. One delighted femme française squealed “Je vais faire une selfie avec la cigogne!”; clearly les Français are just as obsédé par les selfies as us Brittaniques.


une cigogne

Since we were so close to le Parlement Européen we saw that, alongside the Conseil de l’Europe and the Cour des Droits de l’Homme (the latter two being utterly hideous bâtiments) before returning to le centre-ville.


Parlement Européen


Conseil de l’Europe


Cour des Droits de l’Homme

We decided to manger quelque chose à Strasbourg and take a later train back; ‘P’tit Croc’ is un restaurant fantastique for cheap (yet delicious) French food!

Le lendemain (lundi de Pâques), Vicki and I got up earlier to chercher le petit déjeuner en ville: chausson aux pommes for Vicki, chocolat-banane triangle for me. Après a detour to pick up Mum and Dad, nous sommes allés à la gare to catch the train to Basel. Premièrement, Dad took beaucoup de photos of the International Settlements Building, a true contender for the ugliest building in Basel (n’ayez pas peur, the photos were purely for business, not because he liked the look of the building). Ensuite, we walked towards la vielle ville, via the Tinguely fountains.


Tinguely fountains

Après avoir bu quelque chose (or not in my case), we saw the hôtel de ville (or Rathaus, if you prefer le mot allemand) before heading towards the Rhine.




Le Rhin/ the Rhine


view of la ville

We had a wander around la vieille ville before heading to la cathédrale. Inside la cathédrale there was a huge floral/springtime display, as well as quelques moutons bleus (not real, bien sûr).


Stained glass, incorporating the symbol of the canton of Basel (in grey)


Inside the cathedral

Dad, Vicki and I then decided to monter la tour (Mum sat this one out); unlike la cathédrale in Strasbourg, there was no one-way system and certain sections n’avaient pas de lumière. From the top there was a great vue panoramique, stretching across le Rhin to la Forêt Noire with a bird’s eye view of the blue sheep exposition dans les cloîtres.


The Rhine and blue sheep from above

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Panoramic view of Basel, west side


un mouton bleu!


a flock of blue sheep

We then found un chocolat chaud (in my case, au moins) avant d’aller à co-op to get a picnic, which we ate next to les fontaines Tinguely (avec a little pug – which we referred to as Pugsy – watching us tout le temps). Next we went to le parc zoologique de Bâle, which was très busy but worth it. À la caisse, we asked about the family ticket (since it said “20 ans”, without specifying whether it meant “up to” or “including”), to be told that I needed le billet jeune and (to Vicki) “Is she 20 as well?”. Oh la pauvre, she’s aged before her time! Comme la dernière fois, the zoo was fantastique with beaucoup d’animaux which can’t be seen au parc zoologique de Chester (e.g. hippos, snow leopards, gorillas et plus) alongside many more which can.


the (not-so) enormous crocodile (x2)


un petit sanglier


un (petit) lion de mer


un léopard des neiges


un paon


such lovely feathers…


Looks like he wouldn’t hurt a fly…


une lionne


a beautiful cigogne and its chick(?) stealing the limelight


un cygne noir


…and a cute little hippo!

Ensuite, we returned to Colmar; mes parents found une bière/un verre de vin, whilst I opted for un jus de pommes-framboises chaud aux marchés de Pâques. Nous sommes allés à Jupiler Café for tea (great schnitzel) avant de retourner to their hotel pour un verre (and to collect my Easter chocolate supply). Merci beaucoup pour me rendre visite; c’était un week-end super!

À plus (one of these days I’ll learn how to use WordPress and make galleries, until then this blog will have to make do with my incompetency at such things)

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