Categories
Museum

Visit a museum in Strasbourg: the Alsatian Museum

A deep dive into the past of 18th- and 19th-century Alsace

Strasbourg’s Alsatian Museum is one of the country’s most important museums for regional folk arts and traditions. Explore the exhibits through a multitude of old Alsatian houses, connected by winding staircases and wooden walkways. Take a deep dive into the folk art and popular traditions of 18th- and 19th-century Alsace.

Immerse yourself in rural and domestic life by viewing the museum’s collection of reconstructed historic Alsatian homes (with a kitchen and shared family room, also known as a stub), artisan workshops, a traditional pharmacy, a wide array of furniture, costumes, and different objects (over 5000 on display).

The museum also offers a series of themed exhibits, such as regional pottery from Betschdorf and Soufflenheim, the ages of life (Christening and bris, the cradle, toys, weddings, etc.), agriculture and handicraft, as well as religious rites in Alsace (several rooms are dedicated to the main historic religions present in the region, displaying imagery, calligraphy, and votive offerings).

The half-timbered houses that contain the museum also contribute to this immersive venture into the past. Visitors alternate between exploring the inside and wandering through the exterior walkways twisting along the façades. The creaking floors and having to pass regularly in and out of the buildings allow you to delve into the historic atmosphere of these homes from a bygone era. During your visit, several windows offer an excellent view of the river Ill, l’Ancienne Douane (the old customs house), and Strasbourg Cathedral. A dedicated space presents a temporary themed exhibit every year.

The Alsatian Museum
📍 23-25 quai Saint-Nicolas, Strasbourg

Categories
Walk around

Walk around in Strasbourg: Botanical Garden

Strasbourg Botanical Garden is a calming haven, set against a lush backdrop in the middle of the city.  It allows you to explore around 6000 species from around the world, which are pampered daily by expert botanists and gardeners. You’ll find everything from rare plants to more common species, aromatic herbs, flowers, and an arboretum containing over 2000 kinds of trees and shrubs (giant redwood, Caucasian wingnut, bald cypress…).

The garden stretches over 3,5 hectares in the Neustadt quarter. When it was first created in 1619, the garden was located in the Krutenau neighborhood (southeast of the historic university campus). It was eventually moved during the reign of German emperor Wilhelm I. The current Botanical Garden, which was inaugurated in 1884, was part of the project to build an imperial German university, after Alsace became part of the empire in 1870.

As soon as you step foot inside, you linger around the tiny waterlily pools where little frogs will jump into the water as you pass. On warmer days, some of them will relax in the sunshine.

Escape to a different world in the tropical greenhouse, where a selection of exotic species (palm trees, banyan trees, monsteras with massive leaves…) thrive in a hot and humid environment. On particularly hot days, you’ll almost feel like the air is cool as you step outside again.

This peaceful garden is the ideal place to recharge your batteries and stop the course of time. Enjoy a book in the shade of an age-old tree. Have a seat on one of the many available benches. Stroll along the path winding around the Bary greenhouse, skirting along the astronomical observatory, before twisting past a pond and through a series of little bamboo groves.

The steeple of St. Maurice’s church in the background is reflected in the smooth surface of the pond.  The sleek mirror of the water is only ever disturbed by a fish coming up to the surface every now and then.

You get the pleasant feeling of being wrapped in a lovely blanket of lush greenery, while taking in the calm and quiet atmosphere of this place, reminiscent of certain Japanese gardens.

  • Strasbourg Botanical Garden is a university garden that is generally open to the public in the afternoons, but please do check the opening hours beforehand. Admission is free.
  • For your workouts or a picnic, please choose another park in the area (Orangerie, Contades or the University gardens just across the alley).
  • The entrance to the Botanical Garden is located in allée Anton de Bary, a little pedestrian side street running between rue Goethe and rue de l’Université.

🔗 View opening hours (link in French)

Categories
Travel

Hotel collection: Amerikalinjen, Oslo

Amerikalinjen is a 4* boutique hotel ideally located in the very center of Oslo, in the former headquarters of the Norwegian America Line, whose legendary cruise ships transported travelers from Norway to America throughout the 20th century. 

The neo-baroque style building was first unveiled in 1919, at a time when transatlantic voyages crystallized the dreams and ambitions of thousands of Norwegians, who set off towards a new world of opportunities, spurred on by the American Dream. 

The red façade of the building is adorned with marine elements and references from Greek mythology, such as Tritons and Nereids.

The interior, which has been very tastefully renovated, has preserved the spirit of the building all while adding an elegant touch of modernity. The design is exquisite, refined, and functional. Nothing is superfluous or ostentatious, and everything has been conceived for guests to have a good time and a comfortable stay.

The flawless stylistic transition from one space to the next – the reception, lounge, bar (Pier 42), restaurant (Brasserie Atlas) and rooms – is in line with the esthetic heritage of 20th-century cruise ships. The decor combines luxury (with high-end materials such as velvet, leather, or marble) and urban minimalism (subway tiles, monochromatic palettes with colorful accents, patinaed mirrors and industrial style light fixtures).

