Even forgetting about the abuse, I did not realize why the guardian of order with indignation began to explain to me that the "right – which means the right and left – then left." When he learned that before him the Russian journalist who travels to Strasbourg for a session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the policeman allegedly softened.
- Do you know how much is the penalty for this violation? – He asked sternly. – Eighty Euros!
I made mine and respectful muttered:
- We have less.
Simple-made replica of effect: the policeman laughed and gave me the documents. In parting, also said the key phrase:
- Remember: You are not Paris. Here – Alsace. – Then I remembered the phrase, and convinced of its validity.
Immediately after the Vosges landscape subtly changes. There are dense coniferous forests, slightly reminiscent of Russian, it becomes harder and colder air. At the sight of houses, whose walls are decorated with intricate brown striated fahtverkovyh beams, you understand – near Germany. Yes, and the towns through which we passed, – the German name: Rikevir, Turkhaym, Nidermorshvir. In the Alsatians, even as a physical type: a stocky figure, facial features coarser, more rigid morals. As a result, Alsace, long a bone of contention between France and Germany, became a successful fusion of the German character and French sophistication. There's even talk on the special Alsatian dialect of French, although in practice the French and German in bilingual Alsace equal.
The emblem of the region – Stork, immortalized by local graphic artist Annecy – Jean-Jacques Waltz (1873 – 1951). At every turn sold here are numerous postcards and posters with a picture of this bird. It is believed that the house on the roof of which it is in the spring of Viet huge – up to two meters in diameter – the nest, coming prosperity. In the 60 years in Alsace real panic caused a decrease populations of storks. And today they are still loved, despite the threat of "bird flu".
It is noteworthy that in many countries it is controversial, threatened exclusion area became the cradle of the national spirit. Something like this happened to Alsace, where, incidentally, was a national anthem of France – the "Marseillaise." His words were composed in 1792, Captain Corps of Engineers Claude Joseph Rouget de Lille. Then he called the "Battle song of the Rhine Army" and was intended to raise the morale of the French revolutionaries in their struggle against the Cavaliers. Later became so popular among the volunteer corps of Marseille, which was renamed the "Marseillaise." For many years, is the controversy between supporters and opponents of the "Marseillaise." The first has recently been made compulsory study it in school, to "preserve the authority of national character." Opponents accuse the revolutionary song "bloodthirsty", referring to the verse "Let impure blood irrigate our fields."
During the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 – 1871's in Alsace there was a famous suicidal attack cuirassiers, embodied the romantic spirit of France. Trying to prevent a complete rout of his troops at the height of Elzaskhauzen, Marshal MacMahon, turning to the general Bonnemanu, shouted: "General, go to the right flank with your division! Forward!" – "Marshall, but it's certain death!" – "Yes, but that you save the remnants of our army. Hug me good-bye!" The General put his horse into a gallop, a division which was called "The hope of the empire," followed, and the smoke engulfed them. On a hill near the village of Morsbronn and today is a pyramid of sand, surrounded by four iron balls. This is a monument battalion "Hope Empire." The two sides of the monument are inscribed the names of cuirassiers, and the third – the inscription: "The men of Gaul, who died here August 6, 1870, thanks to the motherland mourning."
Similarly, throughout its history, torn between France and Germany and the capital of Alsace – Strasbourg. Even in 842 Sons of Charlemagne – Charles Bald and Louis the German brought this famous oath, which became the first monument of French and German literature at a time. Centuries passed, and after the Second World War, prevailed the idea that the historic reconciliation between France and Germany must take place in this city on the Rhine. The ground was very ancient name Strareburgum – city roads, a European crossroads. On the basis of reconciliation between the two largest countries on the continent gave the seedlings and the concept of a united Europe, which changed the fate of Strasbourg, turning it into a European capital. It housed the Council of Europe, the European Parliament and the European Court of Human Rights, as well as the headquarters of the Franco-German TV channel "Arte". It is in the Rhine region of expression was born, according to which the border should not divide and unite people.
Across the Rhine – the width of it in this place 250 meters, built a bridge connecting Strasbourg with the German city of Kelemen and named, of course, "The Bridge of Europe". As it moves a continuous stream of vans, and the parapet every 10 meters mounted signs with sayings of the European humanist writers. I purposely passed over this bridge to Germany on foot and was personally convinced that, at least at this point Europe is one. By the way, the prices on the German bank is much lower than in French, and for this reason, many practical strasburzhane moved to Kehl and daily commute to work from Germany to France.
