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Strasbourg is the capital and main city of Alsace region in north-eastern France. Located close to the border with Germany, it is the capital of the Bas-Rhin department. With 638,670 inhabitants in 2006, Strasbourg's metropolitan area is the 9th largest in France.
Strasbourg is the seat of several European institutions such as the Council of Europe (with its European Court of Human Rights, its European Directorate for the Quality of Medicines and its European Audiovisual Observatory) and the Eurocorps as well as the European Parliament and the European Ombudsman of the European Union. The city is the seat of the Central Commission for Navigation on the Rhine.
Strasbourg's historic city centre, the Grande Île ("Grand Island"), was classified a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1988, the first time such an honor was placed on an entire city centre.
Strasbourg is fused into the Franco-German culture and although violently disputed throughout history, has been a bridge of unity between France and Germany for centuries, specially through the University of Strasbourg, currently the largest in France, and the co-existence of Catholic and Protestant culture.
Economically, Strasbourg is an important centre of manufacturing and engineering, as well as of road, rail, and river communications. The port of Strasbourg is the second largest on the Rhine after Duisburg, Germany. In terms of city rankings, Strasbourg has been ranked 3rd in France and 18th globally for innovation. The city has been largely omitted from top rankings based on quality of living.
- 1 History of Strasbourg
- 2 Main geography of Strasbourg
- 3 How to come to Strasbourg
- 4 Get around Strasbourg
- 5 What to see
- 6 Museums
- 7 Time for a break ?
- 8 CS Meetings
- 9 In case of emergency
- 10 Local Media Mentions
History of Strasbourg
Strasbourg was once german, then (1681) french, then (1871) german, then (1919) french, then german again during World War II, then eventually french.
The city reflects the inheritage of both cultures.
More informations on [Wikipedia] !
Main geography of Strasbourg
How to come to Strasbourg
Strasbourg Central Station is located not far from the town center (10 minutes walk or two tram stops). Tickets may be purchased from the SNCF website.
The closest german railway (DB) station is Kehl Bahnhof, only 5 km away from Strasbourg center. You may easily reach it by train (most train stopping at Kehl will go further to Strasbourg), car, bicycle or with the bus n°21. A good tip to reach Strasbourg from Germany is to buy a Schönes Wochenende Ticket.
- Baden airport FKB is one hour away from Strasbourg. You may find flights from Ryanair or Air Berlin.
By car or carsharing
A big part of Strasbourg downtown is reserved for pedestrians ; streets are narrow, often full of tourists, and all parking places require a payment, else you could be fined. Parking is free on sunday and from 7PM to 8AM but finding a place is truly a challenge !
If you wish to reach the center just for a few hours, you can find a public parking. The closest they are to the center, to more expensive they are.
Our advice is that you should let you car outside the town and get in a tram. Some parkings located near a tram stop are called "P+R" for "Parking and Relay". There you can park your vehicule and get a return ticket for every passenger up to 7 people for 2,90 € (except the closest one, Rotonde, costing 3,60 €). P+R are open from Monday to Saturday from 7AM to 8PM but don't worry, if you come back later, you can always get out of the parking.
Strasbourg is at the crossing of three main european cycling route : the Euroveloroute n°5, from London to Italy through Brussels and Luxembourg, the wonderful EVR n°6, from Nantes to Budapest and the Rheinradweg, from Rotterdam to Swiss.
Get around Strasbourg
The center of the town is located in the inner island, but the railroad station neighborhood and the Krutenau area are also very popular places to be. If you couchsurf in the center, or railroad station area, or Krutenau, you won't need any transportation.
Bus and tramway
Strasbourg has a nice and complete public transportation network working up to 0PM30 with buses and tramways. In the evening, you'll find a tram every 15 minutes and during the week-end, a special night bus drives through the whole city from 11PM30 to 5AM30.
You'll find a detailled transportation map here.
A ticket costs 1,40 € and is valid one hour in both tramways and urban buses. A day tickets costs 4 € and a day ticket for up to 3 people costs 5,50 €.
All detailled prices are on the Strasbourg Transportation Company (CTS) website.
Strasbourg town center isn't that big. However, a bike rent might be a good idea when it comes to going back home late or getting fast from one point to another. Some independent bike shops may also propose bike rental.