Massive trunks serve as coffee tables in the reception lounge, and a common room on the 2nd floor (British 1st floor) has been refurbished with wooden interior taken from the Norwegian America Line’s last ship. 

The rooms are very comfortable and stylish, they too having been inspired by the cabins on the ships sailing between Norway and the US: a large bed, beautiful desk, details in black and white, blonde wood, furnishings and light fixtures by Norwegian designers, and floor-level shower room. Once you’ve slipped under the covers of the lovely, soft bed, you feel as though you’re aboard a motionless ship. 

The staff (at reception and breakfast) are wonderfully welcoming, attentive, and responsive. 

Breakfast – which is currently being served on trays due to Covid restrictions – is generous and varied. The servers pay particular attention to food intolerance and allergies

Amerikalinjen is the perfect place for a cozy getaway. You can stay for one or more nights, take in the atmosphere while having dinner at Brasserie Atlas, or enjoy a cocktail at Pier 42.

We particularly enjoyed

  • The location at the very center of Oslo: just across from the train station, and a mere stone’s throw from the Opera house and the vibrant neighborhood of Bjørvika
  • The marine decor and esthetic (most notably the courtyard conservatory, the perfect place to enjoy your breakfast)
  • The warm and welcoming staff

Hotel Amerikalinjen
📍 Jernbanetorget 2, Oslo
🔗 View the hotel website

We stayed at Amerikalinjen in the summer of 2021. This article reflects our personal opinions and has not been written in exchange for any form of compensation.

Categories
Museum

Visit a museum in Strasbourg: Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art

From 1870 to present day

The Strasbourg Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (frequently referred to as MAMCS) is one of the only museums in France to curate their collection exhibit in a manner that is representative of western European art from 1870 to present day.

The 13 000 m2modern museum building is nestled between the river Ill and the historic district of la Petite France. As its architect Adrien Fainsilber pointed out: “Interaction with the water, light and the historic old town greatly influenced the layout for the museum itself, as well as the surrounding area.” One of the building’s distinctive features is its massive skylighted central nave, which was designed as an “inside street”. It provides the museum with an architectural spine and allows visitors with a clear and open itinerary.

When the MAMCS first opened in 1998, the ground floor was dedicated to modern art and temporary exhibits, while the four large rooms upstairs were dedicated to contemporary art.

In 2018, in honor of the museum’s 20-year anniversary, the layout of the permanent exhibits was entirely reimagined with a curation entitled “Joyeuses frictions” (Joyful frictions). This new approach was constructed around the most noteworthy artists of the museum’s collection: Doré, Monet, Signac, Pissarro, Sisley, Rodin, Arp, Kandinsky, Kupka, Picasso, Séchas, Brauner…

Modern and contemporary art are now exhibited side by side on both floors. The full spectrum of different techniques (painting, sculpture, sketches, etchings, photography, installations, video) are shown side by side, organized by theme in around ten different sections. Designated spaces, like the Studio, have been created within the exhibits, encouraging visitors to interact with the artwork. There are three to four temporary exhibits every year. Make sure you check out the 1000 m2 mural on the façade around the entrance: “From the Air We Share” by art collective FAILE.

In addition to the exhibition spaces, the MAMCS also has an auditorium, a bookshop, a library, and a café. Don’t miss the terrace of the Art Café, which offers a unique panoramic view of the Vauban Dam, la Petite France, and Strasbourg Cathedral.

MAMCS
📍 1 place Hans Jean Arp, Strasbourg

Categories
Travel

Our favorite areas in Oslo

Oslo is the capital of Norway, but more importantly, it’s also Stéphanie’s birth town.

As a dynamic, creative, inspired city, Oslo is great to visit any time of year. Facing the fjord and surrounded by forest-clad hills, it’s the ideal destination for nature lovers.

Oslo is a city in motion – it’s undergone massive changes and evolved enormously in the last few years. Entire neighborhoods – such as Bjørvika, around the Opera house – have been created. There are plenty of parks, gardens, and tree-lined avenues, making it a uniquely green city, where nature is easily accessible all over town. 

Oslo isn’t a cold city, neither literally, nor figuratively. On the contrary, it’s welcoming and conducive to interesting architectural, artistic, cultural, and personal discoveries. 

In the summer, the locals flock to the seaside to lounge on the beach, unwind in a floating sauna, or take a dip in the sea. In the winter, the shorter days are better suited for visiting a museum or an exhibit, or finding a nice café, bar, or restaurant where you can enjoy the koselig (pronounced “kooshlee”) atmosphere. The notion of koselig can be defined as a warm, pleasant, cozy feeling. It could be created by soft and comfortable interior that makes you want to wrap yourself up in a blanket, an intimate get-together with friends in the summer, or a lovely hot drink in the winter.

