Autumn is aesthetic poetry. It comes to life through layers of lush contrasting gradients. It speaks in nature’s warmest hues and dances through the cities of the world with grace and beauty. Autumn wraps each November in the most stunning of costumes, every leaf a player in nature’s theatre as it begins its yearly undressing for all to enjoy, as a beautiful prelude to the icy cold of winter and the rebirth of spring.
This year we spent our autumn in Strasbourg. The city is mostly known for its light-laden Christmas streets in the corner of the town known as Petite France – bejewelled as it is with medieval Rhineland architecture. Few venture past the huge gothic cathedral in the Place de la Cathédrale, despite that at least another 3rd of the city is covered with incredible art nouveau architecture – and the rest equally split between German Renaissance, French Baroque, Classicism and a slowly ascending skyline of warehouse conversions and modern towers.
The same ignorance of the city’s beauty can be said of the seasons. Spring and autumn are almost bereft of tourists, summer gets full for a weekend or two during the august holidays and then the masses arrive in time for the Capital of Christmas to don its glittering crown.
But as you can see, Strasbourg is stunning in the autumn. Trees line long promenades and canals, while the parks are full of diverse plant and tree life that fade to pathways of the most beautiful autumn gold. The cold air makes me think of England, and the canals make me think of the docklands in London- a long way from last years autumn, spent in the heat and humidity of Florence – a city of only two seasons – hot and rainy .
Walking on a cold autumn night as the wind blows scents of burning leaves and hot stoves through the air is pure romance. Here in Strasbourg, the feeling is intensified by the gradients of architecture from so many different eras blending and contrasting against miles and miles of pretty canal water and the vibrant hues of fallen leaves.
For the perfect autumn walk – I suggest one starts in Petite France – walking its cobbled streets towards the cathedral. Then walk through Krutenau and its army of bars and cafes, towards the modern docklands/ peninsula area of Presqu’île André Malraux. This area is booming with restaurants and modern apartment buildings as well as the beautiful Médiathèque André Malraux – which is a media library in a converted dock building.
Afterwards head towards the Parc du Palais du Rhin, over the canals and through the park itself before walking into to the beautiful l’Orangerie district and onwards either to the Parc de l’Orangerie or the European Parliament buildings.