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Top 10 views of la Petite France

La Petite France, Strasbourg’s historic old town, is surrounded by water. Because of the canals of the river Ill winding between the charming, half-timbered houses, this neighborhood reminds us of an Alsatian little Venice. Explore the narrow, cobblestoned streets, or wander the edge of the water. Stop for a moment to enjoy the view on the Ponts Couverts, or the terrace of the Vauban Dam… This old milling and tanning district is an absolute must-see when visiting Strasbourg. 

Here is our selection of the top 10 best views of la Petite France:

10. Alignment of houses, rue du Bain-aux-Plantes 

9. Two half-houses, quai du Woerthel 

8. Half-timbered houses along the water

7. Quai de la Petite France 

6. The lock with a passing sightseeing boat   

5. La Maison des Tanneurs  

4. Le pont du Faisan: the turning footbridge

3. Ponts Couverts and la maison des Ponts Couverts

2. The view from pont Saint-Martin

1. The panoramic view from the terrace of the Vauban Dam, at sunset

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Museum

Visit a museum in Strasbourg: the Musée de l’Œuvre Notre Dame

One of the only museums in Europe entirely dedicated to medieval and Renaissance art.

The Musée de l’Œuvre Notre-Dame can be found on place du Château, practically at the foot of Strasbourg Cathedral. Not only is the museum devoted to the construction of the famous cathedral, it also covers seven centuries of art in Strasbourg upper Rhine region (Alsace, Baden, northwestern Switzerland, and the Palatinate), from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance. The collections showcase the prestigious history of Strasbourg, which from the 13th to the 16th century was one of the main artistic hubs of the Holy Roman Empire.

The museum is located in a series of Gothic and Renaissance-style gabled houses, dating back to the same period as the pieces on show. The Maison de l’Œuvre Notre-Dame is also home to the head office of the Fondation de l’Œuvre Notre Dame (the Notre Dame Workshop Foundation). This institution was created in the early 13th century and is responsible for the upkeep, conservation, and restoration of Strasbourg Cathedral. The Foundation has been listed on UNESCO’s register for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage since December 2020.

The chronological layout shows a great diversity, alternating between medieval statues from the cathedral, sculptures (by Nicolas de Leyde), paintings (by Konrad Witz, Hans Baldung Grien, and Sébastien Stoskopff), stained-glass windows, altarpieces, tapestries, architectural drawings, gold- and silversmithery, and furniture, from the Romanesque period until 1681.

The tempo of the exhibit is perfectly balanced between the different rooms, the courtyard, and the Gothic garden (containing a vast array of aromatic herbs and medicinal plants, in keeping with the medieval garden tradition). The structure and architecture of the houses that make up the museum (spiral staircases, vaults, and archways) create the ideal backdrop for the collections. The façade of the cathedral, which you can spot several times as you wander around the museum, constitutes an anchor point for the visit, materializing the many centuries of history this remarkable work of art has seen.

Musée de l’Œuvre Notre Dame
📍 3 place du Château, Strasbourg

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unusual Strasbourg

Unusual Strasbourg: rue du Jeu-des-Enfants

For many years, rue du Jeu-des-Enfants was like a forgotten side street in the center of Strasbourg, despite its movie theater, shops, and restaurants. Most of the time, people would just pass through while driving from place Saint-Pierre-le-Vieux to place de l’Homme de fer. Thanks to a local initiative, it has been transformed into a vibrant, artsy, and unique street.

In June 2017, rue du Jeu-des-Enfants was given a new look. With the help of a non-profit organization called Akpé (an “alternative architecture lab”), residents and shopkeepers teamed up to re-appropriate this public space. The street was turned into a pedestrian area, and spruced up with plants and splashes of color, like murals, fun street furnishings, suspended art, and multi-colored cobblestones painted on the pavement...

What’s more, the locals have made sure to maintain the newfound dynamic energy of their street. In October 2021, they re-painted the yellow, blue, and orange cobblestone pattern on the ground to make the colors on the pavement nice and bright again, and they planted even more greenery.

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Food Restaurant

An Alsatian restaurant in Strasbourg: Au Pont Corbeau 

Behind crown glass windows in the center of Strasbourg lies a family-owned winstub (a traditional Alsatian restaurant), where authenticity, conviviality and local traditions intermingle.  

The atmosphere is welcoming and typical of the region: wooden paneling and chairs with a heart carved in the backrest, Alsatian illustrations on the walls (particularly by Tomi Ungerer and Hansi), grey and blue Betschdorf stoneware pitchers… 

The rustic ambiance transports us to a different time. Behind the bottle glass windows, we feel like we’re in a cocoon, safe from the outside world. This winstub is like an extension of the Alsatian Museum next door, which is dedicated to the region’s folk arts and traditions.  

The menu proudly highlights Alsatian specialties: choucroute garnie (sauerkraut with a selection of meats, sausage, and potatoes), tête de veau (calf’s head), jambonneau (ham hock), grumbeereckiechle (potato pancakes), munster cheese … The tasty dishes and generous portions provide all the comfort of Alsatian cuisine.  

Le Pont Corbeau is also, and more importantly, a family affair. For over 40 years, Christophe Andt, now joined by his daughter Coralie, has carried on and championed the conviviality and culinary identity of Alsace. This family-oriented approach gives this winstub a strong identity and its very own character. 

What’s more, father and daughter are the loving caretakers of an incredible wine cellar, which they have gradually added to through years of regular meetings with wine makers.

Le Pont Corbeau is more than local wines and specialties. It’s a shared passion for Alsace, its cuisine, and its produce.  

Au Pont Corbeau
📍21 quai Saint Nicolas, Strasbourg

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Food Restaurant

A cozy restaurant in Strasbourg: L’Éveil des Sens

L’Éveil des Sens (The Awakening of the Senses): the name itself is enough to pique one’s interest.

This semi-gourmet restaurant is located in a small Alsatian house in the heart of Strasbourg’s old town, la Petite France. The chef offers a sophisticated cuisine that skillfully combines originality and tradition. Each delicately presented dish is wonderfully fragrant and a feast for the eyes. The flavor combinations are rich and finely balanced.

The menu, which consists of 4 starters, 4 mains, and 4 desserts, changes roughly every 2 months and according to the season. Even with this limited selection, everyone will be able to find something to their taste.

The staff is friendly, the atmosphere is charming and convivial, and the wooden decor with exposed beams is warm and welcoming.

L’Éveil des Sens is the perfect spot for a date night or an evening out with friends.

We particularly enjoyed the muted ambiance in the upstairs room (at dinnertime), the mouthwatering presentation, the dishes being both modern and comforting, and the good value for money. As for the food, the highlights of the evening included the perfectly poached egg with smoked cream and a generous serving of morels, the exotic flavors of the fillet of pollock with white beans, lime and coconut milk, and the zingy freshness of the rice pudding cylinder with yuzu and speculoos.

L’Éveil des Sens
📍Rue des dentelles, Strasbourg

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Travel

Our favorite discoveries in Stockholm 

Much like Oslo and other major cities in Northern Europe, Stockholm has an understated reputation. Even so, this capital is neither sleepy nor boring.

The city’s pursuit of innovation and new technologies does not prevent it from being in touch with its heritage and age-old traditions.

The cobbled streets and colorful houses in Stockholm’s old town (Gamla Stan), where time almost seems to have stopped, expertly contrast with a rich cultural scene, bold designers, and a booming environment for foodies.

