Strasbourg has never been on my bucketlist, but after a visit to this beautiful city, I think it should be on everybody’s. Early June I visited the city on a Saturday and I fell in love with the place. It is not too big, everything is within walking distance, so you can cover all the must-sees in one day. The ambiance is very friendly and almost provincial with a mix of the French and German influences. It also feels like stepping into a time capsule because the historic city center is well preserved and classified a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1988, the first time such an honour was placed on an entire city centre. Strasbourg has something stately due to being the EU capital, but also something hip being the largest French university city.
My favourite part of Strasbourg was the charming quarter La Petite France. Cobbled, swirling streets are lined with small restaurants and boutiques. The half-timbered wooden houses have such a great curb appeal with blooming flower pots and colourful doors and shutters. In medieval times la Petite France used to be the home of the city’s tanners, millers and fishermen. To me it also felt a little like my home town Delft in the Netherlands due to the many canals. On the quays of the river you see families picnic and students studying in the sun. The much-photographed Ponts Couverts (Covered Bridges) have a trio of 13th-century towers.
Old city center
Strasbourg’s historic city centre, the Grande Île (Grand Island) is surrounded on one side by the main channel of the Ill River and on the other side by the Canal du Faux-Rempart. It gives you a great sense of what medieval cities would look like with its twisted alleys and authentic architecture. At the centre of the island lies Place Kléber, the city’s central square.
The Strasbourg Cathedral
Strasbourg’s biggest attraction is the 15th century Gothic cathedral. It is immense; the world’s fourth-tallest church! The many details are mind-blowing. Inside you can see a.o. an 18-metre astronomical clock, one of the largest in the world. It is extremely interesting to see as it even indicates leap years and equinoxes.
Next to the Strasbourg cathedral is the Palais Rohan, the former residence of the prince-bishops and cardinals of the House of Rohan, an ancient French noble family originally from Brittany.
What to eat in Strasbourg?
- Flammkuchen and sauerkraut
- Cookies and macarons in different flavours
- nougat and spiced bread