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5 Reasons You’ll Fall in Love with Strasbourg, France

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Ever since I lived in France for a year during college I have wanted to move back to this alluring country. But for years I've wondered where in France I would make my nest. Now I know. I fell head over pieds for Strasbourg, France during a Viking River Cruise on the Rhine this past spring and I wish I could pack my bags to move to this city tomorrow. Here are five reasons why you too will fall in love with this charming French town with a German accent.

5 Reasons to Visit Strasbourg, France

5 Reasons to Visit Strasbourg, France (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

1. The beauty of Strasbourg

France is a country that focuses on beauty in its language, food, fashion, art and architecture. It is really something, then, that Strasbourg stands out for its beauty. It's like dancing with Cinderella at a ball attended by super models. From the town's medieval half-timbered houses to its scenic canals and soaring Cathedrale de Notre Dame, Strasbourg will charm even the most stoic traveler.

The city's Gothic cathedral is the highest medieval building in Europe. It is home to an impressive astronomical clock, built in 1842 and featuring a depiction of the beginning of life until man's death. Climb to the top of the cathedral for a gorgeous view of the Alsatian countryside.

Standing in front of Cathédrale de Notre Dame of Strasbourg, the highest medieval building in Europe

Standing in front of Cathédrale de Notre Dame of Strasbourg, the highest medieval building in Europe (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

2. A blend of French and German cultures

Strasbourg is situated along the Rhine River in France, across from Kehl, Germany. An appealing blend of German and French influences can be found in the city's cuisine, culture and appearance. It's not just geography that links these two countries, though. In the late 17th century, Strasbourg seceded from the Roman Empire and declared itself part of France. The city was seized 100 years later and became part of the German Empire. In 1918, Strasbourg was reborn as French. Then the city was taken by Hitler in 1940 and again was declared part of Germany. Four years later, the city was liberated by the Allied Forces, making Strasbourg French. With each conquest, Strasbourg's citizens were forced to speak only French or German (or Alsatian, a German dialect) by those in power, creating today's bilingual and multicultural city. Thankfully, the two countries reside happily side-by-side today. There's no need to even show passports when crossing the border.

Friendly street performers playing music in Strasbourg, France

Friendly street performers playing music in Strasbourg, France (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

3. Alsatian cuisine

Only Île-de-France and its capital city Paris boast more starred restaurants than the Alsace region in France. Alsatian cuisine combines traditional German food with French flair. Alsace's capital, Strasbourg, is home to brasseries, bakeries, and breweries, as well as fancy restaurants offering prix-fixe fare. In addition to delicious German-style beers, you can sip the region's renowned Riesling wines with your meals. Read more about Strasbourg's restaurants via TripAdvisor.

Tarte flambée is the Alsatian equivalent of pizza, served on a thin, crispy rectangular crust and topped with crème fraîche, white cheese, thinly sliced onions and lardons (a French-style bacon of sorts).

Tarte flambée is the Alsatian equivalent of pizza (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Tarte flambée is the incredibly crave-worthy Alsatian equivalent of pizza, served on a thin, crispy rectangular crust and topped with crème fraîche, white cheese, thinly sliced onions and lardons (a French-style bacon of sorts). If visiting in spring, you must order a plate of Alsace's famous white asparagus, traditionally eaten with ham and fresh-made mayonnaise. I did not try ham knuckle with potato salad and horseradish, but fellow Viking cruisers raved about this delicacy. Pop into a local bakery to purchase another local specialty, kugelhopf, an Alsatian brioche cooked in the shape of a crown and typically flavored with raisins and almonds.

Kugelhopfs, Alsatian brioches cooked in the shape of a crown and typically flavored with raisins and almonds - in Strasbourg, France

Kugelhopfs, Alsatian brioches cooked in the shape of crowns and flavored with raisins and almonds (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

4. The storks at Parc de l'Orangerie

It isn't every day that you see a stork's nest, much less several such nests one after the other, all housing a mama or daddy stork guarding their eggs…unless you are in Strasbourg, of course. Storks are the symbol of Alsace and are said to bring good luck and fertility. (Hence, the fable of storks delivering babies.) Drive through Strasbourg's affluent neighborhood near Parc de l'Orangerie to be treated to the site of plentiful storks, nesting in trees, chimneys and rooftops. I felt lucky indeed to see so many of these large birds up-close. I only wish my husband and I had more than just one day in Strasbourg so we could have walked through the flower-filled park's grassy promenades, visit its tiny zoo and rent a boat to row across its lake. (The park is about a 30-minute walk from Strasbourg's Old Town.)

