There are numerous rivers and canals in and around Strasbourg. As the sign says, this particular one is the canal from the Marne to the Rhine.
Second photo: This ship anchored at Quai des Belges is called Naviscope Alsace and is a museum of the Rhine and navigation. It is unfortunately closed on Mondays, which is when I took this picture.
Third photo: This is the Ill River with the European Parliament in the background.
Basel is an ancient city - older probably than the castle the Romans built upon the rise on which the city's cathedral now stands. It's an international city - standing at the tri-nation border of Switzerland, France and Germany, it has a long tradition of multinational operations and agreements. It's station was the first international station in the world, and was joined, unusually, by train stations operated by the French and German railway systems. It's also been the site of many international meetings and witnessed a number of important international peace treaties.
It remains international and multicultural, with a third of the population being foreign and a mix of French and German voices in the air. Yet at the same time it's an unmistakably Swiss city. The streets are sparkling clean, the wealth of the city exudes from every building, and everything is very expensive. The old town, flanking the river Rhine, is beautifully preserved and the highlight of any visit.
Mulhouse has made the most of its industrial heritage by building not one but two of the greatest vehicle museums in the world. The Cité de l’Automobile has an enormous collection - around 520 cars in all. Its sister museum, the Cité du Train, has exhibits spread out of 6000 square meters. If all that isn't enough you also have Electropolis - the museum of electricity.
It's not that Mulhouse hasn't got an old town, it's just very small and not a major attraction. It's not an ugly city, just a functional one. It's a place where work gets done and you won't find many tourists outside of the museum. It's sometimes called the French Manchester, but the French Cleveland or French Kaiserslautern would be equally apt.
Venice gets everywhere. Hamburg is just one Venice of the North. There's well over a dozen Venices of the East. There's a Venice Beach in California. Venezuela is Spanish for "Little Venice". And here in the Alsace, Colmar has its own little Venice, like London and Bamberg. But Colmar, with its half-timbered buildings, steeped roofs and crooked, leaning walls is more like little Strasbourg than little Venice.
Colmar crams in the tourists like nowhere else in the Alsace. It probably has more tourists than Strasbourg, but the old town is a fraction of the size. The whole city is rich on tourism. The beauty of the city, and it is beautiful, is reduced by the strings of tour groups marching in front of the sights, posing for pictures, and filling up every available space. The tourists also attract the usual mix of beggars and misfits.
It's well worth a visit, though. Walking the compact old town you will be falling over a hundred fantastic examples of Alsatian architecture, all untouched by bombs unlike nearby Strasbourg, and lovingly preserved for the tourists who flock to the city at all times of the year. The Little Venice quarter is also outstanding, although as little as you might imagine a little place in a little town like Colmar.
During our early morning walk around Strasbourg, we were heading over to the Parc de la Citadelle and walked along Avenue du De Gaulle. This was easy enough to find since we were following the tracks of the tram, which go through grassy areas at this point (looking at our map, we figured this would be the quickest way to get us close to our destination.
While walking along this avenue, there were numerous displays of modern art sculptures along the sidewalks. Some were rather unique and some were just odd. But we enjoyed looking at them; we figured there must be an art school nearby and these were works from students, although they seemed very ambitious for student works.
If you happen to be in the area look out for the sculptures. I’m not sure that a special trip is needed to see them, but they were an interesting feature of our morning walk.
We walked a lot in Strasbourg (by choice) and, at one point, instead of walking along the streets, we took the steps down to the canal level where there are park benches and a pathway. The walk took us along the water, under the bridges, and past some beautiful views. Not all the steps lead all the way to the canal level, but those that did not seemed to be adequately blocked off. It was a pleasant change of pace for us and a different perspective.
The pathways are not completely circular around the island so be mindful of the signs that tell you to head back up to street level. The pathways around Petite France are larger and more crowded than other parts. But those less crowded places also seemed to be a favorite place for homeless people to sleep – we walked by a couple of people asleep under the bridges in sleeping bags in the middle of the afternoon.
When traveling in Europe whenever you are visiting a restaurant or a museum, try to use their WC facilities if at all possible. Typically they are maintained and are free. But sometimes you are just walking around the town and find you have a need. If you find yourself in this predicament, it is helpful to know where to “go”.
My typical comment in this section of my pages is to bring change since many cities charge for public restroom usage and to bring supplies (paper, hand sanitizer, etc.) because often the WCs do not have these necessities. However, in Strasbourg – this is not the case. The city has thought of the basic needs of weary travelers and has provided clean, free, and fully stocked facilities throughout the city. I have often wondered why other cities haven’t considered this as a needed part of the tourist industry. After all, they want people to come to their cities and see all the wonderful things, but people do have certain needs that can’t be ignored.
As a result of Strasbourg’s planning, I felt that the city was cleaner and lacked certain smells that other, less prepared, cities seem to have.
Look for the WC signs around the city center of Strasbourg. They are also conveniently noted on the map available from many hotels. Locations that I saw while in Strasbourg included near the cathedral, two in Petite France, one at Place Kleber, Place Broglie, and the Parc de la Citadelle.
