Transcript for Episode 431: Visit Strasbourg at Christmas Time or Any Time!

Category: Alsace and Lorraine

[00:00:00] Annie Sargent:

[00:00:16] Intro

[00:00:16] Annie Sargent: This is Join Us in France, episode 431 – quatre cent trente-et-un.

[00:00:21] Annie Sargent: Bonjour, I’m Annie Sargent and Join Us in France is the podcast where we talk about France. Everyday life in France, great places to visit in France, French culture, history, gastronomy and news related to travel to France.

[00:00:34] Today on the podcast

[00:00:34] Annie Sargent: Today, I bring you a conversation with my husband David, about the five days we spent in Strasbourg in the Alsace region between Christmas and New Year 2022.

[00:00:45] Annie Sargent: This is our very own trip report where we tell you all the things that we learned and why they matter. We had a great time and if you’re considering spending time in Alsace next December, you really need to listen.

[00:00:57] After the show

[00:00:57] Annie Sargent: For the magazine part of the podcast, after the interview we’ll discuss the latest controversy about the Michelin Guide coming out in just a few days.

[00:01:06] Annie Sargent: The Michelin Guide is ruffling feathers. Why?

[00:01:10] Podcast supporters

[00:01:10] Annie Sargent: This podcast is supported by donors and listeners who buy my tours and services including my Itinerary Consult Service and my GPS self-guided tours of Paris on the VoiceMap app. And you can browse all of that at my boutique

[00:01:28] Newsletter

[00:01:28] There is a newsletter to go along with this podcast. Right now I only email very rarely but the last few days I’ve had a lot of good ideas for the newsletters, which is a good start. When I email it’s always something that will help you next time you visit France.

[00:01:43] Annie Sargent: You can sign up for that newsletter at


[00:01:57] David and Annie, trip report

[00:01:57] Annie: Bonjour David.

[00:01:58] David: Bonjour.

[00:01:59] Annie: Well, it’s funny because we’ve seen each other all day.

[00:02:02] David: Yep.

[00:02:03] We wanted to record an episode about spending time in Alsace for Christmas because we were just there and knowing us, we’re going to forget all about it. But this episode will come out later in the year and I’ve already done a report for my patrons and I did a short report on an episode as well, but I wanted to go into some more depth about what we saw and what we enjoyed and all that.

[00:02:30] Alsace between Christmas and New Year

[00:02:30] David: Technically we have to say, we weren’t there for Christmas, we were there between Christmas and New Year.

[00:02:35] Annie: That’s right. We arrived on the 26th of December.

[00:02:38] Annie: The idea was, our daughter was going to be away for Christmas and we thought, oh, we might as well go somewhere between Christmas and New Year. And then we came home for New Year to spend it with our daughter. So that was the plan and it worked out pretty well.

[00:02:51] David: Yep.

[00:02:51] The flight

[00:02:51] Annie: Okay, so the flight was bright and early.

[00:02:54] David: Oof. I don’t know about bright… but, I think it took off at 6:30.

[00:02:58] David: Yes, it was very early, on Volotea, which was not a great experience. But the thing is, it was the only company that would fly us between Toulouse and Strasbourg, direct, we didn’t have a choice. So that’s who we took.

[00:03:13] David: Maybe if we’d planned more in advance, but yeah, that’s all we had.

[00:03:16] Annie: Yeah, that’s all we could do. And so we took that one and it wasn’t a great experience. It’s one of these cheap airlines that treats everybody poorly, pretty much.

[00:03:25] David: Fair enough, yeah. I’m not going to argue with that.

[00:03:27] Very expensive taxi into the city

[00:03:27] Annie: Okay. When we showed up, we decided totake a taxi into the city, which was a big mistake because it was expensive.

[00:03:35] Annie: December 26th is a holiday in Alsace, which it’s not in the rest of France.

[00:03:40] David: We didn’t know that.

[00:03:41] Annie: Right. I didn’t realize that. We took a taxi and I mean, soon as we sat in the taxi, it was 35 Euros and I was like, oh, that’s kind of expensive.

[00:03:48] David: No, no, no, no. It wasn’t very expensive at the beginning. It’s just, it went up really fast. It was going up 10 cents like bing, bing, bing, bing the whole way. And it was, I don’t know, less than 20 minutes and cost us over 50 Euros.

[00:04:02] David: And you know, for that kind of money, we would’ve had over an hour in a taxi in Paris, getting from the airport into the city. And so it seemed like quite the rip-off. And because of the holiday, it probably would’ve been somewhat less, you know, maybe 36, 37 something if it hadn’t been a holiday, which we didn’t know about.

[00:04:19] Take the train into the city

[00:04:19] David: But we then realized that for two and a half Euros we could have taken a train straight to the… just one stop from across the parking lot from the airport to the central station, which was walking distance to our hotel. So live and learn.

[00:04:33] Annie: In Strasbourg, take the train between the airport and the city. It’s very easy. And Strasbourg also has a very good tram system. So, you know, public transportation is an excellent option, we just didn’t realize what was happening.

[00:04:46] David: Well, and we arrived so early in the morning and we were tired.

[00:04:49] Annie: My eyes were not quite lined up.

[00:04:51] David: We thought we were doing the easy thing, spoiling ourselves, and instead we spent the whole ride panicking as we watched this counter go up, up, up, up, up, up, up. Anyway. Live and learn.

[00:05:00] Hotel Mercure Petite France

[00:05:00] Then we checked into our hotel, which wasMercure Petite France.

[00:05:04] Annie: It was not very far from the train station. A very good location. The bed was hard. The room was tiny. Eh, I didn’t love it, I mean, it was okay.

[00:05:14] David: Everybody was nice though and the breakfast was really good. And the location was amazing.

[00:05:19] David: And again, we planned this very much at the last minute, it’s not like we had a lot of options. Yeah.

[00:05:24] La Cigogne for Breakfast

[00:05:24] Annie: Yep. Alright. So went in search of breakfast the first morning when we arrived and we couldn’t find anything open that morning because it was a holiday. So eventually we got to almost to the cathedral and we saw a place called La Cigogne, where they served us crepes. Well, it was a crepes place I think most of the time.

[00:05:46] David: Yeah, I don’t think we actually got those. They had, they did have a breakfast that was kind of, you know, you could get the pastry type breakfast or kind of eggs and bacon type breakfast. I went for the latter. You went for the former, I think.

[00:05:58] Annie: Yeah, yeah, yeah. But it was very good and we could sit and it was nice because you know, it was a rainy day and I just did, I wanted to sit somewhere and have breakfast.

[00:06:08] Annie: We could also have had breakfast at the hotel that morning, but we wanted to get going and look around, right? So was the idea. Okay.

[00:06:16] Annie: And that morning I had planned for us to go to the tourist office to pick up our city cards, which I had ordered online, and also the tickets for our guided tour that I had booked for 3:00 PM.