Storks near Parc de L'Orangerie in Strasbourg

A stork and a stork's nest near Parc de l'Orangerie in Strasbourg (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

5. Shopping in Strasbourg

Strasbourg is big enough to have lots of shops and restaurants to explore, while being small enough to maintain a welcoming village vibe. Be sure to pick up some mementos of your time in this unique Alsatian city. Strasbourg overflows with shops peddling cheeses, stork-shaped souvenirs of all sorts, Alsatian textiles and cookware, and French fashions. My favorite store, though, was the famous French sweets boutique, La Cure Gourmande. Their beautiful gift boxes and tins filled with cookies, chocolates and candies make a sweet souvenir of your time in France, or a lovely hostess gift for friends at home.

Bring home a sweet Strasbourg souvenir from La Cure Gourmande

Bring home a sweet Strasbourg souvenir from La Cure Gourmande (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Ever since my visit to this friendly, picturesque city I can't stop daydreaming about someday living in Strasbourg. Can you blame me?

If you plan to spend the night in this lovely city during your Strasbourg romantic getaway, take a look at the most popular romantic hotels in Strasbourg on TripAdvisor.

Discover more incredible French destinations now or learn about all of the ports of call during a Viking River Cruise Rhine Getaway.

Have you ever become smitten with a destination and wished you could move there? Where? Let us know in the comments below!

A Note from The Travel Mama: Our cruise was hosted by Viking River Cruises. All opinions are mine, as always.

About Colleen Lanin

Colleen Lanin is the founder/editor-in-chief of TravelMamas.com. As the author of her book, "The Travel Mamas' Guide," she teaches parents not only how to survive a trip with children, but also how to love exploring the world with their offspring. Her stories have appeared online and in print for such outlets as the "Today" show, NBCNews.com, Parenting Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, Chicago Tribune, Expedia, San Diego Family Magazine, and more. Colleen gives tips on television, radio, and as a public speaker. She has a master’s degree in business administration with a background in marketing. She lives in Arizona with her husband and two kids.

Comments

  1. We have never been to Strasbourg, but been to Paris many times. If Strasbourg is half as charming as Paris, I would love it see it. 🙂 Sounds like it is. I will have to make sure to see if the next time we are in France. Thanks for all the great info on this beautiful city.

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says:

      Samantha – I love Paris but it can seem overwhelming in size and attractions. I like that Strasbourg is big enough to have lots of restaurants and shops, but small enough to still have that friendly village feel. I hope you get to visit Strasbourg someday!

    • I go in 2 weeks and am very excited . Thank you for your post

  2. Lisa Goodmurphy says:

    Strasbourg looks lovely! I have been wanting to go on a river cruise in Europe for so long but wasn’t sure which one. I thought I was leaning toward the Danube but now I’m not so sure!!

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says:

      Lisa – I know what you mean. All of the Viking River Cruise itineraries look so enticing. I’m so pleased we chose the Rhine Getaway, but there’s so many great options to choose from.

  3. best line ever: “It’s like dancing with Cinderella at a ball attended by super models”

  4. I am officially hungry, thirsty and relaxed after reading this. Agree with Phil that the “Cinderella” sentence is fabulous!

  5. Thank you for sharing! We are headed to Strasbourg in November, and this post makes me so excited! Can’t wait to explore this region of France!

  6. Jacktyphus says:

    I’m in love with strasbourg too, that’s why i have a blog on this subject : http://www.blogkapoue.com ! Enjoy my city !

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says:

      Jacktyphus – I checked out your blog and it looks like a wonderful resource for those looking to visit your fine city. I will definitely read up before I visit Strasbourg again!

  7. Sandra Harty says:

    looks amazing, the perfect couple getaway for piece and quiet.

