Explore: Visit Strasbourg and La Petite France

Posted in France, Strasbourg, Travel
Explore: Strasbourg and La Petite France | Visit Strasbourg, France - Explore the city's beautiful streets and wonderful fairy-tale timber framed buildings! | EatExploreEtc.com

Just a stones throw over the German border and into France sits Strasbourg. It’s the capital city of the Alsace region and just oozes charm, with the rather unique blend of French and German influences creating a warm, captivating city full of character and fairy-tale buildings. Visiting Strasbourg really should be on your must-see travel list!

This is an old city, with the first recorded mention of it dating back to 12 B.C.  Located on the River Ill, the historic heart of Strasbourg is actually an island known as the Grande Île. Designated an UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1988, the city centre is filled with quaint streets and breathtakingly beautiful buildings.

We visited mid-week in June 2017.

Getting There

Travelling from Munich, we chose to book onto the TGV train. It’s a direct route, though it’s not particularly cheap – especially if you’ve been used to travelling through Germany using discounted passes like the Bayern Ticket.

Setting off from the Hauptbahnhof, it departs not long after 6am and arrives in Strasbourg just after 10am. At just shy of four hours travelling, it’s an easy train ride that gets you to France nice and early so you can make the most of your day.

Explore: Strasbourg and La Petite France | Visit Strasbourg, France - Explore beyond the city's beautiful streets and wonderful fairy-tale timber framed buildings! | EatExploreEtc.com

If you’re looking to make this journey by train from any other part of Germany, it’s probably best to get to Karlsruhe first. Seat reservations will be required for the border crossing journey, but going by either the TGV or ICE trains will cost around €30 per person for the 40 minute journey.

Explore: Strasbourg and La Petite France | Visit Strasbourg, France - Explore beyond the city's beautiful streets and wonderful fairy-tale timber framed buildings! | EatExploreEtc.com

Because seat reservations are required – and I cannot stress this enough – do book early. Prices rise closer to the departure date and you’re risking not being able to get a seat. This happened to us and we had to choose a First Class ticket in order to book! The early bird most definitely catches the worm here.

Explore Strasbourg

Many of the buildings in this city date from the 16th and 17th centuries. The half-timbered houses are perhaps the most iconic of the buildings here – and deservedly so. They’re utterly beautiful and though (arguably) the most picturesque photographs can be taken in the area of Petite France, when exploring the Grande Île you’ll find beautiful buildings around almost every corner.

Explore: Strasbourg and La Petite France | Visit Strasbourg, France - Explore the city's beautiful streets and wonderful fairy-tale timber framed buildings! | EatExploreEtc.com

Wandering through the city with barely an idea of where we were heading was the best idea we could have had for Strasbourg. And whilst I accept that just randomly wandering through unknown streets might not be everyone’s cup of tea, the city held so many unexpected surprises – it felt like every corner we took held something new to fall in love with.

I actually can’t think of anything better I’d have enjoyed in this French town.

Explore: Strasbourg and La Petite France | Visit Strasbourg, France - Explore beyond the city's beautiful streets and wonderful fairy-tale timber framed buildings! | EatExploreEtc.com

Explore: Strasbourg and La Petite France | Visit Strasbourg, France - Explore beyond the city's beautiful streets and wonderful fairy-tale timber framed buildings! | EatExploreEtc.com

Explore: Strasbourg and La Petite France | Visit Strasbourg, France - Explore the city's beautiful streets and wonderful fairy-tale timber framed buildings! | EatExploreEtc.com

We stumbled across the Spitaltor (above, top), a tower that formed part of the city walls expansion during the early 1200’s and gazed at St. Paul’s Church (above, middle) from a distance… We wandered up and down narrow streets and cobblestone paths, watching them spill out into courtyards or pavement eateries.

Using Google Maps just to make sure we’d not missed anything, we spent much of the day zigzagging around the heart of Strasbourg.