We’ve selected 4 Oslo neighborhoods that we particularly enjoy. The idea is to take in the general atmosphere of an area, rather than point out very specific (more or less touristy) sights.

Bjørvika
Aker Brygge, Tjuvholmen and Akershus Fortress
Grünerløkka and Vulkan
Frogner, the Vigeland park and the Royal Palace
Continue exploring…

Bjørvika

The construction of the Opera house by the Oslo fjord was the first step in transforming the old harbor district of Bjørvika into a vibrant new neighborhood.

Designed by Norwegian architecture company Snøhetta, the Opera, with its white marble roof, seems almost to emerge from the cool waters of the fjord. Don’t miss the atrium inside the building (a harmonious composition of wood, metal, and glass), and particularly the roof of the Opera house, to enjoy the splendid view of the Oslo fjord

Take a stroll along Langkaia dock (to the east, across from the Opera) to observe the unique architecture of the building in detail. The dock will lead you to SALT, an open-air cultural space combining, art, music, street food, architecture, and saunas. 

The Deichman Public Library (to the north, across from the Opera) was conceived as a modern-day multimedia library and as a shared, living space. It contains a vast collection of works organized by genre over 5 floors. The building’s many couches and chairs make it the perfect place to study or relax. Mini movie rooms are set up for private showings, and there are fun activities for kids. There’s even a dedicated space for 3D printing! The café terrace above the library entrance also offers an ideal view of the Opera house. The Deichman Library was recently named the world’s best new public library by the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions.

Between the Opera and the new Munch Museum, a floating footbridge allows pedestrians to walk to the tip of Sørenga – a new neighborhood that’s been built on the water, where young Oslo-dwellers and families alike meet up to enjoy beautiful summer days. 

A collection of buildings called the Barcode Project and the façade of the Munch Museum make up Oslo’s new skyline. 

The view from Akrobaten footbridge, which spans the railway, perfectly illustrates the barcode effect of the architecture. Thanks to the multitude of cafés, bars, and restaurants located on the ground floor of the buildings, it’s become a very lively area.

Along the waterfront, several saunas, beaches, and pontoons attract those who want to bathe, relax, and enjoy the fjord.

Aker Brygge, Tjuvholmen and Akershus Fortress 

The pedestrian docks at Aker Brygge offer a completely open view of the fjord, Akershus Fortress, and City Hall. The docks are lined with shops and restaurants that are particularly popular with tourists. Aker Brygge is also the point of departure for the little yellow ferries going out to the Bygdøy peninsula, or for fjord cruises.

For future reference: the new National Museum, which will open in 2022, is located by Aker Brygge.

Extend your stroll along the boardwalk at Aker Brygge by continuing out to the Tjuvholmen peninsula, where you will find the Astrup-Fearnley Museum of Modern Art (designed by architect Renzo Piano), a sculpture park (with pieces by artists such as Louise Bourgeois and Anish Kapoor). The clean-cut architecture of the museum and the surrounding buildings give Tjuvholmen its unique character. 

Akershus Fortress was built around a medieval castle inthe 17th century. This massive, steep citadel with paved pathways is home to several museums (The Armed Forces Museum, The Norwegian Resistance Museum, and Akershus medieval castle) and offers a splendid view of Oslo harbor.

Grünerløkka and Vulkan

Exploring Grünerløkka on foot is the best way to soak up the vibe of this bustling neighborhood. “Løkka” (pronounced “luh-ka”), as it’s affectionately called, is dotted with vintage and design shops, secondhand stores, koselig little cafés and restaurants, concert venues and bars, large squares, and lush parks. The area is popular with students, young families, and pensioners alike.

At the edge of Grünerløkka, in the Sagene area, a walk along the Akerselva river will reveal a string of converted brick factory buildings, waterfalls, and green spaces.

The new Vulkan neighborhood is also located by the bank of Akerselva, with Mathallen, a food court and indoor market concept, as its main attraction. Various shops and stalls sell culinary products and dishes from all over the world (Norway, Mexico, Japan, France, Hungary, China, Italy…) that you can then enjoy outside or in the common seating area in the middle of the market.

Our tip: near Mathallen, you can explore the little side streets and alleys around legendary café-bar Blå, where you’ll discover a unique, handmade outdoor chandelier, as well as many street-art pieces.

The old tree houses in Telthusbakken and Damstredet can be reached on foot from Vulkan, where they’re hanging on to the hillside in the St. Hanshaugen (St. John’s Hill) district, near Gamle Aker Kirke (Oslo’s oldest church, built in 1100) and Vår Frelsers Gravlund cemetery (where a great many famous Norwegians are buried, such as playwright Henrik Ibsen and painter Edvard Munch). 

Telthusbakken and Damstredet are both quiet and very instagrammable streets with 19th-century houses. 

Telthusbakken is lined with colorful, wooden houses on one side, and with community gardens on the other. At the top of Telthusbakken, it’s worth stopping a while to enjoy the view of the east side of Oslo. 

