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Strasbourg Cover

Today, we set out for a day trip to the Alsatian city of Strasbourg, France. Here we found a perfect blend of French glamour and German traditions. Strasbourg city center, known as Grand Ile, is classified as a World Heritage site by UNESCO, the first naming of the entire city center.

My husband and I took the train from Basel, Switzerland, to the charming city of Strasbourg. As we stepped foot off the train, we began our walk straight to the fairy tale Grand Ile. You feel like you have been whisked into a fairy tale story of the Beauty and the Beast as you walk through the winding cobblestone streets aligned with German-style timber-framed homes. Like Venice, the canal circles around the heart of the city, giving it a romantic flair.


Located on the border of France and Germany, Strasbourg has changed nationalities numerous times over the centuries. After being conquered by Louis XIV in 1681, it became a part of France. Later, the Germans defeated the French in the Franco-Prussian War, and it became a part of Germany. Following WWII, when Germany was defeated, Strasbourg returned to its mother county of France.

In addition to the creation of the stunning Cathedral, Strasbourg, has had many achievements. In 1605 the first newspaper was printed here, and the French national anthem, La Marseillaise, was written here in 1792. Strasbourg is the capital of the Alsace region, and it has one of the continent’s largest medieval quarters, Grand Ile. In addition, Strasbourg is home to the European Parliament.


Alsace is the central beer-producing region of France, with heaps of breweries. It is also known for its vineyards, producing some of the best French wines. Schnapps is the strongest traditional alcoholic beverage in Alsace.


Petite France

Stroll along the picturesque Petite France area. Historically, this part of the city was home to tanners, millers, and fishermen. Today, you will find colorful half-timbered houses wandering cobblestone streets, surrounded by a canal. Many of the homes date back to the 1500s.

As you walk the canal, flower boxes full of red, pink, and white color blooms paint the pathways dotted with charming cafes along the edge serving traditional Alsace dishes. A great place to grab a bite to eat or order a refreshing drink and people watch.

TIP: The best time to enjoy Petite France is early in the morning before the crowds arrive.

If you want a unique experience, stop in Maison Des Tanneurs, which once served as a tanner’s house built in 1571 and today is a popular restaurant.

Barrage Vauban
Maison Des Tanneurs Restaurant
Maison Tanneur

Barrage Vauban

Not far from Petite France is the Barrage Vauban, in which the River Ill flows through and was built in the 17th century as a defensive structure during the Franco-Prussian War. The reason for it being built is to raise the level of the river in case of an attack. Today, it is used as a walkway to give visitors a view of the German-style homes built along the water’s edge.

You can walk through the internal corridor running the length of the structure. Here you will find some historical artifacts on display. You also have access to the roof and see the towers of the Ponts Couverts.

Petite France

Ponts Couverts

The Pont Couverts were a part of the city’s defense system made up of three bridges and four towers built in the 13the century on the River III. Although the name of these bridges leads you to believe they are covered, in the 1700s, the crossing was protected by an extended roof offering cover during a siege. Later this roof was removed, but the name remained!

Ponts Couverts

Historic City Center

The historic city center is the main market square of Strasbourg, where you will find the stunning medieval Strasbourg Cathedral along with a wide variety of shops to visit.

Make sure to walk the side streets admiring the shops and cafes as the historical architecture of the buildings and the cobblestone streets. You will truly feel the vibe of this lovely city!

Nearby is the quieter Gutenberg Square, named for Johannes Gutenberg, inventor of the printing press. He lived in the area most of this life. Look for a plaque noting where the writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe lived in 1770.

Strasbourg Cathedral

Situated in the gorgeous main market square is the elaborate Gothic Strasbourg Cathedral. The late Gothic architecture structure was the world’s tallest building from 1647 –1 874. This number one attraction to Strasbourg sees around four million visitors a year.

The construction of the Cathedral began in the 12th century, although the original church was built in 1015 and burned down completely. During the tumultuous history of being tossed back and forth from Germany to France, it was a Protestant church for a short period but returned to its Catholic roots in 1681.

During WWII, Germans removed the windows for safekeeping and were later found in a salt mine and restored to their proper places. As a result, some of the stained-glass windows are 700 to 900 years old.

One of the major highlights of the Cathedral is the astronomical clock. When the clock strikes 12:00 pm, you can watch the animated figures as they parade around Jesus. Secondly, you must check out the grand organ!

  • Hours: Nov., Dec., Jan., Feb. 9:00 – 16:30; March – Oct. 9:00 – 17:30; Apri., May, Jun., Sept. 9:00 – 18:30; Jul. – Aug. 8:30 – 19:00
  • Admission: Free to enter the main Cathedral; 3.00 euros to access the exterior viewing platform.
Strasbourg Cathedral Exterior
Strasbourg Cathedral Door
Stained Glass Windows
Strasbourg Cathedral Clock
Astronomical Clock

Place Glutenberg

Near the Strasbourg Cathedral is Place Glutenberg, named after the inventor of the printing press, where you will find a statue of him. This square is a place where the city host carnivals and special events for the community to enjoy.

