A few weeks ago I vowed to find us an escape from Strasbourg on the night of total madness – known to many as Saint Sylvester or New Year’s Eve. Unfortunately it seems every hotel, hostel, campsite, chalet and guesthouse within a two hour radius of the city has been booked solid – with the last few remaining rooms demanding prices akin to Davos during billionaire season. Despite the lack of snow, any hideaway in the Black Forest, Vosges or Jura mountains remains elusive and thus it looks as though we will have to endure the worst night of the year in Strasbourg once again. Clearly we are not the only ones with a fear of New Year.
Why such dread? Well last year, to celebrate the passing of another calendar, the citizens of Alsace:
- set fire to 117 motor cars (61 in Strasbourg itself)
- held onto exploding fireworks (resulting in 17 people having their hands mutilated; 2 youths from Mulhouse lost their thumbs)
- smuggled over 2 tonnes of contraband fireworks into the region (2 tonnes were confiscated, no-one knowns how many made it through)
- threw fireworks at police and set fire to street bins in Selestat (mainly children apparently)
- set fire to a staircase in Thann (er, why?)
- spent the night in a cell after behaving like idiots (31 in Haut Rhin alone)
These figures were down on the previous year’s and the authorities were very self-congratulatory – especially seeing as there had been no deaths this time around!
One wonders exactly how tolerant people are going to be this year in the wake of the Paris attacks? After all, how different is the sound of an AK47 rifle to a hand-held chinese banger (pétard) going off?
Personally, I’ll be locking the kids inside until I’m sure the “excitement” is over…