One of the capital’s distinctive features is the ubiquity of water. This “floating city”, which is also called the “Venice of the North”, is built on 14 islands, right between the Baltic Sea (to the east) and lake Mälaren (to the west). In addition to having water wherever you turn, the city is surrounded by nature, including a great number of green spaces, and Djurgården island, which is the world’s first urban park. The capital’s proximity to nature is probably one of the reasons why its 975 000 inhabitants try to make responsible environmental choices, making Stockholm one of the most eco-friendly cities in Europe.

Stockholm is the perfect example of differences not necessarily being contradictory, but rather a strength. These contrasts between old and new, nature and city, are part of the city’s identity and create a relaxed, easygoing atmosphere.

It’s truly worth taking the time to explore the Swedish capital and appreciate its unique charm, for example over a long weekend. From Strasbourg, you can travel to Stockholm by plane, via Frankfurt or Paris.

Here is a selection of our favorite discoveries and must-see spots in Stockholm:

Stockholm’s main sights are relatively close to one another, meaning they can quite easily be reached on foot. Walking along the waterfront from one island to the next allows you to take in all the beautiful panoramas the city has to offer.

For a change in perspective, you can take a little boat trip for the price of a bus ticket. We recommend taking ferry number 80 (which is run by Stockholm’s transportation company, SL) from Nybrokajen (in the city center) to Almänna Gränd (near Gröna Lund theme park), or to Blockhusudden on the far end of Djurgården island, a few stops along.

Gamla Stan: wandering through these cobbled streets and alleys, which are all incredibly well maintained, is like walking into a city from another time. This historic part of town is ideal for a few hours of exploring: enjoying the atmosphere in the narrow side streets, admiring the colorful 17th- and 18th-century houses, and the little hidden squares. Taking a peek in the shop windows of antiques dealers, galleries, cobblers, woodworkers, or jewelers: trades and skills that are carried on in Gamla Stan to this day. Stopping for a “fika” (a typically Swedish coffee break) in a café away from the main tourist haunts, to enjoy a kanelbulle (cinnamon bun). Don’t miss these spots in Gamla Stan: Österlånggatan, Vesterlånggatan, Prästgatan, and Stortorget

Skeppsholmen bridge (Skeppsholmsbron) is one of Stockholm’s most distinctive bridges, adorned with a golden crown on either side, and offering an amazing view of the old town. Once you’ve crossed the bridge, we suggest taking a lovely walk around Skeppsholmen (ships’ islet), which will take around 30 minutes. First stop, the impressive three-master af Chapman (which has been made into a youth hostel), before continuing around Kastellholmen (castle islet) and up to the lookout point, which has a beautiful view of the other side of the bay. The docks at Norra Brobänken (where you’ll find dozens of old boats pampered by their owners) will lead you back to Skeppsholmsbron.

Stockholm City Hall: the outline of City Hall’s tower, with its spire topped with Sweden’s Three Crowns, if one of the most famous views in Stockholm. We spent a long time enjoying the courtyard and archways, as well as the vast terrace, leading almost directly out onto the water. It reminded us of the Doge’s Palace in Venice. When we were there, a bride and groom had chosen this iconic setting for their wedding photos. For a more panoramic view of the tower, Evert Taubes Terrass on Riddarholmen (knights’ islet) is ideal.

Strandvägen: an exclusive avenue along the waterfront, lined with high-end buildings and townhouses. This road is 1,2 km long and runs from Nybroplan to Djurgården.

Djurgården: having once been the king’s hunting grounds, this island was later converted into the world’s first urban park. This massive green lung, stretching over 279 hectares, has several kilometers of peaceful walkways along the water. Djurgården is also home to plenty of restaurants, hotels, and a theme park (Gröna Lund), as well as major museums, such as the Vasa Museum, the Nordic Museum, and Skansen.

• The indoor market Östermalms Saluhall: we happened upon this covered food market while exploring Östermalm (the Eastern borough). What first drew our attention was the building’s impressive red brick architecture. Inside, the monumental wrought-iron structure has retained its 19th-century spirit. The elegantly sculpted wooden stalls and restaurants have generous displays of fresh and appetizing food.

To explore further:

• The Vasa Museum (Djurgården): the warship Vasa is the world’s most well-preserved 17th-century vessel. It is adorned with carved wooden sculptures and is still made up of around 98% of its original parts.

Skansen (à Djurgården) is the oldest open-air museum in the world.

• The Outer Courtyard of the Royal Palace: with over 600 rooms, Stockholm’s Royal Palace is one of Europe’s grandest palaces. It is the official residence of the king of Sweden.

Fotografiska: inside a repurposed 20th-century brick building on the banks of the Baltic Sea, you’ll find Fotografiska Museet, which is one of the largest museums ever dedicated to contemporary photography.

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Hotel

Where to stay in Strasbourg: Hotel LÉONOR

A few years ago, we noticed a very small tree had grown on the façade of the former police station, located at number 11, rue de la Nuée Bleue in Strasbourg. The building, which stood unoccupied from 2010 to 2017, has since been completely transformed after four years of renovations. The little tree has disappeared, and the old police station has been turned into a beautiful 4-star hotel.

Hotel LÉONOR, which opened at the end of 2021, was conceived as a lively hub, open to the people of Strasbourg. The contrast between the majestic 19th-century façade and the contemporary lobby makes for a very promising first impression.

The wings of the building are centered around a large interior courtyard. On the ground floor, you will find the hotel’s lounge bar, as well as a restaurant with its very own culinary signature.

The LÉONOR’s “Anytime” menu should satisfy any craving, no matter the time of day. Our favorite part was the tea-time pastries, like the Chocolat pralinéglace noisette, which consists of a hazelnut dome adorned with chocolate petals, along with hazelnut ice cream. We enjoyed this with a cup of Marco Polo, a fruity black tea from Mariage Frères. If felt like the height of luxury when Jérôme said, “Stephanie, you have a little gold leaf on your lip…”. 

In the evening, we enjoyed the lounge atmosphere with a couple of spicy cocktails, like Ninette à la Cour (with black tea-infused vodka, ginger liqueur, pear, spiced syrup, and lemon), and Les Amants Magnifiques (with mezcal, mango extract, chili tincture, agave syrup, and lime).

The hotel’s interior was designed by world-famous interior architect Jean-Philippe Nuel, who flawlessly combines tradition and modernity. His design studio has taken a less formal approach to decorating this historical space, in order to create a more laid-back setting. This esthetic dialogue with the building’s past is part of the LÉONOR’s identity.

For overnight guests, there are a total of 116 rooms over 3 floors, ranging from classic rooms to more luxurious suites.

As soon as we had made our reservation, the questionnaire sent to us by e-mail set the tone for our stay. Every effort was made to ensure that our check-in went smoothly, and to anticipate our needs and wishes for our stay in Strasbourg.

The interior of the rooms feels modern, featuring a combination of warm hues like ochre, natural and untreated materials, as well as both vintage and custom-made furniture. These rooms were made with tranquility, refinement, comfort, and relaxation in mind.

