Surprising Strasbourg: eating, drinking and exploring

By David Gordon, a Travel Professional

Read more on Strasbourg.

Overall rating:3.0 out of 5 (based on 1 vote)
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Recommended for:
Cultural, Food and Drink, Short Break, Budget, Expensive, Mid-range

Strasbourg is probably the ultimate European City, combining French and German cultures. Fine dining, fine wine and fine buildings are on offer

My recent visit to Strasbourg was one full of surprises, from the best airport to use (and it isn’t even in France) to the food on offer in the restaurants, I spent four days in the city amazed at what I was discovering.

Some describe Strasbourg as the ultimate European city, not only because it is the home of the European Parliament, but because it is a total mix of French and German cultures. I often imagined Strasbourg to be a big modern city full of skyscrapers so I was amazed to find that the city centre, which is dominated by a huge gothic cathedral, is like something out of a story book. The small cobbled narrow streets have lots of fascinating half-timbered buildings, many of which and date back to the 1400s. It is little wonder that the entire city centre is a UNESCO world heritage site.

The cruise on the River Ill is the best introduction to the city (www.batorama.fr). The trip lasts around 90 minutes, and lets you see the fascinating history of the area from the comfort of an air-conditioned boat. The tour glides past the modern European Parliament Buildings as well as the more historic sights. From a waterside view, the next option is a roof-top view; although the 400 steps to the top of the cathedral are not for the faint-hearted. The stunning gothic building dates from the late 11th century, and as the sixth tallest church in the world, can be seen for miles around.

If you are a ‘foodie’ you will be fascinated by the restaurants in Strasbourg. Some, like the Maison Kammerzell (www.maison-kammerzell.com) and the Tire-Bouchon (www.letirebouchon.fr) offer traditional foods of the Alsace region. Foie gras is one of the main delicacies; however, the more adventurous can try tête de veau (calf’s head) which is often found on menus in the area. I went as far as trying snails in garlic butter – much to the disgust of my children once they heard what I had eaten!

Another famous product of the Alsace region is wine. Strasbourg is surrounded by vineyards and the popular Riesling and Gewürztraminer wines are the speciality of the area. The larger wine producers, such as Arthur Metz (www.arthurmetz.fr), have a wine-tasting school and offer a tour of their facilities. The area is also renowned for growing hops, used in the production of beer. There are many micro-breweries in the region, as well as better known brands, such as Kronenbourg and Desperado.

Nightlife in Strasbourg is not as lively as one would expect. There are a number of bars, including a couple of the mandatory “Irish Pubs” as well as nightclubs. In the interests of research, we checked out a number of them and were surprised to see the vast age-range in attendance. At one club, as we left, a group of elderly ladies (and I mean 65+) were on their way in!

For someone who loves France, it does seem odd to be in the country but experiencing a German way of life. Towns like Obernai and Pfaffenhoffen are very obviously Germanic and, along with Strasbourg, have been French, German and back to French again over the years. Overall it leads to a fascinating cultural experience.

Strasbourg is around four hours from the Paris airports and two hours from Frankfurt. However, you can fly to Karlsruhe in Germany, which is only 20 minutes from Strasbourg city centre. You will find all the usual hotels in the Strasbourg area, from the relatively inexpensive to the very expensive. I stayed at the Etc Hotel which is located in the old city and only two minutes walk from the shopping area and cathedral. While the facilities were basic, there was an excellent breakfast available and it was perfect as a base in the city centre.

I’m looking forward to visiting Strasbourg again; but I think calfs and their heads are safe for a while yet!

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More information on Surprising Strasbourg: eating, drinking and exploring:

Author:
David Gordon
Traveller type:
Travel Professional
Guide rating:
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)
Total views:
338
First uploaded:
15 January 2010
Last updated:
4 years 32 weeks 6 days 2 hours 7 min 10 sec ago
Destinations featured:
Trip types:
Cultural, Food and Drink, Short Break
Budget level:
Budget, Mid-range, Expensive
Free tags / Keywords:
fine wine, 24 hour city break, historic buildings, French cuisine

David recommends

Hotels

Price from Rating
(out of 5)
1. Etc Hotel
£38
N/A

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Community comments (1)

Rating:
3
0 of 0 people found the following comment helpful.

I was torn when rating this guide, David. This is a nice overview of a city that I don't know well so I read it with interest. I wanted to give this a four as you have provided recommendations on where to visit, eat, drink and stay in a very readable style but this guide left me yearning for more information.

It would be great if you could add some more details to this. For example, how expensive are Maison Kammerzell and Tire-Bouchon? What dishes would you recommend ordering in either? Which historic sights did you see from the boat? Which bars and nightclubs did you check out? Is there one bar that stood out? Please also add some more contact details after your recommendations (address; phone number; website is ideal) to help the reader. If you do all of this, I am sure that your guide will be rated highly by the community. Thanks.

What do other readers think of this guide? Has it inspired you to visit Strasbourg? Can you add any further recommendations? Thanks.

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