Flock around the clock in Strasbourg
A STRATEGIC city of such historic dispute between France and Germany, lovely Strasbourg is a popular port on river cruises, which is why I am here, off the splendid Tauck Inspire, moving at a roaring pace to “do” the sights in just an afternoon. A visit to the famous 18m-tall astrological clock in Strasbourg’s soaring Cathedral de Notre-Dame is a must, and local guide Catherine hastens me along to “catch the show”.
The clock was built in the mid-16th century but its present mechanism has been in operation since 1842. Catherine describes it as a “mathematical marvel” and so it is, displaying the official and solar times, day of the week, the month and year, zodiac sign and phase of the moon. We time our visit for the dot of 12.30pm when the clock goes off. The figure of an angel rings a chime and the clock’s mechanical rooster crows, the 12 apostles rotate around Jesus Christ and allegorical figures pass by a skeletal figure representing Death. Before you can say cock-a-doodle-do, it’s over.
“Cake?” asks Catherine. It is a rhetorical question. Strasbourg is a city of stout tarts and confections, their size and level of creaminess owing more to Teutonic heritage than the flaky delicacies of the French. But at the lovely Patisserie Christian there is a Parisian slant to proceedings. Chocolatier Christophe Meyer produces macarons with fillings as deliciously unexpected as salted caramel, green tea, pistachio and violet. A scoop of szechuan orange ice cream, peut-etre?
Elsewhere, it is all choucroute (a meaty pyramid of a scale that shocks and defeats me), sausages as sturdy as batons and kouglof, a sweet brioche-style cake marbled with almonds and raisins and then dusted with sugar. There’s spiced honey cake and jolly gingerbread men and, at the lovely little La Chambre aux Confitures (17 rue des Orfevres), artisanal and preservative-free jams in flavours such as orange blossom, pear and ginger and rhubarb and elderberry. I all but swoon.
And did I mention pretzels? Salty, chewy, the size of bin lids, they go down a treat. Soon, dinner beckons at an ale-house that looks like a fairytale illustration. Somewhere a clock strikes. “Is that the time?” I ask.
Follow on Instagram: susankurosawa