[00:06:33] Seeing the Astronomical Clock in the Cathedral

[00:06:33] Annie: And I also wanted to understand how to see the astronomical clock go off at 12:30. The information I read online didn’t make it crystal clear, but I’m just going to tell you how it works. You can buy tickets to the astronomical clock only on that day.

[00:06:53] Annie: This is not something you can book in advance. So you either go into the cathedral that morning and you go, there’s a tiny little store on the right hand side, which sells like rosaries and crosses and you know, kind of that sort of little store inside of a cathedral. And they will sell you a ticket for that day or you can buy your ticket that day at the gate.

[00:07:19] Annie: So next time if I had a do-over, this is what I would do. I would just line up on the side of the cathedral at the gate at like quarter to 12 or something. And there’s two lines. There’s the line of people that already bought their tickets inside and the line of people who didn’t buy their ticket inside. You can just go in and they’ll sell you a ticket, and that way you save a lot of time because there’s a lot of waiting around. They empty the cathedral at 11:30. They make an announcement over the PA system that the cathedral is going to be closed until 1:30 I think it was.

[00:07:52] David: And everybody leaves and then you go stand on the side, nothing else for you to do, you don’t have time to do anything else. Right, buying the tickets early didn’t necessarily save us much time because we were waiting in line anyway, on the side entrance.

[00:08:07] Annie: And then around noon they open the gates, people start going in. They usher you in right on the side where the astronomical clock is. At 12:15, the movie starts, the movie has narration in French and German with subtitles. So when the French is read they give you French subtitles for thehearing impaired.

[00:08:31] Annie: And then when they read in German, they do the subtitles in English. And I don’t know about you, but I thought the movie was really interesting.

[00:08:39] David: Yeah, it was quite good. Especially since they were repeating everything, but they switched back and forth pretty quickly and they were still showing new images the whole time, so…

[00:08:49] The idea for the astronomical clock

[00:08:49] And they explain where the idea came for that astronomical clock, that there was one, the one that you see today is from the middle of the 1700s. There was another one before, and as a matter of fact, I think it said in the 1200s, the cathedral, the very earliest cathedral already had a public clock on the façade, but then they put a fancier clock inside of the cathedral, and they wanted to keep kind of the structure of that original clock, when they got it renovated in the 1700s.

[00:09:27] Annie: And the man who renovated it, he grew up in Strasbourg where the astronomical clock did not work, and he made a vow to himself that he was going to fix it. And he studied it for 40 years before they let him touch it. And he made it what it is today, which is a really great clock.

[00:09:49] David: Yeah, it’s pretty crazy. It’s got a whole bunch of different sections that keep track of all kinds of different things.

[00:09:55] David: You know, what’s the date, what’s the time, what’s the season, what’s the day of the week? And there’s even a section, the part that really blew my mind since I come from a computer background, is there’s a section with a bunch of faces that show dates for Easter and the other Catholic holidays that are based on Easter.

[00:10:17] David: And so they change every year and this amazing system that’s been around for over 200 years, and it doesn’t use computers at all, it’s all gears. And every year on December 31st, they turned that on and the gears whir, and turn and figure out based on the cycles of the moon and the dates and everything they figure out when Easter and Good Friday and Lent and everything else is going to start, and it’s been working for over 200 years and it’s very, very cool.

[00:10:47] Annie: It’s beautiful because it’s all like, you know, wheels and cogs and things. It’s very mechanical. It’s a beautiful mechanical clock. And the clock also has, it shows the faces of the moon, it shows the alignment of the planets around the Earth at Strasbourg, obviously. It shows all the days of the year, all the Saints of the Year on a different one. And then there’s kind of a show that happens at 12:30. So you have things that start happening. You have the apostles all walk in front of Jesus, and when the second or third one walks by

[00:11:27] Annie: the cock crows. And that’s a ridiculous sound, by the way, doesn’t sound like…

[00:11:30] David: That’s true, it doesn’t sound like a real bird.

[00:11:33] Annie: Yeah. They never met a rooster, those people. And then the apostles keeps proceeding and different things happen. But, you know, by today’s standards what happens on the clock is not that fascinating.

[00:11:44] Annie: I mean, a lot of it is very high, so you can’t really see it that well. And I had, I filmed the whole thing. I had my selfie stick high up, and I had positioned myself so I could easily hold it up withoutmoving too much. But then I don’t know that I’ll ever use the video because, I mean nothing much is happening.

[00:12:04] Annie: What’s really interesting is to pay attention to all of the different parts of the clock and what they show.

[00:12:12] David: And that was also one of the reasons why it was important to have seen the movie, because we could see things in the movie to watch for in the animation. It was great. And it was not very expensive, we talked about buying tickets, it was only like 3 Euros each. Well worth it. Yeah. So if you’re going to be in Strasbourg around noon, that is definitely something you ought to do. Just go line up at 11:30 or quarter to 12. Get in line for the tickets and see that, because I think it’s a memorable experience and it’s just one of those beautiful old clocks. You know, we have quite a few in Europe, but this one is one of the bigger ones, I think.

[00:12:47] David: And to get to the right place, just if you’re facing the front of the cathedral, if you’re facing the main doors, just go to the right side and it’s about halfway down and there’s a big door and obviously two lines. And it says, you know, this side if you have tickets, this side if you don’t.

[00:13:01] Annie: And there’s a metal gate, you go to the metal gate.

[00:13:04] The Cathedral tower

[00:13:04] Annie: Now there’s another line before that one, and that’s the line to walk up the cathedral tower. And a lot of people do that. It’s 330 steps or something. So we didn’t do it, we passed. Yeah, I have a bum knee and you know, it’s, yeah, no.

[00:13:21] David: I’ve climbed up enough things in my life. I’m good.

[00:13:23] Annie: Yes, me too. And then we went to a museum that showed us all that stuff anyway, right?

[00:13:27] Annie: We’ll talk about that in a second. So that was the astronomical clock. And later we went to, I don’t remember what we did for lunch, do you? No memory of that. He’s thinking.

[00:13:39] David: No. And we’d had kind of a late big breakfast, so I don’t think we did anything fancy.

[00:13:43] Guided Tour

[00:13:43] Annie: Yeah. And then that afternoon we went back to the tourist office, which is right by the Cathedral, and we started our walking tour with a guide in French.

[00:13:54] I’m sure they do guided tours in English and in German as well, but I don’t know when they take place. And honestly, right after Christmas, tourist office, compared to what it was the week before, it doesn’t feel very busy to them. So they weren’t offering a lot of things that I saw they were offering before Christmas.

[00:14:16] There were concerts, there were all sorts of things that the tourist office was, you know, publicizing. After Christmas… nothing.

[00:14:25] David: It was a pretty standard walk, but it was very interesting. I really enjoyed it.