The quaint old houses that line both sides of Damstredet all have lush little gardens. The great Norwegian poet Henrik Wergeland lived in the pink house by the top of Damstredet for a few years.

Frogner, the Vigeland park and the Royal Palace  

Frogner is the capital’s calm and affluent embassy neighborhood, nestled between the Royal Palace and the Vigeland park. 

Our tip: explore the different streets in the area (such as Oscars gateFrognerveienGyldenløves gate and Inkognitogata) and admire the beautiful villas and 19th-century apartment buildings, relax in a café, or take a walk in a park.

The Vigeland park is one of Oslo’s most popular spotsfor locals and tourists alike. More than 200 sculptures made by artist Gustav Vigeland between 1920 et 1943 can be found all over this massive park, which was created on farmland in the early 20th century. Most of the sculptures are nudes representing the different ages of life, the most famous of which are the Monolith, the great central fountain, and “Sinnataggen” (Angry Boy). The park also has playgrounds, tennis courts, two museums (the Vigeland Museum and Oslo City Museum), cafés, a stadium, and a public pool. A large number of benches and greens make it the perfect place for a picnic.

The Royal Palace, which was built in the neo-classical style and finished in 1849, has been the main residence of the Norwegian royal family since the country gained its independence in 1905. It’s easily recognizable by its yellow façade and its ornate balcony with six Ionian columns. While the Palace square is one of Oslo’s must-see sights, the Royal Palace is only open to the public in the summer months. It is possible to watch the changing of the guards (every day at 13:30).

A majestic statue of King Karl-Johan of Sweden-Norway (born Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte in the French town of Pau) towers over the Palace square.

The Palace is located at the west end of de Karl Johans Gate (Oslo’s main shopping street), and is surrounded by the large, beautiful park of Slottsparken.

CONTINUE EXPLORING…

Bygdøy is a large peninsula with bucolic and woodland views, elegant villas, marinas, seaside walks and several museums (such as the Fram Museum, dedicated to polar explorers, and the open-air Norwegian Folk Museum, which contains a collection of traditional Norwegian houses, as well as a magnificent stave church).

• The hills around Oslo, particularly Holmenkollen, with its famous ski jump

• The panoramic view of the city from Ekeberg sculpture park

• The old wooden houses of Kampen and Vålerenga

• The façade of the parliament building, Stortinget (Eidsvolls plass) 

Oslo City Hall (a carillon tune is played every first Wednesday of the month at 11 AM). It’s possible to visit the inside of the building

• The inside of Oslo Cathedral

Categories
unusual Strasbourg

Unusual Strasbourg: the Egyptian House

The Egyptian House, located in the Neustadt quarter (10 rue du Général Rapp), was designed by young, self-taught architect Franz Scheyder in the early 20th century. The building’s style is a blend of Art Nouveau and an idealized interpretation of ancient Egyptian esthetics. This unusual apartment building is easily recognizable by its large central fresco, and by its wrought-iron balconies wth stylized bat motifs.

Categories
Top

Top 5 things to see in Strasbourg

Looking for a dynamic and enjoyable city to spend a weekend with your family, a group of friends, travelling solo or for a romantic getaway? Strasbourg is just the place for you!


Strasbourg is a very comfortably sized city. It’s neither too big, nor too small, and all the main sights are easily accessible by foot or by bike. The Grande Île (the historic city center, surrounded by the river Ill) and the Neustadt quarter are both UNESCO World Heritage sites. Located only a few kilometers from the German border (which you can cross by tram), Strasbourg is an international city – home to a number of European Institutions.


Don’t miss any of the major sights during your first visit – here are Strasbourg’s 5 must-see spots:

Strasbourg Cathedral, La Petite France, Neustadt, The European Quarter and the parc de l’Orangerie, and the Banks of the Ill.

Check out our full guide!

Strasbourg Cathedral. This single-spired Gothic masterpiece of sandstone lacework was the tallest building in Christendom until the 19th century. Enjoy the view of the ornate façade from rue Mercière, place de la Cathédrale and place du Château, visit the inside to see the rose window, the remarkable statues and the astronomical clock, or get an overview by climbing the stairs up to the observation deck. Find out more here

La Petite France. This picturesque neighborhood in Strasbourg’s old town is located on the banks of the Ill and was known as a bustling milling and tanning district as early as the Middle Ages. Amble along the charming, paved streets, between half-timbered houses. Don’t miss the Ponts Couverts, the Vauban Dam (and the terrace at the top), as well as the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art. Find out more here

Neustadt. The old German imperial quarter has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since July 2017. On avenue de la Liberté, which runs from Palais Universitaire to place de la République, you will find an array of different architectural styles. The Palais du Rhin, Strasbourg National Theater (TNS) and Strasbourg National University Library (BNU) are iconic Neustadt buildings. Find out more here

The European Quarter and the parc de l’Orangerie. Strasbourg is home to several European institutions, such as the European Parliament, the Council of Europe, and the European Court of Human Rights. The peculiar architecture of the European Parliament, which symbolizes the construction of Europe in progress, is a stand-out structure in the neighborhood. With its 26 hectares, the Orangerie is Strasbourg’s oldest park. Find out more here

The Banks of the Ill (the river running around Strasbourg) are perfect for a walk along the water. The quai des Bateliers, which is entirely pedestrian, is particularly suited for a nice stroll. If the weather is nice, why not follow the river all around the city center? You can also explore the city by sightseeing-boat. Find out more here

Check out our full weekend guide!