The fun carousel for kids is worth a ride if you have children, and nearby, you will see timber homes to admire. During the holidays you can visit the Christmas Market here.


Saint Thomas

The protestant church, Saint Thomas, was the main Lutheran church of the city until the Cathedral became Catholic after the annexation of the town by France in 1681. It is said that the site where the current church stands were used as a place of worship by Thomas the Apostle in the sixth century.

The church is a five-nave hall church, the oldest in the region. It is internationally known for its significant musical organs: the 1741 Silbermann organ, played by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in 1778 and faithfully restored in 1979 and several more.

  • Hours: Mon. – Fri. 10:30-16:30, Sat. 10:00 – 17:00, Sun. 12:00 – 16:30; Noon prayers Mon. – Fri. 12:10 -12:30
Saint Thomas interior

Place Kléber

Another famous square to visit is Place Kléber. It is the largest square in the city center, and during the holidays, it is the home of the city Christmas tree and market. It once was called Barfusserplatz, which means barefoot square due to the Franciscan monastery nearby and then later changed to Waffenplatz in the 17th century, which means weapons square.

Although the square has undergone many changes over the centuries, it is one of the major hangouts for pedestrians, and many tourists visit it.

Place Kleber
Place Kleber

St. Pierre-Le-Jeune Catholic Parish

The present-day location of St. Pierre-Le-Jeune has three worship buildings built over an expanded period of time. One small church dedicated to Sainte Colombe was constructed at the beginning of the Middle Ages. The only thing that remains is the cellar.

In 1031 a Romanesque church was adjoined to the small church and was named Saint Peter the Younger. Today all that remains of the church is the cloister.

The present-day church was completed in the 12th century. The chapels were added in the 14th – 15th century. After the Reformation, Louis XIV gave the choir in 1682. However, a wall resting on the Jube separated the choir, and the nave did not come down until 1898 after constructing the Catholic Church of Saint Peter the Younger.

The church of Saint Pierre Le Jeune became a Protestant again, and restoration.

  • Hours: Mon. – Fri. 8:30 -18:00; Mass is on Sat. 18:30; Sun. 10:30 & 18:10; Mon. – Fri. 18:30; Tue. 19:00
Saint Pierre le Jeune

Parc de l” Orangerie

Strasbourg’s oldest park is still a favorite spot for young and old to stroll and enjoy a sunny day. Children love the park for its vintage children’s car track, t miniature farm, and zoo (which is free). The Alsace bird symbol is the stork, where 800 young storks were born in this park over the years. Events and exhibitions are held at the “Pavilion Josephine.” A timber farmhouse called the Buerehiesel is home to a gourmet restaurant. The location is here.


Palais Rohan

Designed to resemble one of the remarkable Parisian mansions, the Palais Rohan was built between 1732-1742 and has virtually remained unchanged since it was built. Unfortunately, we found the palace a little challenging to find as it is tucked away overlooking the River.

palais Rohan

Palais Rohan

Today, the Musée des Beaux-Arts has made this beautiful place their home with a collection of European paintings that include Botticelli, Rubens, and Canaletto. In the basement is The Musée Archéologique. Also located on the grounds is the Musée des Arts Décoratifs.

Robert de Cotte designed the baroque Episcopal palace for Cardinal Armand-Gaston de Rohan-Soubise the Prince Bishop of Strasbourg.

Musée des Arts Décoratifs

Musée des Arts Décoratifs is a museum of artifacts of former cardinals from the 17th – 19th century. The stunning architecture and décor of furniture, tapestries, paintings, and tableware to view give you a proper understanding of a wealthy lifestyle.

  • Hours: Closed on Tue.; Wed. – Mon. 10:00 – 18:00
  • Admission: 6.50 euros

The Museum Archeology

The Musée Archéologique offers a display of regional archeological findings from Prehistory to the Merovingian dynasty. In 1870, the museum was destroyed during the Franco-Prussian War but rebuilt and renovated between 1988-1992. The collection continues to grow from the numerous excavations made in and around Strasbourg.

  • Hours: Closed on Tue.; Wed. – Mon. 10:00 – 18:00
  • Admission: 6.5 euros

Musée des Beaux-Arts

  • Hours: Closed on Tue.; Wed. – Mon. 10:00 – 18:00
  • Admission: 6.5 euros

Musée de l’Ouevre Notre-Dame | Medieval Museum

Located near the Strasbourg Cathedral, the Medieval Museum offers centuries of art in Strasbourg and the Upper Rhine region. Here you will find a rich collection of original sculptures, glass windows, architectural fragments, and building plans of Strasbourg Cathedral. In addition, you will see a collection of works by Peter Hemmel von Andlau, Ivo Strigel, and many other famous artists.

Other valuable collections from the Temple Neuf were destroyed in 1870, the Saint-Pierre le Vieux Church, renovated in 1867, and the Eglise Sainte-Madeleine, destroyed by fire in 1904. The location is here.