[00:14:29] Annie: Yeah. The guy was very interesting and you know, it was one of these walks where you have a whisper system so the guide could talk directly into our ears.

[00:14:37] Annie: It was very pleasant. About 30 of us. Very good. And he interrupted himself several times. Well, when we were walking between spots, he would sometimes repeat what he had just said in German.

[00:14:48] David: Because there were a few Germans in the group.

[00:14:50] Annie: Right. We found a lot of German visitors in Strasbourg.

[00:14:54] Annie: I think there were probably more German visitors than English speaking visitors that week.

[00:14:59] David: That we heard, yeah, definitely.

[00:15:01] Annie: Yeah. Yeah. There was some Spanish, some Italian, lots of French, lots of German is what I noticed. But the week before Christmas, it probably was a different mix, because it changes every week.

[00:15:12] Barrage Vauban

[00:15:12] Annie: What did we do after our walk? We walked to Petite France. We walked on top of the Barrage Vauban. Which is really cool. That’s just a beautiful spot. And then on our walk, and we were very tired because we had gotten up at four in the morning, so once we were done with all this walking, I was like, we’re going back to the hotel.

[00:15:33] Chez Yvonne vinstub

[00:15:33] Annie: Oh no. We had reserved a dinner at a vinstub.

[00:15:37] It was, the first night was Chez Yvonne.

[00:15:40] Annie: And it was delightful. I thought it was really good.

[00:15:43] David: It was really good. It was yummy. The lady who helped us was absolutely delightful. Service was great.

[00:15:48] Annie: Yeah. And the food was standard alsatian fare. So I had Choucroute.

[00:15:54] David: Sauerkraut.

[00:15:55] Annie: Sauerkraut.

[00:15:56] Annie: And you had the pork ribs.

[00:16:00] David: Oh my gosh.

[00:16:01] Annie: They were really good.

[00:16:02] David: They just melted in my mouth. Yes.

[00:16:04] David: And they were not too sweet. Sometimes America, the pork ribs are way too much gooey stuff on top. It was perfect. It wasn’t too fatty. It wasn’t, I mean, it was hardly lean health food. This was pork ribs after all, but all things considered, yeah, very reasonable, nice seasoning and sauce, but nothing excessive and just some of the most tender meat I’ve ever had. Most amazing. Yeah.

[00:16:28] Annie: And so we did several of these vinstubs, all of the ones that I had booked. And you do have to book those in advance because they fill up, I mean, they were turning people away all the time.

[00:16:40] “The Fork” the app

[00:16:40] Annie: And the way I booked everything was “The Fork”, the app or the website, which is great because it’s free to use. Sometimes they even give you a discount for some restaurants, at certain times, the ones that we went to never offer.

[00:16:55] David: Oh, that week there weren’t going to be any discounts anyway, I’m sure.

[00:16:59] Annie: No. They were filling up without discounts. But you can easily book and easily cancel and you can show restaurants on the map. So it’s a really very good app, I think, The Fork. And it’s a French company that started as “La fourchette.”

[00:17:15] Annie: okay, and then off to bed, because we were dead.

[00:17:20] Obernai

[00:17:20] Annie: The next morning we took the train to Obernai. Now that was a very good surprise. I did not expect Obernai to be quite as nice. Elyse said I should go and so I went. We went.

[00:17:33] David: We did.

[00:17:34] Annie: It was very nice. it’s a cute little town. I’m not sure it would be all that interesting outside of the month of December.

[00:17:44] David: That’s hard to say. And it’s important to mention too, that in Strasbourg the week after Christmas, they were actually closing down all of their famous Christmas markets. You’d go into a big plaza that had dozens of little chalets you know, selling various things, and maybe two or three of them would be open at that point.

[00:18:03] David: Yeah. Because they really start shutting down and even tearing them down and taking them away. Whereas in Obernai and other smaller towns and villages and stuff nearby they keep it for another week.

[00:18:15] Annie: It was open.

[00:18:16] David: So there was, in some ways it was much smaller than Strasbourg, but there was actually more…

[00:18:21] Annie: Christmas market stuff.

[00:18:22] David: Christmas stuff going on, still. The decorations were certainly all still up in Strasbourg, but not much market to… you know… the mulled wine, that kind of thing.

[00:18:31] Annie: Obernai is a cute little town, perhaps 12,000 people. The train ride was short, 20 minutes perhaps, 30 minutes. I don’t remember.

[00:18:39] Annie: It wasn’t long. We walked around the town. We went to the Cathedral, which had this beautiful display of crèches. I loved it. So Nativity scenes.

[00:18:49] Annie: Beautiful, beautiful stuff. Then we walked, we hoofed up to the big white cross that they have and is a monument to the Malgrés-Nous, which are the French alsatians who were enrolled in the German army against their will. And there were males and females and it was just a terrible time.

[00:19:11] Annie: And this is one thing that I learned about when we were in Strasbourg, the many times that the people in Strasbourg and Alsace in general went back between being French and being German and being French and being German.

[00:19:23] David: Never by their own choice.

[00:19:24] Annie: Yes. Now if you count the number of years, Alsace was actually German longer than it was French, but it seems that perhaps by now it’s going to be stay French for good. We’ll see.

[00:19:37] Train cancelled

[00:19:37] Obernai was very cute. Coming back on the train we had a problem because they had canceled all the afternoon trains back to Strasbourg.

[00:19:46] David: Well, it wasn’t even that, there was a train like every 30 minutes or so in the morning. And so we just assumed there would be lots of trains in the afternoon. And we came back and it was like one at 3:30 and another one at 5, and the 3:30 one had been canceled. And we were finding this out at 3:15, so not really wanting to hang out in this small, so small that it was closed. There was no personnel there, this small station for almost two hours.

[00:20:11] Annie: So you went and found a local bus.

[00:20:13] David: I found, well, a regional bus. I found it on Google Maps, I found an option to get home. It took a little longer than the train would’ve taken, but was actually cheaper and was really fun in the end because it actually went through a bunch of really cute villages instead of just going, you know, like the train just went on the tracks that were kind of in the middle of nowhere.

[00:20:34] David: In fact, one of the places we stopped was a place I had been before on a choir trip and had some really pleasant memories of, except where it stopped by the train station was right next to a huge garbage dump. I mean, it was not exactly like this is that cute town I was… no, it was worst place to see, but the bus meandered its way through all the cute little villages and so in the end… it was better.

[00:20:58] We really enjoyed it.

[00:20:58] Annie: Yeah. Probably to go to Obernai look at the bus. I think it might be a better option than the train.

[00:21:03] Colmar

[00:21:03] Now, the day after that, we went to Colmar.

[00:21:06] Annie: That’s a little further, the bus might take too long. I’m not sure.