We’ve prepared a complete guide, ideal for a first-time weekend visit. It has everything you need: concise information (just enough, not too much), useful links, our favorite spots and a ready-made itinerary on Google Maps.

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Café Food Restaurant

Eating healthy in Strasbourg: le Café potager

Le Café potager is a “fast good” café in the center of Strasbourg.

Savory dishes, both hot and cold (salads, bowls, quiches) are displayed all around the the counter, and there are several vegetarian, vegan or gluten-free options. When you pick a lunch or brunch menu, you can choose to have an appetizer or dessert (pie, cheesecake, fruit salad, cookies, panna cotta…) with your main as well.

Their coffee, from various origins, is all roasted in Strasbourg and offered in a wide selection of forms (americano, cold brew, espresso, moccacino, latte macchiato…), while their tea, hot or iced, comes from Thé des Muses just around the corner. You could also go for a freshly squeeed juice, soda, or lemonade.

All the dishes are tasty, fresh and house-made, and the baristas are cheerful and friendly.

You can enjoy your meal inside, on the terrace on rue des Francs-Bourgeois in the summertime, or take it to go.

We love the verdant interior with details of light wood, metal and light bulbs.

For digital nomads: the café offers free wifi gratuit and power outlets to charge your phone or laptop.

Le Café potager
📍 5 rue des Francs-Bourgeois, Strasbourg
🔗 View website (in French)

Categories
Museum

Visit a museum in Strasbourg: Museum of Fine Arts

Five centuries of painting in Europe

The Museum of Fine Arts is located on the upper level of the Palais Rohan, which also houses the Museum of Decorative Arts and the Museum of Archaeology. Designed like a grand Parisian manor – or “hôtel particulier” – the Palais Rohan was built for Cardinal de Rohan-Roubise, Prince-Bishop of Strasbourg, between 1732 and 1742. After the French Revolution, the Palace served as an imperial and subsequently royal residence, before becoming a museum after 1870.

The Museum of Fine Arts presents an overview of European painting spanning from the Middle Ages to 1870. The museum’s twenty rooms thereby allow you to wander through five centuries of European art, such as the Italo-Byzantine style, the Italian Renaissance, Nordic landscapes, still lifes and vanitases, Dutch 17th-century landscapes, and 19th-century portraits. The collection features pieces by notable artists like Giotto, Titian, El Greco, Botticelli, Raphael, Rubens, Goya, van Dyck, Delacroix, Chassériau, Corot and even Courbet.

The Palace’s refined architecture serves as a magnificent backdrop for the museum’s collection. The brightly colored walls and neat lighting showcase the artworks, highlighting their hues and bringing out their contrasts. The golden parquet floor, which creaks charmingly with every step, immerses visitors further in a time long since passed. Beyond the magnificent paintings, the windows looking out over the palace courtyard and Strasbourg Cathedral are eye-catching as well.

Like other visitors must have been before uswe were particularly struck by the allure of La Belle Strasbourgeoise (The Beautiful Strasbourg Woman) by Nicolas de Largillière. This portrait from 1703 is one of the museum’s main attractions and is easily recognizable thanks to the impressive bicorn hat worn by the subject. The painting reveals itself gradually at the end of a long, ornate corridor lined with cobalt blue walls, gilded details, and Corinthian columns. Our experience with this 18th-century piece was a perfect example of Roger de Pile’s quote from 1708: “A true painting must draw in its viewer…and the surprised viewer must respond, as if entering into a conversation.”

The Museum of Fine Arts
📍 2 place du Château, Strasbourg

Categories
Walk around

Straddling the border in the Jardin des Deux Rives

The Jardin des Deux-Rives stretches across 150 hectares and consists of two half-gardens on either side of the Rhine, linked by an elegant cable-stayed footbridge. This cross-border landscaped park, which was inaugurated in 2004, is a symbol of French-German friendship.

• On the French side, in Strasbourg, you enter the park by walking along the riding school, or by taking the Sentier des planètes (path of the planets) in the middle. Spanning 281 meters, the solar system has been scaled down 16 billion times, to give you an idea of the distance between the Sun and the different planets of the solar system

As you explore the park, you’ll also find:
– a water wall (in a semicircle, on either side of the central axis)
themed and pop-up gardens where you can daydream for a while
– a large lawn where flower shows, and cultural events are organized in the summertime (concerts with the Strasbourg Philharmonic Orchestra de Strasbourg or open-air cinema nights)
– a sculpture path (with works by Sylvie Blocher, Andrea Blum, Tadashi Kawamata, Philippe Lepeut and Akio Suzuki) that continues on the German side of the Rhine
picnic tables
playgrounds
– a boules pitch.

