- Strasbourg old town
- Strasbourg for children
- Shopping in Strasbourg
Strasbourg, located on the border of France and Germany, can fully be called one of the European centers. Geographically, politically, economically and culturally.
Strasbourg, the capital of Alsace, a region in northeastern France, is 2 hours by train from Paris, Zurich, Brussels and Frankfurt am Main, making it extremely cosmopolitan. Here you can taste German pretzels in a French bakery and wash it all down with a Brussels cherry scream. The city received the status of the "parliamentary capital of Europe" because the Council of Europe has been sitting here since 1949, and since 1992 - the European Parliament.
Already in the Middle Ages, Strasbourg became a trade center due to its favorable geographical position, as well as the bridge over the Ile River (the main tributary of the Rhine). It is located at the intersection of roads connecting Southern Europe and the micro-states in what is now Germany. In the 18th and early 20th centuries, during the industrial revolution, the importance of Strasbourg increased many times over due to the huge reserves of coal, the main fuel of the industrial revolution.
Strasbourg embodies the best of the cultures of France and Germany. The city was destroyed many times, being in the epicenter of armed conflicts, including both World Wars. But each time it was rebuilt from scratch, so its historic center bears the imprints of many architectural styles. The entire Old Town of Strasbourg is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List due to the uniqueness of its architectural appearance. By the way, Strasbourg became the first city in the history of France, whose historical center was fully included in the UNESCO list. The Strasbourg National Theater, the Opera and the University are well known, attracting students from all over the world.
The oldest Christmas market in France and one of the oldest in Europe is held annually in Strasbourg. Its history goes back more than 400 years, so Strasbourg is deservedly called the "capital of Christmas" in France. The Christmas market is held in front of Strasbourg Cathedral, as well as in Broglie and Kleber squares. More than 2 million tourists come to the Alsatian capital every year around Christmas.
Getting to Strasbourg is easy. Many European air, bus and rail routes intersect here. There is no direct flight from Russia, but you can fly to Strasbourg International Airport with a transfer in Paris or Amsterdam. In addition, in a couple of hours you can travel by high-speed train from Paris and other cities of France. There are also high-speed trains from Karlsruhe and Frankfurt, Germany, where direct flights from Russia fly.
Strasbourg old town
The old city of Strasbourg is called the Grand Ile (Big Island) and is bounded by the branches of the Ile River. The old town has its own unique style, it is a stunning cocktail of French and German Gothic, half-timbered and Baroque style. Let's talk about the most significant sights.
- Strasbourg Cathedral is the number 1 visiting point in the city and an absolute must-see. It is a remarkable monument of Gothic architecture dating back to the 15th century. It was built over four centuries, and for another four centuries after the completion of construction, it was the tallest church in Europe - the height of the cathedral with an openwork spire is 142 meters. As befits a Gothic cathedral, its facades are decorated with sculptures and gargoyles; in the interior, it is worth noting stained glass windows of the 12th-14th centuries and a beautiful organ. If you're lucky, you can hear it sound. There is also an interesting astronomical clock of the 16th century, which is one of the most interesting sights of the cathedral. At one time, the watch was considered one of the wonders of Germany.
- The Kammerzel House is one of the most outstanding examples of half-timbered architecture in Europe. The building is so richly decorated with wooden carvings that it is hard to believe that it is a half-timbered house. The building is located in the square in front of Strasbourg Cathedral and dates back to the 16th century. Pay attention to the stained glass windows with unusual glass shapes. There are a total of 75 windows in the house, and each of them is decorated with skillful and carefully crafted wood carvings. Previously, merchants' shops were located here. Now there is a hotel on the upper floors, and a good restaurant on the lower floors.
- Covered bridges are perhaps the most photographed part of the city. These are the historical fortifications of the city, built on bridges thrown over the numerous canals of Strasbourg. Many bridges were built in the XII century, then they were rebuilt many times. First, a wooden roof was erected over them (hence the name), then the bridges were rebuilt from stone, and the roof was dismantled. Now "covered bridges" are called the complex of the remaining defensive structures, consisting of stone bridges and four towers, surrounded by bastions. The best view of the covered bridges and the city center beyond is from the Vauban Dam observation deck.
- "Petite France" is a quarter of small cozy houses built among the canals. This place is the most picturesque in Strasbourg. Tourists enjoy wandering around "Little France", looking at the perfectly preserved medieval buildings, which now house cafes and souvenir shops. It is located in the area of "covered bridges".
