August 22, 2023

Strasbourg in 3 Hours

I had always wanted to go to Strasbourg since my 6th grade country report on France. While researching the "what-to-see-and-do," I began to understand there was not going to be a "wow factor." The sites are pretty basic for a French or European city; a few grand churches, pretty sidewalks, commemorative statues, and shopping.

I'm okay with not being "wowed," but I didn't expect Strasbourg to gently befriend me, leading me down quiet streets, across unique bridges, and through ivy-covered corridors. Strasbourg was a pleasant friend to wander with; never intimidating, always inviting. 

Picturesquely situated along the Rhine River, Strasbourg is a city of captivating charm, where history and modernity intertwine in a symphony of architectural wonders. If you find yourself with just a few hours to explore this quaint city, fear not—Strasbourg's main sights are easily navigable on foot. Let's detail a delightful 3-hour walking tour that showcases the essence of Strasbourg's beauty and culture.

La Petite France: 0:00-1:00

Embark on your journey at the heart of Strasbourg's enchantment, La Petite France. This medieval neighborhood boasts charming half-timbered houses, flower-draped balconies, and narrow cobblestone lanes that evoke a sense of fairy-tale magic. Stroll along the riverbanks and admire the reflections of these whimsical buildings on the tranquil waters. The Maison des Tanneurs, a former tannery turned into a quaint restaurant, stands as a testament to the area's rich history.

I spent half an hour on a bench by the river, soaking in sunshine and fresh air. I ordered my lunch off of French chalkboards, trying the local tarte flambée, and a dry white wine. 

Strasbourg Cathedral (Cathédrale Notre-Dame): 1:00-2:00

As you move towards the city center, the towering spires of the Strasbourg Cathedral come into view. This masterpiece of Gothic architecture is a true marvel. Spend some time marveling at the intricate façade, where ornate sculptures and statues tell stories of religious history. Don't miss the opportunity to climb the 332 steps to the cathedral's viewing platform, where panoramic views of the city reward your efforts.

The astronomical clock inside the grand Strasbourg cathedral had a most intriguing detail. The "time teller" figurine at the center of the clock was a skeleton! This is quite a distance from the typical jolly old man, cuckoo bird, jousting knights, dancing jesters, or whatever other icons of cuteness you can think of. It made me stand there an extra minute, wondering what the significance of that chosen symbol was - "Death controls our time?" "No one will escape death/time?" "Dead men tell no tales?"

Place Kléber: 2:00-3:00

Head to Place Kléber, Strasbourg's central square, and the heart of the city's shopping district. Here, modernity blends seamlessly with tradition as locals and visitors mingle among shops, boutiques, and bustling cafés. The monumental Christmas tree that graces the square during the holiday season is a sight to behold. Take a leisurely stroll around the square, soak in the atmosphere, and perhaps enjoy a quick bite to refuel for the next leg of your journey.

Barrage Vauban: 3:00

For your final stop, make your way to Barrage Vauban, a historic dam and bridge that offers captivating views of Strasbourg's skyline. This architectural gem also serves as a pedestrian walkway, allowing you to cross over to the other side of the river and take in the stunning vistas. As you stand atop the dam, watch the river flow beneath you while admiring the city's beautiful houses and bridges reflected in the water.

The tasteful blend of German and French cultures actually make for a weed-free version of Amsterdam: similarities of river canals, foot bridges, Germanic architecture, bicyclists everywhere, and the tram tracks underfoot and wires overhead.

In just three hours, your walking tour of Strasbourg has taken you through so many of the sights that capture the city's essence. From the quaint charm of La Petite France to the grandeur of Strasbourg Cathedral, the bustling energy of Place Kléber to the serenity of Barrage Vauban, you have experienced a condensed yet enchanting journey through this captivating city. As you conclude your tour, you will leave with a deeper appreciation for Strasbourg's history, culture, and architectural beauty—a testament to the city's ability to offer a delightful experience even in a short span of time.

Strasbourg is a perfect day trip from Paris, or a relaxing home base for exploring the Alsace region in France and/or the Rhineland in Germany. If you don't speak any French, it's probably better for you to sleep on the German side, and use the simple over-the-border trains to access the delightful river island that is Strasbourg.

Strasbourg in 3 Hours on iOS & Android
Find the rest of my navigational GPSmyCity app article cities HERE (newest) and HERE (older).