• Cross the Passerelle Mimram footbridge (only for pedestrians and cyclists) which spans the Rhine. This cable-stayed footbridge designed by architect Marc Mimram was imagined as a hyphen, a connection between France and Germany. Its two decks converge to form a central platform, above the middle of the Rhine. Stop for a while and enjoy the view or watch a riverboat pass by.

On the German side, in Kehl, a peaceful, paved promenade, shady and well maintained (der blaue Weg), winds along the riverbank.

Everyone can enjoy the park however they like:
– if you’re the contemplative type: the walking path is dotted with benches at regular intervals
– if you’re more sporty: there are several kinds of gym apparatus
for plant lovers: explore the Biblical Garden
ufologists: climb into a flying saucer (UFO is an exhibit space)
art lovers: admire the sculptures, like Begegnung by Josef Fromm (which notably symbolizes the friendship between France and Germany) and the Roses Frontalières (Border Roses) by Thomas Rother (honoring members of the French resistance who were murdered mere hours after Strasbourg was freed in 1944).

If you move a little further away from the river to find higher ground and climb the Silver Fir Tower (Weisstannenturm). At 44 meters high, this tower offers a splendid view of the Rhine, Strasbourg Cathedral, and on clear days – all the way to the Black Forest and the Vosges mountains.

Categories
Food Restaurant

An Italian restaurant in Strasbourg: La Vetta

La Vetta is a family-run Italian ristorante with an intimate atmosphere, located in a small side street near Strasbourg Cathedral.

Filomena greets her customers like old friends, and takes care of every table with enthusiasm and generosity. Her husband Antonio – bandana tied around his head – works hard in the kitchen with his sous-chef. Italian pop streams out of the speakers, immediately immersing you in the feeling of Neapolitan dolce vita.


The minimal menu is completed by a board of seasonal specials (like truffles, mozzarella di bufala, linguine alle vongole…). The selection is wide enough to satisfy every taste and preference.

For instance, you could start with a glass of prosecco or spritz accompanied with a Parma ham bruschetta, before continuing with a pizza La Vetta (with Parma ham and arugula) or a meat dish (like saltimbocca alla Romana), fish (grilled squid), pasta, risotto, or a vegetarian dish, and end on a sweet note with a tiramisú.

The dishes are house-made, tasty, well-balanced, and cooked to perfection. In the course of a meal, you’re transported to the heart of Italy. Don’t forget to order the tiramisú, which is among our top 3 best tiramisús in town.


La Vetta is one of our favorite places in Strasbourg. One of the reasons for that is the fact that we had our very first date here, when an unexpected serenade from a mandolin player made us feel like we were in Lady and the Tramp. O sole mio… !

Reservations recommended.
(These photos were taken at the beginning of dinner service. When we left, the restaurant was full.)

Ristorante La Vetta 
📍 16B rue du Sanglier, Strasbourg

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Glimpse of

A glimpse of Strasbourg #2

Due to the restrictive measures put in place to combat the Covid-19 pandemic, the terrace at the top of the Vauban Dam was closed for many months. Seeing it finally open again fills us with hope. How wonderful to be back up there, especially when the weather is so lovely! 

The Vauban Dam was built around 1680 as a part of Strasbourg’s defense strategy, following the designs of the Marquis de Vauban, who served as military engineer under Louis XIV. In the event of an attack, the dam made it possible to raise the level of the river Ill, thereby flooding the southern part of the city and rendering it inaccessible to the enemy. 

To this day, the Vauban Dam still spans the Ill across from the four medieval towers of Ponts Couverts in la Petite France. The platform at the top offers a panoramic, 360°-view of the city – with the Ponts Couverts, la Petite France and Strasbourg Cathedral on one side, and the Strasbourg Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MAMCS) on the other. 

On this particular day, we stayed up there for ages, taking in every detail of the city stretching out before us. Taking much-needed time to enjoy the moment. 

After these long months of waiting, the panoramic terrace opening to the public again seemed to signal a new start, and life slowly getting back to normal. Not quite like before, but differently. It gave us a sense of relief, of getting our freedom back, like the past months’ frustration was finally going to fade away. A cautious, careful freedom, but with hope that we will soon be able to put all of this behind us. Making plans for the future seemed possible again. 

Going up to the terrace of the Vauban Dam gave us a new outlook on reality, a different perspective from what we’d been used to in the last year. 

Before going back down to the real world, we looked over to the nearby Strasbourg University Hospital, thinking of the healthcare workers and all the other people who have contributed to the fight against the pandemic. Thank you!

Categories
Event

L’Industrie Magnifique 2021 takes “place” in Strasbourg

A public art fair in Strasbourg squares!

