I am a huge fan of France. I love the country, the people, the language, the style and the food. Thanks to my knowledge of French (which has decreased a lot due to not using it regularly) I have never been treated with the famous arrogance of French people, so for me that’s the place to be.
The choice of Strasbourg for our girls’ weekend was pure chance. Closed eyes, finger pointing blindly on the map. Kind of. My friend Stephanie was not very excited to go to France at first (talking about arrogant French people…), but she was convined very quickly. It took us 30 minutes from the first idea until the booking of our apartment. OMG I love people that are spontaneous!!
So, off to Strasbourg. A city on which I never even wasted a single thought before. What a waste! When we arrived in bad weather with an unpleasant drizzle, we were in love from the first moment on. This town is a real gem and so worth your time!
To make you curious about Strasbourg I listed the best ideas for a great weekend with your friends in Strasbourg.
#1: The cathedral of Strasbourg
It’s not a surpise that the impressive cathedral is my first suggestion for your Strasbourg trip. Notre Dame de Strasbourg is the first sightseeing destination for most tourists due to its very central position and the 142 metres high tower that can be seen from everywhere.
Go and be impressed. The gothic beauty will blow your mind.
We were inside only once and very briefly. Long queues of people wait in front of the doors to see the famous Astronomical Clock (which we did not see) and to climb the unfinished South tower. So plan your timing well, and go there either very early or in the late afternoon when the waiting time is short. If you are lucky and you are there in low season you might not have a queue at all.
Definitely go for the tower! The view over the city is splendid. If you have no head for heights (like me), be warned: The staircase is quite a challenge. It is steep, narrow and has very scary openings to the side. I kept thinking of Dori from ‘Finding Nemo’ and just sang “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming” to myself until I reached the roof. So beautiful!
However, the adrenalin needed to be cooled down with an Aperol Spritz afterwards.
We were super lucky to be in Strasbourg when the exhibition of L’Industrie Magnifique was spread all over the city. There were great pieces of artwork everywhere. My favourite was “Mammuthus Volantes” right in front of the South side of the cathedral. Check out the video below!
#2: La Petite France
This quarter is the pearl of Strasbourg thanks to the many beautyful half-timbered houses. This is where the tanners used to work in medieval age, and until the 1950’s it was quite a bad and poor area.
Now it has become one of the main attractions, and it is so worth a visit. Uncountable bars, cafés, restaurants and shops are waiting to be discovered.
#3: Barrage Vauban
The Barrage Vauban was built as a weir to save the town in case of an attack. It was even possible to block the river and thus defend the inhabitants.
It’s probably not the prettiest sight in Strasbourg. But while you can spare the pictures of it, the view from the terrace on its roof is absolutely fantastic! Looking in direction of La Petite France you will get a great look on the Ponts Couverts and the canals of the river Ill.
Hint: Come in the evening and use the warm light for perfect pictures.
#4: Discover the pretty squares all over the city
Strasbourg has a multitude of very pittoresque squares that you will love thanks to their cafés, restaurants and park benches to have a enoyable rest. Just go with the flow, you will discover one after the other.
My favourites? The Place du Marché Gayot with its cool bars and the Place St. Étienne where you can enjoy the chilled student vibes.
#5: Food, food, food!
In German we translate the phrase “Live the life of Riley” to “Live like God in France”, and it is refering to eat a lot and amazingly good food.
To be honest, if you are open to specialities and not a vegetarian you will have an easier life here. However, my friend Stephanie is a part-time vegetarian and still survived the weekend with a full belly.
Strasbourg loves hearty meals. The signature dish is Choucroute which is basically a huge pile of sauerkraut and meat. Not really my taste, I admit. Then again, the Tarte Flambées I could eat all the time and for every meal and in between aswell. They are available at every corner. Another speciality is Foie Gras. This food is morally absolutely terrible, but I admit (sweating blood): I LOVE IT! I ordered it once, and it cost me a huge effort to not lick the plate clean. Yes, I am so sorry. BUT IT IS SO GOOD.
Also famous: escargots. Many people find them disgusting. I adore them.
However, tastes are different, and Strasbourg is a very open-minded city when it comes to food. Sushi, vegan burgers, Indian, Vietnamese – name it and you’ll find it. If you don’t like French food, you can still indulge happily.
#6: Attention chocoholics!
If you are addicted to chocolate like I am, you will love this city. There are a couple of very famous chocolatiers, and their shops are nothing less then a wet dream, honestly.
Enjoy a great coffee and a picture-perfect little cake on beautiful porcelain at Christian, and don’t forget to buy some ic ecream when you leave again. It is delicious. Talking about delicious: The chocolate fountain of Jacques Bockel and his enormous selection of the finest chocolate bars will blow your mind.
Forget about the calories, you’re on vacation.
#7: From dusk till dawn
Is there anyone else who hates the light of midday? No worries, when it comes to sitting in the sun with a cool drink, I am perfectly happy. But the hard light in the middle of the day will ruin every picture.
However, when the daylight slowly fades and the evening light illuminates everything in a lovely atmosphere, that’s when my camera gets some work. Strasbourg becomes the mekka for photography lovers. And the famous l’heure bleu after sunset always puts stars in my eyes: Its amazing light quality transforms the half-timbered houses and the canals into pure magic.
The only thing I love more than the evening light is the light in the very early morning. I am a big fan of getting up super early and using the beautiful atmosphere before dawn for great pictures. Usually when I do this I go alone as my travel partners hardly every relish the thought of getting up at 4:30 a.m. in their vacation.
However, I suggest going back to bed after the early morning photo trip, otherwise you will yawn all day long.
Another big plus for the early birds: There are no people on the street, and even the most bustling places belong to you alone.
#8: Enjoy a boat ride
One thing you will notice quickly: There are a lot of tour boats on the river Ill, and tickets for the boat trips of Batorama can be bought at every corner. But is it worth it?
We quickly notice: Being in our mid-30s we are by far the youngest. We are queuing behind at least 60 pensioners to get onto our boat. Leaving the pier we are leaning back to make ourselves comfortable, because that boat is going slower than walking pace.
We booked a tour around the old town and to the European Quarter which is the big one. Through our headphones we get all the information about the sights along the way and a lot of history. The background music is nice, but you will have to fight hard to stay awake during the 70 minutes ride. The long way out to the European Quarter is quite boring, but at least we got a chance to see the European Parliament that we would have not visited otherwise.
After the tour we needed a double espresso to wake up again (maybe there was also an Aperol Spritz…).
My recommendation: The tour is nice, but it cannot replace walking around town. The highlight of the boat tour is La Petite France, the rest is okay but not spectacular. The ticket for the small tour without the European Quarter costs 9 Euros, and that’s definitely worth it.
To sum it up: Strasbourg is a really cool place that offers something for everybody, no matter if you are traveling as a family, a couple or with friends. Party? Check! Good food? Check! Shopping unlimited? Check!
Just great. Vive Strasbourg!
Wanna see more of Strasbourg’s beauty? Check out my Strasbourg picture gallery!