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.
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.
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).
That 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.
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.)
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.