Strasbourg

Strasbourg railway station, known for the sky dome

Strasbourg (German: Straßburg, Alsatian: Strossburi) is the capital of the Alsace region of France and is most widely known for hosting a number of important European institutions. It is also famous for its beautiful historical centre - the Grande Île - which was the first city centre to be classified entirely as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

Understand

Strasbourg is one of the nine largest cities in France with nearly half a million inhabitants in a metropolitan area spanning across the river into the German city of Kehl, on the eastern bank of the Rhine.

The city itself is the seat of the Council of Europe, the European Court of Human Rights, the European Ombudsman, the Eurocorps, the European Audiovisual Observatory and, most famously, the European Parliament, which also holds sessions in Brussels.

Talk

While it may be possible to find people who will engage in a conversation with you in German, the lingua franca of Strasbourg (and all of Alsace) is French. It is possible to hear German spoken on the streets, especially around the Cathedral. Alsatian (the historic Germanic language of Alsace) is a declining language, spoken mostly by the region's older residents or in rural areas but efforts are underway to revive it.

Get in

The Hemicycle of the European Parliament

By plane

Strasbourg International Airport (SXB) is located south-west of the city at Entzheim, with domestic as well as international flights. Air France is the principal operator. There are several flights a day to and from Paris. A train runs to the town center (€4, including a tram connexion, valid for 90 min. If you only need to get to the central station, buy your ticket not from the machines in the arrivals hall but on the train platform directly where the ticket will cost you €2.30). The travel time is 9 minutes and the frequency is 15 minutes.

Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg Airport (EAP) is one-hour twenty minutes by train, from the main Strasbourg train station. Low-cost companies such as EasyJet offer flights from and to several other European countries.

Karlsruhe/Baden-Baden Airport (FKB) is located about 60 km away in Germany. Ryanair operates from Karlsruhe following a court ruling that declared its subsidy arrangements at Strasbourg Airport a contravention of European legislation. The best way to get to Strasbourg is by bus from the airport to Baden-Baden Hauptbahnhof (Main Station); from here trains run to Strasbourg, normally with one change. From station to station the journey is about 45m-1hr. Here is a timetable for direct bus from the Airport running to Strasbourg, this is tied into meet Ryanair flights from London.

Frankfurt International Airport is about three hours away from Strasbourg, and is one of the nearest inter-continental airports to Strasbourg. Lufthansa operates a shuttle bus between Strasbourg and Frankfurt, Germany (but an indirect connection by train can be cheaper if booked online in advance, connecting in either Karlsruhe or Offenburg). The bus takes 2.5 hours and costs €49 (one way). See for more information. Reservation is necessary for the Lufthansa Airport Buses from/to Strasbourg.

By train

Strasbourg is well served by regional, national and international train services, predominantly by SNCF (French Railways), but also by Deutsche Bahn (German Railways).

With the opening of the new TGV Est Européen on 9 June 2007, journey times from Strasbourg to many destinations, including Paris, have been significantly reduced. TGV trains have replaced most existing slower services (previously served by Corail or Corail Téoz).

Major destinations include the following major towns and cities with multiple daily departures. Journey times are approximate, some require TGV trains.

A number of overnight trains with sleeper and couchette accommodations also serve:

From summer 2007, the TGV Est Européen created new direct services to:

The railway station, impressively renovated with a new glass cocoon frontage, is located a short walk west of the town center on Place de la Gare. There are connections to the tram system and buses, with many taxis waiting outside (to the left of the station forecourt).

For details of all services, and to make reservations, contact SNCF. For regional travel, contact SNCF TER Alsace who co-ordinate the efficient and well served regional train network. When planning trips east of Strasbourg into Germany or countries beyond, you could save money by comparing the fares offered by Deutsche Bahn to those of the SNCF.

From Saarbrücken, Saar-Elsass ticket can be purchased for 35€ on weekends that enables round-trip for up to 5 travellers. More details are

By car

You can reach Strasbourg by various highways:

Driving into Strasbourg's old city is relatively easy although there are a few streets off limits to cars. There are many large garages surrounding the old city if your hotel does not have its own parking facility. Some carparks are more expensive than other, especially for longer stays. At the moment the one at Petite France Ste Marguerite is the cheapest at 7.20€/24 hour and 5.20€ for each consecutive day. See the Parcus website for details.

Tickets P+R – Stationnement pour la journée + aller-retour en tram pour tous les passagers du véhicule (7 personnes maximum): 3.20 €, P+R Rotonde: 3.70 €.

By bus

Get around

Strasbourg is most easily explored on foot, and the historic city centre can easily be explored in a day or two. To be able to cover more ground, you should consider hiring a bike or using the public transport network.

By bike

Strasbourg is ideal for cycling - the city center is flat and there are plenty of bike lanes and bike paths. You can rent bikes at:

Bikes are allowed on trams except during peak hours.

More information on cycling in Strasbourg:

By bus and tram

tram

Buses and trams in Strasbourg are operated by the Compagnie des Transports Strasbourgeois (CTS) . A few dozen numbered bus lines and six tram lines (named A to F) serve the city. A single ticketing system covers both bus and tram. Tickets are sold in 'tabacs' (newsagents), tourist offices, CTS boutiques or from vending machines at tram stops. Tickets should be validated before use, either in the machines on tram station platforms or in the machine by the driver when you board the bus.

Summary of fares (as of Sept 2015):

If using the buses and/or trams a lot, Europass tickets are available from all automatic ticket machines for either 24 hours or seven days. The Europass Mini is valid on all local tram, bus and train services, including those that cross the border to Kehl. The full Europass ticket also covers the local transport of the Ortenau Tarifverbund in Germany including Offenburg (brochure in German and French only).

