Tuesday, 27 December 2016

WEEKEND GETAWAYS FROM PARIS - Alsace region (Part 1 : Nancy stopover)

Carrying on from our previous weekend getaway post, here's a quick post about our visit to the Alsace region of France during the Christmas season, via NANCY. I needed to separate it from the others otherwise the Alsace region post would get too big! Here's the essential information:

DESTINATION : Alsace Region via Nancy


DURATION : 2.5 days - left Paris Friday afternoon, came back Sunday night (ready for work Monday morning)

DISTANCES AND TRAVEL TIMES : Paris - Nancy (385km, about 4 hours depending on traffic)

So I've always wanted to visit the Alsace region of France, notably for its famous Christmas markets in Strasbourg and surrounding little cities. We covered more or less everything we wanted in two days - here's how we planned it. Friday afternoon after work, we hopped into the car and drove to Nancy which was on the way to the Alsace region. I didn't expect much, it was just meant to be a quick stopover to break up the drive. I booked a cheap triple share motel for myself, Frenchie and his daughter for 39€ which was clean and more than sufficient for our pit stop. I've always believed that travelling doesn't always require loads of money and this was a prime example of my theory in action. 13€ per person for a night's accommodation was a pretty good deal if I say so myself. 

We arrived late on Friday night after driving for four hours from Paris, checked into our basic motel and headed to the city centre where we were very pleasantly surprised by the UNESCO World Heritage listed Place de Stanislas, decked out in its best Christmas attire. 

Radiating out from the central town square were lots of streets with restaurants and lively bars. We stumbled across a little cheese restaurant (I kid you not it was a restaurant purely devoted to cheese based cuisine) called "La Puce d'Oreille" (literally "The Thumb of the Ear") with several meanings from sensing something to suspecting something. On the windows it advertised "la cuisine de fromage" - cheese cuisine I told you right? And the menu did not lie, tartiflettes, raclettes, cheese fondues - everything cheese related was possible. At 10:30pm we were digging into our raclette and tartiflette dinner. Gooey, melty cheese, potatoes, charcuterie, tart cornichons - all those rich, heavy cold Winter flavours and textures piled up on a plate to keep us warm well after we'd finished our meals.  

Here's a picture of a dog on the counter I took. I remember thinking, you really know you're in France when you see something like this. OHS rules, take that haha! 

The next morning we woke up early to try and squeeze in a little Nancy by day before driving to our proper Alsatian Christmas destination, Strasbourg. Turns out the Place de Stanislas is just as stunning by day as it is by night. 

Free books anyone? A great Nancy initiative, drop off your books that you no longer need and pick up something else that might interest you!

We found a gorgeous little boulangerie to pick up our breakfast, a finalist for the Best Boulangerie of France. 

And how could I resist picking up some dessert at 9am in the morning when the mouth watering baked goods on offer looked like this..?!

Although breakfast was a fleur d'orange croissant, devoured while seated in front of the 18th century Middle Ages cathedral, as you do when you are in France. Next stop : the Alsace region of France - home to Europe's oldest Christmas markets, Strasbourg!

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