While every first visit to Strasbourg should always include stops at the magnificent Cathedral and charming district of Petite France, there is so much more to do than visiting these famous destinations. In the last article (Unusual morning in Strasbourg) I listed a few reasons why to wake up early and this is the sequel – unusual and quite unique ideas about where to go, what to do or where to eat during the day in Strasbourg.
- Tap into the Local Vibe Even More
A unique cultural hub to discover the lively contemporary and street-art scene of Strasbourg. La PopArtiserie was founded as a joint project with the Eurometropole and is an art gallery and music venue to support up-and-coming creative talent. With a wine bar, workshops, and events, this place is unique; however, trying to describe it is limiting as there is something different and novel going on all the time. Go with an open heart and mind and absorb the vibe.
- A Weird and Wonderful World
Tomi Ungerer was born in Strasbourg and is an outspoken writer, illustrator, and satirist. He is known for his children’s books and also for his biting posters on subjects close to his heart like his opposition to the Vietnam War and his opposition to animal cruelty. The city of Strasbourg dedicated an entire museum to his work, unique in Europe as very few places are dedicated to the art of illustration. The collection offers over 8,000 original drawings, sketches, sculptures, and posters created by the artist himself.
- Accept the Challenge
A perfect challenge for you and your friends is an Escape room! Use the elements in the room and complete your mission in the time set.
- Have a Brunch
What the Cake is one of the trendiest places to brunch in Strasbourg. Known as one of the best places to have a cake, it will not be easy to choose between the many varieties they do offer.
- Cruise the Canals
Taking a boat trip in Strasbourg is an alternative way to discover the city. Sitting on a large riverboat, you will travel slowly through the rivers of the city, all the while enjoying the landscape. Architectural styles come one after another: from half-timbered houses of La Petite France to the modern European institutions and the German Imperial District, Strasbourg is very pleasant to observe. The audio guide supplied will provide you with interesting explanations about the history of the city. Yes, a boat tour in Strasbourg is something very touristy to do, but it’s also very nice (and the cabin is cooled!!).
After stepping out the boat and before heading over to the lunch, don’t forget to
- Have a Panoramic View to “La Petite France” District
The Barrage Vauban, or Vauban Dam, is a bridge, weir and defensive work erected in the 17th century on the River Ill in the city of Strasbourg in France. At that time, it was known as the Great Lock (grande écluse), although it does not function as a navigation lock in the modern sense of the word. Today it serves to display sculptures and has a viewing terrace on its roof, with views of the earlier Ponts Couverts bridges and Petite France quarter. It has been classified as a Monument historique since 1971. The barrage was constructed from 1686 to 1690 in pink Vosges sandstone by the French Engineer Jacques Tarade according to plans by Vauban. The principal defensive function of the barrage was to enable, in the event of an attack, the raising the level of the River Ill and thus the flooding of all the lands south of the city, making them impassable to the enemy. This defensive measure was deployed in 1870, when Strasbourg was besieged by Prussian forces during the Franco-Prussian War, and resulted in the complete flooding of the northern part of the suburb of Neudorf. Alongside an interesting history its rooftop also offers an amazing view to the whole quarter underneath.
Where to go for a lunch?
A city with mixed cultures, Strasbourg’s cuisine reflects the city’s past influences. Visitors should try the choucroute garnie, which is the most famous dish and is composed of sauerkraut with sausages and usually mashed potatoes. The coq au riesling is another typical dish, and has distinct German culinary elements, since it is served with spaetzle, a German type of noodle. For dessert, travelers can enjoy a tasty kugelhopf, a cake made with yeast, almonds and raisins. Tarte flambée is a close relative to the pizza, a thin pastry slathered with creme fraiche, onions and bacon bits, it can be enjoyed as a snack on the go or as part of a full sit-down meal with different toppings. But there’s much more to try, and you’ll find it for example here:
- Au Pont Corbeau
Possibly the best restaurant in Strasbourg France, Christophe Andt’s Au Pont Corbeau is a 30 year stalwart in the Strasbourg France food scene. The rustic Strasbourg restaurant, loved by such luminary chefs as Jean-George Vongerichten, serves the epitome of Alsatian comfort food with its choucroute garnie stealing the show. This dish is not for the dainty diner with its generous servings of salted bacon, smoked bacon, smoked sausage and knack de Strasbourg. The monstrous dish typifies the hearty cuisine of Alsace and yes, it is a showstopper, but the jambonneau grill separates this homey tavern from many others. The pork knuckle, with its perfectly braised flesh and crispy, crackly skin, melted in our mouths and stole our hearts with every bite. Paired with a pichet of Sylvaner wine, our meal was like the blue heavens that occupy the sky above the nearby Vosges Mountains.
Hip, centrally located Binchstub takes flammekueche, a traditional Alsatian specialty also known as tart flambée, to the next level. If you’re wondering what to eat in Strasbourg, eating a flammekueche should be on the top of your list. Locals line up for a seat to order two things – flammekueche and wine. Toppings like slabs of Munster cheese, pear and arugula keep these pies fresh and funky. If you love thin crust pizza, then you will adore this version, a definite must eat in Strasbourg.