In each room, there is a rec ochre accent wall with a motif that looks as if it has faded with time, reminding us that this place is full of history

The former residence of Marshal Léonor Marie du Maine de Bourg (Governor of Alsace, then Marshal of France), whom the LÉONOR owes its name to, has changed significantly since his time. This formerly private mansion, which has been tastefully transformed into a chic contemporary hotel, is a worthy heir to its rich history, and truly lives up to its promise to be the new place to live in Strasbourg! The little tree, which had piqued our curiosity back then, was in fact a sign that something exceptional was going to happen here, although we didn’t know it at the time.

We’ll probably be back soon to try the out the restaurant menu – created by Michelin-star chefs Nicolas Stamm-Corby and Serge Schaal, and enjoy the outside seating in the courtyard.

We particularly enjoyed

  • The meticulously thought-out interior decoration that is respectful of the building’s past 
  • The welcoming, attentive, and friendly staff 
  • The modern, relaxing, and muted ambiance

Hôtel LÉONOR
📍 11 rue de la Nuée Bleue, Strasbourg

We stayed at the hotel LÉONOR in the winter of 2022. This article reflects our personal opinions and has not been written in exchange for any form of compensation

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Food Restaurant

A Michelin-star restaurant in Alsace: La Merise

After a 30-minute drive from Strasbourg, we arrive in Laubach, a tiny village with a population of only 300. In the middle of the Alsatian countryside, this is where Cédric and Christelle Deckert have chosen to establish their gourmet restaurant (2 Michelin stars) – La Merise.

Nestled in a peaceful and pastoral environment, this building in the traditional Alsatian style is surrounded by an orchard, an herb garden, and several beehives.

The decoration is classic and subtle, with a harmonious combination of high-quality materials. The atmosphere is both calming and bright.

We happily follow the instructions and advice from the kind and attentive staff, as well as the sommelier, who is the guardian of a wine cellar containing over 5000 bottles.

The cuisine at La Merise aims for authenticity, precision, and most importantly, intelligibility. The latter pursuit becomes obvious as soon as we read the descriptions on the menu, which are all clear and easily understandable.

Each dish is carefully and skillfully prepared, with ingredients picked out by the chef for each season, which he then showcases and sublimates. The presentations are tasteful, elegant, and graphic. Every dish in the Menu Découverte (Discovery Menu) are served at an agreeable pace, allowing us to fully enjoy the experience.

The chef subtly reinterprets French classics, as well as dishes from his childhood, by incorporating a wide range of influences. The flavors are clear-cut, without any garish blends. As a result, everything is balanced to perfection.

Having quickly become one of the places to go for fine dining in Alsace, La Merise has gone from one distinction to the next since it first opened in 2016. The restaurant was awarded its first Michelin star in 2018, and a second star in 2021. It recently also became a member of the prestigious restaurant association les Grandes Tables du Monde.

We particularly enjoyed how every ingredient was cooked with such precision, and the sauces were silky and flavorful. Another highlight was the bold and inventive combinations, the balance of seasonings, and the sweet nostalgia of the desserts. From the Menu Découverte, we’d especially like to mention the enticing and delicately scented red mullet with Madras curry (which instantly transported us to a spice market in southern India), blending with the freshness of the coconut soup; the melt-in-your-mouth texture of the roast pigeon breast, and the subtle and full-bodied flavor of the reduced jus with ginger.

La Merise
📍7 rue d’Eschbach, 67580 Laubach

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Day trip

A day trip from Strasbourg: Colmar

Explore Colmar, a day trip less than an hour away from Strasbourg. This beautiful town, whose heritage spans from the Middle Ages to the 19th century, is one of the most prized gems of Alsace.

Colmar is easy to reach from Strasbourg, either by car or by train. More than 40 trains shuttle between the two cities every day, taking around 40 minutes each way. We decide to take the train, as much for the sake of the environment as to avoid having to worry about traffic and parking.

A flock of pigeons standing neatly in a row outside the train station is our welcoming committee upon our arrival in Colmar. Could this be a nod to the town’s old Roman name – Colombarium – the place where doves nest?

The Petite Venise (Little Venice) district and the pedestrian streets in the old town are about a 15-minute walk from the train station, passing by the Cour d’Appel (Court of Appeals) and through the parc du Château d’Eau (with a beautiful old water tower).

We start by exploring Colmar’s main must-see sights

• The picture-postcard neighborhood of la Petite Venise certainly owes its name to the rows of half-timbered houses lining the river Lauch. The buildings remind us of a gingerbread village. If you truly want to imagine yourself in the Venice, you can book a sightseeing tour in a shallow boat.

• Quai de la Poissonnerie: the fishermen of Colmar used to live in these colorful half-timbered houses along the quay.

Maison Pfister: this house, which once belonged to a prominent merchant, is a 16th-century treasure. It’s one of Colmar’s most iconic buildings, and the first example of Renaissance architecture in the city.

• Maison Adolph: the oldest house in town.

St. Martin’s church, which was built between 1235 and 1365, is one of Alsace’s major works of Gothic architecture.

• The Koïfhus (the old customs house) is Colmar’s oldest public building.

• The market halls (marché couvert) date back to 1865. The building, which combines brickwork and cast-iron framework, contains twenty-odd stalls offering fresh and local produce.

The charming and colorful city center is the ideal place to wander around, and it’s very easy to get from sight to sight on foot. Getting lost in the web of side streets in the old town is the perfect way to take in the atmosphere and fully enjoy the spirit of Colmar.

Colmar is also home to several museums, such as the Unterlinden Museum and the Bartholdi Museum:

• The Unterlinden Museum, which was inaugurated in 1853, is located in a former Dominican monastery. The museum collection includes paintings and sculptures dating from the Middle Ages to the 21st century, such as the famous Issenheim altarpiece (le retable d’Issenheim), as well as works by Picasso, Monet, or even Dubuffet.

• The Bartholdi Museum is dedicated to the man behind the Statue of Liberty, Auguste Bartholdi, who was born in Colmar. As an homage to Bartholdi, a scaled-down replica of the famous New York statue has been placed in a roundabout just north of Colmar (about a 10-minute drive from the center of town).

 

Colmar has served as inspiration to artists around the world. For instance, Hayao Miyazaki, the iconic Japanese director behind Studio Ghibli, was inspired by the architecture of the houses of Colmar when he created his animated feature film Howl’s Moving Castle (2004). 

It’s no coincidence that Colmar is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Alsace. Its position at the heart of the world-famous Route des Vins (the wine road) makes it even more attractive, since the picturesque villages of the area, like Kaysersberg and Riquewihr, are less than 15 km away.

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Glimpse of

A glimpse of Strasbourg #3: Cathedral

Strasbourg’s Notre-Dame Cathedral is the main symbol of the city. It always pulls us in with its own kind of magnetism. Stopping by the Cathedral square and place du Château is always a part of the ritual for our walks around town, as if we had a subconscious need to visit a dear old friend.

We often like to sit down for a while in place du Château and gaze at this masterpiece of Gothic art. Almost every time, we spot a statue, low relief, or architectural detail we hadn’t noticed before. When the weather is nice, the sunlight and shadows dancing on the pink sandstone from the Vosges mountains gives the façade a distinctive hue.

Imagining thousands of craftsmen and architects working for 250 years to build this monument of over 100 000 tons of stone, without the techniques and technologies we have access to today, is beyond impressive. This immense work of art is the expression of skills passed down for centuries. The Cathedral has followed the city through countless generations, witnessing numerous wars and conflicts. It’s also inspired tales and legends, like the story of the Devil’s Wind.

