Between Christmas and New Year 2023 I suddenly had an assignment in Germany, very close to the French border. This resulted in having a full day available in Strasbourg, France.
I had spent the night at the Hôtel Mercure Strasbourg Aéroport, conveniently located close to the highway and pretty close to the city as well, Mercure hotels offer consistent good service and are part of the Accor group. I have been a long time member of the Accor loyalty program and have occasionally used some of the benefits of this program like room upgrades (very nice when Europe was still in partial lockdown during the Covid crisis) and some extra services or a free night by using my points.
First things first ... parking!
Strasbourg center is pretty small compared to other well known cities and although there is an underground parking right near the center, I decided to use one of the parking garages just outside the old city, it seemed to be a very busy Sunday and some of the parkings were full but the Parcus parking Saint-Nicolas was still available and conveniently located about 800 meters from the Cathedral.
Now on to the main part ... getting around.
Strasbourg has a very good tram and bus system, however ... as a tourist exploring the central area, you can do everything on foot as the distances aren't very big. I decided to walk from the parking towards the Cathedral and the rest of the central area of the city. I started at the Parking Saint-Nicolas and walked trough the gate of the Place Robert Waitz and on towards the river Ill (ill) surrounding the island of the old city. I crossed the bridge on the Rue de la Division Leclerc. From there any right turn will take you in the direction of the Cathedral.
There are a few highlights in the city and the rest is made up of cosy shopping streets with occasional churches and classic buildings in Alsatian style. The highlights are first of all ... the Cathedral! This impressive construction was built during a long period that started in 1176 and lasted an impressive 263 years to be finally completed in 1439. Like many Cathedrals of that time, the final building didn't exactly look like it was planned, the most prominent feature is the single tower on the Western front and main entrance, there were supposed to be 2 tall spired towers instead but this was never completed.
Other examples of uncompleted plans are the Notre-Dame in Paris where both towers are flat instead of topped with spires, Antwerp where one tower is higher than the other and Mechelen (also in Belgium) where tower is incredibly high but also flat instead of spired, the reasons for this vary from place to place.
Next on my plan for the day was a walk trough the city to see its iconic area called Petite France where the old tanners houses can still be visited, mostly as small shops. I walked on to the famous Barrage Vauban, a dam and defensive structure that was built in 1686 and offers a fantastic view on the Ponts Couverts bridge with its 4 towers, I went over this structure and eventually ended up back around the same area where I entered the city in the first place.
Like any city in Europe, there are plenty of choices to eat out for breakfast, lunch or dinner, personally I was looking for a late lunch before I would hit the road to get back home. I decided to enter this small restaurant called "Les Chefs d'Oeuvre d'Alsace" for a quick bite.
Overall this city is great for a few days of walking around, visiting museums and shopping. Another feature of this city is its European institutions, next to Brussels, Strasbourg is another main site for the European Union as it is the location of the Palace of Europe (Palais de l' Europe), although I myself didn't have time left to visit this building. Whenever you have the time, I advise you to stay in this city about 3 days at least to be able to visit most of the highlights.
For all the photos, please have a look at the general album of France on this link.