- Come a Marco
As good as French food may be, sometimes you just want a slice of Italian style pizza. Come a Roma solves this problem by serving authentic Roman taglio pizza by the slice, plus it’s a cheap eats Strasbourg option if you’re on a budget. The casual eatery displays a selection of colorful pies which Federico Bartoloni and his staff slice and weigh to order. Although there’s no shame in ordering a classic Margherita slice, consider adding adventurous toppings like zucchini with truffle cream if you really want to experience the best pizza in Strasbourg.
- Burn Some Calories Ascending the Cathedral
Another tourist-like think to do, but why not? It offers really tremendous view over the city. It’s considered a masterpiece of gothic architecture. Among its many striking features are the amazing intricate gargoyles and grotesques that adorn its exterior. Look closer though, and some of these imposing creatures seem a bit out of place. Irreverent, even comic figures of a donkey, a monkey… were the stone masons and designers poking fun at their all-powerful church patrons?
- A belly-o-meter
Have you heard of the büchmesser? It’s a rather unusual local tradition. A support pillar served as Strasbourg’s belly-meter to measure the girth of the workers involved in the construction of the cathedral, to make sure they would fit in the tight nooks and crannies required during the work. If the width of the man exceeded the width of the column, they were in trouble with the boss. Would you measure up? See for yourself. The belly-meter is located in one of the corners of the square surrounding the cathedral.
- Picnic in Parc de l’Orangerie
Even if cycling isn’t on the agenda, the Parc de l’Orangerie is a must visit at least for a picnic, since it is one of Strasbourg’s gems. It is situated opposite the Council of Europe, in the district called the Orangerie Quarter. Its surface covers over 26 hectares, and it was supposedly founded in 1801 by André Le Nôtre according to some, or by Captain Antoine du Chaffat according to others. During the French Revolution many orange trees were confiscated, and they were all planted here, giving it its name.
- Order a Devil’s Drink With Chlorophyll
L’Épicerie is a nice restaurant in the city center of Strasbourg where you can enjoy tasty tartines (open-faced sandwiches popular in France).
They do also have lemonade soda, and you can add tastes to that lemonade. On their menu you can also find a lemonade with chlorophyll named Devil’s drink – it tastes much better than it looks like!
- Voodoo Central
You may not expect the largest private collection of West African voodoo in the world to be located in Strasbourg, but there you have it! Château Vodou, located downtown in a converted water tower or château d’eau, presents intriguing and eerie objects of worship, divination, and witchcraft.
Changing clothes may be compulsory, because now you’re about to
- Attend a Session in European Parliament
Strasbourg is home to the official seat of the European Parliament, and a visit to the Parliamentarium is a great way to learn more about its inner workings and role in the European Union’s functioning. To delve deeper into real-time politics, a visit is even more special during plenary sessions because of the chance to witness history in the making. The plenary sessions are interpreted into all 24 official European Union languages and places are available for individual visitors to follow the session for an hour (subject to availability). Plan ahead by checking the calendar for the dates of the plenary sessions and get there early.
And then of course, head back to the city centre to watch sunset from
- Church of Saint-Pierre-le-Jeune
While the cathedral gets most of the attention, and deserverdly so, this Protestant church in Strasbourg is a hidden gem worth visiting. Built from 1031 onwards on the site of a Merovingian chapel, the Gothic church of Saint-Pierre the Younger was consecrated in 1053 by Pope Leo IX, who himself hailed from Alsace. The base of the bell tower and a number of walls from the original Romanesque structure are still visible, as well as 14th-century frescoes, and remains from the 11th-century columns. Admission is free, but visitors are not allowed during service on Sunday mornings.
- Botanical Gardens
The Strasbourg Botanical Gardens are a mixture of beauty and science, encouraging visitors to get a bit more familiar with plants species in a fun and involved way. The Botanical Gardens are located in the city’s Imperial district, and they feature almost 6000 different plants. Apart from the outdoor gardens there is also an arboretum and a greenhouse. There are very impressive trees here, which will be difficult to find elsewhere in France, of which the great sequoia is one of the most remarkable.
Although Strasbourg is not as large as it may seem, I highly recommend hiring a bike or buying a permanent ticket for the city transport for moving between the sights and spots of interest easily. Walking and seeing the Alsatian architecture is very nice, too, but you know…it may be a bit too much and remember! Travelling is not about hurrying and hunting something, but about finding yourself so caaalm down and enjoy the little things next time. 🙂
My first time in Strasbourg (March 2017)
View from our hotel (at the main station)
You seriously need to try this ice-cream! Not only that it looks good, but also tastes great! And that range of flavours…woah. I even found speculoos flavour, what I was really surprised and delighted about.
My second time in Strasbourg (October 2017)
The street with the biggest amount of best-rated restaurants in whole Strasbourg!
My third time in Strasbourg (May 2018)
Taking the Batorama tour finally for the first time!
And also climbing to the top of the cathedral for the first time 😀 idk why didn’t I do it before – I probably had different interests, for example overloading with the flower ice-cream.
Travelling with my bestiee
I was in Parliament this time, too, but my photos disappeared somewhere…that’s not such a big problem, they look the same as those two previous ones anyways :))
Have a great day!