Not quite April in Paris but autumn in Strasbourg is a song-feuilles mortes and late harvest wines.

After a quick (1:45) TGV we arrived in Strasbourg and were met by our guide, the internationally renowned photographer, Jean-Louis Hess. I had seen him on a French TV documentary about the Neustadt and knew immediately that he was the guy to show me the "new city' built by the Germany after their smashing victory in the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-71 that made Alsace German for 47 years. The neo-gothic architecture, the imposing emperor's palace. the Ecole des Arts du Rhin

and stately apartment buildings make this a German city surrounded by France.

Before setting out on our tour we grabbed a light lunch  around the corner from our uber charming, family run Hotel Suisse

FREE Breakfast at Hotel Suisse

and washed it down with a local riesling. Jean-Louis is not just a photpgrapher but an historian of this city within a city and filled the air with anecdotes about Kaiser Wilhelm and the entrepeneur who financed an apartment building by setting up a lottery for an apartment and used the funds for construction.

One of our stops was Walter Kiowir's Neustadt Galerie where he has engaged artisans to meticulously and expensievely restore the apartment that now  serves as a private gallery and scene of lavish dinners. A mere 38 years old Walter was an auctioneer in London before coming back home to the city that he speaks of with great love and passion.

The apartment is a combination "church" and museum with a tall stained glass window looming over the entrance from the landing one flight up. Inside there are paintings by Alsatian artists, period furniture, authentic wallcoverings and crystal chandeliers.


For dinner we we were able to squeeze into the last available table at Maison Kammerzell with a view of the cathedral.

The ground floor dates from 1427 or 1467 and the upper floors, that also house a few rooms for rent to travelers, date back to 1589. We didn't care that it carried a reputation as a tourist hangout,

M had spied Three Fish choucroute on the menu so there was no turning back.

Our meal turned out to be delightful, delicious and accompanied by a bottle of Sylvaner, quite reasonable priced, but, there was more. Having identified our waitress as Russian by her accent we kept up a conversation throughout the meal, in French, and she kindly and generously delivered snifters of eau de vie to finish our evening.  We were quite taken with Anna and made a point of mentioning it to the director, who turned out to be her husband, and who came back with two more snifters of eau de vie–his name, Sebastien STRATEMEYER, great grandson of Edward STRATEMEYER, packager of THE HARDY BOYS, NANCY DREW , TOM SWIFT, THE BOBBSEY TWINS. Well, that called for another round of eau de vie...

My memory is a little fuzzy after that but we did make a 10AM-1 hour boat ride around the canals with views of Le Petit Paris district and European Parliament followed by a visit to the cathedral, but, we declined the 330 step climb to the top with its panoramic views, incuding the Vosges Mountains.

We certainly weren't going to skip lunch and Walter Kiwior met us at one of his favorites, Chez Yvonne, that even after the death of the original owner remains a local institution. Marie, our exuberant Polish waitress welcomed us with glasses of Muscadet. Walter and M tucked into fish with sauerkraut and I opted for the house specialty ferté des hommes (for obvious reasons), a long sausage nestled on a bed of sauerkraut with potato salad on the side. The pinot noir was a bit too light for our taste but I'll be back.

Since we will be coming back, and most likely with travelers from Paris, we decided to postpone a vist to the extraordinary Zoological Museum

until next time and headed for the train station, tired but with big smiles on our faces.


 For groups of 4-6 persons I will escort you to Strasbourg for an overnite visit and introduce you to my new friends and destinations.

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