[00:21:09] I didn’t even see buses the same way. And it was a bigger, faster train, that took about half an hour still, but I think that we were going quite a bit farther. Colmar is a bigger city. It’s 65000 people, I think. The train station is bigger. You know, there’s a lot more life every day. And again, Colmar was very busy. Their Christmas market was still going on. We showed up, the first thing we did is we went to do a little cruise on one of the canals.

[00:21:38] Annie: Okay. The cruise was underwhelming, that one.

[00:21:40] David: It was a little bit bigger than a gondola, there were maybe eight of us in a boat with a little electric motor. It was, it was cute, but it was short and…

[00:21:49] Annie: I mean it wasn’t very expensive. It was, I think, it was seven and a half euros.

[00:21:52] Annie: But I mean, don’t plan your day around it. It’s not that great.

[00:21:57] Vinstub Brenner

[00:21:57] Annie: And then after that, I had booked another vinstub, which was the vinstub Brenner.

[00:22:04] David: Oh, and you forgot to mention that what we did for dinner after coming back from Obernai, we went to another vinstub and I don’t think you’ve explained, I don’t think you’ve explained what a vinstub is.

[00:22:14] David: It’s a so stubis the alsatian word, the local dialect that’s closer to German than to French.

[00:22:22] David: And it actually means kind of a warm room, you know, the room with a hearth. And so sort of the main room in a house, for example. But then if you have a vinstub or a beer-stub, then it’s a bar or a restaurant, you know, wine or beer hearth, kind of thing.

[00:22:39] Annie: Yeah

[00:22:40] David: So another place, very traditional food.

[00:22:43] I think I swapped them. I think the first night it was Saint-Sépulcre. The second night was Chez Yvonne. Either way, they were both very good, very similar.

[00:22:52] Annie: The second night you had this weird Fromage Blanc.

[00:22:55] David: I wasn’t very hungry and was thinking I’m not going to be able to do, you know, sauerkraut with all the, I mean the sauerkraut itself isn’t very heavy, but it’s all the meats that are served with it, which are delicious, but heavy. And I thought, I need something, a little light. Because we had kind of a big lunch, I don’t remember what. So Fromage blanc, which is just a yogurt, yeah, basically a plain yogurt with capers and chopped onions and things that you could mix in with it, and then a little plate with potatoes and different kinds of ham and stuff to mix in. It was unusual but I liked it and it was actually perfect. It was the only thing on there that was even close to light.

[00:23:34] David: And I don’t remember what you got.

[00:23:35] Annie: Neither do I.

[00:23:37] David: But again, it was good. The service was good. It was important that we had reserved.

[00:23:41] Annie: And they all pretty much had the same six or seven menu items that were the local specialties. And so the next day in Colmar Vinstub Brenner, to me from the outside it looks like such a tourist trap.

[00:23:54] David: And this was for lunch.

[00:23:55] Annie: And this was for lunch, yes. But it was, I mean, it was very good.

[00:23:58] David: And she seriously considered not going, but in the end we went and it was really good.

[00:24:03] Annie: It was really good. It was really good. It was just as good as the other ones. So, you know, in that case it was an excellent choice. Colmar was full of people. Lots and lots of people. Like really very, very busy.

[00:24:14] David: Very full. Yeah. More than the other places we’ve been.

[00:24:17] Annie: Very full of people. It’s a bigger town. They have a little market, Christmas market chalets everywhere. Like it’s spread out and I mean, I know people worry about where am I going to go, but there’s no question where are you going to go, because it’s full of people. So you just follow the people.

[00:24:34] David: And wherever you go, there’s something to see.

[00:24:36] Unterlinden Museum

[00:24:36] It’s all very, very nice. We went to the Unterlinden Museum that afternoon as well, Unterlinden.

[00:24:44] David: I think it’s Unter.

[00:24:45] Annie: Yeah. And I really wanted to see the altar piece, and it was gorgeous. So an altar piece is something that they displayed behind the altar, and it’s a, in this case it’s a very large one and it has different panels. And so depending on the day of the year, the priest opened and closed various panels. It’s like a storybook and it looked psychedelic, some of the paintings. It was really bright colors and beautiful.

[00:25:15] David: Yeah, and I think they call it a reutable.

[00:25:17] Annie: A reutable, yeah.

[00:25:18] David: Something like that where, because there’s all these different kind of doors that can swing and there are things on the front and the back and the top and the bottom. They had separated it. It wasn’t in a church anymore, it was in a museum. And they’d separated each level so that you could walk around and see all the different sides all the time.

[00:25:39] David: And then there was a small replica that you could play with and see how you would open this and turn the back and flip it around. But it was very cool.

[00:25:45] Annie: And we got the audio guide and it was interesting, it was an interesting place.

[00:25:50] Train troubles on the way back to Strasbourg

[00:25:50] Annie: Then we made our way back to Strasbourg on the train. And there was a problem with the train again.

[00:25:57] David: Right. And actually while, I think, while we were still at the museum, you got a notification on your phone that there’d been an incident. I think a tree had fallen on a power line.

[00:26:07] Annie: Yeah, it was Twitter. I saw it on Twitter.

[00:26:09] David: Oh, okay. And so, trains going in the one direction were stuck until they could fix that.

[00:26:16] David: And so by the time we got to the station, and so I started looking and, no, no other buses this time. But the train station’s application didn’t say that the trains were canceled, but that the traffic was perturbed. Yeah. And so we thought, well, we’ll just go to the station and see what it’s like.

[00:26:34] David: And the station we had already seen arriving was quite a bit bigger and had personnel and stuff. And so we went and there were a lot of people there, and there was a train sitting on the tracks that was supposed to have left an hour before.

[00:26:45] Annie: A TGV.

[00:26:47] David: That was just getting ready to leave again, but it was absolutely jam-packed and our tickets weren’t for the TGV anyway.

[00:26:53] Annie: Right. This is something I learned that day that I didn’t know actually, is that, because normally the TGV wouldn’t have stopped in Colmar, but since it was there, I mean, I’m sure some people thought, oh, I’ll just hop on this one because it’ll be the first one to leave. But if you don’t have a TGV ticket, you shouldn’t be on the TGV.

[00:27:11] Annie: So, we waited for the next one.

[00:27:14] David: We weren’t going to get on that train anyway. It was already just jam packed. So we waited till the next one and we ended up getting home quite a bit later than planned but not too bad. I mean, and there had definitely been people waiting at the station a lot longer than us.

[00:27:26] Annie: That night I had also, so we had the vinstub Brenner, I had also booked some dinner, but we canceled it.

[00:27:32] David: Yeah, we couldn’t do, we couldn’t do it twice in the day.

[00:27:34] Annie: Too much.

[00:27:34] Œuvre de Notre Dame Museum

[00:27:34] Annie: The next day, let’s see, let’s see, oh, I got to look at my papers because then it starts to all melt. The next following two days we stayed in Strasbourg and the first thing we did is go to the Œuvre de Notre Dame Museum, which is right across from the Cathedral.