What to see
As in every town, there are in Strasbourg a few unavoidable spots and many hidden things to discover. Most of the city center is reserved for pedestrians, so go for a walk in the old center, keep your eyes in the air and enjoy the architecture !
- Notre-Dame de Strasbourg is a both Roman and Gothic Cathedral and one of the main symbols of Strasbourg.
At 142 metres, it was the world's tallest building from 1647 to 1874, when it was surpassed by St. Nikolai's Church in Hamburg. Today, it's the sixth-tallest church in the world. Inside, you can see an 18-metre astronomical clock with animated characters launch into movement at different hours of the day. You can also climb up to the plateform at 66 meters (4,6 € full price, 2,3 € for children under 18 and students, free on the first sunday of the month) from where you have a beautiful view on Strasbourg, the "Plaine d'Alsace", the Vosges and Black Forest.
More info about the cathedral and visits : Strasbourg Cathedral Website
- La Petite France, a lovely quarter of the city with beautiful old and traditional alsatian houses, typical restaurants, "Souvenirs" shops... As the quarter is crossed by several channels, watching boats crossing locks or moving along the water is a peaceful and every moment entertainment.
- The European institutions are a bit far from the city center. The European Parliament ad the European Court of Human Rights can be easily reached with the tramway, but as they usually can't be visited, a simple sight from a boat tour may be a sufficient option.
- Protestant Church of St Pierre le Jeune, rue de la Nuée Bleue. The church is fully painted inside and has a beautiful and recently restored convent. A very quiet, secret and beautiful place.
- Saint Thomas Church, with sculptures from Pigalle, Silbermann organ. It's on the way to the Petite France, and worth a look.
- Saint Guillaume Church (bell tower and Silbermann organ)
- Saint Paul Church (two stone bell towers)
- Saint Nicolas Church
Tips from the CSers
- Zorn Hostel, 120 grand'rue (yard and spiral stair),
- The Cour du Corbeau (crow yard, former hostel, recently - and sadly - restored as a four star luxe hostel. Nice 16th century yard),
- The sculpted doors in the Rue de l'Epine,
- The botanical garden,
- The Lycée des Pontonniers, with its fantastic architecture, rue des Pontonniers,
- The Palais Universitaire, place de l'univesité, with its wonderful entrance hall,
- The Pourtalès palace and its huge gardens can be reached by bicycle. A perfect place for a picnic, a walk or a bike ride in the Roberstau Forest.
- The Civil Hospital (Place de l'Hopital), with its 1537 pharmacy and Wine cellar, which owns the oldest wine in the world, as old as 1472. You can visit the cellar and buy quality wines.
- After spending the whole day touring, go for a walk along the Ill river, sit on a bench and drink a beer !
In Strasbourg, you'll find town and university museums, those ones beeing more science-oriented. Public museums are free on the 1st Sunday of the month !
Town museums are closed on tuesday, except the Modern Art Museum, closed on Monday.
- The Musée Alsacien presents folkloric stuffs, costumes and popular objects in a nice ensemble of old alsatian houses.
- The Musée Archéologique, in the Rohan Palace's basement, presents the oldest details concerning Alsatian history, from Prehistory (-600,000 years) to the dawn of the Middle Ages (800A.D.).
- Museum of Modern art (MAMCS)
- Musée des Arts décoratifs, also in the Rohan's palace, is divided into two sections : on one hand the sumptuous apartments of the Cardinals of Rohan and on the other hand the collection of Decorative Arts covering the period from 1681 to the mid-19th century featuring ceramics, furnishings, sculpture and paintings, metalwork and goldsmith's art. The museum is also showing a selection of mechanical toys from the Tomi Ungerer Foundation.
- Musée des Beaux-Arts present a selection of European paintings from its debut to 1870. The museum's reserves are open to the public every 1stSaturday of the month.
- Cabinet des Estampes et des Dessins (print room), only open on demand.
- The Musée Historique is located in the city's old slaughterhouse. Its intent is to evoke the city's urban, as well as its political, economic, social and cultural history. Nice relief plan of the town, and you can try old helmets : get you camera ready for a nice profile pic !
- The Musée de l'Œuvre Notre-Dame presents the works of those who have been, for centuries, taking care of the fragile pink sandstone Cathedral.
