Strasbourg (France) – the most detailed information about the city with photos. The main sights of Strasbourg with descriptions, travel guides and maps.
The city of Strasbourg (France)
Strasbourg is a city in Eastern France, the capital of Alsace and a prefecture of the Lower Rhine department. It is an ideal stopover between France and Germany, combining in an amazing way the medieval past and the modern present. Strasbourg is an incredible Gothic cathedral, the narrow streets and half-timbered houses of the Grand Isle, canals and delicious cuisine. In addition, the city is the parliamentary capital of Europe (the European Parliament sits here) and one of the largest university centers of France.
Strasbourg is one of the most beautiful cities in eastern France, which looks like from the pages of fairy tales or fantasy. Its true gem is the old town – Grand Isle. Interestingly, the historic center of Strasbourg was one of the first (among all other European cities) included in the list of World Heritage Sites of UNESCO.
Things to do (Strasbourg):
€92 for a guided tour
Strasbourg: France with a German accent
Explore a charming corner of the Middle Ages and get a list of must see places in the city.
€90 for the tour
Cycling in Strasbourg
Cycling through France’s bicycle capital and discover three vibrant city districts.
Geography and climate
Strasbourg is located in eastern France on the banks of the River Ile (west bank of the Rhine) near the German border, between the Vosges and the Black Forest. The city lies on the plains of Alsace and occupies a favorable central position in Western Europe. Strasbourg is historically and geographically closer to Germany, which gives it some German imprint.
The climate is temperate continental with warm summers and fairly cool winters. Although the average winter temperatures are generally positive, frosts and snowfalls are frequent. Thanks to its location between two mountain ranges, Strasbourg is little exposed to strong winds.
Winter in Strasbourg
- Population – 277.3 thousand inhabitants.
- Area – 78.3 square kilometers.
- The official language is French. Although in Alsace there is a special dialect that belongs to the Southern Germanic group of languages.
- The currency is the euro.
- Visa is Schengen.
- The time is Central European UTC +1, in summer +2.
- Every first Saturday of the month admission to all museums is free.
- Strasbourg is quite popular with tourists because of the beautiful pedestrian center of the city, which can be easily explored on foot. Some areas, especially those close to the cathedral, attract large tourist groups. Especially during the summer and Christmas holidays. They are best explored outside of rush hour in the evening or early morning.
Best time to visit
Strasbourg can be visited all year round. But the best time to visit is during the warm season and the pre-Christmas period.
The name “Strasbourg” can be translated as “fortress (castle) by the road.” As early as the 3rd century B.C. a Celtic settlement existed on this site. During the Roman Empire there was one of its border cities – Argentorate.
After the collapse of the Roman Empire, the city was occupied by the Germanic tribe of Alemanni, who in turn were absorbed by the Franks. The name Strasbourg originated in the early Middle Ages. After the dissolution of the kingdom of the Franks, Alsace became part of the Holy Roman Empire. Strasbourg remained part of Germany until the 17th century, even after becoming a free imperial city in the 13th century.
Strasbourg’s historic center
In 1349, Strasbourg witnessed some of the bloodiest events of the Middle Ages, when over a thousand Jews were publicly burned in its squares. The persecution of the Jewish population here continued until the 18th century. Strasbourg was one of the first Protestant cities in Germany to embrace the Lutheran faith in the early 16th century. Because of this, it became one of Europe’s centers of humanities learning and book printing. It was in Strasbourg that the first newspaper in Europe was printed.
In 1681 Louis XIV took advantage of the chaos of the Thirty Years’ War and annexed the capital of Alsace to France. Strasbourg’s status as a free city ended after the French Revolution. After the Franco-German War in 1870, the Germans reattached the city and applied a policy of Germanization leading to the expulsion of those who preferred to remain French. After Germany’s defeat in World War I, the city returned to France. And now it was the turn of the French to try to eradicate traces of Germanization. During World War II, the Nazis considered the Alsatians to be compatriots. So many of them were forced to fight in the German army.
Today Strasbourg is one of the ten largest cities in France and is one of the centers of French learning and European politics.
How to get there
Strasbourg has its own international airport. But there is one nuance – the number of destinations is quite limited and they are all quite expensive. The best choice would be Basel airport. From Basel airport you can take a bus to St. Louis train station, then take a train to Strasbourg. Some low-cost low-cost airlines fly to Karlsruhe airport. The best way to get from there to Strasbourg is to take bus 285 to Baden-Baden train station (€3.40, travel time about 25 minutes), then take the train.
Strasbourg has access to highways connecting it to the west (A4), south (A35) and east (A5). Keep in mind that in France, most highways are toll roads. Freeways to Strasbourg are easy and fast to get to from: Paris, Lyon, Basel, Frankfurt, Brussels, Stuttgart.