  • Hours: 10:00 – 18:00; Closed Mondays, Jan. 1, Good Friday, May 1, Nov. 1 and 11, Dec. 25
  • Admission: 6.50 euro per adult

Musée Alsacien

A great place to learn the life of the people of the Alsace region is to visit the Alsatian Museum, founded in 1902. Here you will learn the struggles of their identity, bouncing from Germany to France over time. It is staged in three former houses in Strasbourg, linked by a maze of stairways and connecting passages with over 5,000 artifacts from the 18th and 19th centuries.

  • Hours: 10:00 – 18:00; closed on Tue., Jan. 1, Good Friday, May 1, Nov. 1 and 11, Dec. 25
  • Admission: 6.5 euros per adult

Museum of Contemporary and Modern Art

If you love modern and contemporary art, head on over to this museum to see some of the fantastic works from Monet, Picasso, Kandinsky, and Brauner. The museum is also home to Gustave Doré, an art library, auditorium, and graphical arts room. The location is here.

  • Hours: 10:00 – 18:00; closed on Tue., Jan. 1, Good Friday, May 1, Nov. 1 and 11, Dec. 25
  • Admission: 7.00 euros per adult

Chateau Musée Vodou

Here is an unusual museum to put on your bucket list! The Chateau Museum Vodou is a one-of-a-kind museum housing the world’s most extensive private collection of West African voodoo objects.

  • Hours: Wed. – Sun., 14:00 – 18:00
  • Admission: 14 euros per adult

Musée Historique de Strasbourg

The museum presents the history of Strasbourg from the Middle Ages to the French Revolution. The museum is housed in the Old Butcher’s Shops that dates back to 1587. Visitors can learn about the political, economic, social, and cultural atmosphere of Strasbourg.  The location is here.

  • Hours: 10:00 – 18:00; closed on Tue., Jan. 1, Good Friday, May 1, Nov. 1 and 11, Dec. 25
  • Admission: 6.50 euros per adult
Medieval Museum
Medieval Museum

Strasbourg Hospice Historic Cellar

Challenging to locate within a nearby hospital complex is the Strasbourg Hospice Cellar. My husband and I walked and walked, finally coming upon a sign directing us to the cellar. And you might wonder why this cellar was in a hospital building? In the 14th century, only the rich could afford to pay for their medicine and care with money (1 out of 10 patients), so the hospital took payment in wine or vineyards. This led over time to become the most prominent owner of vineyards in the region.

(Fun Fact: The hospital gave patients 2L of wine per day instead of water because, at the time, the wine was cleaner than the drinking water, a practice called “wine therapy.”)

For more than 600 years, wine was produced in the historical cellar of the Strasbourg hospital. In 1999 a group of Alsatian wine estates joined together to save the cellar from ruins. Today the cellar has been restored and offers a selection of Alsace wines from respective wine estates from the Alsatian vineyard region.

The aging oak casks have such a lovely aroma coming from the wide variety of Riesling, Sylvaner, Muscat, Pinot blanc, Pinot Gris, Klevener de Heiligenstein, as well as the only red grape from Alsace Pinot noir. In addition, it is home to the oldest bottle of white wine in the world, dating to 1472. Within the cellar is a shop selling the bottles, and all profits are passed to the hospital.

  • Hours: Mon. – Fri. 8:30 am -12:00 and 13:30 – 17:30; Sat. 9:00 – 12:30; Closed on Sundays and holidays.
  • Admission: Free; audio guide available for 3 euros and a guided tour offered.
Hospice Wine Cellar
Hospice Wine Cellar
Hospice Wine Cellar


In Strasbourg, no matter where you go, you will find a mixed flair of German and French dishes.

La Hache is a great place to enjoy lunch off the river in the middle of the town.

As I mentioned earlier, if you want to dine in a historical setting, go to Maison des Tanneurs, built-in 1572.

Le Lohkas is another historical location (built-in 1676) to dine, serving fresh seafood and delicious sauces.

If you want something off the beaten path and a little cozier, I highly recommend Au Cruchon French Restaurant. The couple that owns the restaurant are lovely people, and the food was excellent.

Au Cruchon
Au Cruchon

All Three Photos of Au Cruchon French Restaurant

If you enjoy an aromatic glass of wine, make sure to order Gewürtztraminer, which is the most famous in this region. It is a spicy and sweet wine, excellent paired with a dessert. Another classic in this region is Riesling, which is dry, complex, and goes well with traditional dishes such as choucroute and pan-fried carp.




One of the most popular activities in Strasbourg is taking a quick boat cruise on the River Ile. This boat ride takes approximately an hour. This is the best way to learn more about the city and the Alsatian culture. Purchase your ticket here.


The street between the main square and the train station is called Rue des Hallebardes. This street is car-free and has a variety of shops to explore. If you are only looking for souvenirs, check out the kiosk around the Strasbourg Cathedral. Great options to consider are wine or some of their delicious pastries and gingerbread (Mireille Oster). If you like Christmas decorations, visit the many Christmas shops that are open year-round, such as Un Noël en Alsace (Christmas in Alsace).




Strasbourg is a major tourist destination, and the streets can be congested at times with large groups, so if you can start your day early, you will get the best photographs and not have to deal with crowds.

Enjoy your travels! Please read my blogs about other exciting places around the world at Traveling Lens Photography.

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Happy Travels!

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