From the 3rd to the 13th of June, the second-ever Industrie Magnifique (“magnificent industry”) celebrates art meeting industry in public spaces in Strasbourg.

70 artists from all over the world, sponsored by 35 benefactor companies, will present 30 original and monumental pieces they’ve created especially for the occasion. For 10 days, 20 public squares in Strasbourg are transformed into open-air art galleries.

This event is this the result of a project that is completely unique, with 3 players – artists, companies and local authorities – working together towards a common goal. For every collaboration, an artist will first meet with a company to create an original, monumental piece of art. Next, the artist-company duo will work with local authorities to exhibit the piece in a public square. Finally, the resulting pieces are presented at a major public event in the center of town: l’Industrie Magnifique.

Our favorite pieces:

• The spectacular installation “MUSEUM OF THE MOON” (Luke Jerram): a hyper-realistic moon, measuring 7 meters across, floating at the center of the nave in Strasbourg Cathedral. (The piece inside the Cathedral is a part of the “Cosmos District” by art collective L’Ososphère, located in place du Château.)

• The monumental sculpture “TERRE DE CIEL” (land/earth of sky) by Patrick Bartardoz: this three-dimensional Tower of Babel, over 7 meters tall, made from bricks, roof tiles, terracotta, metal and glass tiles, can be found in place Broglie.

• The poetic “PORTÉE AUX NUES” (praised to the skies) by Bénédicte Bach: a dreamy sky full of clouds, made from different textures of white leather, suspended above rue des Hallebardes, with the Cathedral as a backdrop.

• The unique and quirky “LIBÈRE TON ÉNERGIE !” (free your energy) by David David, place des Tripiers: this piece uses the artist’s signature character “La Tête dans L’art” (head in the arts), who is isolated from the hustle and bustle of society thanks to the paint bucket he wears on his head.

L’Industrie Magnifique

From the 3rd to the 13th of June 2021

30 pieces made by 70 artists, 20 squares in the center of Strasbourg

Access to the squares where the exhibition takes places is free.

Categories
Glimpse of

A glimpse of Strasbourg #1

The crooked houses between n°22 and n°26 seem to lean against each other, as though they had their own definition of balance.

Between n°23 and n°24, you can see a tiny little garden hidden away in a corner, halfway up the wall. If you don’t take the time to contemplate the organized chaos of the facades, you might miss it. The greenery almost appears to be dancing, winding between lanterns and pots hung higgledy-piggledy around a window. Every now and then, a bird will settle for a few moments on the fine shrubbery. 

Let your eyes wander and take in the details of the sculpted woodwork on the townhouse.

Every now and then, you can hear music streaming out of a window on the second floor next door – a percussionist playing his instruments by the open window. Curious passers-by stop on the street to listen as he plays: the chimes, the xylophone, the cymbals… 

The façades are undergoing renovations soon. Let’s hope this place will retain it’s magic once the work is done.

Categories
Top

Our 15 street art favorites in Strasbourg

Before embarking on a “street art safari” in Strasbourg, we generally begin by agreeing on a search perimeter of a certain number of blocks. Then we comb the streets, looking for a collage, a graffiti piece, a mural, or a painted power box – as if we were looking to spot wild animals on a photo safari in Africa. Whenever we find street art we haven’t seen before, we like to take the time to really examine the piece and figure out what it’s all about, before taking a snapshot of it – as a keepsake.

We love the wildly creative aspect of street art, as well as the accessibility of it, thanks to its presence in public spaces. This form of artistic expression is so much more than just a splash of color or a backdrop for the urban cityscape.

Here are 15 of our favorite street art pieces in Strasbourg

Categories
our favorites

Wisteria hysteria in Strasbourg

Now that the magnolias have blossomed, the wisterias are starting to bloom – signalling the arrival of spring and eventually the early days of summer. Here and there, buildings are clad in creeping, brightly-colored floral terraces, natural spiral staircases, cascades of sparkling lilac or white… Garden archways don their spring attire and bask in the sunlight.Every year, these fragrant climbing clusters enchant photographers, lovers of beauty and flower enthusiasts alike. They also attract bees and bumblebees, who indulge in their nectar.

Here are some of our favorite shots of Strasbourg’s wisterias in bloom:

Categories
Travel

Our photo safari in Africa

Several months before the Covid pandemic, we went on a photo safari to discover the wildlife and landscapes of Namibia and Botswana – also stopping at Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe.

It was during this trip that the idea for this blog was born. 

Reminiscing about our travels in Africa instantly brings back images and memories of all the things we experienced there:

Gazing dreamingly out over vast, wide-open spaces. Observing nature and wildlife, all while respecting their natural habitat. Exploring the Okavango river by mokoro (a traditional Botswanan canoe). Sailing on the Chobe river at the speed of a herd of elephants. Beholding the double rainbows around “The smoke that thunders” at Victoria Falls, and savoring the moment. Admiring the endless dunes of orange sand in the Namib desert. Lingering to watch the animals at a watering hole in Etosha National Park. Taking the time to enjoy the beauty of the light throughout the day, ending in a blazing sunset. Falling asleep to the sound of grunting hippos. 