See

The former capitainerie of the Port on the Rhine in Strasbourg

Strasbourg is a popular tourist destination primarily thanks to the beautifully preserved and pedestrian friendly city centre, which can be explored on foot or bicycle in a few days. Don't forget that Strasbourg's appeal now brings tourists to the city throughout the year, with large tour groups especially frequent during the summer months and during the annual winter market. Staying for a few days will allow you to see the city when it's calmest, first thing in the morning and during the evening.

The main Tourist Office is located on Place de la Cathédrale, with a smaller office in the concourse level of the railway station. Both are open 09h00 to 19h00.

Tours

The tourist office sells a variety of self-guided walking tours through the town (Middle Ages, Renaissance, Modern and Contemporary) for €1 each, and also arranges bike tours through the Faubourgs (the suburbs of Neudorf and Neuhof). Maps, brochures and last minute accommodation are also available.

Water-bus tours are available near the Palais des Rohans (south of the cathedral). Those tours (about 45 min.) run around the town center and the European district.

Districts

Grand Île

Petite France

Houses in the "Petite France" area

Petite France is the name given to the small area between the rivers, just south of the Grande Île. It is home to some of Strasbourg's prettiest and most photogenic streets and buildings, with half timbered townhouses leaning out over the narrow cobbled streets. Petite France resembles Colmar (a city an hour south), with picturesque canal and half-timber houses.

Elsewhere in Strasbourg

Do

Christmas Markets can be found in many places, but the most important and beautiful are place Broglie and place de la Cathédrale, although they are crowded. They are the best places to drink hot wine (vin chaud) and to eat Christmas cookies (Brädeles).

Even when there are no special events on in Strasbourg, walking around the old town is a very nice way to pass a day. And there are lots of good cafes to stop and rest in as you make your tour.

Buy

From time to time, the city organizes a general market in vast parts of the center, where many street vendors offer various products and the shops join in with special discounts. Then, the city center on the island is partly closed for parking or driving and the trams don't go on the rue des Francs Bourgeois. The 29th July 2006 and the 24th July 2010 (both on Saturday) were such a day, information about regular market dates is hard to find on the net. If you manage to track down the date of this market, write it here and don't miss it.

There is a marché aux Puces (flea market) on rue de Vieil-Hôpital on Wednesday and Saturdays. The Place des Halles, 24, place des Halles, is a shopping center with over 100 shops and restaurants north of the city center, but within walking distance. Open Mon-Fri 09:00 to 20:00, and Saturdays until 20:00.

A new shopping centre, Rivetoile, opened at the end of 2008 at Place d'etoile, in between the Etoile Polygone and Etoile Bourse tram stops. This new development has shops similar to Place des Halles as well as higher budget shops and a selection of cafes.

Try Galeries Lafayettes at rue du 22 Novembre and Printemps at 1-5 rue de la Haute Montée. Rue Hellebardes and Gutenberg offer designer clothes and men's clothes. Bruno Saint Hilaire has designer clothes for men and a shop in 8, rue Gutenberg. There is a low-budget, secondhand clothing shop in 6, rue de la Lanterne, and various gadget shops can be found in rue des Juifs.

For cheap groceries, including local wines and beers, try one of the three outlets of NORMA, a German discount chain whose three outlets are conveniently located at the corner of rue St Michel and rue Ste Marguerite near the central train station; at 79, Grand'Rue near the center of Grand Île; and at 27, rue des Frères near the Cathedral. Open Mon-Fri 10 am to 8 pm, Sat 9:30 am to 7 pm.

Eat

Alsatian specialties are numerous and can be eaten in many traditional restaurants, in the city or in the neighborhood. Particularly you shouldn't visit Alsace without having the sauerkraut (choucroute in French). Choucroute seems to have a standard price throughout Alsace of 14 Euros. Don't be too dismayed by this seemingly high price as what is brought to you is heaping plate of Sauerkraut (big enough for 2 people) as well as sausages and other meats. This is usually translated as "garnished sauerkraut" on English menus, when in doubt ask your server. Other specialties include the Alsatian pork-butcher's meat, Flammeküche or flams (tartes flambées in French) which is a sort of wafer thin pizza made with onion-cream sauce, Baeckeoffe, beef and pork stew cooked, with potatoes and carrots, usually served for two or more persons and Fleischnackas, mixed beef meat presented like spirals and served with salads.

Traditional restaurants

Modern restaurants

Budget

Mid range

Drink

Bars

Sleep

There are many hotels around the station, especially in the place de la Gare and in the rue du Maire Kuss, but this area does not offer consistent quality for accommodations. Most international hotel chains are represented with the usual 2 or 3 star hotels, many of which host the large tour groups who come on weekend breaks. If your budget allows, try staying on the Grande Île (city centre). Most of Strasbourg's hotels are fully booked during the Christmas Market period (December) and when the EU parliament is in session for a few days every month, usually for the period around the tenth. Book ahead if in doubt, as last minute accommodation can be difficult to find during these periods.

Budget

Mid-range

Splurge

Stay safe

Strasbourg is one of the safest large cities in France and the tourist has little to fear. Of course, the standard precautions apply: watch out for pickpockets near the Cathedral (and even inside, according to the signs) during the high tourist season. Unfortunately, some areas in the west and the south are named as the home of poor, unemployed people. But in general, the city of Strasbourg is not known for violence.

Connect

Phone

Local mobile phone services are provided by Orange, SFR and Bouygues Télécoms. Payphone kiosks are plentiful and international calling cards can be purchased in post offices and 'tabacs' (corner shops). Most of the internet cafés listed below are also equipped for making online telephony calls (Skype etc.).

Internet

Cope

Consulates

Go next

Pedestrian Bridge to Kehl, Germany
This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Monday, March 28, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.