On Thursday I decided to spend the day in la petite ville Obernai which is south-west of Strasbourg and where my fiancé works. It is a very pretty town and the market was there all morning which gave me a little extra to look at. Just spending a day in this town I began to see how different it is to a British town, if I had a dog I would have said 'we're not in Kansas any more Toto'. For starters: food and drink. Whilst there are a plethora of restaurants, cafés and brasseries in Obernai I can't always be a 'lady what lunches'. So, whilst I started off in a little café for breakfast, I had to set out in search of a means of an inexpensive lunch. France it seems will never be the home of the bottled drink and packaged sandwich. It took me until nearly 4pm to find somewhere to buy a bottle of water (in a boulangerie – bakery) where I also bought a baguette and a couple of pastries, not exactly the healthy balanced lunch I was hoping for, but it served the purpose.
The morning market did provide a variety of food; fruit and veg, cheese and enormous cuts of raw meat, but no real meals one can eat 'on the hoof'. I could have bought a whole saucisson, but at a foot long and 4 inches wide it would have looked a bit strange trying to eat it without slicing it first. Mental note for the future, really pack the kitchen sink! All in all what I needed was a supermarket, but even those are nowhere to be found near the town centre. There are no Tesco Expresses or Spars on the street corners not even small newsagents with over priced sandwiches. Les tabacs sell exactly that; tobacco products, some magazines and newspapers, bakeries sell bread and sometimes pastries and les pâtisseries sell pastries although mainly the sweet variety (no British sausage rolls or meat and potato pies). I feel an opening for an all-in-one corner shop...
Whilst I ate my rather carbo-licious lunch I went in search of an ideal picnic area. Obernai does have many benches and a few grassy areas, but it seemed to me that the two didn't intertwine. Perhaps I need to venture further still into the depths of this French town but so far picnic areas seems to be a bit short in France. The small grassy area I finally found next to a path did have a lovely bubbling brook running low behind the green trees and bushes and the size and colour of the butterflies and dragon/damsel flies were magnifique in comparison to those found in Britain.
Obernai has many selling points, for instance the houses of mixed French and Germanic architecture, so prominent in the Alsacien landscape, are unique and well worth the time to inspect and take in the intricate details. The main church is nestled in the centre of the old town and is home to one of the most elaborate sculpture scenes I have ever seen. Situated on the side of a small building within the church grounds a large alcove, provides an open view of a painted sculpture scene of Jesus praying amongst other prominent Bible figures. This history of this fantastic model dates back to the early sixteenth century and is visible from many of the roads climbing the hills around. The church's graveyard itself is pretty incredible too with the level of maintenance from the respective families and the elaborate and expensive headstones. Not only were there many strange names for me to marvel at but also some rather inquisitive lizards. One could easily spend hours contemplating and admiring these tokens of commemoration.
One day is obviously not enough to truly explore this small town, and I'm sure I will not only discover more differences between my British upbringing and French future but also some surprising similarities.