Tuesday, 27 October 2015

A weekend in Strasbourg

On the night of our return from Bonn, I was busy looking up places for our next weekend away. Strasbourg was high up on my 'places I want to go' list after seeing how gorgeous it is courtesy of photos my Grandparents had taken there recently and of course, Pinterest. So, I had a search for travel and accommodation options. When I found bus tickets through Deutsche Bahn for €9 each way I was sold. We also booked a cheap hotel to keep costs down (ERASMUS grant - where art thou). 
A weekend in Strasbourg
So less than 2 weeks later we were waking up bright and early - note I have not seen that hour of the day in a while, to catch a bus from Mannheim Busbahnhof to Strasbourg. The bus ride was great - free wifi, comfortable, and cheap refreshments (€1 for a coffee yes please), and we arrived in Strasbourg for 9:30am. 

We soon headed off to explore the charming city. Tom had a walking tour downloaded which we loosely followed. We started at Place Kléber, then went onto rue des Francs Bourgeois and right down the pedestrianised Grand Rue, with quirky shops and 17th-century buildings. Then we reached Place Benjamin Zix and wandered around Petite France for quite a while. It was probably my favourite little corner of the city, even if parts of it were swamped by tourists. It was really really pretty and I loved the architecture, the cute half-timbered houses with overflowing flower boxes, gently winding canals and bridges. We tried some freshly baked macarons and bought a packet because they were too good to leave without. 

A weekend in Strasbourg
Following the canal we found ourselves at the medieval covered bridge, Ponts Couverts and the Barrage Vauban. We walked through the covered bridge checking out the art exhibits and then across the roof on top of it for a really nice view (the first picture in the post was taken from the roof of the bridge). We then headed for our hotel to check in which wasn't too far from there. We unloaded a bit and I left my camera as I forgot to pack a memory card (usually I have a supply of them on me so I was rather annoyed, and I'm not going to carry a heavy DSLR around for the fun of it) and then set off again. 

Strasbourg Cathedral
After grabbing some lunch, we went to see the cathedral (Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Strasbourg). It was really magnificent and such a beautiful gothic building, which towers over the city. The exterior is so intricately designed and it's breathtakingly tall. Inside was just as stunning too, with beautiful stain glass windows and a huge astronomical clock. We spent quite a while just wandering around inside and out, taking it all in. We then explored around the area near the cathedral, filling my phone's memory with photos of the medieval buildings and narrow cobble streets and browsing the shops.

hannahemilylane - A weekend in Strasbourg

We then headed to the modern art museum (Musée d'Art Moderne et Contemporain de Strasbourg or MAMCS) when the weather started to get a bit drizzly and spent around an hour admiring and trying to figure out some of the exhibits. I can't exactly say I'm a modern art enthusiast, but the museum is definitely worth a visit and some of the pieces in particular were really incredible. 

After that we went for dinner. We'd spotted a place earlier in the day that we wanted to try, called Aux P'tits Crocs. It was a French steakhouse and very reasonably priced. The food was really good and our waiter was super friendly, so it was a good choice! After eating, it was pretty dark so we wandered around to see the city by night - it's just as beautiful. 

The next day was really sunny and quite warm. So we decided to make the journey up the cathedral, it's something like 350 steps, but so so worth it, especially on a sunny day - you can see as far as the Black Forest! The walk up wasn't that bad either, there's viewing balconies every 100 steps or so, and you can see various parts of the Cathedral's exterior. It was about €5 per person, but it's worth the beautiful views you get of Strasbourg from above. 

hannahemilylane - A weekend in Strasbourg
After grabbing a chocolat chaud (best hot chocolate I've EVER had) we went to buy our tickets for a boat tour with Batorama. It was pretty busy so I suggest if you go in the summer to buy your ticket in advance! We had to wait about an hour - 90 mins for our boat trip. During that time we grabbed some lunch and sat by the river. The boat tour was sold out so we were glad we arrived early so we could get a window seat. There are headsets with 11 languages so you can listen to the tour in your language. The audio wasn't boring and gave some interesting information about various parts of the city. It was also great that we got to see the European Parliamant and the other impressive buildings in the Institutions Européennes, as this area is quite a way out of the Grand Île where we spent most of our time and we probably wouldn't have seen it otherwise.

hannahemilylane - A weekend in Strasbourg
hannahemilylane - A weekend in Strasbourg We spent the rest of the afternoon eating crêpes and wandering around some more before grabbing some dinner and catching our bus home. I think I slept most of the journey! All in all we had a really lovely weekend, we didn’t cram too much in and just enjoyed the city at a relaxed pace, taking it all in and appreciating it. Though Strasbourg is in France, it is strikingly similar to Germany. It used to be a part of Germany, hence the German influence and is now a perfect harmony of French and German cities. I would love to go back for the Christmas markets as I can imagine it's so festive then. I would whole-heartedly recommend this city for a cheap, romantic weekend break. My pictures do not do the city justice - no one's can - it's impossibly charming.  

Hannah Lane

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