Explore: Strasbourg and La Petite France | Visit Strasbourg, France - Explore the city's beautiful streets and wonderful fairy-tale timber framed buildings! | EatExploreEtc.com

Explore: Strasbourg and La Petite France | Visit Strasbourg, France - Explore the city's beautiful streets and wonderful fairy-tale timber framed buildings! | EatExploreEtc.com

Explore: Strasbourg and La Petite France | Visit Strasbourg, France - Explore beyond the city's beautiful streets and wonderful fairy-tale timber framed buildings! | EatExploreEtc.com

Naturally you’ll also find a good shopping district here and I swear that if you’re not in a cheese, bread or sweet shop – you’ll be looking at one. On our 33 degrees hot day, we didn’t dare go chocolate shopping though…

A quick tip for any British expat living in Germany – whilst you’re here, head to a supermarket like Monoprix. You’ll be amazed at the things you can easily find from home here! If you’ve got luggage room, it’s a great place to stock up.

Explore: Strasbourg and La Petite France | Visit Strasbourg, France - Explore beyond the city's beautiful streets and wonderful fairy-tale timber framed buildings! | EatExploreEtc.com

Explore: Strasbourg and La Petite France | Visit Strasbourg, France - Explore the city's beautiful streets and wonderful fairy-tale timber framed buildings! | EatExploreEtc.com

Fancy seeing the city from a different perspective? Well, there are two boat tours journeying along the waterways around Strasbourg! Lasting either 45 minutes or 1 hour and 15 minutes, the Batorama offers a reasonably priced tour of the city (and a chance to rest your feet!). If you’re interested, consider checking with your hotel before booking – ours offered discount vouchers!

La Petite France

The Petite France, a picture-postcard quarter once home to tanners, fishermen and millers, is a haven of peace at the heart of the city. | Us.France.Fr

Explore: Strasbourg and La Petite France | Visit Strasbourg, France - Explore the city's beautiful streets and wonderful fairy-tale timber framed buildings! | EatExploreEtc.com

Explore: Strasbourg and La Petite France | Visit Strasbourg, France - Explore the city's beautiful streets and wonderful fairy-tale timber framed buildings! | EatExploreEtc.com

Filled with colourful flowers, beautiful buildings and set against blue skies… what more could I want?

Despite having seen this area of Strasbourg on Pinterest repeatedly, the photographs really don’t do it justice. With something so hyped up, there’s always the potential for disappointment – thankfully though, it didn’t. La Petite France is a gorgeous place to wander around.

Explore: Strasbourg and La Petite France | Visit Strasbourg, France - Explore the city's beautiful streets and wonderful fairy-tale timber framed buildings! | EatExploreEtc.com

The magnificent half-timbered houses date from the 16th and 17th centuries. Their sloping roofs open out onto lofts where hides were once dried. | Tourism-Alsace

Explore: Strasbourg and La Petite France | Visit Strasbourg, France - Explore the city's beautiful streets and wonderful fairy-tale timber framed buildings! | EatExploreEtc.com

Explore: Strasbourg and La Petite France | Visit Strasbourg, France - Explore the city's beautiful streets and wonderful fairy-tale timber framed buildings! | EatExploreEtc.com

Fun fact? La Petite France is actually named after a 16th century hospital which treated venereal diseases. In German, syphilis is known as ‘the French disease’ (Franzosenkrankheit) – and so the quaint name comes from a rather unpleasant infection. The more you know…

Explore: Strasbourg and La Petite France | Visit Strasbourg, France - Explore the city's beautiful streets and wonderful fairy-tale timber framed buildings! | EatExploreEtc.com

Cathédrale Notre Dame de Strasbourg

The cathedral, “a gigantic and delicate marvel” in the words of Victor Hugo, can be seen from miles around. With its spire reaching a height of 142 metres, it remained the highest building in Christendom until the 19th century! | Us.France.Fr

Explore: Strasbourg and La Petite France | Visit Strasbourg, France - Explore the city's beautiful streets and wonderful fairy-tale timber framed buildings! | EatExploreEtc.com

The Gothic masterpiece is fronted by a large, open square – filled with tourists and lined with souvenir shops and eateries. It’s worth moving beyond the crowds though to get a closer look at the building itself, decorated with some wonderful sculptures and gargoyles.