Gazing at the Cathedral sometimes brings back childhood memories for Jérôme – when he would sit in class on the top floor of his school, and daydream while he admired the amazing view of the Cathedral. He could never get enough of looking at it, noticing how the stone façade would change colors with the seasons and the weather.

The Cathedral’s location in the very heart of Strasbourg, and its single, intricate stone spire reaching 142 meters, make it one of the city’s tallest, most majestic structures, as well as a landmark visible from several different spots. Its uniqueness gives it an even greater power of attraction for visitors and locals alike. It is truly Strasbourg’s most iconic building: Paris has the Eiffel Tower, and Strasbourg has its Cathedral. It is no coincidence that Notre-Dame de Strasbourg has been the most visited landmark in Alsace ever since it was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1988, along with the rest of the Grande Île.

And if this Grand Lady holds a special place in our hearts, it is also because we got married there, on a beautiful day in September 2018…

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Seasons

Strasbourg through the seasons: la Maison des Ponts Couverts

La Maison des Ponts Couverts is located on an islet off the Ponts Couverts, in the historic old neighborhood of la Petite France in Strasbourg. It is overlooked by two fortified 14th-century towers, vestiges of the medieval city walls.

In the spring, the view of the house’s arbor covered in blossoming wisteria, with Strasbourg Cathedral in the background, attracts (too?) many Instagrammers and tourists.

La Maison des Ponts Couverts, which has been owned by the City of Strasbourg since 1960, is now a visitation center for families in situations of custody conflict.

With each changing season, Strasbourg reveals a new side of itself, a particular charm and unique atmosphere.

While exploring Strasbourg, we strive to capture the city in every light and shade the seasons offer us throughout the year.

After the muted shades of winter, nature awakens once more. Then the warmth of summer will follow, before giving way to blazing autumnal colors.

(Re)discover la Maison des Ponts Couverts at different times of year:

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Museum

Visit a museum in Strasbourg: the Historical Museum

An educational journey through the history of Strasbourg.

Located in the middle of Strasbourg’s old town, only a stone’s throw from the Cathedral and the Palais Rohan, the Historical Museum tells visitors the history of Strasbourg – from the Middle Ages to the end of WWII and the founding of the European institutions. 

The building that houses the museum’s collections today was built for the city’s butchers in 1588. Between 1987 and 2007 the museum was closed to the public, before undergoing full renovations and refurbishments, in keeping with a more modern museography. 

A dynamic and interactive exhibit allows visitors to gain a better understanding of Strasbourg’s past, as a city that lies at the border of several cultures and the junction of many travelling routes. It illustrates the rich history of Strasbourg (trade, inventions, local crafts, conflicts, democracy…) as well as its evolution (esthetic, architectural, linguistic, and cultural).

Visitors are taken from room to room in chronological order, but the collections are also organized by theme. This way, you can learn about trade and guilds, 15th and 16th-century weapons and armors, Strasbourg’s relations with neighboring towns, the evolution of the city’s nationality (back and forth between French and German), artisan crafts and local bourgeoisie, rules and restrictions for dressing according to one’s social class, the birth of the printing press (Gutenberg), Humanism (Erasmus) and the Reformation, the annexation of Strasbourg by Louis XIV, the “Marseillaise” written by Rouget de Lisle in Strasbourg, Kléber and the French Revolutionary Wars, the golden age of the University of Strasbourg (chemistry, medicine, zoology), WWI and WWII… All the traditions and events that have helped shape the city’s unique identity through the ages.

Upstairs, do as we did and take some time to observe the detail of the massive scale model of the city as it was in 1727 – which shows all the changes made to the fortifications after Vauban – and try to locate the museum building (The city is represented at 1:600, and the Cathedral at 1:500)

Particular care has been taken with the museography and interactive presentations, to “look at the city with fresh eyes”. Each historical period is color coded (green for Antiquity, red for the Middle Ages, blue for modern times…). The explanations are educational and in three languages (French, English, and German), complemented by touch-screen tablets. The presentation of the museum collection has been conceived almost as a stage setting. The museography offers a sensory journey through the ages, where visitors are encouraged to touch, draw, interact with the exhibit, to try on hats or costume accessories (like the bicorn hat of “la Belle Strasbourgeoise”, whose portrait by Nicolas de Largillière hangs in Strasbourg’s Museum of Fine Arts). 

The combination of the items on display, the paintings, explanations, and most importantly the museum’s interactive and digital approach (interactive screens, QR codes…) lets each visitor customize their own experience.

The Historical Museum of the City of Strasbourg
📍 2 rue du Vieux Marché aux Poissons, Strasbourg

Categories
Day trip

A day trip from Strasbourg: hiking in Le Hohwald

Starting from the village of Le Hohwald, enjoy a nice hike through forests and hillside landscapes. This round-trip hike is about 9 km long, taking around 2,5 to 3 hours along marked and well-maintained trails. 

Starting point: Le Hohwald. You will find several free, small parking lots around the village (by the post office, across from the Grand Hôtel, and another one a little further down the main road). 

Start the hike by walking up rue Herrenhaus, just beyond the public toilets. This climb is a little steep, but it will not get more difficult than this first climb. 

Something we enjoy about hiking is the “treasure hunt” aspect of it, meaning you have to spot the painted markings posted along the path in order to follow the itinerary. During the first leg of the hike, follow the red rectangles all the way to la cascade de l’Andlau (the Andlau waterfall).

The trail snakes its way through the forest, with its many species of trees, and passes moss-covered stones, stumps, and fallen tree trunks. You cross little wooden bridges over babbling brooks. In autumn, the track is carpeted with the hues of golden-brown leaves.

You can climb down to the waterfall from the track via a steep path. The (short) trip is more than worth it however, especially in the summertime, if you’d like a refreshing break. The waterfall has about a twenty-meter drop and is surrounded by lush greenery.

Once you are done admiring the falls, climb back up to the main trail and follow the red crosses.

Shortly after the waterfalls, towards la Chaume des Veaux, the woods make way for an open hillside landscape, where the trail is level with the treetops on the other side of the valley.

Walk along rolling fields of grass with peacefully grazing cows. The bench overlooking the ridge line of the Vosges mountains is the perfect place to stop for a picnic.

The final leg of the hike runs through another wooded area, which is quite different from the first. Alternating between several different kinds of forest and open spaces makes for a varied experience and guarantees that you’ll never be bored. 

After the red crosses, halfway through the second stretch of forest, start following the blue crosses to head back to Le Hohwald. The ringing of cowbells in the distance is a surefire sign that you’re approaching the village. 

As you exit the forest, take a right and follow the sidewalk all the way back down to your parking lot. 

This hike is such a lovely, calming, revitalizing experience. This might be because you spend a long time under the trees, enjoying the refreshing effects of “forest bathing”, which the Japanese call Shinrin-yoku.

To make sure you’re at ease on the trails, we recommend wearing a comfortable pair of hiking shoes.  This walk is accessible all year, even with children, as long as you bring the appropriate clothing, footwear, and equipment for the season, and adapt to the weather conditions.

Categories
Travel

A postcard from our trip to Paris 

“The Capital of fashion and culture”, “City of Lights”, “the city of love”… Paris has many nicknames.