Here are some of the highlights from our safari in southern Africa:

Categories
unusual Strasbourg

Unusual Strasbourg: the Büchmesser

Located at the corner of rue Mercière and place de la Cathédrale, the belly-measuring column, or “Büchmesser” in Alsatian, was built in 1567 and restored in 2016.

This pink sandstone column is a Strasbourg icon and the vestige of a tradition dating back to the 14th century. 

The bourgeois members of the City Council would use it to gauge their portliness every year for the Schwoertag, which was the day they would swear their allegiance to the Constitution. After being sworn in, they would visit the various guilds in town and attend a feast. Afterwards, if they were unable to slip sideways through the space between the column and the wall of the building, it was time for them to go on a diet. 

Try it yourself, by slipping wetween the belly-measuring column and the wall. The space is 35 centimeters wide! 

Categories
our favorites

12 places to see magnolias in bloom in Strasbourg

Every spring, all over Strasbourg, the trees transform into clouds of pink and white. For just a few days, nature offers us this wonderful display of ephemeral beauty.

The blossoming magnolias are a sign that spring has sprung and that warm summer days are close at hand.

Both visitors and locals flock to admire the flowers, take pictures and selfies, or just sit down at the foot of a tree to enjoy the lovely springtime weather.

We’ve picked out 12 of the best places in Strasbourg to see magnolias in bloom – all fully visible in the public space:

🌐 Enlarge the map »

• Place de la République: there are several magnolia trees at both the north and south end of the park in the middle of the square.  This is definitely one of Strasbourg’s most beautiful and popular spots to see the blossoming magnolias.

• Quai Koch, below pont Royal. Down by the riverside, you’ll find an ideal view of Saint Paul’s church.

• Place Brant, by the bus stop, in front of café Brant. This majestic magnolia tree is the centerpiece of place Brant. The view towards the Palais Universitaire is particularly beautiful.

• Place Broglie, in the garden of Palais du Gouverneur militaire  

• Parc de Contades, at the northeast corner of the park, not far from the passerelle des Arquebusiers. A lovely spot where you can enjoy the calm atmosphere of the parc.

• Parc de l’Orangerie, around Pavillon Joséphine

• Lycée des Pontonniers, visible from pont Saint-Etienne and the banks of the river Ill below

• At the back of Saint-Pierre-le-Jeune Catholic church, at the corner of rue Saint-Arbogast and rue du Général de Castelnau

• Outside 5 rue Fischart (the former Departmental Archives)

The corner of quai Lézay-Marnésia and rue des Récollets, in a garden you can see from the street

• On the University’s Campus de l’Esplanade, between the Faculty of Languages and the Institute of Biological Chemistry  

• Place de l’Étoile, by the main entrance to City Hall

Categories
Food Restaurant

An urban cheesemaker in Strasbourg: Pour de Bon

Pour de Bon (“For good”) is a fairytale come true: the story of the designer who became a cheesemaker. A bold new career choice, but such a fitting one. 

Camille welcomes curious and hungry cheese lovers into her world, for breakfast, brunch (Saturdays and Sundays), lunch or dinner.

Having trained with a « Meilleur Ouvrier de France » cheesemaker, she then went on to work in several Alsatian farms and delicatessens. She’s also drawn inspiration from her encounters and travels, all the way to Australia. 

This pocket-sized restaurant really manages to recreate the atmosphere of an Alsatian farmstead inn, but in the city. The decor mixes modern and traditional elements, while the ingredients are fresh, seasonal, house-made or sourced locally. 

Camille, the bubbly, friendly and cheerful owner, makes her cheeses in-house from cow’s milk or goat milk, in Europe’s smallest cheese factory. She prepares her dishes with love and care, and welcomes her clients as though they were friends.

The brunch menu is simple, but creative and well-balanced, generous, fresh, and light.

We enjoyed the selection of house-made cheeses (cow’s milk, goat cheese and “quaimembert”), made on quai des Pêcheurs. Camille also performed the remarkable feat of making Stéphanie like Camembert and goat cheese! 

We also enjoyed the toasted brioche with apples, roasted beetroot, bacon chips and fromage frais, as well as the pancakes with fromage frais and popcorn.

Camille’s passion and care for her work clearly shine through in her cheeses and in the balance of flavors. 

Sometimes talent really makes it worth while to start your own business “for good”! 

We tested Pour de Bon for the first time while restaurants were still open in France. Since then, we’ve also tried out the take-away brunch, and found it just as fresh and delicious as ever. We doubly recommend this place. Camille is a flavor magician! At the moment, in addition to brunch on Saturdays and Sundays, you can order a selection of treats to go: “apéro” boxes and house-made cheeses, as well as tasty dishes and desserts for both lunch and dinner.

Pour de Bon
📍19 quai des Pêcheurs, Strasbourg 
🔗 View website (in French)