- The Musée Tomi Ungerer presents works from the famous alsatian illustrator.
- The Aubette dancing rooms are a cathedral of modern art, puting the public inside the painting rather than in front of it. The have been recently restored and are an absolute must-see ! The entrance is free but the opening hours are a bit tricky : Thursdays and Saturdays from 2pm to 5pm.
On the Unistra website, you'll find a complete information about the following museums :
- The Musée Zoologique is currently one of France's richest natural history museums. Stuffed animals and pinned insects. Very calm and nicely old fashioned !
- The botanical garden, with its exotic tropical greenhouse.
- The planetarium has a theatre that will show you the stars and planets. Magic and entertaining ! You can also watch the observatory, the 3rd biggest in France, old instruments, and a fascinating film about the Cathedral astronomical clock, this film being much more interesting than the one showed every day at 12 in the cathedral. Some night openings, check the website !
- Also, a mineralogy and a sismology museum. Some collections (anatomy, egyptology, gypsotheque...) are only open for special occasion (nuit des musées, journées du patrimoine).
In the southern suburb of Strasbourg, you can visit the Chocolate museum, a bit expensive and commercial. For cocoa addicts !
In the north, the former Jewish ritual bath of Bischheim is worth a look with its beautiful Renaissance spiral stairs. The museum is free and open on demand (ask at the library, they have the key). The way from Strasbourg is nice and may be a good occasion for a bike ride.
Time for a break ?
A complete list of hotspots is available on L'internaute but travellers may prefer to surf in bars (where you should be supposed to drink something while you surf) or on free hotspots.
Bars and more
Le Bartholdi, rue du vieux marché au vins
Café Brandt, 11 Place de l'Université
Le Cyrano, 12 Rue des Halles
L'Exil, rue de l'ail
Le Mosquito, 2 rue de l'Arc en Ciel
Jimmy's Bar, 30 quai des Bateliers
Le Phonographe, 5 place d'Austerlitz
Le Tapas Toro, rue du Faubourg National
Le Zanzibar, 1 place Saint Etienne
Mac Donald's, place des Halles or Place Kléber
Where to drink ?
Some of the followings open early and may offer breakfast, like Le Troc café (7AM).
- L'artichaut, jam sessions every thursday. Beers and nice little meals.
- Kitsch'n bar, 8 quai Charles Altorfer. Nice place, nice decoration !
- Troc café, 8, Rue du Faubourg de Saverne, cheap beers and coffee, full of old and used objects. Closes early, around 10pm, depending on the day.
- Jeannette et les cycleux, 30 rue des tonneliers, drinks and tartines, 60's style, for mofa addicts !
- L'épicerie, 6 rue du Vieux Seigle, old countryside french style. Just like at granny's, and quite successful.
- La Java, 6 rue du Faisan
- La Lanterne, 5 rue de la Lanterne, with its home made beers ! CS meetings every Wednesday (a special day : every beer at 1,60 € !)
- Le Korrigan, 20 rue du Vieux Marché aux Grains, an underground bar formerly known as the "Catacombes". “The Quizz” at the bar Korrigan , starts at 8 pm and finishes around 10.30. A good way to finish the week and a good place to work on your english!! The quizz is in both French and English, the best team wins a bottle, and there are free shots for outsiders and best joke!!
- L'Atlantico, 19 quai des Pêcheurs, have a drink on a peniche !
- Le Chariot, 5 rue de l'abreuvoir
- La Mandragore, 1 rue de la Grange (behind the FNAC, something like a natural history bar)
- Le Marché Bar, 62 rue de Zurich
- La Marseillaise, 13 place Broglie. Day Meal.
- Le Café Michel, 20 avenue de la Marseillaise
- La Taverne Française, 12 avenue de la Marseillaise, cheap beers and easy-going style
- La Taverne des Serruriers, 25 rue des Serruriers. Day dish for lunch, cheap beer.
- Le Trou, 5 rue des Couples. A little bar in a cellar.
- Le Nelson, 20 rue des Couples. The very last place for endless nights. Opened until 4am, Guinness on tap !
Live music and Theatres
What to do during the evenings ? You may find something to do on Strasbourg Curieux or at La Boutique culture, 2pm to 7pm, 10 place de la Cathédrale. You can find everything there and submit your own events.
