I didn’t really know what to expect when we booked two nights in Strasbourg but coming from Paris, I definitely wouldn’t have pictured the university town to be quite so quaint.
We left our bags at the station (as we couldn’t check in to our accommodation until later in the day) so we could explore freely. We set off first for petite France; a charming little area with houses like that of Hansel and Gretels’, just not made from gingerbread! You can charter small boats for an hour at a time (€40 for 5 pax) but it pays to reserve one in advance. We thought the life jackets were a little excessive until we learnt that it was because the passengers are the drivers! Unfortunately we hadn’t reserved and there were no boats readily available, but it certainly looked like a fun thing to do.
From petite France, we wandered through the tanners quarters to the old city; living out our fairy tale this entire time. Chocolate shops, biscuitiers and many a restaurant selling traditional Alsace food (in particular flammenkuchen, also known as tartes flambees) lined the cobble stoned pediastrian streets, a splattering of different colours, all various shades of pastel. We had arrived early and the streets were pretty deserted; it doesn’t take long for the inevitable wave of tourists to arrive though.
The cathedral is a monster, but a monster of the best kind – kind of sexy and all that. It’s tall, tanned and beautiful, perching in the middle of town like a big majestic castle. The bell tower is unusually hollow, enabling you to see through to the other side. Entry is free and you can climb up to the platform for an additional fee.
Mum kept saying that we didn’t want to be eating anywhere that had an English menu (thankfully Andy was able to do most of our translating!) and she got her wish when we found ourselves at Binchstubbe, a local favourite which only sells tartes flambees and drinks. Alsace is famed for its rieslings, and of course, we were all over that. For only €4 a glass, they felt like a bargain! This meal was on of my favourites of the trip and the lower prices were welcome, especially after Paris.
We had two nights in Strasbourg, which is more than enough to actually wander around and see the town, but it would be easy to spend longer and indulge more in the region’s wine and food scene. Somewhat incredibly, this brings our time in France to a close. Now we are off to Switzerland, hopefully to hike off all those pastries we consumed!