The French capital has always been a source of inspiration for artists, whether they are authors, painters, photographers, or directors.  Jean-Pierre Jeunet for instance, spun his urban poetry from the neighborhood of Montmartre and made Paris one of the main characters in his movie Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain, better known to English-speaking audiences as Amélie

In a way, it was this pleasant, kindly, cozy atmosphere we went looking for, or at least tried to reproduce, during our recent trip to Paris.  However, we were also conscious of the fact that the city could bring on a case of “Paris Shokogun” (also known as Paris Syndrome), which is the feeling of disenchantment experienced by certain Japanese tourists when they first visit the city.  To our great pleasure, the city worked its magic (almost perfectly). 

There’s nothing quite like (re)discovering a city on foot to take in its atmosphere. We took the time to explore and walk the streets of the capital, as we love to do in Strasbourg, whenever we go on a Strafari.

Here is the postcard from our trip to Paris, with photos from our favorite spots and neighborhoods :

The covered passages
The Palais-Royal Garden and the Colonnes de Buren
The Louvre, the Tuileries Garden and place de la Concorde
Pont Alexandre III and the Seine
Place Vendôme
The Eiffel Tower
Montmartre and the Sacré Cœur
The Luxembourg Gardens
Musée d’Orsay
Rooftops and department stores
The Marais
Continue your trip with a weekend in Strasbourg…

The covered passages

To get a taste of 19th-century Parisian charm, we recommend exploring the covered passages, which are pedestrian shopping arcades located near the grands boulevards and place de la Bourse. You can easily walk from one passage to the next, starting with Passage Verdeau (1847) with its antiques shops and old boutiques. Next, Passage Jouffroy (1836) stands out thanks to its marble flooring and arched glass roof. Most notably, this passage is home to the Musée Grévin. Passage des Panoramas (1799) is Paris’ very first covered passage. We decide to play a game: imagining our perfect meal by combining in our minds the suggested day’s specials on the different boards in front of the restaurants in the arcade. 

Galerie Colbert (1823), which is more centered on culture, has the distinctive feature of not containing a single shop.  It does however have a beautiful rotunda, crowned with a glass dome. 

The neighboring Galerie Vivienne (1823), which is bathed in light thanks to its glass skylight and has colorful mosaic flooring, is one of Paris’ most iconic passages. Looking for our next read among the leather-bound volumed with gilt lettering in the charming bookshop Librairie Jousseaume makes us feel like we’ve traveled back to the 19th century.

Stéphanie begins to daydream, imagining herself living in a beautiful home above a Parisian passage, where she can watch people stroll by under the glass below. She fully expects a man in a three-piece suit and top hat, accompanied by a woman in a full-skirted walking dress with delicate lace ruffles, to appear at any moment.

The Palais Royal Garden and the Colonnes de Buren

Created by the famous Cardinal de Richelieu in 1633, the Palais Royal was home to the royal families of France until the Palace of Versailles was completed. 

While searching for a bench where we can sit and enjoy our Parisien sandwich (the classic ham and butter, of course) in the garden, we realize there are philosophical quotes written on the back of several benches. We go from one bench to the next, choosing the most suitable one for our meal: “You eat your memories with the spoon of oblivion.” Or rather our vanilla éclair with a recycled spoon…

Once we’ve eaten, we move on to the 260 octagonal black-and-white striped columns or different sized, made by French artist Daniel Buren. The magical atmosphere in the courtyard encourages everyone to make of the columns what they like. Children climb them like mountains, use them as stepping stones over an imaginary river, or transform them into giant slalom poles. Older generations tend to use the columns to take a seat, share a conversation, enjoy the sunshine, or as a background for their selfies.  We must admit, we hadn’t played leapfrog in a very long time. “All grown-ups were once children,” Antoine de Saint-Exupéry once said. The Colonnes de Buren are a perfect illustration of that.

As we’re leaving the esplanade, we spot a young bride and groom with their photographer, looking for the perfect spot to immortalize their special day. The groom, elegantly dressed in black and white, stands stick straight as he poses, almost blending in with the monochrome columns.

The Louvre, the Tuileries Garden and place de la Concorde

The cour Napoléon offers a striking architectural contrast between the historical palace, which is home to one of the world’s most famous museums, and the pyramid (composed of 603 glass rhombuses and 70 glass triangles), which was designed in the 1980s by Chinese American architect Ieoh Ming Pei.

Just a stone’s throw away, the Tuileries Garden is an invitation to take a relaxing stroll along the park’s ornamental pools. It was redesigned by Louis XIV’s landscape architect André Le Nôtre, who created its current jardin à la française look.  The central walkway follows a perspective leading first to place de la Concorde, and then the Arc de Triomphe.  

On the side closest to the Seine, the terrasse du Bord de l’eau is a lovely part of the garden. This tree-lined raised terrace offers a different view of the Louvre palace on one end, and the place de la Concorde on the other. As you move away from the Louvre, the Seine appears to the left, and you can admire the garden below on the right.

Located at the East end of the Champs-Elysées and lined with high-end hotels, place de la Concorde is the largest square in Paris. Its main features are the Luxor Obelisk (which dates back to ancient Egypt) and the two monumental fountains (the Fountain of the Seas and the Fountain of the Rivers).

Pont Alexandre III and the Seine

The Pont Alexandre III, which spans the Seine between the Invalides and the Grand and Petit Palais, was inaugurated during the 1900 World’s Fair. It is recognizable by its massive decorative columns mounted with gilded bronze Pegasi. The bridge was named after Czar Alexander III, who formed the Franco-Russian alliance with French president Sadi Carnot (1891-1893).

From the middle of the bridge, over the head of a statue of a river nymph, we can enjoy the view of the Eiffel Tower, veiled in a halo of autumn haze.  In an instant however, the sun peeks out and the fog lifts. 

Place Vendôme

Place Vendôme is the center for fine jewelry in Paris.  Towering in the middle of the square, the Vendôme column was erected by Napoleon I in commemoration of the battle of Austerlitz. It was cast in bronze from cannons taken from the Russian and Austrian armies.

While Jérôme tries to get some good shots of the column standing out against the blue sky, Stéphanie takes a walk along the jewelers’ shop windows, and falls in love with a pair of gold and blue sapphire earrings. 

The Eiffel Tower 

Built by Gustave Eiffel for the 1889 World’s Fair, the Eiffel Tower is Paris’ most legendary landmark by far.  It’s a veritable icon. In the daytime, all over town, people scan their surroundings hoping to spot its famous outline. At night, the tower is easily spotted thanks to its golden appearance, with a beacon at the top, sweeping its light over the horizon. Most beautiful of all is when it lights up and sparkles against the dark sky for five minutes every hour after nightfall.

We recommend two spots to get a good view of this 324-meter-tall iron lady: the Champ de Mars and Trocadéro, on the other bank of the Seine. 

The corner of rue de l’Université and avenue de la Bourdonnais is another popular spot for Instagrammers. 

When the weather is nice, take the stairs or elevators up to the middle or upper level and enjoy an incomparable view of the city. To make the most of your visit, you can even try the Eiffel tower’s different shops and restaurants. Don’t forget to book your ticket upfront.

If you want to admire the tower from a different angle, we recommend taking the metro. Line 6 runs overground as it crosses the Seine over the Bir-Hakeim bridge, creating an impressive tracking shot effect.

Montmartre and Sacré Cœur 

From the Sacré-Cœur Basilica, towering at the very top of Montmartre (the highest point in Paris), the panoramic view of the city is breathtaking. The basilica, built in the Romano-Byzantine style, is easily recognizable by its immaculate white travertine stone façade, a material which was chosen for its self-cleaning properties upon contact with water.

