Our day trip to Strasbourg was very spontaneous: Friday was predicted in the news super weather for the whole weekend and on Sunday at 9 o’clock we sat in the car and entered Strasbourg as a destination in our navigation system. From Darmstadt, Strasbourg is only about 200 kilometres away, so it took us just under 2 hours to get to the city. And the weather forecast was also true: it was bright blue sky and the sun was already burning in the morning. Just the right day to explore the city.
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Things to know about Strasbourg
Strasbourg has a population of around 280,000 and is located in the north-east of France (Elsass) directly on the border with Germany. Strasbourg is known, among other things, for the fact that the city is the headquarters of many European institutions. These include the Council of Europe, the European Parliament and the European Court of Human Rights. As a result, Strasbourg often sees itself as the ‘capital of Europe’. Strasbourg is located on the Ill and the Rhine, is connected to the Canal de la Marne au Rhin and the Rhine-Rhone Canal and is therefore a destination for numerous river cruise and excursion ships. In addition to the well-preserved historic old town, the most famous sights include the Cathédrale Notre-Dame (Strasbourg Cathedral), the Palais Rohan, the Gerberviertel, the Musée d’Art Moderne et Contemporain, the Barrage Vauban, the Maison Kammerzell, the district of La Petite France and an exploration of the city by boat on the Ill.
The district “La Petite France”
We parked with our car on the outskirts of the city and took the tram to the district “La Petite France”. Since this was number 2 of the top Strasbourg attractions on TripAdvisor, we were excited to see what to expect. First of all, lots of tourists, especially Asian tour groups. And besides many half-timbered houses, small cobbled streets without car traffic, French cafés (with scent of freshly baked baguettes and croissants) and in the middle of the district flows the canal of the Ill and with it excursion boats still and no more.
Strasbourg Cathedral – Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Strasbourg
Our way led us further into the city centre to the almost 1,000-year-old Strasbourg Minster (‘Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Strasbourg’). What initially disturbed our view was the fact that there is only one north tower and the south tower is virtually missing. Up to a height of 100 meters, the cathedral is almost symmetrical from the front, but if you look further up, you have the feeling that what is missing 😉 Münsterplatz is the number one tourist attraction in Strasbourg. The square is dominated by the massive west facade of the cathedral, numerous half-timbered houses, souvenir sellers and countless tour groups. After a short security check, they also went to the cathedral. Admission is free.
In 1988, only the medieval old town on the Grande Ile was listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List, and in 2017 the site was expanded to include the late 19th century New Town.
The Palais du Rhin (Imperial Palace)
Our next destination was the Palais du Rhin, the former Imperial Palace, which is only about a 15 minute walk from Münsterplatz and is located in a beautiful planted green area. Around the square are other mighty buildings, such as the National Theatre.
St. Paul’s Church & the New Town
Further south, about a 10-minute walk away, is the Protestant St. Paul’s Church in the Neustadt district. The church is prominently located on the southern tip of Strasbourg’s Ill Island of St. Helena and is suitable from near and far as a beautiful photo motif. Of the many bridges that cross the Ill, you always have a great view of the different corners of the city. As for example, a little further on the ESCA building, in front of which there is a beautiful fountain as well as numerous café-and-restaurant boats.
A boat trip on the Ill
Since we definitely wanted to take a boat trip on the Ill, we then went to the ticket office of BATORAMA, which is located directly at the Rohan Palace on the banks of the Ill Canal. As in other corners of the city, there were again many tourists on the way, all of them having the same thing as us 😉 So we had to queue up until we got two of the coveted tickets. Since we really wanted to drive “Open Air”, we had to take an hour of waiting time. We used the time to walk around the city and eat something. Just in time at 3 p.m. we started. There was not a single space left on the boat.
For 70 minutes we walked along the Ill, past the beautiful city scenery of Strasbourg. Some buildings that we have already discovered on land have met us here again. Many people sat on the banks of the Ill, soned, picnic or just relaxed. Since our boat was open, we also got quite good sun – fortunately we had sunscreen with us.
The European Quarter in Strasbourg
The boat trip went to the European Quarter,which includes the European Parliament, the Council of Europe, the European Court of Human Rights and the European Commission on Human Rights.
The barrage Vauban viewing terrace
After a good hour we arrived at the starting point and walked through the city and the district “La Petite France” to the viewing terrace Barrage Vauban. Since it was already on the way to our car, we took this last sight with us. The Vauban Weir with its 13 lock towers was built at that time as part of a fortification belt that would make Strasbourg impregnable. For more than 50 years it has served as a panoramic terrace, from which you can enjoy a beautiful view of “La Petite France” and the Münsterviertel.
A great conclusion to our visit to Strasbourg on a beautiful Sunday in August 🙂