Strasbourg is seriously under-rated. Sure, people have heard of it, especially because the European Parliament is in Strasbourg. But, when it comes to France, I hear a lot of Americans talking about Paris, maybe even Nice, Provence, or Lyon even, but I don’t hear them talking too much about Strasbourg…but they should be. This place is awesome.
What’s unique about Strasbourg, and indeed the entire Alsace area of France, is that it has a sort of hybrid French-German influence going on. The history of Strasbourg and why this city is stuck somewhere between being French and German is a very long story, but the short answer is…wars, of course. Check out this link to read a summary of the history of Strasbourg.
Anyway though, the unique architecture and feel to the area is unlike anywhere else in France or Germany, so you should definitely check this place out. The city is, of course, more French in culture and style than it is German, but the influences are still there.
What I loved most about Strasbourg, however, was how much of a beautiful, laid-back place it was. Just as in Paris, Strasbourg locals can be hanging out at the water’s edge along the canals having leisurely picnics, drinking wine, and just watching the world pass by. It’s a lovely, beautiful, medieval atmosphere in the center of the old town, and the beauty of the old cobbled streets brings you back to a time gone by.
Of course, Strasbourg is a modern city as well, with all the modern amenities and modern conveniences one might expect anywhere. The shopping is top notch, and the food scene is amazing. I ate beautiful cheeses, sampled delectable chocolates and pastries, strolled farmer’s market stalls full of gorgeous produce, and all in all had a fantastic gastronomic experience while I was there.
Le Petit France is, of course, the area most tourists stay. I did. And I definitely recommend it to you as well. But what I loved most about Strasbourg was that it was a great place just to be. It’s the kind of city where you can slow down and enjoy a leisurely glass of wine on a sunny terrace for hours without worrying about the time. There are shops handing out samples of incredible cheeses as you walk by on the streets, and the people are lovely there.
The area around the cathedral is, of course, a must-see because the cathedral itself is pretty impressive. This is the area I saw the most tourists. When I commented that we found where all the other Americans were, he said that “Americans are drawn to cathedrals like a moth to a flame”. I suppose that’s true, and I suppose I’m also contributing to the stereotype because I was also drawn to the cathedral like a moth to a flame. Whatever. We don’t have those back home.
If you find yourself in the region, give Strasbourg a visit. It’s a wonderful place.