We stay up there for a long while, admiring the view and trying to point out the different landmarks on the skyline below us. Just as we are about to leave, the sky is set ablaze with a brilliant sunset in hues of pink and orange. Such beauty! It truly makes the effort to climb the dozens of stairs needed to reach the top of the hill, worth it.  That being said, you can also take the funicular railway to the top.

Place du Tertre, just nearby, is a hub for painters and portrait artists. 

Before them, great artists such as André de Toulouse-Lautrec, Juan Miro or even Vincent Van Gogh, lived in Montmartre. The Bateau-Lavoir is one of Paris’ most famous artist residences, where such illustrious names as Pablo Picasso, André Matisse, Amedeo Modigliani, Guillaume Apollinaire and Jean Cocteau had their ateliers.

Montmartre is also known as the cabaret district, with legendary places such as le Lapin-Agile, chez Michou, or the world-famous Moulin Rouge. The cabaret Patachou was the debut stage for the likes of Georges Brassens, Jacques Brel, and Charles Aznavour. 

We walk back down the hill via the steep side-streets and stairways of the bustling Abbesses quarter.

The Luxembourg Gardens

Stretching over 25 hectares, the Luxembourg Gardens are the gardens of the Luxembourg Palace, which is home to the French Senate. The palace was commissioned by Maria de’ Medici and inspired by the Palazzo Pitti in Florence. 

Located at the border between Saint-Germain-des-Prés and the Latin Quarter, it is greatly appreciated by the locals for their daily walks and weekend runs. The gardens offer a range of different activities for all ages and all seasons: a puppet theater, a kiosk renting out little sail boats, a merry-go-round, pony riding, tennis courts, exhibits, a bandstand, an apiary, an orchard…

Musée d’Orsay

The Musée d’Orsay moved into the former railway station Gare d’Orsay in 1986. The building had been designed for the 1900 World’s Fair, making the museum’s architecture a work of art in itself. 

The museum’s collection spans different forms of artistic expression in the Western world from 1848 to 1914: painting, architecture, sculpture, decorative arts, and photography. It is well-known throughout the world for its vast collection of impressionist works (Van Gogh, Manet, Cézanne, Monet, Renoir, Degas, Caillebotte, Pissarro, Sisley, Morisot, Signac…).

On the top floor, before entering the rooms dedicated to impressionist art, visitors eagerly pose and take pictures in front of the monumental clock, with an incredible perspective of the rooftops of Paris and the Sacré-Cœur visible through the glass dial. The scene feels like taking a deep breath before an incredible experience. 

Every time he comes to Paris, Jérôme loves to visit the Musée d’Orsay and really observe the paintings, especially impressionist pieces – with Paul Signac as a firm favorite.  The beauty of these works of art is truly enhanced by the setting of this old railway station.

Being able to take the time to contemplate a painting in its entirety, approaching it to look at certain details and savoring the feeling for a moment before moving on to the next, is a form of meditation to him.

Rooftops and department stores

On boulevard Haussmann, the department stores Galeries Lafayette and Printemps are worth a visit, and not just for shopping lovers:

Galeries Lafayette: don’t miss the massive interior cupola and the panoramic rooftop terrace, which offers a view of the surrounding rooftops and main landmarks of the city. 

• Our favorite: the view from the 7th-floor rooftop terrace of the Printemps department store, crowned by cut stone rotundas at every corner. This place is a gem that will take you back to Paris in its Art Nouveau heyday! The panoramic view of the Opéra Garnier, the Panthéon, the Eiffel Tower, the dome of the Invalides and the rooftops of Paris, is unique. 

Another temple of shopping and French art de vivre, la Samaritaine, reopened this summer after 16 years of renovations. Do not skip a visit to this masterpiece Art Nouveau architecture.

The glass skylight, the Eiffel-style steel structure and the 115-meter-long peacock fresco are truly remarkable.

The Marais

The Marais district makes us feel like we’re in a village in the very heart of Paris. Despite attracting many tourists, it seems to have retained a vibrant local atmosphere. 

The Marais is known for its great diversity, long history, rich architectural and cultural heritage, and its bustling environment. It is home to a harmonious combination of cafés, bars, little shops, art galleries, paved side-streets, and world-famous landmarks. 

Here’s what you shouldn’t miss in the Marais:

• City Hall (Hôtel de Ville) with its Neo-Renaissance style architecture

• The Pompidou Center: this museum contains 6 floors of spaces dedicated entirely to art and culture. Its modern and contemporary art collection is the largest in Europe. 

• The Picasso Museum is dedicated to the life and work of Spanish painter Pablo Picasso.

• Place des Vosges. This green haven surrounded by charming brick buildings is the oldest square in Paris. Such famous historical figures as Victor Hugo, Madame de Sévigné and Colette have lived here.

• The Jewish quarter and rue des Rosiers: a legendary street dotted with independent shops, falafel restaurants, and Jewish bakeries and grocer’s shops. 

• The 16th-century half-timbered houses on rue François Miron (like a piece of Alsace in Paris), and Nicolas Flamel’s house on rue de Montmorency. Built in 1407, it is the oldest house in the city. 

• The antiques shops in Village St Paul-Le Marais. If Stéphanie weren’t a translator, she would almost certainly have become an antiques dealer.

Continue your trip with a weekend in Strasbourg…

Why not extend your stay in France with a trip to Strasbourg? Strasbourg is a dynamic, European city, endowed with a rich cultural heritage (with several UNESCO World Heritage site), and has a great number of assets. The city is located only 1 hour and 50 minutes from Paris by train. By the time you’ve watched a movie or read a few chapters of the book that’s been lying on your bedside table for weeks, you’ve arrived. Discover our complete guide for your first visit to Strasbourg!

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Café Food Tea room

A sophisticated brunch in Strasbourg: Hotel Maison Rouge

Located between la Petite France and the Cathedral and a mere stone’s throw from place Kléber, the Hotel Maison Rouge is one of Strasbourg’s most iconic hotels. It recently reopened, looking like new after three years of renovations.

This 5-star establishment with 131 rooms offers a brunch menu to hotel clients and outside guests alike, every Sunday from 11:00 to 15:00.

After passing the hotel reception, we go up one floor to the Salons Mistinguett (named after the French cabaret entertainer, famous throughout the Belle Époque and Roaring Twenties). The staircase is decorated with stained-glass windows depicting scenes of Alsatian towns and villages.

The Salons Mistinguett have a particularly elegant interior, using a surprising yet harmonious blend of colors (antique pink, emerald green, with accents of yellow gold, black-and-white mosaic tiles, and greenery) and materials (marble surfaces, velvet seating, and clean-cut metal light fixtures). The choice of mixing Alsatian elements with Art Deco-style details works wonderfully well. The muted atmosphere, cushy velvet seats and calming jazzy playlist make a perfect combination for a cozy meal.

The hotel’s Sunday brunch allows you to sample both the breakfast buffet and à la carte items, as well as cold and hot drinks, in an all-you-can eat combo at 48€ per person. 

The buffet offers a large variety of sweet treats (breakfast pastries, brioches, cakes, muffins, cookies, buns, fresh fruit salad, yogurt, desserts…), savory dishes (smoked salmon, cold cuts, shrimp, duck breast, hot dishes, cheese, marinated chicken, roasted vegetables…) and cold drinks (freshly squeezed juices, different kinds of water). 

