Nestled in the often-disputed Alsace Lorraine, the unparalleled city of Strasbourg is the perfect blend of French glamour and German style. Home to the European Parliament, it's a bustling city that hasn't lost its quaint charm.
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Post updated June, 2019
Though anyone could spend 100 lifetimes in France without leaving Paris, taking a day to visit Strasbourg and sample the delights of its German-style beer and Game of Thrones - level street banner game certainly doesn't disappoint!
1. Getting to Strasbourg from Paris
Thanks to the expansion of France's high-speed trains ("TGV"), Strasbourg is now incredibly easily accessible as a day trip from Paris. The journey of almost 50o kilometers takes about two hours, each way, from either Gare de l'Est or Gare de Lyon.
If you aren't familiar with high-speed trains, they feel generally like normal trains, but if you're concerned about motion sickness, sit facing the direction of travel, on the lower level of a double decker, and don't play on your phone too much. If you need to change seats, the word in French for motion sickness is "mal des transports." A rudimentary sentence to get your point across in the unlikely event that you can't find someone who speaks English is "Desole. Je suis mal des transports." (Pronunciation: Day-so-lay. Gu swees mall des transport).
2. Strasbourg is the capital of Alsace
Strasbourg is a relatively large city and the capital of Grand Est (formerly Alsace), with a metro area population of 775,000. Home to the European Parliament and many of the EU's bureaucratic functions, there's a bit of hustle and bustle! There is light rail public transit, if you wish, but the town really isn't big enough to require it.
Strasbourg is home to excellent luxury shopping, along with many quaint boutiques, and the ubiquitous tourist shops, overflowing with items full of German flair. Allocate some time to strolling the shops!
3. Touring Strasbourg Cathedral
Generally held to be one of the most archetypal examples of High Gothic architecture in Europe, Strasbourg Cathedral is stunning in every respect. Situated in a gorgeous, Germanic square, it was actually the tallest building in the world from 1647-1874.
Yes, they did plan to build the second tower but, towers are expensive, funds ran out, and here we are! The one-tower structure is now considered a hallmark of the Cathedral.
Entry to the cathedral is free, with just a security and bag check before entry. Take the tour at your own pace - don't miss the Cathedral's iconic astronomical clock (the third the Cathedral has housed- it is currently under construction, which will hopefully end soon!). It generally isn't super crowded, especially in the off season (these pictures are from October).
4. Sampling Strasbourg's food and beer
Splendid German food, with a French flair, is positively everywhere in Strasbourg. Thanks to the political and commercial status of the city, nice restaurants aren't hard to come by. I'm so thankful to my friend and former colleague for recommending La Hache, an incredibly quaint lunch spot, right off the river in the middle of town. Maison des Tanneurs, built in 1572, is a stunningly historic eatery, that certainly deserves to be on your list, even if it's just to see its incredible facade.
Absolutely plan to make time for some German/French beer in one (or a few!!) of the city's many beer gardens.
5. Strasbourg's incredible architecture
Fun fact of the day: the center of town - known as the Grande Ile, was the first city to be made a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1988. It won't take long for you to see why that was incredibly well-deserved.
Take a stroll into town and delight in the black and white timber-framed buildings - you can imagine Belle bursting into song amidst the quaint streets.
I hope you'll love Strasbourg as much as we did! Thanks for stopping by! Don't forget to drop by and share your tips after you get back! xx
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