The romantic city of Strasbourg in France was the biggest surprise of my summer holiday. It is a stunning, old city with beautiful squares, colorful houses, loads of bridges with the most amazing flower boxes, cobbled streets, a truly impressive cathedral, good food, very bike friendly and so romantic!
Now granted I was head over heels in love when I visited Strasbourg so romance was definitely in my system at the time, but Strasbourg managed to make me fall in love with the city itself too.
When my guy presented his road trip plans for our camper van summer holiday, I frowned when I heard Strasbourg was on the list. I only heard of Strasbourg in relation to the EU, because it is the part-time capital of the European Union. That brought images of concrete office buildings and boring franchise restaurants to my mind. But what the heck, as long as I was with my guy I was sure I’d have a good time. It did mean though that I did no research whatsoever in advance and did not know what to expect.
And boy did Strasbourg exceed my expectations. We stayed at a camping place on the other side of the Rhine river, in Germany actually. Minutes from that camping place was a tall bridge crossing the river designated for cyclists and pedestrians only, it ended in a newly designed park with lots of room for picknicks and frolicking in the grass. From there it was only a short distance on our bike to the city center (designated bike paths all the way). The city center started in newly refurbished harbor area. Probably not too long ago it was still an ugly, industrial area, but now it was a modern, lively and very hipster happening part of town full of shops, restaurants and water(side) fun.
And just two blocks further down, we parked our bikes in a guarded bike parking and walked into town to discover this medieval, romantic beauty of a city.
The old center of Strasbourg is small enough that you can cover most of it in a day wandering around. You will want at least a second day though to visit it in more detail and take your time to breathe it all in.
The things I loved the most in Strasbourg:
- There is a small square (or a big one) on just about every corner, with a cafe, a terrace and a lovely view.
- Rivers and streams run through the whole town, crossed by old bridges that are covered with the most beautiful flower boxes I have ever seen
- The cathedral (among the tallest in the world) is equally impressive as it is beautiful, especially when it lights up gold in the evening sun
- Alsace food and drinks is just yummy (make sure you try the Flammkuchen)
- The old wooden and often colorful houses in petite France quarter are the most photogenic
- The stately mansions that made me think of Paris
- Medieval, cobbled streets that always invite you to come and explore
Now who doesn’t want to sit there and have a beer or a glass of white wine?
I am telling you I came back with at least a hundred pictures of bridges with flower boxes. They were just so beautiful, lush and overflowing. One can’t help but wonder who is responsible for them and how much time it takes to daily water these flowers in the summer.
Barrage Vauban is a covered bridge that had some kind of strategic function in the old days. From up there you have this beautiful view over the old city. You can see the cathedral towering in the background.
These wooden houses used to be the working man’s living quarters in the old days. Now this part of the town, called petite France is a Unesco protected site.
The cathedral took almost 300 years to build, it was finished in 1439. It is of course very touristic but a must-see visit in Strasbourg. You will love the 12th-century stained glass windows. Inside is also one of the world’s largest astronomical clocks. The 66-meter high viewing platform gives stunning views of the town (well I imagine it does, we didn’t go up there).
Strasbourg was one big, happy surprise and one of my fondest memories of our summer holiday. I am sure we will be back. I can only imagine how beautiful this city looks decked out with a fresh layer of snow and with German style Christmas decorations everywhere. I’ll have to go see that one day….