- Molodoi, 19 rue du Ban-de-la-Roche. A self managed concert place. Electro, rock, noise, ska, reggae and dub concerts almost everynighy, except on july and august. Cheap beers, entrance about 5€, a greaaat place for sure !
- La Laiterie, 13 rue du Hohwald. A former milk factory, now "actual music" concert place. Concerts from 12 to 25 €.
- Le Kafteur, 3 rue Thiergarten. A small theatre near the station.
- La Choucrouterie, 16 rue SAint Louis. An alsatian theatre, some of the shows being in french, some in alsatian, some both.
- Camionneur, 14 rue Wodli, a restaurant offering theatre, concerts, karaoke. Nice, refined and cosy decoration ! Not so expensive.
- Théâtre National de Strasbourg (National Theatre), place de la Republique. One of the higher level of theatre schools in France.
- Théâtre Jeune Public, 7 rue des Balayeurs.
- Le Maillon, place du Wacken - aka Place Adrien Zeller. Municipal Theatre.
- Pôle Sud. Dance and music in south Strasbourg !
- Centre culturel Django Reinhardt 4 impasse Kieffer in Neuhof, southern Strasbourg. World culture.
- L'Illiade, cultural center in Illkirch (south of Strasbourg)
- Le Point d'Eau, 17 allée René Cassin, a theatre in Oswald,
- Le Cheval Blanc, 25 rue principale in Schiltigheim. French songs and jazz. A nice little place.
Where to eat ?
- Gurtlerhoft, place de la Cathédrale. A nice place, great location. I recommend the munster cheese rösti !
- Fischerstub, 5 route de Bischwiller, at the very beginning of Schiltigheim, north of Strasbourg, in the former Fischer brewery. Huge choice of alsatian speciality (if not ALL specialities !), and big plates.
- S'Kaechele, 8 rue de l'Argile, a very small, intimate restaurant.
- le Strissel
- Au Coin des Pucelles, 12 rue des Pucelles. Awesome food, small place, you need to book before going there to be sure there's room for you. Prices are ok (you get out with roughly 40€ per person wine included). If you're really hungry, ask for the entrecote with bones. Open till 1am.
- A La Tête De Lard, 3 rue Hannong, 03 88 32 13 56. Good local food and reasonnable prices.
- La Victoire, quai des Pêcheurs. Middle class, open till late !
- Mekang, 17 route du Polygone.
- Le Beijing, 8 quai des Pêcheurs.
- Le Cosy, 17 rue des Couples.
- Tong Yuen, 2 rue du Faubourg de Pierre.
Vegan and organic :
- La Fleur des Champs, (organic restaurant).
- Poêles de Carottes ( vegan), not so expensive. You can have a good menu for 17€.Personal recommendation: le gratin trois légumes à la crème !
- Au potiron, 24, rue Sainte Madeleine - 03 88 35 49 86.
- Les Plaisirs Gourmands, 35 avenue Général de Gaulle in Schiltigheim.
- Acérola (brasilian),8 rue du Renard Prêchant.
- Rio's (brasilian), 17 rue des Veaux.
Since September 2010, CS also gather on Sunday nights at the bar The Irish, to participate to a quizz. The quizz is in english and french, and includes 30 questions (general culture), 10 "blind-test", and 10 pictures. The best team wins a bottle, and the outsiders and best joke both win free shots.
There are also Regular CS Meeting every 1st and 16th of each monthS.
Check Strasbourg CS forum to learn more about those meetings and to be sure something is happening on Wednesday or Sunday nights.
Some CS from Strasbourg usually go to the bar La Lanterne on Wednesday evenings, as it is Happy Hours all night long. It used to be a regular meeting but not anymore. Anywau, You can still meet a lot of Cs there... La Lanterne is a micro-brewery, so they brew their own beers : blond, amber and white beers. On Wednesday, you will get a normal 25 cl beer for 1,60 € and a 50 cl for 3,20 €. You can also get some local dishes : tarte flambées and knacks. People go there around 8~8.30 and generally till the bar closes, which means 1.30 am.
In case of emergency
- Police Station : 17 or check local police stations telephone numbers.
- Health Urgency : 15
- Fireman Station : 18
Local Media Mentions