The French know how to bake! And whenever I am in France I frequently visit the bakeries to sample the delights – whether éclairs, croissants, pain au chocolate, or the ever-so-humble yet very delicious baguette. Strasbourg has a number of bakeries – they are not hard to find. We sampled from a couple of them and found them to be all basically delicious, but perhaps I am biased.
One of my favorite lunches when in France is a simple jambon et fromage baguette (ham and cheese sandwich). It is not only inexpensive, but it is delicious. A baguette and a drink is all I need to keep me going – and when I am touring, I don’t want to waste precious time sitting in a restaurant when I could be seeing things.
I recommend the bakeries. Walk into one and make a selection. Simply tell the clerk behind the counter what you want – if you don’t speak the language, simply smile and point to what you want using sign language if needed to say how many (although it is always a good idea to learn a few French words to help you along).
I like swans…my camera seems drawn to them. I believe they are one of the most graceful and beautiful creatures on this planet. And Strasbourg seems to like swans as much as I do…or is it that the swans like Strasbourg?
No matter – Strasbourg has lots of swans, gracefully gliding past the European Parliament building, resting dreamily near the houseboats on the L’Ill, or taking care of their young in the pond at the Parc de la Citadelle.
This was one of my favorite things about Strasbourg – the beauty of the swan. The mascot of the region is a stork and, while we saw a number of storks flying or sitting atop roofs, I prefer the majestic swan in the water. Go to Strasbourg and compare them for yourself…I think you will agree!
It was here in Strasbourg that I first discovered cheap international calls from Internet Cafes.
I made a call to Australia in which I spoke for between ten and fifteen minutes for 89 eurocents. There is no need to use your mobile phone when these places are around. This particular one was in an Internet Cafe across the road from the Victoria Hotel where I was staying. I also found one in Maastricht in Holland, where the pricing was very similar. I'm told that many major tourist destinations in Europe have them, so it's a good idea to seek them out when you first arrive.
rue du Maire Kuss, Strasbourg
Strasbourg is a city that is full of people – or it seems that way because there is such a small square in front of the cathedral and the pedestrian zone seems crowded wherever you go. As you head out away from the city center, you see less people and the streets open up. However, for getting people photos, you want to be in that city center. There is so much action going on and so much to capture.
For those that want some nice photos of the area, here are a couple places that I found to be wonderful photo opportunities:
~At the top of the Cathedral – it costs €5 to climb to the top, but if you are looking for aerial photos looking down on the city, this is the place to do it. And you can get some wonderful close ups of the cathedral architecture and statues while you are up there.
~To capture the Ponte Couverts, walk around to the Vauban Barrage. The Barrage was closed for renovations when I was there, so I just got as close to it as possible on the side. I was able to get some great photos and a wonderful panoramic from this angle. When the Barrage is open, you can go to the overlook at the top, which seems to be a spectacular location.
~There is a view of Petite France along the canal just down from the Ponte Saint-Martin – look for the canal lock. From that vantage point, the view across the water and looking past the lock and into the half-timbered Petite France is amazing. When we were there (in the summer) the flower boxes were in full bloom on all the buildings and the bridges. Stunning!
~For a great photo of the European Parliament building, head to where the waters of the L’Ill are at a crossroads, in the center of the European buildings. I found a great ramp for boats that I was able to walk onto to get out from under the trees. Lots of activity in this area with birds and water sports!
~At the Parc de la Citadelle you can get some wonderful pastoral shots and photos of waterfowl, turtles, and other birds. A particularly lovely place in the early morning hours!
If you aren’t able to get the photos you want, don’t worry too much about it. Simply relax and enjoy the city of Strasbourg! You’ll take back memories if not photos.
Something that strikes when comming in Strasbourg is the ever present water.
Be it river like the Ill and the Rhin, human created water way like the canal de la Marne au Rhin, water is never far and brings this lush and serene aspect to the city.
The original town is enclosed in the arms of the Ill and the very center (including the Cathedral) is largely built on pillars.
The name of the region itself is linked to the water : Alsace is localy named "Elsass" ("what lies along the Ell", "Ell" beeing the old name of the river "Ill").
