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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Paris 2hrs 20m
- Dijon 2hrs
- Lyon 3hrs 40m
- Metz 1hr 15m
- Nancy 1hr 15m
- Marseille 5hr 30m
- Besancon 1hr 40m
- Luxembourg 2hrs 15 m
- Mulhouse 50m
- Basel/Bâle 1hr 10m
- Frankfurt 2hrs
- Stuttgart 1hr 20m
- Munich 3hrs 40m
- Zurich 2hrs 5m
- Saarbrücken 1hr 30m by direct local train
- Brussels 5hrs 10m
A number of overnight trains with sleeper and couchette accommodations also serve:
From summer 2007, the TGV Est Européen created new direct services to:
- Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport 2hrs 25m
- Lille 3hrs 20m (for same-station connections via Eurostar to London)
- Rennes 5hrs 15m
- Nantes 5hrs 10m
- Bordeaux 6hrs 45m
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.
You can reach Strasbourg by various highways:
- from the west (Paris, Benelux) taking the A4 highway (E25). About 4 hours from Paris and 2 hours 15 minutes from Luxembourg.
- from the south (Switzerland, Lyon), taking the A35 highway (E25). About 5 hours from Lyon
- from the north and east (Germany), taking the A5 highway (E35).
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 €.
- Eurolines provides bus services to the city. Services call at the new bus stop situated at the entrance of the center, few meters from the Etoile-Bourse tram stop.
- ADAC Postbus serves Strasbourg as part of it's growing network in Germany.
- Deinbus.de serves Strasbourg on it's route from Konstanz to Trier.
- Meinfernbus stops on 2 routes in Strasbourg on the way to Freiburg and Düsseldorf/Dortmund.
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.
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:
- the automatic or manned bike sharing stations vélhop'
- rue du Maire Kuss, in front of the train station
- rue des Bouchers, on the south bank of the Ill river, near the rue d'Austerlitz and the Porte de l'Hôpital tramway station.
Bikes are allowed on trams except during peak hours.
By bus and 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):
- Aller Simple (one way) € 1.70
- Aller Retour (round trip) € 3.30
- 10 x Aller Simple € 14.00
- 24H Individuel (24hr ticket for one person) € 4.30
- Trio (one day ticket for up to three people) € 6.80
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).
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.
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.
- Cathédrale Notre Dame. Built between 1176 and 1439 and with a 142 metre tower (the highest cathedral tower in France), the Gothic cathedral is undoubtedly Strasbourg's finest architectural highlight.
- Maison Kammerzell (The Kammerzell house), (XVth century) (to the left of the front of the cathedral) – The intricately carved half-timbered frames decorating the upper floors date from 1589.
- Palais des Rohan. French-style palace, built after the acquisition of the town by the French (1681). Home to the Museum of Fine Arts, the Archaeological Museum and the Museum of Applied Arts.
- Musée Alsacien (Alsatian Museum), 23-25, Quai Saint-Nicolas (just across the river from the Ancienne Douane), ☎ +33 3 88 52 50 01. Mon, Wed - Fri 12am - 6pm, Sat and Sun 10am to 6pm. This museum features articles from the daily lives of Alsatian peoples from the 13th to 19th centuries: clothing, furniture, toys, tools of artisans and farmers, and religious objects used in Christian, Jewish, and even pagan rites. The exhibits are in rooms connected by wooden staircases and balconies in adjacent multistory Renaissance-era houses around a central courtyard. Admission €6.
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
- Orangerie - a beautiful classical park. It has a small free zoo featuring birds and a few other animals. Also has an excellent playground for young children.
- Stockfeld, garden city built in the early XXth century in the south-east of the Neuhof (southern part of the town) (bus line 24)
- European district (bus lines 6, 30, 72) :
- Council of Europe's seat (Le Palais de l'Europe) (1977), built by Henry Bernard
- European Court of Human Rights (1995), built by Richard Rogers
- European Parliament (1999), built by Architecture Studio
- ARTE Television headquarters. 4, quai du Chanoine Winterer, near the European district.
- B-line tramway terminus at Hoenheim (northern conurbation) (2001), built by the contemporary architect Zaha Hadid.
- Place de la République - A central crossroad encircled by neoclassical public buildings
- Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art - recommended also because of the interesting building
- Historical Museum - museum of Strasbourg's history
- Zoological Museum
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.
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.
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.
- A l'ancienne douane ('To the old customs house') on rue de la Douane, near the cathedral, next to the Ill river. A big restaurant for tourist groups. You are almost sure to find a place here even if you have no reservation. Mid-range prices.
- Au petit bois vert, 1, Quai de la Bruche, in the Petite France district, serves well-prepared flams and Alsatian specialties in a small room with smiling waiters. The chef usually comes by at the end of the evening. Great terrace during the summer under a big tree on the bank of the river. No reservation, mid-range prices.