On the world map it is difficult to find another city, just as rich a history as Strasbourg, which is associated with the names of Gutenberg and Luther, Mozart and Goethe. So it was intended to be the European capital, not only the position of the boundary of the city, but throughout its history and culture. Here is the Strasbourg Cathedral of Our Lady – an imperishable monument of Flamboyant Gothic, which was built five centuries. To 330 steps of spiral staircase you can climb to the upper platform of the temple and take a panoramic view of Strasbourg with its picturesque tiled roofs. By the way, only one of the cathedral tower. The fact is that as the construction of city officials changed the project, wanting to make the main church of Strasbourg as a possible grander. As a result, money is not enough, and the foundation would not survive the stress. Therefore, we can say that strasburzhane sought to heaven, but they did not let go of the land. The cathedral was left with a single tower, a horned deer.
Speaking of deer. For several generations of Russian journalists in France, who travel to Strasbourg to highlight the work of European institutions, stop in a small family hotel "Golden Deer" in the old town. His hospitable hostess Genevieve and Marie-Christine greeted us like old friends, and the restaurant pampers delights Alsatian cuisine. Crossing the threshold of this hotel, if you find yourself in the magical atmosphere of Christmas tales that persists until the end is always sad short trips to this city. By the way, Strasbourg is also the European Capital of Christmas, which in the end, hundreds of thousands of inhabitants of the continent tend to spend at least a few days.
It is hard to imagine that a city can decorate a holiday tree. All night long the streets are filled with natural light that pours from thousands of hanging garlands everywhere. At Christmas parties – the whole city. They are in restaurants, on the streets and even at the altar of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Strasbourg. But the biggest fir tree – on the square bearing the name of General Kleber. Beauty 28 meters in height, brought from the protected forest Valshayde, decorated with 12,500 multi-colored lanterns. At its foot in all ethnographic detail recreated Alsatian village, and everyone on the night of Christmas can bring a toy house gifts, which would later be distributed to the homeless and poor. Everywhere are seen cribs with figures of Jesus, the Virgin Mary and the shepherds, illustrating the biblical story of the birth of Christ. Facades are framed by intricate Christmas decorations in shop windows and good-natured clumsy bears great dance. In the window with lace curtains, behind which gently posverkivayut colorful trees, climb ladders, ropes and just rag on the walls of Santa Claus – Per Noelie in French – with with heavy sacks on their backs. On the sidewalks lined with the paths carefree romp cyclists – Monsieur and Madame, banging wheels old omnibuses, drawn by a pair of shaggy horses, and to illus – Strasbourg flowing through the flow of the Rhine – with the music floating tourist teplohodike.
Christmas in Strasbourg, naturally combined with a vibrant business. For more than four centuries, at the foot of the main cathedral noisy Christmas market. Here are selling Christmas decorations and toys, action figures with biblical scenes and all kinds of souvenirs. His head is spinning from the first colorful stalls and polyphonic sound! In the area of Broglio at the National Rhine Opera stretches the "Children's Market Jesus," each year collects more than one million people. In the quarter, "Petite France" – a market of small artisans, and an area of Gutenberg – it is in Strasbourg, he printed the first Bible – the book market. Literally on every corner offers a taste the famous Strasbourg gingerbread and anise Bradley (cookies), hot wine with cinnamon, homemade Alsatian beer or orange juice with honey. On all sides heard Christmas songs, blissfully ringing bells. In the air, fragrances worn trees, roasted chestnuts and mulled wine. The narrow medieval streets – not crowded, many on their shoulders – little children, gawking in amazement. Nobody, however, did not occur to push through the crowd. So the bustling Muscovite, or just nervous rossiyaninu nothing to do here.
According to tradition the night before Christmas in Alsatian head of the family banquet table divides the bread between the household and everyone is looking for a slice baked inherited a coin, which should bring good luck. These days, however, decided to share here is not only bread but also joy, hospitality and traditions. It is the spirit of Christianity, preserved in Alsace, makes this an unusual Christmas charm. In December blooms activities of charitable organizations. Special attention surrounded the children. Held numerous exhibitions, performances and concerts. This year, for example, drew the attention of one of the church choirs of St. Petersburg.
The holiday begins at Strasbourg, a month before Christmas. November 25 through the gates into the city Austerlitz enters triumphantly Pere Noel, surrounded by fairy tale characters and all sorts of animals. For a month he was on schedule every evening from four to seven in the area of Chateau gives kids goodies.
