The Cave Historique des Hospices de Strasbourg is a wine cellar below a hospital that houses the world’s oldest bottle of white. Photo: Christopher Grady
The Cave Historique des Hospices de Strasbourg is a wine cellar below a hospital that houses the world’s oldest bottle of white. Photo: Christopher Grady

Macquarie University student drinks in French culture

Christopher Grady, a Bachelor of Arts with a major in Writing student, went on exchange to EM Strasbourg and this is his toast to his experience in France.

“Strasbourg: to walk around this incredible city numb-footed and shivering, wishing for another layer, and still be told this was a mild winter.

To confront oneself in front of the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Strasbourg, a beautiful, staggering building, looking like its saints and gargoyles were carved into stalactites, or to flâner about Petite France, where one can really see the Franco-German influence with its fairytale-esque half-wooden houses, although it didn’t always have such reputation and charm. It was originally for syphilitic castaways.

Anyway, the days we studied were either tours of the city or museums or chateaus, or long hours in a tiny room with our ‘English jar’. It was much like a ‘swear jar’ – if you speak English you pay. It was going towards a worthy cause: good wine.

This was for one of the easier days. The plan: meet at EM Strasbourg, our university, have an hour of class then jump on a tram to go to lunch. We sat and enjoyed four courses with some nice wine but the teacher said we must leave.

‘Allez-hop-hop-hop!he said, but our progress was postponed by either the teacher meeting someone on the street or the history lesson on every corner.

We jumped on and off trams and arrived at the hospital for a wine tour. They had a wine cellar below – the Cave Historique des Hospices de Strasbourg – with the world’s oldest bottle of white.

We taste-tested and after the gift shop climbed back onto the street for another tram to the movies. This was not in the plan but homework was to watch the first two films of a trilogy and we had to finish it with the third.

Overall, the experience was incredible. To be able to fly to the other side of the world to study, to have a short few weeks to live like a local, to immerse oneself in the culture and to speak a little French every day – even if it was only to order a coffee or a meal.”


Macquarie students are encouraged to add international exchange or short-term international study to their degrees. Find out where you can go and how the University supports you with a generous travel grant scheme.

The Bachelor of Arts with a major in Writing allows you to specialise in writing while choosing a direction that suits your personal and career goals. Study choices range from novel writing and poetry to literary journalism and scriptwriting for screen.