- Kirn (le restaurant), 17-19, rue du 22 novembre (at the intersection of Fossé des Tanneurs west of Place Kleber), ☎ +33 3 88 321610, fax: +33 03 88 320865, e-mail: email@example.com. The restaurant is above a fine Alsatian specialty food shop on the ground floor.
- Au Dauphin, 13, place de la Cathédrale (on the corner of cathedral square next to Hotel de la Cathédrale; look for a red awning and walk through the inner courtyard to get to it), ☎ +33 388 21 01 46, fax: +33 0388 21 03 87, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Try the choucroute aux trois poissons; it is very fresh and a wonderful take on the traditional sauerkraut dish. They also serve the traditional choucroute garnie, with up to seven types of meat, including headcheese.
- Le Sanglier ('The boar'), on rue du Sanglier in the Carré d'Or district, near the cathedral. A small restaurant with a traditional setting. If you want a Baeckoffe, you must inform the restaurant 24h before. Mid-range prices.
- Winstub La Vigne, 14, rue de Sébastopol (across the street from the Mc Donald's at Les Halles shopping center), ☎ +33 3 88 220109. This charming and friendly winstub has more moderate prices than its counterparts in La Petite France or near the cathedral, with choucroute garnie and baeckoffe under €15 and bottles of Alsatian wine for about €20.
- Kim Youn (Fooding Coréen), 5, rue Gustave Doré (toward western end of Grand Ile between rue de Jeu des Enfants and rue du 27 novembre), ☎ +33 3 88 321554. Mon-Sat 12h-14h30, 19h-22h. €7-9.50.
- Mooze, on rue de la Demi-lune near Place Kleber: sushi restaurant. Sushi moves on a conveyor belt in front of you.
- Tiger wok on rue du Faisan. Asian food. They cook your dish in front of you.
- Une Fleur des Champs Organic and vegetarian food and beverage, a delicious and varied menu concocted daily from fresh produce and meat sellers in the area. They also offer bulk goods and produce for sale. Prices are modest and portions are large in a quiet, family style atmosphere.
- Au Brasseur, 22, rue des Veaux. This a restaurant and microbrewery. Try one of their beers and a tarte flambé for about €10. Has a small children's menu.
- Al Boustane on rue de la Krutenau. This Lebanese restaurant features sandwiches and kebabs.
- Flams. On rue des Frères near the Cathédrale. Serves a great variety of flams (tartes flambés) and has an amazing winelist for a budget joint.
- L'Epicerie, 6, rue du Vieux Seigle, off the rue des Francs Bourgeois. Features sandwiches "tartines" (about €4). Food from noon to night. Tables on street and inside.
- Le Frangin two doors down from Flam's on Rue des Frères serves a wide range of home-cooked pasta and pizzas at reasonable prices. Pizza and pasta main courses range from €8-9, meat dishes €14-15 and an Alsatian beer €2.50. The owner is friendly and the food is good, satisfying Italian cooking.
- La Gallia, on quai du Maire Dietrich near the Gallia tramway station (C-line). The oldest university restaurant in France, in a 19th-century building, built by the Germans (which explains the ceiling decorations). It is the last French university restaurant that is managed by students. Not a culinary triumph, but very affordable.
- Saladin City, 41, Grand'Rue. Tunisian/Algerian couscous and kebabs. No alcohol. €6-7.
- Zorba on rue de Zurich. This little Greek restaurant in the Krutenau area features sandwiches, souvlaki, and kebabs.
- Snack au Soleil on rue de General Zimmer. ONe of the best pizza and kebab in the town. Affordable prices for students.
- Chez Tante Lisele on the Grand'Rue. Very friendly.
- Chez Yvonne, in the Carré d'Or district, near the cathedral. Usually frequented by Jacques Chirac, when he comes to Strasbourg, because of its well-known tête de veau (cooked veal head). More expensive.
- La Boucherie, 4, Rue du Vieux Marché aux Vins. This chain restaurant is kid-friendly, with a small children's menu, highchairs, and a toy and colouring book for young children, and will satisfy a craving for red meat at a reasonable price.
- La Stub, 4, rue du Saumon, just one block from the Vox cinema on rue des Francs Bourgeois in the center of Grand Ile. This local Alsatian favorite features Fischer brews for €2-3 and tartes flambés for €7-8.
- Restaurant Avanos, 20 Grand'Rue, ☎ +33 3 88 226257. Spécialités orientales: couscous, döner, grilled meats, fish. 3 plats du jour choices every lunchtime. 10% off takeaway meals every evening. €10-12.
- Beer : Alsace is the first beer-producing region of France and Strasbourg has many breweries. Best known are Kronenbourg and Fischer, whose factories can be visited for free, with free drinks at the end of the tour.
