Happy holiday season and a wonderful new year
About the Author: Mr. Evan G. Reade is the U.S. Consul General in Strasbourg
The snow has begun to fall, the Christmas markets are packed, and 2011 is coming to an end in Strasbourg. The past two months have been busy ones for us. November was marked by a number of occasions in which both French and American citizens pause to remember the past and to give thanks. We attended ceremonies to commemorate all who have died for France, Armistice Day, and Liberation Day in Strasbourg. Both the Cathedral and Synagogue of Peace were venues for moving memorial services dedicating to remembering and thanking those who have sacrificed so much so that we might continue to live in a free and prosperous world. And of course, for Americans, November is the month of Thanksgiving, a time to remember the tribulations of our earliest settlers and to give thanks for the bounty of our great nation.
We were also spent some time traveling more within our Consular District, and made new friends and contacts in Nancy and Besancon. In December, Ambassador Rivkin visited Besancon to meet with government, business, and education leaders. The region of Franche-Comte, which is located adjacent to the Swiss border, used to be a leading center of the watch and clock making industry. After facing stiff competition from Asia in the 1980s, the area has bounced back and is now the leading region in France for microtechnology firms. Of course, it is also famous for its wonderful cheeses! In addition, Franche-Comte is a center for higher education, and the Ambassador had the opportunity to speak with students at the Center for Applied Linguistics about the importance of foreign language learning in our rapidly globalizing world. And finally, the Ambassador arrived in Besancon at its brand new TGV station. The SNCF opened its new Rhine-Rhone TGV line in December which now links Strasbourg more quickly with its neighbors to the south all the way to the Mediterranean, and also provides direct TGV service from Paris to Franche-Comte. Our world is, indeed, getting smaller!
Of course, the highlight of life in Alsace during the month of December are its Christmas markets. The streets of Strasbourg have been packed with thousands of happy tourists and shoppers, enjoying the holiday spirit and keeping warm with hot wine and cider. I also had the opportunity to visit Colmar’s lovely market and to pay a visit to the incredibly interesting Bartholdi museum. If you haven’t already visited one of the markets yourself, hurry out! There’s still time for some last minute shopping!
Let me “wrap up” my last blog post of the year by wishing everyone, on behalf of the entire team here at Consulate General Strasbourg, a very happy holiday season and a wonderful new year.
Evan G. Reade