Strasbourg is a beautiful city to work in and around. Besides the city center which is worth an afternoon exploring, there are some points of interest to the north of the town center worth visiting. If you like to walk I recommend the following route.
Where to start: I suggest you start at the Palais De La Musique Et Des Congres since there is a huge parking lot in front of the building and it is free. It is also right across from the Hilton which isn’t a bad place to spend the night.
From the parking lot you should had south toward the city center on the Av. De la Pax avenue and along the tram line. Along the way you will see the Jewish synagogue and end up in the Plaza De La Republique which contains a statue of a mother cradling her two dead sons – one died fighting for France and one who died fighting for the Germans. From here head east on the Avenue De La Liberte toward the university. You’re next destination point is the Parc De La Citadelle (Citadelle Park) which contains the remains of the citadel built by Vauban in 1681. It is now a beautiful park well worth a stroll through along the walking paths. As a bonus there are bathrooms in the park.
On a side note Strasbourg rates very high on our list of excellent cities to visit due to the high number of free public bathrooms located throughout the city.
Continuing your walk, you now want to head up the river to the north along the bike/walking path. You will pass dozens of boats that have been converted into houseboats as well as dozens of swans. Continue along the pathway until you get to canal and turn left (west) heading toward the European Parliament. Along the way you may see some white stocks flying overhead or see one standing on one of the rooftops.
When you get to the Parliament buildings you should continue along the canel (now heading southwest) and start making your way back to your car. As you have probably figured out by now you cannot rely on my directions but you should pick up a walking map of Strasbourg at the local IT office (or the Hilton).
My guessing the walk is about six miles since it took us over two hours to walk it. However, if you are used to walking the time flies by since there are so many sights to see along the route.
This photo was taken in Barr (see my Barr Travel Page) but there are so many charming and quaint wine villages in the area it is difficult to choose one. We usually stay in Barr and visit the surrounding area. This is one of those cases where you can't make a wrong choice. We love Ribeauville, Barr, Gertwiller, Obernai . . . the list goes on.
Stop at the Strasbourg Tourist Office and get a brochure with wine route maps or just book a tour if you don't have a car.
Click on the photo for pictures of other wine villages. Also check the web site for the Plus Beaux Villes of France below. There are now 154 "Most Beautiful Villages" of France and they are all lovely.
Strasbourg is the capital of the Alsace region. If you have some time catch a bike or a car and get out of the town. The Alsace region attracts with half-timbered houses, white wine and breathtaking landscape.
Several civilizations left a footprint in the Alsace region. After the Celts came the Romans, the Alemanni and the Franks. The history of this region is as interesting as almost no other. After the Franco-Prussian War of 1870/71 the Alsace was annexed by Germany and the government tried to "Germanize" it. In the "Treaty of Versailles" of 1919 France got the Alsace back. Still today you see this region as gateway between France and German culture.
Plant Bath Street
It is one of the most beautiful street in Le Petite France. There you can see typical half timbered houses and the lot of good restaurants and hotels. The street is on the list of UNESCO World Heritages sites.
This renaissance beautiful house is located near to Cathedral and it is one of the most interesting and beautiful houses in Strasbourg. It was built at the beginning of the 15 Century. In 1589 house had his architectural face as we can see today. Since 1929 the Maison Kammerzell placed on the list of Historical Monuments. Today it is very good restaurant and hotel. There you can get traditional the sauerkraut (marriages cabbage)
If you are fancier of wine you must visit wine cellar of Strasbourg city hospital. This cellar founded in 1395 and renovated in 1994. Today it is a specific wine museum featuring more than 40 ancient barrels, a wine dating from beginning of the 17th century and barrel from the year 1472. This is one of the oldest wines in the world. This wine was tasting only three times – first tasting was held for the Swiss delegation in 1576, the second was in 1716 when was the renovation of Hospital and the last person who had tasted this wine was general Lecrerc in 1944.
Cave Historique des Hospices de Strasbourg
1, Place de l'Hopital
Tel: +33 3 88 11 64 50
Fax:+33 3 88 12 81 59
I was very impressed by a small engraving inside the Notre-Dame Cathedral that deserves mention. Many times while in the US, the French people get a bad rapport for their underwhelming response of gratitude toward the US servicemen that sacrificed their lives for their freedom from Germany in World War II. Here in this small city of Strasbourg, is a simple thank you and memorial for those who died fighting to free Alsace, the region of France closest to Germany. I think I might make a printout of this photo and carry it with me while seeing the rest of France just in case I run into another one of those who act under whelmed at the sacrifice the US has made for them.
Place du Chateau, those very old houses, situated just between the Cathedral Notre Dame and the Palais des Rohan, host the workshops of the "Oeuvre Notre-Dame".
Here, since nearly a tousand years, companions, sculptors, stone workers maintain the Cathedral in a good shape, using the same techniques than their medieval precursors.
You can also find there a very ineresting museum dedicated to the medieval and renaissance periods.