[00:27:55] Annie: And it’s a museum where they show the building and the upkeep of the church. There is a group of people called l’Œuvre de Notre-Dame that do nothing but maintain this church, and I love the museum. Why don’t you tell us what you thought about it?

[00:28:11] David: Well, it was quite interesting because on the one hand it was kind of about the architecture and how the church itself evolved, you know, was built and was renovated and expanded and that sort of thing.

[00:28:22] David: But then also there was just an enormous amount of artwork and furniture and all kinds of other artifacts that used to be in the church.

[00:28:31] Annie: Right. And there were also a lot of short videos and 3D stuff.

[00:28:36] David: Yeah, there were a number of technological things that were fun, like little VR things so that you could kind of look around and see what it used to look like.

[00:28:44] David: And I think if there’d been a lot of that kind of thing, it might have been a bit annoying, but there was just enough that it was really nice. It really enhanced the experience and kept you interested in a way that maybe, you know, I don’t know if I would’ve been as patient with everything otherwise, because it’s a big museum. There’s a ton of stuff.

[00:29:04] David: It’s a big church with a lot of history and a whole lot of stuff they can tell you about. But no, it was really well done, really well maintained, not terribly expensive.

[00:29:13] Annie: And because we had the Strasbourg card, all the museums were half price.

[00:29:17] Annie: So we didn’t, we didn’t pay more than 2.50 each for 3.50 perhaps It wasn’t much.

[00:29:23] Annie: One of the displays, one of the 3D displays there was of you standing on top of the tower and looking around. Yes. So that’s why I mentioned it earlier, you know…

[00:29:34] David: And if you look down, you get seriously dizzy. Yes.

[00:29:37] Annie: The 3D kind of goggles are…

[00:29:40] David: The virtual reality stuff.

[00:29:41] Annie: Yeah. They are intense.

[00:29:43] David: Yeah. I don’t even see in 3D in real life, but it still, it was so realistic that you just kind of look, you’re up in the big bell tower and you look down to the ground and your stomach just drops out from under you and you get vertigo.

[00:29:55] David: Was impressive. But you could also just look around outside and,see the sides and look up and see the rafters and was very cool.

[00:30:02] Annie: Of coursefrom that perspective you see a lot of stuff that you cannot see from the ground anyway. So I recommend this museum even for people who are going with kids.

[00:30:10] Annie: I mean, so long as the kids aren’t three, but you know, if the kids are 7, 8, 9, 10, I think they will find something there that’s interesting to them.

[00:30:18] David: Yep.

[00:30:18] Annie: All right, then what else did we do that day?

[00:30:22] Musée de la Ville de Strasbourg

[00:30:22] David: I think we found a small lunch and then we went to the historical museum, right?

[00:30:25] Annie: Yes. We went to the Musée de la Ville de Strasbourg.

[00:30:30] Annie: And that one I loved because it had all the history of the City of Strasbourg, how it went back and forth and back and forth. It had a, just really heart-wrenching display at the end about what the Nazis did and the exactions of the war. And you know, just because you’re on the border and they were a lot of Germans in the museum, I could hear them talking to each other in German.

[00:30:54] You know, it’s really remarkable how the city has faced the things that have happened and there’s no pushing stuff under the rug. They’re just obviously very blunt about it. And I think that’s a good way to handle difficult times.

[00:31:09] David: But not overly so either, I mean, the Germans were not offended.

[00:31:12] David: They were interested. Obviously, these are not Nazi sympathizers coming to visit Strasbourg.

[00:31:17] David: Yeah, it reminded me a little bit of Berlin, which impressed me so much the first time I went to Berlin,many years ago, and seeing that they, you know, rather than kind of deny their history, they’ve actually kept the lines where the wall used to be and all kinds of things like that.

[00:31:31] David: And it’s not overly in your face but it’s not forgetting it either. And very similar, although to be honest, Annie had a little bit different reaction, the war stuff was hard for me. It was so depressing that I left.

[00:31:45] David: Whereas Annie stayed for a long time. I think you spent more time in that part of the museum than you had in the rest.

[00:31:50] David: Yeah, but I already had a plan because I was already suspicious. I already knew that I tended to tire of museums a little faster than my wife. And so I already had a plan and I had told her, let’s just go through it on our own rhythm and, you know, not put our bags and coats in the same locker and this sort of thing, because I knew that there was a voodoo museum on the edge of town that sounded really good and I was really curious about that. And Annie was not. And when the war stuff was just too intense for me, I said I’m going to go check out this other museum.

[00:32:23] Vodoo museum

[00:32:23] Annie: So what did you see there?

[00:32:25] David: Well, it was really fascinating because I don’t know, I didn’t know anything much about Voodoo going in, and what I do know is from movies, which is Haitian, Louisiana, pins in dolls kind of stuff. And this was more focused on kind of some of the origins from Western Africa where it’s usually apparently called vodou instead of voodoo. And there was a French, very wealthy Frenchman who spent a lot of time hunting and exploring and visiting in Western Africa.

[00:32:59] David: Got very interested in this religion, collected tons and tons of artifacts and so it’s just a private museum of his collection. He bought a building that was originally a water tower. So this is kind of round four story building that had been built by the Germans to provide water for steam engines for the train company in the mid 1800s.

[00:33:22] David: And of course it’s been a long time since trains needed water. And so he was able to buy and fix up this building. It’s a really,really cool building, it had all kinds of, what they call fetishes. You know, when we think of the little dolls and they call those fetishes, and it explained a lot about kind of the hierarchy of the gods and the main god whose name I’ve already forgotten, I’m afraid. And, you know, kind of lesser gods. And then also ties to your ancestors who’ve passed away. And ways that they represent them and ways that they try to communicate with them and get suggestions from them, guidance. All kinds of things and then masks and charms and blankets and big outfits that they used to wear.

[00:34:00] David: Costumes basically that they would wear for…

[00:34:03] Annie: Ceremonials stuff?

[00:34:05] David: Yeah. Or even apparently just kind of like what we would think of as a play. They’re just all kinds of things and lots of information, both audio guide and

[00:34:14] David: things on the walls giving a lot of detail. The audio guide was interesting because you didn’t have to pay for anything.

[00:34:19] David: You didn’t have to get anything extra. There was just a little QR code at the reception desk that took you to a website. You didn’t have to install an application on your phone or anything. It just went to a website where you then picked your language and then it had a list of numbers and a play button and it worked really well.

[00:34:36] David: And speaking of languages, I have to say for France, Strasbourg was quite impressive. Almost everywhere we went, there was stuff written in French, English and German. Annie mentioned the film that even had French and German, well, and even audio.

