The Translation Nightmare Before Christmas in Strasbourg, France

Claimant to the title of « capital of Europe », the French city of Strasbourg is known all over Europe for its institutions like the European Council where hundreds of translators and interpreters help politicians communicate. But it is also the self-proclaimed capital city of Christmas, known all over the world for its numerous markets and its exquisite local food.

Located close to the German border, Strasbourg is part of the « Alsace » region where German is probably the most commonly spoken language after French and the local dialect « l’alsacien ». You’d think that language skills would be quite developed in such an international place. Yet, I spotted a funny translation blunder in a hotel in the city centre. As is sometimes the case, hotel owners resort to Google Translate when they only have a few words to translate (ex: instructions in the bathroom), either for financial reasons or just practical considerations. They probably think that given how short these sentences are, the machine cannot get them wrong… well, in this case a proofreader would have been put to good use… Granted, the message can still be well understood, but I reckon it’s not ideal and it reflects poorly on their image. When it’s bound to be pinned on the wall, it’s always best to have it proofread first.


But don’t let yourself be put off by the wrong grammar and get outside to soak in the magic and explore the numerous Christmas markets. Start with the one located in the borough called « La Petite France ». There, you’ll find the traditional half-timbered houses. Keep on walking and you’ll finP1520911ally end up in « Place Gutenberg » where they usually host a Christmas market honouring a European country. It changes every year.

It’s very close to the impressive cathedral where there is yet another Christmas market. Don’t forget to stop by the visitors’ centre. You can’t miss it, it is located in the building with massive gingerbread decorations.





And for all the fairy-tale lovers out there, under no circumstances whatsoever should you miss the boutique called « La maison de Hanssen & Gretel ». It is like stepping in a life-size dollhouse filled with Christmas decorations and magic. It’s located in a narrow street close to the cathedral.


The most famous Christmas market remains the one called « Christkindelsmärik » in the pure German tradition. Don’t forget to sample some of the local food there! Anything with German-sounding names is bound to be delicious!

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5 Reasons to Visit Lyon during The Fête des Lumières

And it’s starting tonight!

If you have already seen this article from CNN entitled « 8 ways Lyon outshines Paris », then you already know that Paris isn’t the only French city worth visiting. Let me add a few things to this list. If you were to visit Lyon, I would recommend to do so during the « Fête des Lumières » (The Festival of Lights) which takes place on the 8th of December and the days before or after. Visit the official website:

¤ The Light Show in the borough of Vieux Lyon.

Don’t miss the show they put on in the historic part of the city. It’s usually very impressive because it is set against the gorgeous church « Eglise de St Jean ».

¤ The food

Lyon is famous for its local food and the Beaujolais wine. Sample some « bouchons« , « quenelles » and « saucisson brioché« !

¤ History and Secrets

I recommend you read this book to learn great tales about the past of this Roman city: « Guide secret de Lyon et de ses environs » (2 volumes available). It’ll even help you practise your French.

¤ Le marché de Noël

Don’t miss the Christmas Market located at « Place Carnot ». I highly recommend you stop by the Canadian stall for some Québec delicacies. It’s still French!

¤ The city that invented the 7th art

If you think Hollywood is the birthplace of cinema, think again! The French Brothers Lumière were the ones inventing the first ever camera. Don’t miss the Musée Lumière located at the Institut Lumière


Bon voyage!