Strasbourg, FR

Strasbourg remains a hybrid; part German, part French and part medieval village, part modern European powerhouse. Strasbourg is a place where you can enjoy the simple pleasures of small village life; browsing shops along cobbled streets, indulging in a treat from the many pâtisseries, and watching swans elegantly float by as you walk along the banks of the river.

With only one day in Strasbourg, we were still able to see a fair amount of the city. The main tourist attractions in Strasbourg are located in the Old Town and within walking distance of each other, making it easy to enjoy a short visit to Strasbourg.

Here’s a look at some great things to see and do in Strasbourg.

The Grande Île

We spent the majority of our trip to Strasbourg on the Grande Île, where the historic center of town is located. This large island is surrounded by two arms of the Ill River and is a lovely web of narrow streets and alleyways. The Grand Île is also where most of Strasbourg’s tourist attractions are, including Strasbourg Cathedral and Petite France.

Taste of the Best of Alsace

This picnic-style lunch was the highlight of our Taste of Alsace tour.

We were pleased to get our first taste of Strasbourg during this full-day excursion which served as an introduction for our future stay in the fairytale Alsatian city in France.

The informative tour guide from Food and City Tours Strasbourg introduced us to a variety of local fare starting with kugelhopf and continuing with chocolate, cheese, baguettes, wine, flamenkuche and finally pain d’epices, a local pastry similar to what Americans call gingerbread.

Highlight of this excursion? For us, it was the picnic-style lunch at Oenosphère where we sampled excellent local wines from nearby vineyards along with an assortment of amazing French cheeses and charcuterie.

Strasbourg Cathedral

Cathédrale Notre Dame de Strasbourg

After our mid-day déjeuner, we set off to see the Notre-Dame Cathedral, in the heart of Strasbourg’s Old Town. We walked up the narrow Rue des Orfèvres, a pretty street lined with busy shops. As we approached the end of the street, we were in stood in awe of the magnificence of the Cathédrale Notre Dame de Strasbourg; rising up to the heavens was a single steeple, so tall we could not see the top without tilting our heads as far back as they could go. Even then, it was tough!

Completed in 1439, Cathédrale Notre Dame de Strasbourg, at 142 metres (466 feet), was the world’s tallest building from 1647 to 1874 (227 years), when it was surpassed by St. Nikolai’s Church, Hamburg. Today it is the sixth-tallest church in the world and the highest still standing extant structure built entirely in the Middle Ages.

As impressive as the steeple is, the church is worth a visit inside. The main attraction is the Astronomical Clock, a complicated 16th century creation which tells the time, calculates ecclesiastical occasions, and gives astronomical indications.

All the parts of the clock together are 18 m (59 ft) high. The clock shows much more than the official time; it also indicates solar time, the day of the week (each represented by a god of mythology), the month, the year, the sign of the zodiac, the phase of the moon and the position of several planets. The lower part of the massive base of the clock has statues of Apollo and the Goddess Diana presenting a circular calendar of the liturgical year, whose revolving face with a globe points to the dates of major religious festivals and events. This part of the clock is surrounded by painted figures representing the ancient empires – Greece, Assyria, Persia, and Rome.1

Petite France

Petite France is impossibly charming, picture perfect and untouched by time, its winding streets bordered by 16 and 17th century homes. I loved all the woodwork and flower boxes that decorated the houses. I could have took pictures all day long of every single building!

Petite France is now a popular attraction packed with hotels, cafes and shops, but was once an area to be avoided. In the 16th century, a “hospice of the syphilitic” was built here to treat and quarantine patients with syphilis. Since the disease, at the time, was largely considered a “French disease”, this area was soon nicknamed Petite France.

The beautiful architecture, interesting history, and pleasant atmosphere makes Petite France one of the best places to visit in Strasbourg!

Place du Marché-aux-Cochons-de-Lait

Place du Marché-aux-Cochons-de-Lait or “The Suckling Pig Market Square”, is a great place rest tired feet and people watch at one of the cafes.

Place du Marché aux-Poissons

Place du Marché aux-Poissons, or “Fish Market Square”, is on the banks of the Ill, at the foot of the cathedral and in the immediate vicinity of the Palais Rohan is a fabulous location for taking in the architecture of Strasbourg. Also, here is where you can board the boats that float around the Grande Île. It’s also a great place for swan watching.

Place Gutenberg

Carousel in Place Gutenberg near the statue of Johannes Gutenberg

Place Gutenberg is one of the city of Strasbourg’s most famous squares. It’s located in Strasbourg’s Grande Île, just opposite Strasbourg’s lovely cathedral’s main facade.

This square owes its name to Johannes Gutenberg of whom there is a statue of, in the centre of the square. Johannes Gutenberg is the inventor of the modern printer and resided in Strasbourg for a while whilst working as a silversmith.

Depending on the time of year, you may or may not find a precious and large carousel which they put in the part of the square on the right. When we saw this square we were amazed by the carousel’s beauty which also gave a touch of color and magic to la Place Gutenberg.

Berg Piétonne

Located on the banks of the river, this is Berg Piétonne, a famous pedestrian street in Strasbourg. Coming to this place, you will easily find a quiet space, avoiding the noise and bustle of the prosperous urban place. In addition, the pedestrian street Berg Piétonne is also a great place for you to fully admire the unique beauty of this beautiful city.

Boat Tour On The Canals

Strasbourg’s old town is an island – the Grande Île – encircled by canals and the River Ill. So one of the best things to do in Strasbourg is get a view from the water on a sightseeing boat tour; it takes 70 minutes and runs up to 35 times a day. Some boats are open-top for sunny days and there’s a commentary in 12 languages so you know what you’re looking at.

The route starts in Petite-France, stopping at two locks because this area has a higher water level, then carries on through the tanners’ quarter, under the covered bridges, past the Barrage Vauban and the Neustadt Imperial Quarter. It also travels up the river to the modern buildings housing the European Quarter, European Court of Human Rights and Council of Europe.

1. Wikipedia

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