Strasbourg is a lovely little place – lying in Alsace just over the French border, the traditional language of the area is in fact closely related to Swiss German. Architecturally, Strasbourg is one of those places that makes you oooo and ahhh at every turn of a corner. It’s ridiculously charming stone houses and crooked streets are something out of a fairy tale. There isn’t a huge number of attractions per se – it’s more a city for wandering and enjoying the atmosphere. Below is a little city guide for your own weekend fairy tale trip.
Hotel: Le Grillon, a basic and comfortable 2 star hotel with double rooms between 70-90 euros per night.
How to not look like a tourist: French fashion is pretty tough to mimic, but luckily Germanic influences here mean a good dose of practicality. You can get away with jeans, some low boots or flats, and a scarf thrown around your neck for good measure. No heels in this town. . . there are cobblestones everywhere.
A little walking tour: Stroll through the Quartier de Tanneurs in the historic city center, part of the Grand Ile declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Thank goodness it is under protection because by golly it is gorgeous. Pictures do not do it justice.
Pass by the famous Notre Dame cathedral, and next door where the Maison de l’Oeuvre Notre-Dame houses original sculptures from the Cathedral and paintings by Alsatian artists. The “Suckling Pig” Market square next door is sure to further delight your eyes with fantastic 16th century architecture.
Beer or Wine: Clearly, wine. You are on the famous Alsatian wine route and it would be a crime to drink anything else. Some of the most famous dry Rieslings and Gewurztraminers are produced here, and served in the telltale glasses of the region, short and squat with a green stem.
The Local Cuisine: The most famous dish from this region is without a doubt Choucroute – clearly showing the German influences of the area. Choucroute, or sauerkraut, is fermented cabbage, served together with grilled sausages, salted pork, and often boiled potatoes. I tried a more Parisian version of choucroute, with salmon and cream sauce, when I went to Paris.
Another delicious option is flammkuchen, a very very thin crispy dough topped with cream, bacon, and onions. The best variation on a pizza you will ever try, believe me 🙂 And, finally, although most people hate it, Munster cheese, an extremely smelly cheese from the Vosges, where it was matured in monk´s cellars.
Recommended Restaurant: The city is littered with gastronomic delights but after some internet research we settled on L’Eveil des Sens – and I cannot recommend it enough. Not only was the food fantastic, I don’t think I have ever eaten at such a “pretty” place. Every surface was positively dripping with vases of flowers, candles, and beautiful linen tablecloths.
The menu is fixed– and Entrée and main for 33 euro, main and dessert for 29 euro, or all three for 39 euro – quite a bargain in Strasbourg. Following an amuse bouche of savory shortbread, creamy gazpacho, and crab mousse, we chose escargot for the appetizer round – served in an nontraditional way, on a piece of toasted ciabatta with an herb pesto sauce. Rich, garlicky, and fantastic. For the main event we sampled the lamb, hamburger, and salmon tartare. All was washed down with cold crisp white Alsatian wine.
Strasbourg is a perfect city for a weekend trip, and a delight for anyone who likes good wine, food, and adorable cobblestone streets 🙂
If you happen to find yourself in the Alsace region, Strasbourg is a lovely weekend stopover, and a hotbed of good food and wine options 🙂