Alsace is the region I once only connected with history lessons and dates described as „Alsace taken by Germany” or „Alsace given back to France”. From XVIIth century till the end of II World War the region went from French to Germans and back six times!
Till now German influence is clearly visible in Alsace – in the cuisine, architecture, beer and white wine produced from grapes popular in Germany. It’s also visible in the local Alsatian language which doesn’t sound like anything I heard before. It does sound much more German than French, that’s for sume. In Strasbourg itself names of many streets and places are given in two languages – Alsatian and French.
I have a friend in Alsace and during my first stay there we went to the capital of the region. Check out what we did during a trip to Strasbourg.
What to do during one day in Strasbourg?
1. Cathedral of Our Lady of Strasbourg (Cathedrale Notre Dame de Strasbourg)
The Cathedral is one of the examples of connecting styles – German and French gothic architecture. You can’t miss it during your trip to Strasbourg.
For two centuries the tower of the cathedral was the tallest church tower in the world. In preliminary project the cathedral was supposed to have two such towers but eventually only the northern one was finished. It’s not clear why – probably the city ran out of money and gothic architecture stopped being popular. There was plenty of time for architectural trends to change – the cathedral was being built for three centuries! Because of that the cathedral is not symmetrical and personally I think it makes it more interesting.
The inside is surprisingly simple and not very decorative but there is an interesting renaissance astronomical clock, a technological masterpiece of these times. It’s 18 meters high, which makes it one of the biggest in the world.
2. Cathedral’s viewing platform
It’s worth climbing 330 steps, get on cathedral’s viewing platform and have a look on Strasbourg from 66 meters high. The entrance to the platform costs 5 EUR.
3. Little France (La Petite France)
From the Cathedral we walked along river Ill towards a famous district called Petite France (Little France). The district’s name has an interesting and surprising history. It doesn’t come from the architecture, the inhabitants aren’t particularly patriotic either.
In XVth century there was a hospital in the district. It cured people with so called “French disease” – syphilis 🙂
Despite its inglorious history, the district is enchanting.
Petite France is a great place to rest in one of numerous small restaurants and enjoy a glass of Riesling – white wine produced in Alsace. You can also try the famous Alsatian dish here – tarte flambée (flammkuchen). Your trip to Strasbourg won’t be complete without trying them!
4. Park L’Orangerie
From Little France we took a tram to go to a park called l’Orangerie. I recommend you to go there mainly because it’s home for so many storks!
A stork is one of the symbols of Alsace. Then I first heard it, I laughed. A stork is our Polish symbol, what can French people know about them.
But I was so wrong.
For my whole life in Poland I haven’t seen so many storks as during four days in Alsace. And in the Parc de l’Orangerie there was a mass of them! They were sitting in their nests, walking around, flying over our heads. An amazing experience. I heard that you can see them even in winter because a lot of them lost their instinct to migrate to Africa.
We spent quite some time in l’Orangerie – my friend was resting and pitifully watching me chase the storks with my camera… 🙂 They made my day fun and they definitely can improve your trip to Strasbourg too!
5. European Parliament
6. Light show on the Notre Dame Cathedral’s walls
We planned to stay in Strasbourg till late evening due to light shows on the cathedral walls in July, August and September. We were waiting for it in a cute restaurant in front of the cathedral. Still impressed with what I saw in the park, I chose a place called La Cigogne – a stork 🙂
The show itself is displayed on the side wall of the Cathedral at Castle Square (Place Du Chateau) few times every evening. The front facade is also illuminated from the first show to the last. Exact time of the shows varies depending on a month and you can check it on the website here.
If you’re still planning your trip to Strasbourg, think about planning it for these summer months – the show is spectacular! I was there in 2015 when they celebrated the Cathedral’s millennium. The show refered to the Cathedral’s construction. Amazing, I would gladly see it again.
One day in Strasbourg is not enough to see everything worth seeing but this plan will let you use your time in the best way. You will see the cathedral – the symbol of the city, cute architecture specific for this region, you will taste local wine and cuisine, you will meet a stork and see the parliament.
If you have more time you can go to the Alsatian Museum. I haven’t been there but I heard it’s interesting. You can find the list of all museums in Strasbourg with opening hours on the website here.
I had enough time to feel enchanted 🙂 I do recommend you to go there between July and September when you can see the light show. There is not extremely many tourists there and the show is worth seeing.
While in Alsace, don’t miss cute little towns surrounded by vineyards. I fell in love with Kaysersberg, I didn’t want to leave it! You can also hike in Alsace. No, not in the Alps! 🙂 Check this stunning hike around three lakes in the Vosges.
Now, book your accomodation in Strasbourg!
Using the the above links or the below booking.com searchbox changes nothing for you – but it does change the world for me! You will pay the same anyway but instead of giving it all to booking.com team, a little chunk of it will go to me for the hard work and time I spend developing this place for you! Thanks!
Anyways, safe travels! Enjoy! 🙂