Several sweet (pancakes, brioche French toast, Bircher muesli) and savory dishes (trout gravlax, avocado toast, any style of eggs) and hot drinks (a selection of coffee, tea, herbal tea, and hot chocolate) are made to order and served at the table. 

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Despite the hotel’s high standing, the team is neither haughty nor sniveling. Quite the opposite. Friendly hospitality is ingrained in the very backbone of the house, which has a prestigious history going back all the way to 1387. This heritage is mastered to a T, as the whole team does their utmost to pamper the guests and ensure their comfort.

We particularly enjoyed the Art Deco-inspired decor, the very attentive service, the hot chocolate and cappuccino with a rich milk froth, the subtly scented Earl Grey tea, the eggs Benedict served on a dampfnudel with trout gravlax, and the brioche French toast, which was wonderfully fluffy and moist.

Sunday brunch at the Hotel Maison Rouge is a new experience in sophistication and refinement, ideal for a relaxing moment in Strasbourg.

Reservations are recommended.

Maison Rouge Strasbourg Hotel & Spa, Autograph Collection
📍 4 rue des Francs-Bourgeois, Strasbourg


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Day trip

A day trip from Strasbourg: Mittelbergheim

A day trip less than 100 km from Strasbourg, through the vineyards of Mittelbergheim.

After having visited Kaysersberg and Riquewihr, two iconic villages along la Route des Vins d’Alsace (the Alsace Wine Route), we wanted to explore more of the region’s vineyards.

Mittelbergheim is a charming little winegrowing village located on a beautiful hillside, around 30 kilometers from Strasbourg.

The starting point for our hike is a tiny parking lot called parking du Zotzenberg (free of charge) at the top of the village, which leads straight out to the vines above.

After entering the vineyards, we take a left at the fork in the road and follow the paved path running through the landscape. The two towers of the Château d’Andlau appear in the background.

At the end of the path, we turn right and go a little further uphill, then right again. This part of the walk offers an incredible view of Mittelbergheim and its two church towers.

After passing the picnic area and the Rippelsholz boules pitch, we take a right.

Halfway downhill, a small path to the right leads us to a spectacular viewpoint: the paved pathway, running like a ribbon through the vineyards, the Château d’Andlau in the distance, and the plains of Alsace in the background. Like a little piece of Tuscany in Alsace… The calm and peaceful atmosphere lets you daydream while you gaze at the view.

Once we’ve taken it all in, we retrace our steps and walk back down the hill to the parking lot.

This 2 km paved hiking path is easily accessible, no matter your age. The exceptionally beautiful landscape will lead to many stops – perfect for photography lovers.

Discovering this panorama, with its golden vines and fields as far as the eye can see, bathed in the warm light of an autumn afternoon, was one of our favorite moments of this year.

After leaving the parking du Zotzenberg, we take the time to explore Mittelbergheim’s Renaissance-style houses and do a tasting in one of the village wineries.

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Food Restaurant

A Michelin-star restaurant in Alsace: Auberge de l’Ill

L’Auberge de l’Ill is a two-star Michelin restaurant nestled in the heart of an Alsatian village near Colmar and the Route des Vins, less than an hour’s drive from Strasbourg. Trying to pronounce “Illhaeusern” (Illhoyzern) is a journey in itself.

As soon as we arrive, we are shown to our table in the elegant and subtly decorated pièce alsacienne (Alsatian room), where we eagerly await our four-course symphony. A full wall of marquetry work, depicting a landscape from the Ried area, with bulrushes, reeds, storks, and herons, echoes the scenery of the nearby river meadow.

The waitstaff are attentive and discreet, with everyone collaborating smoothly in a well-choreographed dance.

Everything is elegantly plated and presented. The restaurant’s delicate, generous, and flavorful cuisine is imbued with the culinary tradition carried by the Haeberlin family through 150 years. Our meal is balanced and subtle. We take the time to savor every mouthful, every note of flavor. The score is played to perfection by chef Marc Haeberlin and his team.

We particularly appreciated the many little kindnesses from the team and carefully planned details throughout the meal, the inspiration drawn from local delicacies, and the Haeberlin family history, which is their great pride. As for the food, we loved trying their beurre Bordier, the famous butter from Saint-Malo, as well as the freshly baked bread, the pan-seared seabass in a mussel nage (which made Stéphanie like bouchot mussels!), and the richness of the chocolate dessert with Piedmont hazelnuts and Tahitian vanilla ice cream.

L’Auberge de l’Ill
📍2 rue de Collonges au Mont d’Or, 68970 Illhaeusern

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Event

Strasbourg Christmas Market 2021

After Strasbourg’s famous Christmas market was cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic, the Capital of Christmas will once again be full of holiday cheer from November 26th to December 26th, 2021. This year marks the beginning of a new era in the city’s Christmas tradition, whose “Christ child market” (Christkindelsmärik in Alsatian) dates back to 1570.

As Christmas time approaches, Strasbourg dons its gay apparel. In the market squares around town, the enticing scents of mulled wine, baked sweet treats, and savory tarte flambée fill the alleys between the stalls.

This year, 314 stalls (that look like charming little wooden cabins) spread out over 13 squares in the city center (and set up further apart than previous years) proudly offer local handicrafts and culinary specialties. Place Broglie, place de la Cathédrale, the Carré d’Or and place Kléber are all must-see spots during the holiday season.

Place Broglie

Place Broglie is one of the Christmas market’s most historical areas. This year, in addition to the market stalls, a video mapping show called “L’Hôtel des Contes” (the fairytale hotel) will be projected on the façade of City Hall (l’Hôtel de Ville), presenting the legend of the Christkindel (the Christ child), as well as the story of Saint Nicholas.

When he was a little boy, Jérôme would always scarf down a waffle from the La Gaufre Lorraine stall. The waffles were made to order and served right out of the iron, still piping hot. He would bite into the perfectly fluffy and crunchy treat, eating it so quickly he barely had time to warm his hands. The thick layer of powdered sugar covering the little squares on the waffle would always end up on his clothes. Unfortunately, this stand has long since disappeared from place Broglie … but the pleasure of reliving lovely childhood memories remains.

Place de la Cathédrale & place du Château

Nestled at the foot of Strasbourg Cathedral, the place de la Cathédrale market is the most iconic in the city. This narrow square, with its little wooden cabins surrounded by charming houses and side streets, and with the Cathedral and the Maison Kammerzell in the background, feels like a bubble of holiday cheer in the middle of town. If you’re looking for the spirit of Christmas, here and in the Carré d’Or is where you’ll find it.

The Nativity scenes inside the Cathedral are truly remarkable. The Strasbourg crèche from 1907 is 18 meters long and presents 5 scenes, from the Annunciation to the presentation of Jesus at the Temple (open until January 10th, 2022).

Place du Château offers a view of the cathedral from a different angle.

Place Kléber

Place Kléber is where you’ll find the Great Christmas Tree and the “Solidarity Village” (with stalls for 90 different non-profit organizations).

This year, the decorations on the massive Christmas tree (30 meters tall, 12 meters wide, and weighing 7 tons) are inspired by local ancestral traditions: carved wooden shapes, red and white baubles (a nod to the old tradition of using apples to decorate the tree), and cookie-cutter-like silhouettes reminiscent of Alsatian bredele (little Christmas cookies prepared in large quantities throughout December).