[00:34:52] David: And

[00:34:53] David: the guide who spoke German. And the Voodoo Museum was a slight exception, they had recordings. The audio guide was available in all three languages. But strangely, the informationthe boards were only in French. And the one thing that was a little surprising to me about it was that the, I was mostly listening in French because I was just curious what the terms would be in French.

[00:35:14] David: But sometimes they would go on for a long time and other times there’d just be this short introduction and to learn more, just look at the sign about this on the wall. I thought, oh, well. So then they probably explained that better in English and German. So just out of curiosity, I went over and looked and unfortunately just said, this is such and such for more information read the thing on the wall. I was like, yeah, but that’s not an English or German but that was really only for a very small handful of the exhibits and not necessarily the most important ones. And I just, I loved it. And I stayed till they were about to close and then, you know, worked my way back. And fortunately, Annie was so enthralled in the historical museum that it worked out perfectly and we met for dinner and…

[00:35:55] Annie: Yeah, and that was good.

[00:35:56] Italian food for dinner

[00:35:56] David: Although that night we decided no more alsatian food.

[00:36:03] Annie: Yeah. we went to Italian.

[00:36:05] We ended up in an Italian. Yeah. I had first seen an Italian place, but then we ended up not being anywhere near there. And then there was another place you wanted to go, but since we hadn’t reserved there, they were full, and right across the street was an Italian place. That led us right in. It was fabulous.

[00:36:20] Annie: It was good.

[00:36:20] David: I had something I’d never had before. I’ve always enjoyed pasta carbonara, the kind of eggy, bacony spaghetti. But this was gnocchi carbonara and it was very creamy in addition to the kind of egg. Oh, it was, oh, so good. And it was kind of funny because, we were saying, no, no more heavy alsatian food.

[00:36:38] David: And this wasn’t exactly diet food, but it really hit the spot and the people were lovely. We had a very nice time. I don’t remember what you got.

[00:36:47] Annie: I think it was a pizza.

[00:36:48] David: Oh, that’s right.

[00:36:49] Annie: It was pizza. Okay.

[00:36:50] Consider doing the Wine Route

[00:36:50] Annie: Now, our last day was also in Strasbourg, and I think again, if I had a do-over, I would rent a car at that point and do the wine route. Or get a tour that would take us around to the wine route. Several people that I’ve talked to about this said the wine route is just wonderful and you should spend a day doing that, but we did not.

[00:37:11] We stayed in Strasbourg again, we’ve been talking a long time, so I’m not going to go into what we did, you can see it with the notes on this.


[00:37:20] River cruise in Strasbourg, Batorama

[00:37:20] Annie: The one thing I do need to mention is that we did a river cruise in Strasbourg.

[00:37:25] David: Yes. And unlike the one in Colmar, this one’s totally worth it.

[00:37:29] Annie: Yeah, this one is a must do. So it’s Batorama, is the name of the cruise company. It’s very professional. You walk in, they have audio on every seat and you pick your language, they have three languages.

[00:37:45] David: No, it was seven or eight languages. There were a ton of languages, not just the three I mentioned earlier. There’s like Polish and Italian. There were a bunch of languages and then there were two versions of each.

[00:37:56] There were like 16 channels because you’d have all your languages 1-8 and then they’d start over 9-16 for the kids version. And I listened a little bit and it was really fun and it was, you know, it was more like telling a story and a lot of sound effects and things like that for the kids.

[00:38:12] David: And the boat was chockful. Yeah. With plenty of kids. And the kids just had their headphones on and were listening and looking around. Nobody was bored. It was really good. It was, they were covered in glass. There was kind of curved glass going over the top of the boat, which was important because it rains a lot in Strasburg and that day was no exception.

[00:38:30] David: But they keep those windows so clean that taking pictures and video was no problem.

[00:38:35] Annie: It was good. A very, very professional, very good cruise company.

[00:38:40] Annie: The tour was longer, it was like an hour and 15 minutes And it was more expensive. It was like 15 Euros each, I think.

[00:38:45] Annie: 15-16 each, but very worth it. Definitely a must do.

[00:38:49] Some comments from patrons

[00:38:49] Annie: I would like to mention that since I’ve published this to my patrons, I had some comments. And Carol says that she stayed at a place called Hotel Suisee right off the Place de la Cathedrale and she said it was a very good place, very friendly, good breakfast, an excellent place to stay. Then she also recommends a restaurant called, Au Pont Corbeau.

[00:39:16] Annie: It’s a vinstub. It’s owned by a father and daughter who are almost always serving. And she also liked Aux Armes de Strasbourg au Place Gutenberg. There’s a Gutenberg Plaza because there’s a big old statue of Gutenberg. He spent several years, I don’t think he was born there, but he spent several years in Strasbourg.

[00:39:34] Annie: Yeah, there was,there was a link. I don’t remember exactly how it worked, and there was a lot of printing done in Strasbourg, which was one of the things in the historical museum that really grabbed my attention, because I used to be in printing when I was young.

[00:39:45] David: Yeah. She also recommends a breakfast place called Le Roi et son Fou,on a little street half a block away from the cathedral, Which means The King and His Jester. Although the word technically means kind of crazy person.

[00:39:58] Annie: Crazy person, yeah. The jester is a crazy person.

[00:40:00] Annie: Another museum in Strasbourg that she liked called Tomi Ungerer, and this is illustrations from children’s book that were at the back of Mini, the Christmas chalet. I don’t know anything about this but she says probably my husband would skip this one.

[00:40:20] David: Meaning your husband or hers?

[00:40:23] No meaning you.

[00:40:24] David: How does she know me so well?

[00:40:26] Annie: I know, I know. And she says there’s also quite a bit of information about the development of the city between 1870 and the end of World War I. She mentions the Mulhouse Cathedral and City Hall are wrapped in different Christmas fabric every season.

[00:40:42] Annie: And she says it’s a very nice place and she mentions Meisenthal boule de Noël.

[00:40:50] Annie: Now, this is not something I knew anything about, and I did buy some Christmas ornaments while I was there, but not made of glass because we were, they weren’t going to survive the trip. But there are people who collect these beautiful ornaments. Every year there’s a new one, and they sold them at a chalet at la Petite France.

[00:41:10] Annie: And she also enjoyed theCathedral in Sélestat, which is a place I wanted to go, but we decided not to.

[00:41:19] Annie: It was a short trip. I mean, we had five full days, but still, we could have probably, you could have spent eight days perhaps nine and not run out of things to do.

[00:41:29] David: Well, especially if we’d done the wine tours.

[00:41:31] When to visit Strasbourg

[00:41:31] Annie: Yeah. So there you go. That’s our trip in Strasbourg, and I think going to Strasbourg and the Alsace region in December is a fabulous idea. Although if you have your choice and if you don’t like crowds, you might want to go either early in December or right after Christmas, because for as busy as it was the week after Christmas, I can not imagine.

