Research in Strasbourg

2015-08-18 16.11.44If you ever get the opportunity to visit Strasbourg in Alsace, France … go!

I’ve just spent an incredible four days staying with my lovely friend, Julie, who lives in a village just outside  the city. In fact, she’s responsible for my deciding that my WIP, currently entitled ‘Just for the Holidays’, was set in Alsace, as, when looking for a suitable spot for my English characters to spend August in France, I remembered her saying ‘You must come and stay!’ To have a built-in tour guide makes research five times easier.2015-08-18 11.51.30

After strolling through the city and admiring the totally fantastic cathedral, we took a boat ride along the River Ile, which flows through Strasbourg and connects with the canal, to give me an overview of the city, the half-timbered buildings and steeply pitched roofs, the flowers, the ironworks, architecture and history. 2015-08-18 14.51.54

And I had to begin my exploration of local food and drink – Baeckeoffe, with Fischer beer. Baeckeoffe is a very hearty stew with three kinds of meat in it.Baeckeoffe

Wednesday saw us at ‘Urgences’, the A&E department of l’Hopital Civil, where my character, Alister, is taken after rearranging his leg in a cycling accident. Of course, I wouldn’t intrude on anybody’s privacy by taking photos of their dashes to the hospital, but I was able to check out the building, the department, the surroundings and, via Julie (now turned translator), quiz the receptionist in Urgences as to what would happen to Alister after admission. (Transport to l’Hopital Hautepierre for his operation and aftercare).

Flammkuchen, tarte flambeeThat day’s dejeuner was flammkucher and Meteor beer. (You see how seriously I take my research.) Later in the day we wandered for two hours around the village where Julie lives, taking pix of the gorgeous houses and the infrastructure of the place. I was particularly impressed by the pizza vending machine.DSCF0210

Thursday saw a return to Strasbourg to meet Julie’s friend, Corinne, an English teacher who had volunteered her local knowledge. After cake at Christian’s, near the cathedral, we hopped on the tram back to Corrinne’s place, where she gave us lunch on her terrace, much of it sourced from her lovely garden. Then we talked for hours about the locality, about the medical system, the insurance system and we drank tea made of roses. (Sorry that so much of this post is about food and drink but, when in Alsace, one must eat as the Alsatians do.)DSCF0259

I’m going to draw a veil over later standing outside Julie’s apartment with my case as I waited for taxi after taxi that ‘had a problem’, ‘seems to be lost’ and couldn’t find the apartments. Suffice to say, I got a bit anxious. But, eventually, I was on my way, arriving at the airport in time to kiss my hostess goodbye and join the tail of the line for airport security.

Today I’m back at my desk with over 200 photos, leaflets, notes and memories, to weave into my manuscript. So, bye then! I have work to do.

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10 Comments

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10 responses to “Research in Strasbourg

  1. Baeckeoffe is a favourite of ours and SO easy to make. Meteor beer is also not bad at all.
    Its a lovely area of France. We would very much recommend the Xmas Markets, particularly Colmar AND of course the wine!!!

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  2. The scenery looks like a place we visited last year in France called Annecy. I will have to check if they are neighbours. It definitely will be on my list of places to visit in France.

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    • According to iMaps Annecy is about 4.5 hours south of Strasbourg. You would drive through the edge of Switzerland to travel between the two. 🙂 Alsace-Lorraine is the part of France that was hotly disputed in WWII (and before).

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      • They call Annecy the Venice of France and its proximity to Salsbourg is probably why I thought they were similar. It would also be a great place to set a novel. Perhaps I will return on the pretense of research myself:-)
        Look forward to reading yours.

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        • Thanks – I hope that you do, and that you enjoy it. 🙂 Annecy sounds gorgeous, too. I think we may as well include things in our books that we really would like to research, making a virtue out of holidays/experience days etc.

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  3. It’s so interesting to hear about the background research of location. It has to feel right, especially if the reader knows the area; and of course if the details do feel right, then it can just blow you away and feel as though you are there with the characters! Must put Strasbourg on my ‘must see’ list!

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  4. Pingback: Why being an author is the best job in the world – Take Five Authors

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