The panorama of Strasbourg
Strasbourg has fast train connections to Paris and several other cities: Lyon, Dijon, Metz, Marseilles, Bordeaux, Lille, Frankfurt, etc. The train station is located in the western part of the city.
There is a flea market on Wednesday and Saturday on rue de Vieil-Hôpital. North of the city center is the Place des Halles, a shopping center with more than 100 stores. A new shopping center, Rivetoile, was opened in Strasbourg in 2008 between the Etoile Polygone and Etoile Bourse streetcar stops. Designer clothes are available at Galeries Lafayettes, Rue Hellebardes and Gutenberg Square.
Christmas market in Strasbourg
Alsace is one of the most famous gastronomic regions of France. There is an abundance of exquisite, high-quality products. Foie gras and sauerkraut are two centers of Alsace cuisine. Popular dishes include baeckeoffe (pork or beef stew), tarte flambée (the equivalent of pizza) and spaetzle (various pastas), which are a side dish to fish and poultry. For dessert in Alsace they serve a variety of pies and the famous Kugel Schopf. Local wines are very popular and famous.
The Grand Isle, the heart of Strasbourg, is a large island formed by the River Isle. It is an ideal place to explore the city and its historic atmosphere. The Grand Ile is actually the historical center of Strasbourg. Here are its main attractions: the Cathedral of Strasbourg (Notre Dame de Strasbourg), other medieval churches and historic buildings.
Strasbourg Cathedral (Notre-Dame-de-Strasbourg)
Strasbourg Cathedral (Notre Dame de Strasbourg) is one of the grandest Gothic churches in Europe and a beautiful monument of medieval architecture. The great Victor Hugo said of it, “a monstrosity gigantic and delicate. The cathedral was built between 1176 and 1439 and has a 142-meter tower (completed in 1439), the highest in France. You have to climb 322 steps to get to the observation deck. On the cathedral installed 300-year-old astronomical clock. Admission to the Cathedral of Strasbourg is free.
Every day at 12:30 p.m., the astronomical clock strikes off a short performance from the life of Christ and the parade of the apostles. From the outside, the facade is a gigantic picture of the Middle Ages: hundreds of sculptures stand out from the walls and emphasize the play of light and shadow. And the pink sandstone of which Notre Dame is made changes color depending on the time of day.
Church of Saint Thomas
The Church of Saint Thomas is a Protestant church and a masterpiece of Gothic art in Alsace. It is one of the few Protestant churches that have survived since the Reformation. Inside is the mausoleum of Marshal Saxe, a masterpiece of Baroque art.
St. Paul’s Church
St. Paul’s Church is a beautiful late 19th-century neo-Gothic structure. This Protestant church is located on the edge of the island of Ile Saint-Hélène.
Saint-Pierre-les-Jounet is a Gothic Protestant church built on the site of an ancient 11th-century Merovingian chapel. This former monastery church retains some Romanesque elements and 14th-century frescoes.
Gutenberg Square is a square a few steps from Notre-Dame de Strasbourg. It is named after the inventor of printing, Johan Gutenberg. There is a monument to him on the square. This place was one of the centers of Strasbourg from the Middle Ages to the 18th century.
The Kleber is Strasbourg’s main public square. It is the place where various events and fairs are held, and the main Christmas tree of the city is installed here.
Rogan Palace is a historical monument in Grand Isle that now houses 3 museums: an archaeological museum, a museum of fine and decorative arts. It was built between 1731 and 1742. Rogan Palace is considered a masterpiece of French Baroque.
House of Kammerzell
The Kammerzell House is one of the most beautiful houses in Strasbourg. This typical Alsatian half-timbered house with a beautifully carved facade was built in the 15th century and is located in the historic center of the city.
“Little France” is one of the most beautiful places in Strasbourg, a historic district (island) with beautiful half-timbered houses by the water. Craftsmen, fishermen and millers lived here in the Middle Ages. Is a pedestrian zone.
Covered bridges and medieval towers.
Not far from Little France” are “covered bridges” (Les Ponts Couverts), which have retained their name, despite the fact that they no longer have a roof. The bridges were built to serve as ramparts for fortifications on the waterways. They were used to connect three medieval towers, the remains of ancient ramparts and covered wooden galleries, which have now disappeared.
The Vauban Dam is a barrage dam designed by the famous French marshal and military engineer Vauban. The dam was built to protect Strasbourg when, after the evolution of artillery and warfare techniques, the walls were no longer a reliable defense. The dam allowed, by closing its arches, a rapid rise in the level of the River Ile. If you climb to the roof you can admire the labyrinth of Strasbourg’s canals and “Little France.”