[00:41:57] Annie: Right.

[00:41:58] Annie: Like it must have been unbearably busy. I don’t know. I can’t imagine. So, if you are that motivated, then go the week before Christmas. But for me, I think the best time would be either the first week of December or right after Christmas.

[00:42:14] David: Well, and we didn’t want a busy, tiring vacation.

[00:42:18] David: We wanted to take it easy. And I mean, we did plenty of things, but it’s not like we had long lists of things that we were rushing from one thing to another. We both needed a break. And so it was like, well, this’ll be different. . And we’ll see some fun things, but we’ll take our time.

[00:42:31] David: We’ll just enjoy it. If we don’t do everything that we planned, we won’t worry about it. And in the end we did most of what we’d talked about. But we hadn’t overscheduled too much. No.

[00:42:41] European Parliament was closed

[00:42:41] Annie: One thing we didn’t get to do was to see the European Parliament.

[00:42:44] David: Because it was closed.

[00:42:46] Annie: And I didn’t realize it was closed. So we went on the tram and then we’re showing up and a bunch of people had gone on the tram as well, and we’re like, it’s closed.

[00:42:56] Annie: So read the fine print. Their website explained it. I just didn’t read far enough down the page to see it.

[00:43:01] David: Well, and to be honest, even the sign outside the closed gate was not clear about why it was closed. You had to like, read, read, read. Oh, it was not just like, closed for the holidays, go away.

[00:43:12] Annie: Yeah. No. No, it’s not that simple. Normally, we’re open from here to here and here to here and here to and finally deep, you know, deep down in fine print, except for these days.

[00:43:22] Annie: Yeah. Anyway, Alsace at Christmastime is a wonderful, beautiful vacation. I recommend it.

[00:43:28] David: Me too.

[00:43:29] Annie: And lots of good food. And the wine too.

[00:43:31] Annie: Ooh, ooh. The wine, we didn’t talk about the wine very much. They had a muscat, a dry muscat that I tried at one of the restaurants. That was so good.

[00:43:41] Annie: But I can’t find it here, so I’m going to have to go to an actual wine shop to see if they sell it, because they sell the Riesling and the Gewurztraminer, whatever it’s called.

[00:43:51] Annie: But these are more like everyday wines. I wanted that muscat. That was really good.

[00:43:55] Annie: Anyway, thank you very much David.

[00:43:57] David: You are welcome.


[00:44:07] Thank you patrons

[00:44:07] Annie Sargent: Again, I want to thank my patrons for supporting the show and giving back. Patrons get several exclusive rewards for doing that. You can see them at P-A-T-R-E-O-N join us, no spaces or dashes.

[00:44:23] Annie Sargent: Thank you all so much for supporting the show. Some of you have been doing it for many years and I thank you are wonderful people.

[00:44:29] Annie Sargent: And a shout out this week to new patrons, Lefreda Hoffman, Julie Hee-Bull, Erica Jordan Middleton and Jeri Cary.

[00:44:39] Annie Sargent: Thank you so much for becoming patrons and making this podcast possible. And my thanks also to Amy Ritter and Nancy Pincombe Docksai for sending in a one-time donation by using the green button on any page on Join Us in France that says “Tip your Guide”.

[00:44:58] Annie Sargent: Nancy wrote: A token of my appreciation for helping me plan our upcoming trip to France. Thank you.” Well, thank you Nancy and Amy, your support is much appreciated.

[00:45:09] Preparing a trip to France?

[00:45:09] Annie Sargent: If you’re preparing a trip to France and listening to as many episodes as you can to get ready, keep listening to the podcast because that’s a great way to do it. Search the website also, because, you know, we have a lot of episodes. You can also hire me to be your itinerary consultant. Here’s how it works. You purchase the service on Then you fill out a document to tell me what you have in mind. We make a phone appointment and we chat for about an hour. And then I send you the document with the plan that we discussed.

[00:45:41] Annie Sargent: My time is always booked up several weeks in advance. You can see my next available date on the only page where you can buy the service at the Join Us in France Boutique.

[00:45:51] Self-guided tours

[00:45:51] Annie Sargent: And if you cannot talk to me because I’m all booked up and you’re going soon, lucky you, you can still take me in your pocket by getting my GPS self-guided tour on the VoiceMap app. I’ve produced seven tours and they are designed to show you around different iconic neighborhoods of Paris.

[00:46:10] Annie Sargent: Seven tours you ask, wasn’t it just six last week? Ah, yes. Thank you for paying attention. I’ve translated my new Eiffel Tower tour into French. It’s now live and if you’d like to see it, switch the VoiceMap app to French, and there it is. I have to warn you that this is me, a native French speaker speaking to other native French speakers, and while I have to slow down when I speak English, in French I can go full speed and make corny jokes as well.

[00:46:40] Annie Sargent: So only get this if you want a bit of a challenge. Let me play you a tiny bit of that tour so you get an idea of what it’s like:

[00:46:49] Annie Sargent: “Arretez-vous ici pour prendre des photos. C’est l’un des spots photo les plus populaire autour de la tour Eiffel car il apparait dans la série americaine Emily in Paris.

[00:46:50] Annie Sargent: the

[00:47:01] Annie Sargent: The new French tour is only available through the VoiceMap app where you can get any of my tours, but if you’d like to get the listener discount go to and then it’s a manual process. I send you the codes and it takes a day or two, but it’s manual so we don’t have to pay Apple and Google, there’s 30%, so it’s cheaper. You get a discount, but it’s a little bit slower.

[00:47:30] Tickets for the Ramses Expo

[00:47:30] Annie Sargent: The tickets for the Ramses Expo, we mentioned in episode 429 of the podcast are now open for sale. The Expo is going to take place between April 7th and September 6th at La Vilette in Paris, and this expo is sure to sell out. I’ll put a link to the official site selling the tickets in the show notes or search on Ticketmaster. And thank you Judith for alerting me to this.

[00:47:57] If you enjoyed this episode, you might also want to listen to episode 120. That was also a trip report with a young couple who went to Strasbourg and I think it was a good one.

[00:48:08] Michelin new guide

[00:48:08] Annie Sargent: So we’ve had a bit of a tempest in a teapot about the Michelin Guide this week, because Michelin is going to release their new guide a few days from now and they have done something that they usually don’t do, which is that they have revealed the names of the restaurants that they are downgrading a few days before they announce the new people getting stars.

[00:48:32] Annie Sargent: Every year, the Michelin gods giveth and the Michelin gods taketh away. But normally they tell you the winners and the losers in the same press conference. Gaining a star or losing a star is a huge deal, as you can imagine. Michelin is the grand daddy of all restaurant reviews.

[00:48:52] Annie Sargent: Why is it called Michelin, by the way? Because the book was published by the Michelin company, the tire makers. A French company from Clermont-Ferrand because they wanted people to travel through the countryside and try all of these restaurants and use their tires. They were also the ones who first published Roadmaps for motorists.

