This blog took off when I was in Strasbourg however little credit has been given to the picturesque city that I very briefly wrote about in one of my first few posts. I’m making those amends now.
While filling up the form for the ‘teaching programme’ in early 2011, I had 3 cities (in France) to choose from a complex list of 3 columns. Paris wasn’t an option simply because I wanted to to be in a less ‘touristy’ and less expensive city (I was a teacher but living on a student stipend, mind you), commute less and more importantly attempt my terrible french on a few poor souls and not get away with English. But which city? After short-listing a few closest to Germany and Switzerland (cold over warm any day, baby!) Strasbourg was ranked No. 1, also thanks to a friend who’d stayed there earlier and raved about it.
Et voilà, Strasbourg it was! I fell in love with it the minute I ‘googled‘ it. And within a month of living there, I felt like a local, complete with beret in the head, nose in the air (cold one, that!) and baguette in the hand. Along with a bottle of vin rosé that was bought every Tuesday for the most-awaited weekly soirées!
That said, Strasbourg really isn’t that city you’d include in your to-do list if you visit Europe considering there are more popular and raved-about cities. But here is why I think you must absolutely visit it should you ever be fortunate enough to smuggle a bank and go to that side of the world.
- You can be in France and Germany at the same time! Having been a German city for ages, the city alternated between both countries eventually staying put in France. The German city of Kehl is just a 10-minute bus ride away!
- Alsatian architecture that’s oh-so-pretty with flowers dotting every household. Don’t buy any of those postcards – just take a photo and you’ll see they are just as good. (Trivia: Strasbourg is a UNESCO World Heritage Site)
- or Flammkuchen. The Alsatian version of pizza, cheese replaced with crème fraîche. And choucroute ofcourse, of which I have nothing to say except that it looks scary!
- The usual tourist haunts worth seeing: ‘La Petite France’ and ‘Notre Dame’ – try climbing the spiral for a breathtaking (literally) view of the city. A batorama or guided boat ride if you are not upto walking or cycling (which by the way, is a fun way to cover the city in a couple of days) is also a decent alternative.
- If you are here around winter, Christkindlmarkt or Christmas markets (and consequentially gluhwein) are definitely a must.
- Riquewihr & Ribeauville- an hour away from Strasbourg and villages that appear to have sprung out of fairy tale books. In fact, Riquewihr is classified as ‘one of the most beautiful villages in France’ and along the famed Alsatian wine route.
- Finally, if politics is your your cup of mulled wine, visit the European parliament (which by the way is a ‘modern’ building standing out sore) in session and entertain yourself listening to various country representatives put forth their case in native languages.