Strasbourg is a charming town known for its timber-framed buildings and canals. Strasbourg sits on the German-Franco border, within the Alsace Region of France. The city has a complex history, changing between German and French rule over several centuries. As a result, Strasbourg offers a unique blend of both cultures.
I have visited Strasbourg several times, and it never gets old! It’s a more laid back city, perfect for strolling along the canals and just enjoying the beautiful architecture.
Cathédrale Notre Dame de Strasbourg
The Notre Dame cathedral in Strasbourg is considered to be one of the best examples of Rayonnant Gothic architecture. It’s very striking and incredibly detailed. The view approaching the cathedral from Rue Mercière is my favorite!
Cathédrale Notre Dame de Strasbourg was the tallest building in the world until 1874. It is the tallest surviving structure built in the Middle Ages. Victor Hugo described the cathedral as “a skillful combination of monumental size and delicateness.” The pink sandstone changes color depending on the time of day and the sky.
Stained glass is one of my favorite aspects of cathedrals and Strasbourg’s Notre Dame certainly does not disappoint! The stained glass windows date back to the 12th and 14th centuries.
Also inside the cathedral is the Renaissance astronomical clock in the back right corner of the church. This is the third clock in its place, built in 1843 (the predecessors being from the 14th and 16th centuries). The clock displays the actual position of the sun and moon! There is also a procession of the figures every day at 12:30.
You can climb to the top platform of the cathedral for a beautiful view over the city. Be prepared – there is no elevator, so you must climb over 300 steps. In my opinion, the view is well worth the climb. Partway up, you can look out over the buttresses. If the weather is clear enough, you can also see the Vosges Mountains.
Petite France is about a 10-minute walk from the Notre Dame, a charming area with cobblestone roads and beautiful canals. This district was once home to tanners and butchers. Amongst the well-preserved timber houses, you can find the Maison des Tanneurs built in 1572.
Throughout the neighorhood there are plenty of Alsatian restaurants to try out. One of my favorites is Au Pont Saint Martin, with a beautiful view over the bridge and canal.
I could spend half a day just strolling around Petite France! Grand’Rue runs the length of the Petite France district and has plenty of shops for buying local souvenirs, like teas and wine.
Ponts Couverts are the three bridges and four towers at the west end of Petite France. They were built between 1230 and 1250 as a defensive structure. Though the roofs are no longer on the towers, they are still referred to as the covered bridges.
Barrage Vauban, which faces Ponts Couverts, is another defensive structure built later in the 17th century. There are sculptures inside the bridge, and a viewing terrace above which boasts a great view of the Ponts Couverts!
Église Saint Thomas
This Roman style Lutheran church in Strasbourg is classified as a historic monument. The church is in the center of the city, near Petite France. Église Saint Thomas has an organ that Mozart played!
Have you visited Strasbourg or elsewhere in the Alsace region of France? What was your favorite part?