- Alsatian white wine : usually drunk with Alsatian food, but also with fish. The main varieties are Gewürtztraminer, Riesling and Pinot Gris. They have a particularly floral flavour and are well worth investigating.
- Place du Marché Gayot. Located on Rue des Frères. Close to the cathedral.
- Les Frères Berthom. Beer bar located on the Rue de Tonneliers in the proximity of la place Gutenburg. Spacious with an agreeable atmosphere.
- Le Zanzibar, 1 pl. St-Etienne. You can enjoy a beer here either inside or on the terrace. Open until 4 in the morning.
- Le Café Bar Odyssée, 3 rue des Francs Bourgeois. Bar with an intimate interior. Great place to enjoy a game of backgammon.
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.
- Centre Internationale d'Accueil et de Rencontre Unioniste de Strasbourg (CIARUS) offers a variety of hostel accommodation, with rooms from 1 to 8 beds. Rates start at €21/night, and there's a canteen. 7 rue Finkmatt. Tel: (+33)388152788.
- Auberge de Jeunesse des Deux Rives Rue des Cavaliers. Twenty minutes bus ride from town and fiften minutes from the European Institutions, this youth hostel is located in a leafy suburb close to the Rhine. Tel : (+33)388455420 Fax : (+33)388455421.
- Auberge de Jeunesse René Cassin 9 rue de l'Auberge de Jeunesse. Ten minutes from the city centre, this hostel offers a restaurant, bar and activities for guests. Tel : (+33)388302646 Fax : (+33)388303516.
- The Formule 1 hotel is a budget hotel located 55 route du Pont du Rhin. Tel : (+33)891705401.
- PV-Holidays Adagio Strasbourg Place Kleber, ☎ +33 1 58 21 55 84. Self-catering apartments situated in the heart of the historical quarter of the “Grande île”, just 10 minutes walk from the TGV station. Each of the 57 apartments sleep 2-4 people, are air-conditioned and completely fitted out: kitchen, television with international channels, etc.Located in the centre of the Alsatian capital makes this Aparthotel an ideal stopover location for business trips or for a long weekend. Car park less than 300m away.
- Cardinal de Rohan, 17, rue du Maroquin (right by the cathedral), ☎ +33 3 88 328511, fax: +33 03 88 756537.
- Hotel Cathédrale, 12-13 Place de la Cathedrale (right across from the cathedral), ☎ +33 3 88 221212, fax: +33 03 88 322302. Best location of any hotel in Strasbourg, stylishly decorated, and more affordable for rooms without views of the cathedral. €55-150.
- Hotel Hannong, 15, rue du 22 Novembre (near the center of Grand Ile), ☎ +33 3 88 321622, fax: +33 03 88 226387. Recently renovated, with stylish bar and restaurant, facing a fairly quiet street.
- Hôtel Vendôme, 9, place de la Gare / 19 rue du Maire Kuss (across from the train station), ☎ +33 3 88 324523, fax: +33 03 88 322302. Recently renovated. 10 minutes from the Cathedral. Free wireless internet. €45-73.
- Mercure Gare Centrale, 14-15, place de la Gare (near the central train station), ☎ +33 3 88 157815. A 3-star hotel.
- Château de Pourtalès, 161, rue Mélanie (near the EU Parliament in the neighborhood Robertsau), ☎ +33 3 88 45 84 64, fax: +33 3 88 45 84 60, e-mail: email@example.com. Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 11AM. A 3-star hotel.
- Régent Contades, 8, avenue de la Liberté, ☎ +33 3 88 150505, fax: +33 03 88 150515, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. An old building in the heart of the city.
- Régent Petite France, 5, rue des Moulins, ☎ +33 3 88 764343, fax: +33 03 88 764376, e-mail: email@example.com. Perfect location.
- Sofitel, 4m place Saint Pierre le Jeune, ☎ +33 3 88 154900. Not far from both the Cathedral and Petite France.
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.
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.).
- Cyber Café L'Utopie. 21 rue du Fossé des Tanneurs. 15 PCs with high speed ADSL internet access charged by the hour, accommodation also available. Tel : (+33)388238921.
- In most McDonald's in Strasbourg you get free WLAN.
- Greece, 49, Avenue des Vosges, ☎ +33 388-354024, fax: +33 388-250524.
- United States, 15, Avenue d'Alsace, ☎ +33 3 88 353 104, fax: +33 3 88 240 695, e-mail: USAStrasbourg@state.gov.
- Haut-Koenigsbourg castle
- Alsatian Vineyard Route
- Marmoutier, about 35 km from Strasbourg, has a beautiful 12th-century abbey church
- Kehl — Germany is a short ride or walk across the river.