The rivers, providind easy transport facilities and abundant crops make the region rich and so attractive to all would be conquistadores. So many wanted to posses it, so many came and tried ...Winners, loosers, all of them left something behing or melted in, creating thus an unique combination of cultures.
The Théâtre municipal was built in 1820 at one end of Place Broglie. It was built in a neo-classical style with a front adorned with a colossal peristyle with ionic columns. It is topped by muses but they are only 6 though they should be 9. I do not know who are the missing muses! It is now the Opéra National du Rhin. In front of the Opera, stands (December 2006) a wooden horse. It actually represents the Trojan horse. It has been built here because the Opera has played in October and November "Les Troyens", Grand opéra en cinq actes d’Hector Berlioz
The Trojan horse is on the far left of the first photo. It is better seen as a close up on the second photo.
For more, look at www.operanationaldurhin.fr/
The Emperor's Palace was built between 1883 and 1888 by Hermann Eggert on the model of the Pitti Palace in Florence. It mixes the Florence Renaissance style with the Berlin monumental baroque style with some borrowing from the antiquity.
In the middle of the square (second photo), the Monument aux morts (War Memorial) of WWII, built in 1936 shows a mother with her two sons, one that died for France and the other that died for Germany.
Place de la République (Republic Square) is not in the ancient city and when you walk over the Ill, out of Place Broglie, Place de la République makes a striking difference. It looks almost like a German or Austrian city. This Square was drawn and built between 1870 and 1914, when Strassburg was the capital of the Reichsland of Elsatz-Mosel. Emperor Wilhelm 1st wanted to make it the show room of the power of the Empire. Five prestigious buildings have been built during that period.
The Diet of the Reichsland of Elsatz-Mosel became after 1918 the Music Conservatory. Since the decentralization of Parisian theaters, it is now the TNS : Théâtre National de Strasbourg.
Favorite thing: When entering Strasbourg by train, you may reach the station before it is truly open for business. As we arrived just prior to 9am, most of the offices appeared closed. This was the case with the train station’s office of tourism, which led us on a small wild goose chase, as we could see many large cathedrals in the distance, but did not know which one to go to first. There is another Office de Tourisme in town, and it is located adjacent to the main Cathedral. If you reach the station before it opens, simply walk down Rue du Maire-Kuss across the River L’ill, down Rue du 22 Nobembre through Place Kleber, take a right on Rue des Grandes Arcades, and left on Rue des Serruriers. You will see the information station next to the Cathedral.
Favorite thing: The Bibliothèque Nationale et Universitaire was built at the end of the XIXth as a neo-classical palace, a pastiche of the Venetian style. After the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris, it hosts the largest book collection in France with more than three million books and two thousands incunabulum (early printed books)
Favorite thing: Besides the Opera, Place de Broglie is the place to buy Christmas trees. There are hundreds of these trees that come from the neighboring Vosges mountains. Place Broglie is also the place for a huge Marché de Noël (a few wooden booths are seen on the left of the photo), the Christkindelsmärik. See my tips Marché de Noël for more.
Favorite thing: I have not found any information about this building that is now used as a "Prefecture". It has been built between 1870 and 1914 as all the other buildings on the Place de la République. Actually, it is both the Préfecture of the Département du Bas-Rhin and Préfecture de la Région Alsace (Départements du Bas-Rhin et du Haut-Rhin)
Favorite thing: This is the main river in and around Strasbourg, although we are still unclear whether or not it is just a tributary for the Rhine River. According to the maps, they appear to come together on the north east side of Strasbourg. Either way, this wonderful little river gives Strasbourg a great feel, as it surrounds the historic city center, and makes for a great chance to take a river cruise.
Favorite thing: In the middle of Place Broglie, a tall column celebrates the memory of General Leclerc that started in 1940 in Chad with a column of three hundred men with a single canon that became the 2ème DB (second armored division) and freed Paris on the 25th of August 1944 and Strasbourg on the 23rd of November 1944.
Favorite thing: On the Northern side of Place Broglie stands a long building adorned with brass canons standing along the front. Obviously, something military, doesn't it? I found later, in the phone book that at this address (17 Place Broglie) were the Cercle Mixte de la Garnison and the Cercle des Sous-Officiers. I hope to learn more about the canons but that is all I could find!