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A quick Tour in Strasbourg, France

2015-07-23 Vicigo

Strasbourg is a city which you can describe it as mix of France and Germanycity with European institutions or capital of Alsace region and so on. Basically, you do not need to select one to define the city as it offers you all.

Being located in the northeastern border of France, Strasbourg gives you the chance to see the traces of two different cultures – French and German - at the same time. Also, you will have been one of the capitals of European Union. So, what are you waitingfor visiting Strasbourg? – the city that combines perfectly the old and the modern.

The Synthesis of France and Germany

Before visiting a city, it is likely that most of us take a look at the history of it. It is one of the best ways to guess what the city will offer us during our trip. That’s why, it is time to learn some key points about Strasbourg.


A shield with street name in Strasbourg - both in German and French

If we were obliged to define the city with few words, it would possibly be synthesis of France and Germany. The city owes this description its feature of having been a struggle between those two countries. Throughout the history, Strasbourgwas a major conflict between French and Germans which led the city to have been invaded by both of them. The city was under the control of either Holy Roman Empire (including today’s Germany) or France from 900s. The coexistence of French and Germanculture – also Catholic and Protestant - makes Strasbourg more attractive and you will be amazed when you see the great harmony formed.

Nevertheless, get ready to have the feeling of confusion during your trip - and yes, you are in France not in Germany!

Let’s Get the Trip Started!

Now that we have some ideas about the history of Strasbourg, it is time to explore the city that caused a clash. Even it is the 9th largest city of France, one-day trip will satisfy you as you will have seen the major tourist attractions at the end ofthe day. You may wonder how to manage that – from where to start and where to finish the trip. So, here we go!

Doing the first thing or generally – getting a map - while visiting a foreign city is the best way to get started the trip. As you have the map of Strasbourg, you will realize right away Grande Île – the historic centre of the city which was namedas world heritage site by UNESCO – surrounded by the River Ill which is the ‘left-side’ of the Rhein. It is the area where you will enjoy the old Strasbourg with its several bridges and canals. Remember, you have one day and will spend almostyour whole time here.

Grande Île with German Impressions..

As now you know on which area you will focus, you might think a while from where exactly to start discovering Grande Île in order to see the most important attractions in a limited time. In that case, you have  Petite France which is thedistrict in the southern part of Grand Ile, is an ideal place to start the trip. Petite France will attract you immediately not only with its numerous canals and medieval bridges near to Barrage Vauban – specially Les Ponts Couverts built in1200s - but also with its half-timbered houses (medieval German houses).

Half-timbered houses in Strasbourg (German or French?)

Half-timbered houses in Strasbourg (German or French?)

Those typical German houses might make you feel as if you are in Germany and make you wonder why the area is called Petite France instead of Klein Deutschland. After a few research, you will learn that it is not called Petite France due to itsarchitecture but the name comes from the hospital of the syphilitic that was built in the area to cure people who suffer syphilis – which was then called French disease (Franzosenkrankheit in German). Briefly, Petite France – tanner’sdistrict - is the best place to live the Middle Ages in Strasbourg.

After a magnificent tour through the district, you can sit at one of the restaurants around and enjoy the picturesque Petite France and the River Ile. However, I would suggest you to follow the other tourists – they generally know where to go – and getlost in the narrow streets of the historic city. The streets will offer you both varied medieval buildings and several restaurants and cafes where you can taste famous Alsatian dish tarte flambée before you progress within Grand Ile.

Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Strasbourg

Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Strasbourg

Your walk along the streets of Strasbourg, will lead you to the  Place Kléber – central square of Strasbourg. You can reach here easily by walking to the north of Grand Ile (either check the map or just follow the tram rails!). The squarewill meet you with the statue of Jean Baptiste Kléber - the French general during the French Revolutionary Wars – in the middle and restaurants, cafes and shops around it. The square might seem very usual to you as it is a typical central square whereyou can find in every city in the world. However, you should not underestimate it as the square is the exact place which will lead you to the splendidCathédrale Notre-Dame de Strasbourg - the tallest in the world between 1647-1874.

In order to see this stunning Roman Catholic Cathedral, the only thing that you should do is to walk straight ahead to the  Place Gutenberg from Place Kleber. Once you arrive at Place Gutenberg - which took its name from Johannes Gutenbergwho invented the letterpress printing in Strasbourg - just turn left to Rue Mercière and enjoy the stunning Cathedral in front of you! The Cathedral will amaze you with its Gothic architecture and the figures on its facades. You can sit at the cafesaround the cathedral – in the centre of  Place de la Cathédrale - and enjoy the view (also take photos if you can because of the huge tourist crowd). Before leaving the square, Rohan Palace might be attractive for you as it containsseveral museums inside – such as Archaelogical and Fine Arts (just keep in mind in case you are a museum lover).

It is Indeed France!

Now that you have seen the major attractions in Grand Ile, you can move to the another important district Neustadt – new town – where you encounter  Place de la République. It is the square where you can get easily by walking throughfinal historic streets of Grand Ile. Place de la République might be the only place where you feel yourself totally in France as you will not see half-timbered German houses but will realize French flags above several buildings. Place de la Républiqueoffers you numerous neo-Renaissance and neo-classique style buildings such as National Theatre of StrasbourgNational and University Library, andPalace of the Rhein (German Imperial Palace once) in front of which you will seea garden where you can lie and get some rest.

As you progressed from historic city of Strasbourg to the new town, the best place to finish your trip would be the visit to the most contemporary buildings – European Institutions. More than its history, Strasbourg is well-known for its prominent Europeaninstitutions such asCouncil of EuropeEuropean Parliament and Court of Human Rights. By visiting  European Quarter, you will have had the opportunity to be at the heart of one of the capitals of European Union.So, can you find a better place for your Strasbourg: From past to present trip?

The official seat of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, FranceThe official seat of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France

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