A city of lights

As night falls in Strasbourg, the Christmas lights start to twinkle. 33 kilometers of garlands and hundreds of lights illuminate the city and immerse you in the magic of Christmas.

• The starlit promenade follows this year’s theme, “Allumons les étoiles” (let’s light the stars) and shows off the city’s cultural heritage. The itinerary, which is lined with over 600 stars, runs from Square Louise-Weiss (Petite France) and pont Sainte-Madeleine, stopping by place du Marché aux Poissons and quai des Bateliers on the way.

• Thanks to decorations created by the city and local business owners, Strasbourg is transformed into a city of lights.

The main decorated route runs from rue du Vieux-Marché-aux-Poissons all the way to the Great Christmas Tree in place Kléber.

In rue du Vieux-Marché-aux-Poissons, the Porte des Lumières (gate of lights) marks the entrance to the Capital of Christmas.

In rue Mercière, angels with golden trumpets will encourage you to stop by place de la Cathédrale.

The streets of the Carré d’Or (rue des Orfèvres, rue du Sanglier, rue du Chaudron) show themselves in all their splendor. All aglow with warm yellow lights, shimmering garlands, red stars, and golden baubles, this neighborhood brings the enchantment of the season to life in a handful of narrow side streets around the Cathedral.

In rue des Grandes Arcades, alternating glittering baubles and red curtains will lead you to place Kléber and its massive Christmas tree.

In rue des Hallebardes, a row of giant mannele (Alsatian brioche men) light the way to the cathedral and place Gutenberg.

In rue des Tonneliers, you’ll find 22 bright barrel-shaped decorations, in reference to the street’s barrel-making history.

In rue du Maroquin, the decorated restaurant façades are also worth a detour.

Wait, there’s more!

• In Square Louise-Weiss (Petite France), the “Village de l’Avent” (Advent village) workshops invite participants to make Christmas decorations and greeting cards (limited room) from November 27th to December 26th. From December 27th to January 2nd, this space will become the “Village de l’après” (the After village), giving out advice to start the new year off right.

• The marché Off, or Off market (place Grimmeisen in la Petite France) offers a different approach to the Christmas celebrations, by “giving meaning to your Christmas shopping”. This ethical, fair, and eco-conscious market showcases organic products from either fair-trade networks, co-ops, or independent craftspeople. Here, the wooden cabins have been replaced by industrial containers and a market hall, making for 2 different spaces: one for workshops, activities, and conferences, the other equipped with a bar and a stage for shows.

• Various other events will take place throughout the month: the performance “1,2,3,4… Allumons les étoiles” near the Vauban Dam (every Saturday at 18:00), a flea market (in the Great Hall in l’Aubette), around the world in Christmas traditions (cour Saint-Nicolas), DIY workshops (5e lieu), guided tours, conferences, and concerts.

Explore the full program of festivities and find more information on health and safety measures on the “Strasbourg, Capital of Christmas” website

If you want to experience more of the magic of Christmas, several other Alsatian towns also have a Christmas market: Haguenau, Wissembourg, Saverne, Obernai, Barr, Molsheim, Sélestat, Colmar, Riquewihr…

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Food Restaurant

A culinary gem in Strasbourg: Honesty

As soon as we enter the restaurant, the tone is set – elegance and character.

We climb a narrow staircase to reach the understated and intimate upstairs room, where the interior is centered on quality materials and soft, warm lighting.

Honesty’s menu consists of 2 starters, 3 mains, and 2 desserts at lunchtime, 3 starters, 5 mains, and 3 desserts for dinner and on weekends. You can choose between a main alone, and a 2-course or 3-course combination.

The cuisine is modern, creative, and feminine. Everything is prepared with fresh, quality products, creating as little waste as possible. Every dish is born out of a pursuit to achieve harmony and balance in flavors, and the ingredients are cooked to perfection. Little appetizers (mouthfuls, consommés, pre-desserts) are served between each course, thus skillfully punctuating every highlight of the meal, and reappropriating practices from gourmet restaurants.

The team’s attention to detail is obvious on every level, from the meticulous presentation of the dishes and sides to the choice of seating (the chairs are exceptionally comfortable) and tableware.

The menu changes monthly, following what’s in season and the chef’s inspiration.

Honesty is the perfect balance between fine dining and a brasserie feel. The atmosphere of this tiny restaurant is welcoming and relaxed – it’s a place where you can really take the time to enjoy a delicious meal. A wonderful time, whether for a night out with friends or a romantic evening with your partner.

The dynamic duo running the restaurant, Tiffany in the kitchen and Chloé front of house, clearly complement each other well. The cheerful and attentive Chloé makes the experience all the more enjoyable.

This restaurant perfectly illustrates the importance of honesty and sincerity in good food.  A lovely little gem in Strasbourg.

Honesty
📍 2 quai Finkwiller, Strasbourg

Categories
Day trip

A day trip from Strasbourg: Kaysersberg & Riquewihr

A day trip less than 100 km from Strasbourg, exploring 2 iconic villages along the Alsace Wine Route (Route des Vins d’Alsace).

As we leave Strasbourg on a hazy autumn morning, the sun is barely peeking through the layer of low-hanging clouds. But in an instant the fog clears, as though someone has drawn back a heavy curtain.

After barely an hour’s drive, the rolling hills and golden vineyards of the Alsace Wine Route stretch out before us, leading us to Kaysersberg.

The P5 parking lot (about 1€ per hour) is located right outside the historical center of town.

Ambling through the streets of this picturesque little village with its colorful half-timbered houses is like walking into a different time. Kaysersberg was named “France’s favorite village of 2017” for a reason!

The local restaurants, confectioneries, cheesemongers, bakeries, tea rooms, delicatessens, artisan shops and workshops (glassware, pottery, textile) and Alsatian wine-tasting cellars all aim to show off the best of the region’s culture and gastronomy.

Don’t miss: the church (12th-15th century) and its wooden altarpiece, the fortified bridge from 1514 and the old houses along the river Weiss, the Badhus (Bath House) from 1600, and the Castle.

From the historic town center, by the Badhus, there is a path and a stairway leading up to the 13th-century castle. Our tip: once you reach the castle, continue up the stairs, then turn right. There, you’ll find an incredible view of the castle, with the vineyards, and the rooftops of Kaysersberg below. Once you’ve taken it all in, you can enjoy a walk through the vines back down to the village or go back the way you came.

After Kaysersberg, we continue our road trip along the Alsace Wine Route, the legendary asphalt strip winding through vineyards and villages, to Riquewihr.

Several parking lots (3-5€ for a few hours) are easy to find as you arrive in town. Just like in Kaysersberg, the historical town center of Riquewihr directly overlooks the vineyards.  Riquewihr is smaller, but just as charming and colorful.

The archway under the town hall marks the entrance to the old town. As we slowly climb the hill up to the fortified city walls, the smell of nougat, local cookies (bredele) and coconut macaroons wafts out of tiny shops. Art lovers can have a look around one of the galleries, and wine enthusiasts can enjoy a tasting in one of the local cellars. On either side of the high street little side streets beckon, waiting to be explored. We’re left with the lovely feeling of walking around a postcard.

We take in the views and atmosphere of the Wine Route one last time before returning to Strasbourg, by driving through other well-known villages and famous vineyards, such as Hunawihr, Ribeauvillé, and Bergheim.