The Alsace region, home to almost 2 million French people on the German border, has changed hands quite a few times over it’s history. The original language in the area, Alsatian, is more similar to German than French but because of a push for French from higher up it is unfortunately fading away.
In Mexico, and other parts of Latin America, when you get to a junction in a big city it’s common to see people trying to make money. They juggle, wash cars, sell things or provide some other kind of entertainment. It turns out that this happens in Strasbourg too, however the guy that I saw was playing a violin – a fine ‘welcome to France’. In a similar way, the mobile shoe cleaners were sat in trailers attached to bicycles so they could get around.
The local dish is the Tarte Flambée. It’s like a pizza, but with a super-thin crust and with white cheese, onions and bacon instead of the regular pizza toppings. It’s thankfully not so expensive, and especially when your Warmshowers host knows the best place to go, where they have cheap ones for sale during happy hour. The other local delight was the visit to the bakery to get croissants in the morning, so deliciously soft. They’re fun to eat, either by breaking them into small pieces but then the flakes fall everywhere. To get around this, one way to eat them involves dunking them in coffee or whatever you’re drinking with your breakfast. It’s done at home, but you might get funny looks doing it in a café.
The other place to visit in Alsace is Colmar, it’s got a glorious medieval centre, of which the highlight is certainly La Maison des Têtes (pictured below) because it just looks so wonderfully different. There is also a small part called Little Venice, which looks quite picturesque. My hosts were a local family through Warmshowers. Olivier & Clarisse were a bit nervous about their English, so I get to practice some of my French – definitely could do with more work! They have two young girls, Zélie and Zoé who had been taken on a few short bike trips too and were really excited to show me their photo albums. The girls also gave me several flowers and crafts to stick on my bike to beautify it. Unfortunately, the flowers wilted in a couple of days, but until then I did have the prettiest bike in France!