Strasbourg Strasbourg… Ohhh la la… what a city! Didn’t know what to expect from it but I was truly mesmerized. So glad we visited it and if you ever get the chance to be somewhere in Alsace, France… do not miss it! Our main trip was in Colmar, however, being so close to Strasbourg, we included it as well in our itinerary. Such a great choice!
Just 4 kilometers away from the German border, Strasbourg is historically a German-speaking city, even being annexed by Germany from 1871 until the end of the first World War and then again from 1940-1944.
Today Strasbourg remains a hybrid: part German, part French; part medieval village, part modern European powerhouse. It’s a mix you’ll really enjoy, trust me!
The 1st example is their main train station, which looks super modern and futuristic. However, the old building of the train station is still there, encapsulated in this giant glass bowl and when the night comes, the old building is enlightened and you can see it through that glass. It’s really interesting to visualize this combination of old vs new!
Ok, but how did we get to Strasbourg? Well, we used the train. This time we didn’t miss it… yuhuu. We paid 13 Euros each, as far as I remember… and we patiently waited for the train. BUT!!! When the train arrived, it was already super full and we almost couldn’t get in. I have never ever traveled anywhere squeezed like that! And trust me, I am from Romania and we have a loooot of issues with the agglomeration on the public transportation. So for half an hour, I couldn’t move at all :)) I just inhaled and exhaled.
More details about the tickets’ price you’ll find here: https://www.trainline.eu/
At 10 AM we were already in Strasbourg so we had all day long to explore the city! But first, bring us some food! We wanted to finally taste the tarte flambée… however, it was too early in the morning so we ended having 1 sandwich + 1 beer each :)) Prices were good. In general, Strasbourg didn’t feel expensive. It was quite affordable actually.
The city center is really close to the train station, we just had to walk straight ahead and found ourselves near the Cathedral Notre Dame de Strasbourg. Although considerable parts of it are still in Romanesque architecture, it is widely considered to be among the finest examples of high, or late, Gothic architecture. Erwin von Steinbach is credited for major contributions from 1277 to his death in 1318.
At 142 meters (466 feet), it was the world’s tallest building from 1647 to 1874 (227 years), when it was surpassed by St. Nikolai’s Church, Hamburg. Today it is the sixth-tallest church in the world and the highest extant structure built entirely in the Middle Ages.
Described by Victor Hugo as a “gigantic and delicate marvel” and by Goethe as a “sublimely towering, wide-spreading tree of God”, the cathedral is visible far across the plains of Alsace and can be seen from as far off as the Vosges Mountains or the Black Forest on the other side of the Rhine.
So, it was a MUST to visit this great architectural marvel! There was absolutely no way to photograph the cathedral from the outside, being too tall for my lenses.
Before visiting the cathedral, we bought ourselves some tickets for a boat cruise on the Ill river. Choosing a boat cruise is a great way to see both the old and the new of Strasbourg so we didn’t want to miss that either. We bought the tickets for 2 PM from a souvenir shop just near the cathedral. The cost was 13 Euros each and you may also buy your tickets here: www.batorama.com
Because we had almost an hour before the cruise, we just wanted to sit somewhere and have a drink while we waited. So we found a nice place named “Le Gayot” in the area, ordered some drinks and chatted for awhile. While we talked, a friend of mine wanted to see the tickets for the boat cruise, then another friend of mine wanted to read something on them and just like that we realized we only had 5 minutes to be on the cruise. We were pretty close indeed… but… 5 minutes?!!! So we paid our drinks and ran to the river. As far as I remember we had to go to platform 3 so we really had to figure out quickly which platform was ours. Once we were heading to the boat… guess what?!
Did you guess? Oh well. We realized that we’ve lost our tickets :))))) YEAP. True! It was just about time to happen something like this, right? This journey to Strasbourg was too smooth until now (except to the super full train we had taken earlier).
AWEEESOME! We were 5 and none of us had the tickets. So the boys ran back to the restaurant where we sat earlier to see if the tickets were still there… because there’s the last place where we literally had them. But the owner said he didn’t see any tickets… quite odd I would say… but meh.
In the meantime, I was taking some photos, of course :))
Ok… so the guys didn’t manage to recover those tickets. We decided to go back to the souvenir shop and explain what happened… to see if we can get other tickets instead. However, I have to admit, didn’t feel confident about this… but we had to try at least.
Once arrived to the souvenir shop… we started explaining that something terrible happened to us when the vendor intervened saying “don’t tell me! you missed the boat”. Well, not quite… we’ve lost the tickets :))) The guy over there was super nice and started laughing. He gave us other tickets so everything turned out to be just fine in the end. PHEW!
Now we had other 2 hours before taking the cruise so we decided to finally visit the Strasbourg Cathedral. For 5 Euros, you can climb on top of the cathedral so that’s exactly what we did.
A climb up to the platform (332 steps) is a thrilling experience. The spiral staircase takes you to the very heart of the building, where you can discover some amazing views. The panoramic view from the top of the platform is breathtaking, overlooking the rooftops of Strasbourg.
The inside of the cathedral is also quite impressive. Its Gothic architecture makes it really special!
After visiting the cathedral, we were finally on our boat cruise. It took us the entire way around the main island, including a detour to the European Institutions. Along the river we got to see churches and small palaces, which was really interesting.
I didn’t like the fact that the boats were entirely covered with glass so you couldn’t take real good pictures ;( Oh well…
After this boat trip, we just wanted to wander through the city and discover its beauty. We bought some Leffe beers and put them in our backpacks… these being said… let’s go!
Our destination: Petite France. It is a historic quarter of the city located at the western end of the Grande Île, which contains the historical center of the city. At Petite France, the River Ill splits up into a number of channels that cascade through an area that was, in the Middle Ages, home to the city’s tanners, millers and fishermen, and is now one of Strasbourg’s main tourist attractions. Petite France forms part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Grande Île, designated in 1988. Kind of awesome, right?
Ok, so now let me just show you how beautiful it was to walk through this amazing city. Enjoy!
Continuing on from the Petite France area we discovered the Covered Bridges. These have kept their name despite the fact that they lost their roofs back on the 18th century. They are overlooked by four towers dating from the 14th century, which are the remains of the former ramparts that once guaranteed the independence of the former Strasbourg Republic. Immediately after the absorption of Strasbourg by France in 1681, a new ring of fortifications was built here.
After all this walking, it was about time to feel hungry, right? So we headed back to the cathedral’s area were we previously saw a restaurant where they served hot wine and immediately got our attention. Just perfect to get along with the food and the cold weather outside. YAAYYYYY
So after spending some time there, we went for a final walk and then headed back to the train station.
Funny fact: we didn’t buy any tickets to go back to Colmar because we didn’t have enough time. So we just hopped into the next train and wanted to pay directly to the train conductor. This wasn’t the case because he never came and guess what? We also took a TGV train, which should have been way more expensive :)) OOOPS
Bye bye Strasbourg! You were pretty awesome and hope to see you again really soon! I would definitely spend more days here and totally recommend to visit this city. There’s plenty to see and to do… so you’ll not get bored easily, trust me!
Until next time,
- Our day-trip to Strasbourg: 06.11.2017
- Train from Colmar to Strasbourg: 13 Euros per person
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