[00:49:14] Annie Sargent: And the first red Michelin Guide for Restaurant was published in 1903 and it cost something like 20 francs or something.

[00:49:22] It was a big book and it was expensive. And the Michelin Man, he’s called Bibendum in French, was prominently displayed because, you know, it was all advertising for the tires.

[00:49:34] Annie Sargent: And back then, if you were going to travel it was a great idea to get the red guide. Now, fast forward 120 years and we have so many ways to find out about restaurants that it’s hard to sell those red books. And it’s a big book, they cost $30 or 30 Euros, so you know they have to do more and more stuff to stay relevant.

[00:49:55] Annie Sargent: Now, Guy Savoy being downgraded this year was the shocker. Okay? Because he made the top of the list as the best restaurant in the world. Now, this best in the world is kind of a conglomerate of all other ways to rank restaurants, but still, he’s good, okay? He’s very good. And still he lost a star

[00:50:17] Annie Sargent: Michel Sarran in Toulouse goes from two stars to one. And that’s sad. You know? Now they say they don’t care, but that’s got to hurt. Okay? In reality, it’s really not going to change anything about their business model.

[00:50:31] Annie Sargent: Each chef develops a shtick, and they stick to it with mild variations, and it takes a lot of staff to run a Michelin-starred restaurant kitchen. And without their staff, they really would not deliver such amazing meals. The experience of going to a Michelin-starred restaurant is that you’re in a beautiful setting, there’s lots of staff, unlike a normal French restaurant where, you know, one waitress is trying to do everything. The meals are slow, two hours minimum, sometimes much more. And they bring you lots of unique, beautiful nibbles that are designed to surprise and delight you. You never pay less than a hundred euros.

[00:51:12] Annie Sargent: Sometimes it’s a lot more. Sometimes the chef comes out to greet each customer at each table. Michel Sarran does this in Toulouse and you know, it’s just a memorable, lovely experience.

[00:51:25] Annie Sargent: Have I loved every bite of food I’ve ever had at a starred restaurant? No. But I’m into classic French meals that are served, you know, more, I’m a kind of friendly person, like ha-ha, let’s have a good time together kind of thing. And in my cookbook, Join us at the table, I put nothing but, you know, family type recipes . I’m not into hoity-toity cooking kind of, because I don’t know how to do it. And I recognize it takes amazing skill to pull off getting a star. And you know, I respect that, and I say they’re amazing people and for a special occasion, it’s wonderful, but in my everyday cooking and much rather have something, you know, more plain, more standard, French fare. And that’s really what I love.

[00:52:09] One guy who lost a star like 20 years ago, he actually committed suicide over it.

[00:52:14] And I’m sure the poor staff, they’re going to get yelled at a lot. I mean, they always get yelled at, but it’s going to get worse. But when I think about it, Michelin is an institution that sells books. And 50 years ago, a hundred years ago, there was no way to know where the good restaurants were without buying their book.

[00:52:34] Michelin Guide website

[00:52:34] Annie Sargent: But today, there are so many ways to find out about restaurants, including the Michelin Guide websites. You know, we have La Liste, we have Yelp, The Fork, Google of course, TripAdvisor, the Michelin Bib List, ZenChef is trying to get better known. There’s another one called, Le Fooding.

[00:52:57] Annie Sargent: It’s French, of course. French people, they come up with names that sound English, but are not.

[00:53:03] They’re bad English. And Le Fooding is fun because the way you can filter down is great in that website. Anyway, there are a ton of these starred restaurants in Paris. We also have a lot of them in rural France or other cities in France, but I really think that the ones that lose a star are not going to go out of business at all because they have their customers who love the experience and they’ll continue to be fully booked weeks in advance.

[00:53:31] Annie Sargent: Perhaps some foreign visitors will not want to book a table, because it’s not highly rated enough, I suppose, perhaps, but I think French people are going to keep going because we love these places and that’s how, you know, they’re part of the fabric of French society, because we love the experience and they continue to you know…

[00:53:55] Now French people are also into Top Chef, the TV show, they’re on their 14th season. And I don’t watch that either cause I don’t watch that much TV, but the last couple of days, there’s been so many French chefs being interviewed on French radio saying, you know, the Michelin guide is getting out of control, they’re removing stars from people who’ve proved themselves for decades and it feels capricious.

[00:54:19] Now the Gault & Millau, that’s another big guide that you can buy, they just grant lifetime stars to people who they think have proven themselves enough, because yeah, they never want to remove stars from these people. Even if they have an accident. They don’t want to remove stars from these people.

[00:54:36] You know, a bad day doesn’t mean you’re a bad restaurant, but I guess if that’s the day that Michelin guide comes, then you’re done. By comparison, like the, when you compare all these websites that also rank restaurants, whatever, it feels like the Michelin guide is like God telling you, oh, here’s the righteous restaurant, go spend all your money there.

[00:55:02] Annie Sargent: And you know, perhaps they should stop being so mean and so capricious and the chefs I listened to today said, don’t do the big reveal, talk to the folks who you think are not upholding their standards as well, and tell them why. Don’t slash them in public like that. Just talk to them and tell them, we think that this aspect of your service has gone down or whatever. And it’s pretty clear that they don’t do that, they don’t talk to the people in the industry.

[00:55:29] Annie Sargent: They just, they just announce, you’re out and that’s it. At any rate, we’re very lucky. We have a lot of great restaurants in France and there’s something for everyone, whether you like the Michelin starred restaurants or you want something much more simple, we have lots, lots and lots of great restaurants.

[00:55:47] Annie Sargent: Show notes and a full transcript for this episode are on, that’s the numeral. And you can help your francophile friends plan their visit to France. Go to and share that trailer with them. It’s short, it’s sweet and it may just be what they need to hear and then they can do the search themselves and find the episodes that they’re interested in.

[00:56:14] A big thank you to podcast editor Cristi Cotovan who produces the transcript so you can find in which episode we talked about the place you’re interested in.

[00:56:23] Next week on the podcast

[00:56:23] Annie Sargent: Next week on the podcast, an episode about exploring the Loire Valley without a car with Claire Ramsdell.

[00:56:31] Annie Sargent: It can be done. And this is something a lot of people ask me about when we do Itinerary Consults as well. So she will spill the beans and I will help her do it.

[00:56:41] Annie Sargent: Send questions or feedback to annie@JoinUsinFrance.Com. Thank you so much for listening and I hope you join me next time so we can look around France together.

[00:56:53] Copyright

[00:56:53] Annie Sargent: The Join Us in France Travel Podcast is written, hosted, and produced by Annie Sargent and Copyright 2023 by Addicted to France. It is released under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial, No Derivatives license.

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Category: Alsace and Lorraine