Immediately after the cottage, I headed to Strasbourg for a night to see the Christmas market and visit some friends studying there. I LOVED it. It's literally Germany but with French speakers. What could be better? I love old German architecture and food. We went to a "local" favorite called Au Brasseur and I had the bière de noël, tarte flambée, and spaetzel - a local alsacienne dish that is apparently supposed to be a type of noodle, but mine came with sauerkraut. Speaking of which, weird fact about me: I could literally marry sauerkraut. It is so amazing, and apparently good for your gut? Well, the one I had, drenched in oil and something-fried probably wasn't but the thought was there.
There isn't much to do in Strasbourg, from what I could tell (and from what I was told, actually). But the Christmas Market was absolutely huge and the Christmas decorations were so beautiful it made me think of home. In my youth there were displays in the basement of the downtown Marshall Fields... a annual maze of motorized dolls acting out different scenes. The decorations filled my dreams and brought the North Pole to life before my eyes. This is what Strasbourg was like.
Next was Lyon. I had barely even been back for 24 hours before we hopped over to Lyon for the Light Festival. I hadn't slept when I caught the train so early in the morning. Lyon is a huge huge city, though in a very accessible and do-able way. You only realize how big it is when you're looking from up above, either on some ferris wheel or from the Basilica at the top of the hill. It felt a bit like a homey Paris. I tried their quenelles, per my host lady's request as it is their specialty dish, and it really wasn't great. I've had them in Paris and I quite liked them, but I don't know what it was about the one I tried. A giant brick of dough, sitting in something orange, with a side of rice... And now that I think about it, I think that "something orange" was some lobster sauce. I actually shouldn't think about it.
Everything really came alive at night. The light installations came out, music was playing, people were everywhere. However, it was freezing and raining most of the time, and I was wearing cotton socks and velvet loafers... The weather said it wouldn't rain! Needless to say I was fairly miserable and was ready to skip. Sauf que, we decided to take a midnight bus back to Paris. We tried to pick up alcohol for the bus ride (my 21st on Saturday) but unfortunately we were like 4 minutes late to the cutoff at Monoprix. So basically that's how I rang in my 21st: Cramped in the back of a bus in Lyon that was two hours behind schedule due to snow, extraordinarily sleep-deprived, wet, cold, sans champagne. But I honestly wouldn't have wanted it any other way.