Explore: Strasbourg and La Petite France | Visit Strasbourg, France - Explore the city's beautiful streets and wonderful fairy-tale timber framed buildings! | EatExploreEtc.com

Explore: Strasbourg and La Petite France | Visit Strasbourg, France - Explore the city's beautiful streets and wonderful fairy-tale timber framed buildings! | EatExploreEtc.com

Another interesting aspect of the cathedral is the astronomical clock, complete with a chiming skeletal representation of death and moving figures. Seeing it chiming in person will require arriving early and buying a ticket – but if you’ve missed out or don’t fancy the queues, there’s a look at the clock on YouTube.

Find out more about the history of the cathedral here, with details on opening times and rules (in French) here.

Explore: Strasbourg and La Petite France | Visit Strasbourg, France - Explore the city's beautiful streets and wonderful fairy-tale timber framed buildings! | EatExploreEtc.com

Whilst you’re at the front of the cathedral, take a quick glance down the street. You’ll see the Kammerzell house (above, right). The ground floor dates from 1467, with the upper stories rebuilt in 1589 and decorated with inspiration from the Bible, Greek and Roman Antiquity and the Middle Ages.

Beyond the Grande Île

Explore: Strasbourg and La Petite France | Visit Strasbourg, France - Explore beyond the city's beautiful streets and wonderful fairy-tale timber framed buildings! | EatExploreEtc.com

Stepping away from the historic heart of Strasbourg doesn’t mean you’ll be left with nothing to see. There’s the Place de la République, located in the German Quarter and edged by the Rhine Palace, the University Library (above) and the National Theatre.

Explore: Strasbourg and La Petite France | Visit Strasbourg, France - Explore beyond the city's beautiful streets and wonderful fairy-tale timber framed buildings! | EatExploreEtc.com

Explore: Strasbourg and La Petite France | Visit Strasbourg, France - Explore beyond the city's beautiful streets and wonderful fairy-tale timber framed buildings! | EatExploreEtc.com

Explore: Strasbourg and La Petite France | Visit Strasbourg, France - Explore beyond the city's beautiful streets and wonderful fairy-tale timber framed buildings! | EatExploreEtc.com

Explore further and you’ll find the Parc de l’Orangerie – it’s the oldest park in Strasbourg and entirely free to enter. There’s a small collection of animals (which I wasn’t entirely thrilled by), the opportunity to rent a boat on the lake and there’s plenty of space for locals to come and relax. The small University Botanical Gardens is also free, though perhaps only suited for the botanical enthusiast.

Don’t forget to look up and check the chimneys – you’ll often see storks nesting on them! You can well understand why the stork is a symbol of the Alsace!

Explore: Strasbourg and La Petite France | Visit Strasbourg, France - Explore beyond the city's beautiful streets and wonderful fairy-tale timber framed buildings! | EatExploreEtc.com

Explore: Strasbourg and La Petite France | Visit Strasbourg, France - Explore beyond the city's beautiful streets and wonderful fairy-tale timber framed buildings! | EatExploreEtc.com

And finally, I couldn’t really finish this post on visiting Strasbourg without mentioning that it’s home to the European Parliament!

Explore Further

Looking for more ideas and inspiration for what to see and do whilst you’re in Strasbourg? Check out the list below!

Useful Info

  • Tourist Office | 17 place de la Cathédrale, 67082 Strasbourg | Website
  • Strasbourg Pass | Currently €21.50 per adult, less for children and valid for 3 days | Website
  • Batorama | The Boat Tours around Strasbourg | Website
26th August, 2017
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2 Comments

  • Reply Christie (A Sausage Has Two)

    Lovely photos. I’ve only been to Strasbourg once and it was for work, so I only had time for a quick look around near the Cathedral on my way back to the train station (via Carrefour, obviously). Looking forward to visiting again at some point to see a bit more of it.

    26th August, 2017 at 7:59 pm
    • Reply Eat Explore Etc

      Thank you! I was really surprised with how much I liked it here – fingers crossed, I should be going back at the beginning of December to check out the markets. Which I’m really excited about, so touch wood nothing gets in the way. Hehe.

      27th August, 2017 at 9:56 am

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