But in the summer in Alsace in Paris to travel to the picturesque Wine Road, winding among the hills and castles of Marlenhayma to Tanna. Alsatian wines with fanciful names "Gewürztraminer" or "edeltsviker" – a sweet and pure, with a special flavor, as because of cold climate grapes are ripening later, and it generates more natural sugar. In Alsace, is three-quarters of French white wine, half of French beer and spirits from a variety of fruits such as cherry, "Kirsch", which guides recommend a "sip in cold weather, with moderation by the fire."
And what is a snack? Alsace, among other things – the birthplace of foie gras. Favorite dish gourmet "foie gras" – a whole goose or duck liver, which is suspended in a small cage to the ceiling and fed grains, oilseeds, nuts and corn. Then the liver bacon truffles and tantalized by a slow fire with spices and liqueurs. Serve "foie gras" in earthen pots, filled with goose fat, eating thin slices of chilled, washed down with white wine, preferably a cold and sweet Sauternes. Goose liver – a traditional Christmas treat. Invented by the famous delicacy, known under the name of the Strasbourg pate, in 1782 Norman chef Jean Joseph Close, received for a title of nobility.
In Alsace, and make one of the most odoriferous French cheeses, "Muenster". For his merits he has two drawbacks: it does not tolerate transportation, and passengers can not tolerate the neighborhood of cheese. Therefore, it is transported in a sealed package, and a friend of mine delivered her head, "Munster" in Paris, linking it to the roof of the car. And the famous Alsatian ham and sausages, as well as "shukrut" of sauerkraut flavored with a variety of smoked meats. But caution: popular dish can permanently frustrate even the "tinned" stomach …
In Strasbourg, Alsace my acquaintance with the police received an unexpected sequel. Consul General of Russia Vladimir Korotkov invited me to a new home: the establishment to move to a magnificent mansion on the Square Brant. Upon arrival, a long time I circled the car around the building, unable to find any nearby free parking. Desperate, I left the car on the waterfront, which bears the name of the author of "The Marseillaise" Rouget de Lille, right under the sign "security zone". "For half an hour nothing happens – I have tried to persuade himself, hurrying to the consulate. – The more so here – safety zone!" Zastenografirovav in notebook performance distinguished guests, exactly half an hour I hurried back. Of course, the machines in the same place was not, and two sleek old woman triumphantly told me that the car brought tow.
- It is impossible to put the car – I said firmly one of them. – Every quarter of an hour passes by the police.
It became clear that the "security zone" was intended not for the visiting journalists. There was nothing, and I sadly trudged back to the Consulate General where the full swing of triumph. Told her the sad story of one of the employees. He encouraged me to:
- Try to resolve your issue.
A minute later he brought a certain Frenchman. In one hand he held a glass of vodka in the other – the mobile phone.
- You return the car – promised the French – and not have to pay a fine for improper parking. But I have to pay for removal of the machine, as it deals with a private company.
- I will pay! – I cried. – No problem! You are saving me!
The Frenchman spoke a little on the phone and said:
- For removal also did not have to pay. – Once again I was profuse in gratitude.
- And you could barely wait – suddenly said the Frenchman, shaking his glass. – I only came here.
- Well, of course – I said dejectedly. – The main fact that you saved me.
- And yet, do another, – the Frenchman change his mind and went back to the phone. – Call the police car.
Literally a minute later drove to the Consulate General of Police van in which were three enormous policeman. While the Frenchman explained to them what had happened, I asked the consular officer:
- Who is it?
- Chief of Police Strasbourg – calmly replied.
The police took me to a huge parking lot about ten kilometers from the city, crowded with hundreds of confiscated vehicles. Among them I found her, and by signing a protocol, sat behind the wheel. Showing me the way back, the police returned to the consulate, and, waving my pen, disappeared …
And then Colmar in Alsace, was the city of which all who saw him speak with a well-deserved admiration. Unforgettable atmosphere of the quarter "Little Venice", rugged up and down the channels with colorful gingerbread cottages along the shores, literally strewn with flowers. In Colmar – a house-museum of sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi – the author of New York's Statue of Liberty and the museum "Unterlinden", which houses the famous "Altar Issenhayma" Matthias Grunwald, whose life is surrounded by mystery, but the work is easily recognizable by the unusual drama. Colmar is famous for the fact that here each year, Vladimir Spivakov conducts its own music festival and live zzhes singer Patricia Kaas.
Of course … in Alsace, I was able to see much more. But to return to Paris, I just wondered how the French are able to convert almost every place in paradise, and every day – a holiday. And why, exactly, is Alsace – another France? Indeed, in this wonderful country has an unusually vivid originality of any of its territory – Normandy and Provence, Brittany and Picardy, Auvergne, and Corsica. This means that many more discoveries vpereredi.