  8. thought you might like to know that this article is starting to be passed around on FB by folks from the American/Canadian ex-pat group in Alsace. (Americans in Alsace).

    Nice to read about the city most of us now call home. It truly is as beautiful a place to live as it is to visit. Make sure that if you ever do take the plunge, you don’t forget to join the association.

    For those coming to visit, I hope you have a great time. There are tons of things to see, and you can spend days just wandering the streets – exactly like people who have lived here for years still do. There’s also tons of great places to eat and drink, but we’re not allowed to give all the secrets to tourists…

    One thing – they call it La Petite France because that is where the hospital was for soldiers with syphilis (‘The French Disease’). Not as glamorous as it sounds…The centre of the old town was – as it is today – at the Cathedral, which is celebrating its 1000-year anniversary this year. The main crossroads of the Roman town (founded 12 BC) was at present-day Rue du Dôme, and Rue des Hallebardes, at the North-west corner of the Cathedral.

    One more travel tip – remember that on the first Sunday of each month, all public museums in France are free.

    Best to all.

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says:

      Hi Krys – Oh, don’t tempt me even further! I just told my husband that there is an ex-pat group in Strasbourg ready for us to join once we move. He laughed because his job keeps us stateside but I told him never say never! Thank you for the explanation about la Petite France (our tour guide actually shared this tidbit with us) and for correcting me about the location of Strasbourg’s Old Town. I have updated the post to more accurately reflect this. Great tip on the public museums too! I am not going to give up on my dream of living in France again so maybe I’ll see you around the streets of Strasbourg someday?!

  9. Amarjit Singh says:

    Hi Colleen
    The blog on falling in love with Strasbourg in France stole my heart. The German French cultural blend of this town, and the cuisines you have written about makes me long to visit it at the earliest. Really saving money, for it.

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says:

      Amarjit – Oh, how I hope you can go! I really loved this city so very much. Best wishes in saving up for your Strasbourg adventure!

  10. Hello!
    I know this is a very late comment but thanks for your blog. We may be moving to Strasbourg (husband will work part of the week in Zurich so it would work for our family, our kids are pre-teens and older child). I am DYING at the home prices! Yikes!
    I am looking for a more “French” culture rather than German. Would you consider Strasbourg about 50/50 in terms of the mix of cultures? How about the language commonly used in restaurants/stores/on the street?

    Thanks!

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says:

      Susalis – How exciting for your family! I am so incredibly jealous! I would say that Strasbourg definitely feels like France with a German accent. French is the primary language but someone who speaks only German could get by easily. I would say Strasbourg was more like 60 or 70% French, 40 or 30% German in terms of the mix of cultures, but I was there for a short time so it’s hard for me to say. Really, Strasbourg has its own culture, which is a delightful blend of the two with its own feel all together. Does that make sense?

  11. Thank you, it makes perfect sense!

    I’ve been researching the city a bit. Thanks for the tip on language. My husband and I both speak French to a fair degree and would be fluent in a year. Husband is fluent also in German so that would help a lot too!

    “French with a German accent” sounds like the perfect description. We will know in the next two months if the job transfer comes through, there are well over 20 people in line for this position so it’s all up in the air. We were SO close to moving to Ireland a few months ago but the job fell through, the disappointment took weeks to get over) . I’ve moved to Strasbourg in my head, already! I will let you know if it happens.
    Thank you again.

  12. Did you happen to see black forest cuckoo clocks sold in Strasbourg shops?

  13. de Sascha says:

    I’m german originally from my hometown Karlsruhe but live in London since almost 20 odd years.
    Karlsruhe(population 300k-400k) located right at the border to France, is a nice town with a lovely castle in middle seems really boring in comparison to Straßburg, considering that the town has approx. a population of 300k or so(?).
    Strasbourg seems like a cute million city that never gets boring and is always lively, we(a)ther it’s summer or winter! Every corner has a new surprise just waiting for you, something nice and unexpected.
    I wish all towns could be as lively and cute as S:)
    One can only fall in love with Strasbourg…

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says:

      Strasbourg really is easy to fall in love with. In fact, my family is considering going to Strasbourg for a whole month next summer! If we do, we’ll be sure to stop by Karlsruhe to see the castle!

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