Last month, my fiance and I decided to have a mini break so we hopped on a train and headed to Strasbourg. When we started looking at places to possibly go, there were so many choices, but I just couldn’t face getting on another plane. So, I decided that wherever we went, it needed to be by train. Neither of us knew anything about Strasbourg, and when I saw it on Google maps, it didn’t look like anything too special, but it was only 3 hours away by train and not too pricey. So, we took a chance, booked a train and off we went! Strasbourg is a city in France, but is right on the German boarder and was actually once part of Germany. Pulling into the station, I was surprised at how modern the train station was. After coming from Paris, I am used to historical train stations that are filled with antique clocks and art nouveau style gateways. We got off the train and started walking though the streets of Strasbourg taking in all the sights. Although the train station is modern, the rest of the city feels as though it is set back in time in a picture perfect collage of cobblestone streets and multicolored buildings. We navigated though the pedestrian streets looking for our hotel. Finally reaching our destination we were amazed at a huge cathedral resembling Notre Dame across from our hotel. We later found out that the bells from the Cathedral, although sound beautiful, start ringing at 7am, so there was no sleeping in on this vacation! We checked in, and headed straight back out to investigate the city.
Surrounding our hotel on both side were little shops selling traditional Alsace regional goods including heart decorations of all shapes and sizes made from a multitude of materials. The stores also sold assorted cookies and cakes from the region, and the largest gingerbread cookies I have ever seen! As Christmas was approaching, the shops were filled with holiday ornaments and treats such as German stollen. I quickly fell in love with these shops and made it my mission to find the prettiest heart to purchase. Not sure why there are so many heart decorations in Strasbourg, but they are so pretty all hung for sale outside the shops.
There are endless cobblestone pedestrian streets to stroll through and more than enough restaurants to keep everyone happy. I am currently trying a gluten free diet, and even found a gluten free restaurant! La Pause Quinoa is only a little place, but it gets busy! The owner makes all the food himself, from fresh baked baguettes and pastries to quinoa boxes full of fresh roasted vegetables. Make sure you get there early if you want some of the bread or pastries!
Strasbourg is a pedestrian friendly city with many streets being closed to cars. It is also a bicycle friendly city with many dedicated bike lanes and trails throughout the city. We decided to create an adventure and rent two bikes to ride into Germany! The bikes are very easy to rent and very well priced at 5 Euros a day! We set off heading toward Germany on one of the many trails that link France and Germany together. We finally arrived, found a grocery store to get something for lunch and took a much needed rest on a park bench. I love grocery stores in Germany as they are filled with delicious goodies, from cookies to cream cheese that I just can’t get enough of! I loaded up my bicycle basket with food to take back to France and we set off again. Not having a map of Germany, we decided to make a real adventure and just go wherever looked interesting. After riding around for a few hours, we finally headed back to France and returned the bikes. It was a fantastic adventure and I definitely suggest doing it if you are in Strasbourg, but be warned that your legs may be a little wobbly after all that riding!
Overall, if you are planning a trip to France and are looking for somewhere outside of Paris to explore, Strasbourg is perfect for a weekend stop over. There is plenty to keep you entertained from shopping, to relaxing with an ice cream in one of the many squares to visiting the European Parliament. Around the holidays, there is a huge European Christmas market that thousands of people come to wander around and drink VinChaud (warm wine)! I know I loved my trip there, and would happily go back!