- The Church of Saint-Thomas (St. Thomas) is the main Protestant church in the city. The building was built in the 16th century, and the construction process took over three centuries. Therefore, in the "exterior" of the church, features of the late Romanesque and Gothic styles are guessed. In the choir is the tomb of Moritz of Saxony (Marshal de Sachs), a famous military leader, one of the founders of the theory of military affairs in France. His tomb, executed in a magnificent baroque style, deserves a special mention.
In addition to walking around the city center, in Strasbourg you can take mini-cruises along the many canals, the Ile and Rhine rivers and visit wineries. Alsace is one of the famous wine-growing regions in France. The name of the wines is widely known to you and often comes from the names of the places where the grapes are grown: Riesling, Silnaver, Gewürztraminer. Wines have a delicate aroma, are often served as an aperitif and go well with fish.
Alsatian cuisine, like everything in this region, was born from a mixture of cultures. Therefore, here you can find features of both French and German cuisines. Some of the most famous traditional dishes:
- Baeckeoffe - potatoes in wine with three types of meat (pork, beef, lamb). All this is stewed in a special dish under a layer of dough.
- Knak is a sausage, the name of which comes from the sound made by a sausage when it is bitten. Must be sold on all local holidays.
- The famous French dish foie gras (foie gras pâté) is an invention of Alsace. The dish was invented in Strasbourg in 1780.
- Sailor-style sauce (Matelote) is another invention of Alsace. The dish consists of flat pieces of river fish topped with a creamy Riesling sauce. Served with homemade noodles.
Be sure to try the uniquely shaped local Kougelhopf buns. It looks a bit like a cupcake, but with its own unique taste. They are baked with raisins and almonds.
There are several restaurants worth visiting in Strasbourg to enjoy the local cuisine:
- Le Tire-Bouchon is one of the most famous traditional restaurants in the heart of Strasbourg. Here you will be served sausages, cabbage, and various types of meat dishes. The restaurant's wine list is very interesting, reflecting the diversity of the Alsace wine region.
- La Bourse is one of the best brasseries in Strasbourg. They cook here exactly the way they cook in the surrounding Alsatian villages. Make sure to try the aromatic broth with local herbs, grilled fish and pastries.
- Ancienne Douane - Here you will be served the most delicious Flammecuche in town - a traditional pie with cheese, onions and bacon. A slice of this pie with a glass of Alsatian wine is a great substitute for lunch.
- For a quick bite between sightseeing, the Flam`s Alsatian fast food café is an excellent choice. The menu includes sandwiches with signature fillings, several flammecuche and vegetable salads made from local produce.
Strasbourg for children
There are several places in the city that are sure to please a child:
- Le Vaisseau - an interactive science and technology museum that will be fun for the whole family;
- Europa Park is a huge amusement park located 50 km from Strasbourg in Germany. The rides are on par with Disneyland entertainment;
- La Cure Gourmande Alpes is a true sweet paradise for children of all ages. Here you can watch how a variety of sweets are prepared, taste a huge amount of chocolate, types of cookies and sweet nougat;
- L'Orangerie is a huge park with an artificial lake, waterfall, zoo and mini-farm.
Shopping in Strasbourg
As befits a major city in France, Strasbourg offers ample shopping opportunities. The largest selection of shops is on Rue des Grandes Arcades, with a wide selection of brands ranging from budget to the most luxurious. The latter can also be found in the Galeries Lafayette, slightly smaller than in Paris, but still grandiose. The second place of concentration of shops is Place des Halles. Strasbourg houses stores of various brands such as Berschka, Pinko, Esprit, Caroll, Diesel, Levi's, Kookai, Lacoste, Pepe Jeans, Tommy Hilfiger, Karen Millen, as well as up to luxury brands Burberry, Ralph Lauren, See by Chloe, Michael Kors, Marc by Marc Jacobs, Kenzo, Isabel Marant, Hugo Boss, Diane von Furstenberg, Dolce & Gabbana.
Among the souvenirs that can be brought from Strasbourg, it is worth noting the famous Alsatian wines and raw smoked sausages. Pay attention to the products of local craftsmen - the inhabitants of the province have reached great heights in wood carving, wood painting and wood painting. You should also pay attention to ceramics. Betschdorf and Soufflenem ceramics, named after the places where they are produced, are famous throughout France. Both villages are close to Strasbourg. Betschdorf ceramics are distinguished by an elegant blue painting on a gray background, Soufflenem ceramics look bright and elegant, thanks to the use of oxides of various metals in paints, giving a wide range of shades. Souvenir shops are located in the Old Town. Especially widespread trade takes place here around Christmas.