Place de Broglie
Place de Broglie looks more like a long alley. Several beautiful 18th-century mansions are located here, as well as the town hall, the prefecture and the opera house.
180 €162 for a guided tour
Strasbourg – Europe’s busiest crossroads
Strasbourg as a crossroads of cultures, ideologies, and symbols
€100 per excursion
Along the Alsace Wine Route
Drive through the region’s main winemaking sites and taste the best vintage and sparkling wines
France. Alsace. Part 1. Strasbourg
Continuing the story of my first trip to France. France is a small country, of course, but each region is special, not like the others, as I was convinced after visiting only the east of the country. There are a lot of stories about France with detailed and useful information on Touristeer! I think almost every region is researched and presented in the reports. You read – eyes, thoughts and desires scattered: a lot of temptations, I want to see everything! But I decided to start my acquaintance with France from the fabulous Alsace – the kingdom of half-timbered houses, vineyards and wineries.
Alsace is an amazing combination of two cultures at once: France, with its love of charm, details, flowers and wine, and Germany, with half-timbered houses, hearty food and beer. The main cities of Alsace – Strasbourg and Colmar – have their own “fairy tales”: “little France” in one and “little Venice” in the other. Both cities are considered among the most beautiful in Europe. In addition, the number of “the most beautiful French villages” is just off the charts compared to many other regions. Wherever you go, you’ll find these old narrow streets, colorful picturesque half-timbered houses, delicious local wine and flowers, flowers, flowers!
So, having decided on the route of the trip, I began to build the logistics and now my website is the French SNCF, which replaced the Italian Trenitalia. The SNCF website is easy and straightforward. I used it to look at timetables and choose convenient flights. I bought tickets three months in advance, when sales for the dates I wanted. After paying by card, tickets arrive immediately at the post office. In the train, when checking, just show the ticket either on your gadget, or a printout on the printer. The start of the journey was Strasbourg. Acquaintances ask me: Have you been to France? Well, how was Paris? Alas, I had not been to Paris, but just flew over it.
I bought my ticket to Strasbourg on the Air France website and it consisted of two segments: a plane Moscow (departure at 6-10 am) – Paris (Charles de Gaulle airport) and a train Paris (airport) – Strasbourg. By the way, the website of Air France (Russian version) has information on what to do and where to go on the train at the airport in Paris, if you have such a ticket. The interval between the arrival of the plane and the departure of the train is about three and a half hours. Enough time to go through passport control, get your luggage and find the TGV station at the airport. After standing in line at passport control for about 40 minutes, I got a stamp in the cherished window. I’ve never seen so many people at the passport control as here! After getting my suitcase, I went in search of the TGV station. I asked the staff a couple of times, then followed the signs. What a huge airport in Paris Charles de Gaulle (compared with our Sheremetyevo and Domodedovo)! Going down to the train station, I found an office labeled AirFrance Air&Rail,
submitted my e-ticket, I was offered to take the train that was earlier in the day. They gave me a train ticket with the carriage and seat indicated. Travel time was about 2 hours. So arrived in Strasbourg at about 13-00 instead of 14-45. The station in Strasbourg looks like some kind of space object. Over the building of the station (built in 1883) during a reconstruction in 2006 – 07 years was completed a glass dome, which in the form of a cup covers the building of the XIX-th century.
When I came out of the building to the station square, I was amazed to see my Hotel Arok right in front of me.
I was thrilled that I had arrived in Strasbourg without any adventure, and that I did not have to rush through the city in search of a booked hotel (which happens to me very often).
I recommend the hotel: modern, with an elevator, 24 hour check in, full breakfast (typical European buffet) included in the price, served in a beautifully decorated room on the first floor. And most importantly, the location: for trips from Strasbourg – the train station is literally a stone’s throw away, and the historic city center is a 5 minute walk away. Although I showed up at the hotel before check in time, my room was ready and I checked in for 3 nights.
I had the afternoon of my arrival, two full days following and the morning half before leaving for Colmar (at 1pm). Plenty of time, and my plans for those days included a tour of Strasbourg and a train trip to Celeste (with a visit to Upper Koenigsburg Castle), Barr, and Auburn.
I fell in love with Strasbourg when I was still reading tourist reports and looking at bright, festive photos. A city with such a strict and severe name, which I always associated with the European Parliament and the Council of Europe, was actually a nice, cozy, and sometimes even a fairy tale town with a complicated history. The constant transitions from Germany to France affected its entire appearance, culture and traditions. In this city, I had specific places to visit by all means. So, off to my first tour of the city.
The heart of Strasbourg is the Grand Isle, its historic center. It’s a large island formed by the River Ile, an ideal place to explore the city and its historic atmosphere. Notre-Dame de Strasbourg Cathedral, other medieval churches, and historic buildings of diverse architectural styles are not to be missed.