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 HĂ´tel, 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’AmĂ©lie Poulain, better known to English-speaking audiences as AmĂ©lie

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 MusĂ©e GrĂ©vin. 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 Ă©clair 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-ExupĂ©ry 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 NapolĂ©on 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 AndrĂ© Le NĂ´tre, who created its current jardin Ă  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-ElysĂ©es 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 VendĂ´me

Place VendĂ´me is the center for fine jewelry in Paris.  Towering in the middle of the square, the VendĂ´me 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 JĂ©rĂ´me tries to get some good shots of the column standing out against the blue sky, StĂ©phanie 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 TrocadĂ©ro, on the other bank of the Seine. 

The corner of rue de l’UniversitĂ© 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 SacrĂ© CĹ“ur 

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 AndrĂ© 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, AndrĂ© 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 MusĂ©e 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, CĂ©zanne, 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 SacrĂ©-CĹ“ur 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 OpĂ©ra Garnier, the PanthĂ©on, 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 cafĂ©s, bars, little shops, art galleries, paved side-streets, and world-famous landmarks. 

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

• City Hall (HĂ´tel 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 SĂ©vignĂ© 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 StĂ©phanie 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 KlĂ©ber, 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 Ă  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
đź“Ť 4 rue des Francs-Bourgeois, Strasbourg


Categories
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

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
đź“Ť2 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’HĂ´tel des Contes” (the fairytale hotel) will be projected on the façade of City Hall (l’HĂ´tel 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, JĂ©rĂ´me 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 CathĂ©drale 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 CarrĂ© 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 KlĂ©ber 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 Ă©toiles” (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 MarchĂ© 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 marchĂ© 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 Ă©toiles” 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…

Categories
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
đź“Ť 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.

Categories
Museum

Visit a museum in Strasbourg: the Tomi Ungerer Museum

The first museum in France dedicated to Tomi Ungerer and the art of illustration from the 20th century until today.

The Tomi Ungerer Museum and International Illustration Center lets you explore the life’s work of Alsatian illustrator and caricaturist Tomi Ungerer, and more generally the art of illustration. Having opened in 2007, it is the city’s most recent museum.

The center manages collections that include 14 000 drawings and 1 500 toys donated to Strasbourg by Tomi Ungerer, as well as over 2 000 works of graphic art by 122 different artists, both French and foreign.

The museum is located in the heart of the historic Neustadt quarter, in Villa Greiner – a late 19th-century mansion, also known as an “hĂ´tel particulier”. 

The exhibit is organized by theme, across three levels:

  • On street-level, you’ll find original illustrations from children’s books, and most importantly from Tomi Ungerer’s most famous works, such as The Three Robbers (Les Trois Brigands) or Moon Man (Jean de la Lune), as well as toys, and color plates from comic books.
  • The upper level is dedicated to satirical drawings and advertising illustrations.
  • The lower level is dedicated to erotic drawings (for an adult public).

Three temporary exhibits are organized every year, in order to show off the diversity of the collection, and to protect the fragile paper artwork from being exposed to the light for too long. This way, Tomi Ungerer’s original drawings are exhibited side by side with works by Bosc, Pascal LemaĂ®tre, R.O. Blechmann, Milton Glaser, Michel Cambon, Maurice Henry…

The themed exhibit emphasizes the creativity, diversity, and incredible breadth of the work of Tomi Ungerer and other artists in the collection. It also highlights their great adaptability to different genres, media, and techniques.

Whether it’s refined, comical, critical, provoking or eccentric, the art of illustration expresses itself with a visual vocabulary and vision of society that allows everyone to make their own interpretation. Illustration is the direct and personal link drawn by the artist between themselves and the spectator. Through the magic of a line on a page, the illustrator can change as they please from comic to poet or children’s storyteller, from graphic designer to satirist or caricaturist… An array of different roles played to perfection by Tomi Ungerer until his death in 2019.

Tomi Ungerer Museum – International Illustration Center
đź“Ť 2 avenue de la Marseillaise, Strasbourg

Categories
Food Restaurant

A cheese lover’s paradise in Strasbourg: La Cloche Ă  Fromage

La Cloche Ă  Fromage is an absolute must for any cheese lover visiting Strasbourg.

As soon as we enter the restaurant, an enticing cheesy scent – similar to the fragrance filling a fine cheesemonger’s – tickles our nostrils. A sign of a wonderful experience to come …

Our eyes are immediately drawn to the giant transparent cheese dome, which can hold up to 90 varieties of cheese.  When the restaurant first opened in 1988, this massive piece was named the world’s largest cheese dome by the Guinness Book of Records. The original dome was replaced in 2016, by an equally large, but more high-performance model that would also work with current storage standards.

The menu offers an array of themed cheese boards, different kinds of fondue (all-you-can-eat), half-wheel raclette served under a traditional grill, and other cheese-based specialties. A selection of seasonal dishes, with or without cheese, is also on the menu.

The tastefully decorated interior resembles an urban mountain inn, with a few industrial touches here and there, and the atmosphere is welcoming and friendly. The manager plays his role as cheese emcee to perfection, entertaining and delighting the guests at every turn. The team of servers is very attentive, answering questions and explaining the menu in at least three languages (French, German and English).

The cheeses are ripened in the restaurant’s in-house maturing cellar. The cheesemonger prepares each cheese board with great care, right next to the giant dome.  Like a painter with his colors, he arranges the flavors of the cheese boards by using the dome as a taste palette.

We particularly enjoyed the traditional fondue (with gruyère, emmental, comtĂ© and white wine, flambeed with kirsch) and the cheesemonger’s explanations. An inexhaustible source of knowledge about the different terroirs, designations, and varieties of cheese, he eloquently and passionately tells us about the impressive array of cheese on the board – which must be eaten in order, from mildest to strongest.

We recommend you make your reservation well in advance.

La Cloche Ă  Fromage
đź“Ť 27 rue des Tonneliers, Strasbourg

Categories
unusual Strasbourg

Unusual Strasbourg: the “Devil’s Wind”

Legend has it that the Devil once was travelling the world, riding on the back of the Wind. As he rode through Strasbourg, he saw his own image carved into the façade of the Cathedral. Flattered and curious, he entered the Cathedral to see if there were any more sculptures of him, but he was chased off and ran away so quickly that he left the Wind behind. 

Ever since, the Wind has run in circles around the Cathedral, impatiently waiting for the Devil to come back outside.

That’s why you can almost always feel a breeze blowing around the Cathedral.

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
đź“Ť 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 allĂ©e Anton de Bary, a little pedestrian side street running between rue Goethe and rue de l’UniversitĂ©.

đź”— 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
đź“Ť Jernbanetorget 2, Oslo
đź”— 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: DorĂ©, Monet, Signac, Pissarro, Sisley, Rodin, Arp, Kandinsky, Kupka, Picasso, SĂ©chas, 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 cafĂ©. Don’t miss the terrace of the Art CafĂ©, which offers a unique panoramic view of the Vauban Dam, la Petite France, and Strasbourg Cathedral.

MAMCS
đź“Ť 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 StĂ©phanie’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 cafĂ©, 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 cafĂ© 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 cafĂ©s, 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 GrĂĽnerløkka 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 cafĂ©s 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 cafĂ©-bar BlĂĄ, 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 VĂĄr 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 cafĂ©, 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), cafĂ©s, 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 VĂĄlerenga

• 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 GĂ©nĂ©ral 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 ĂŽle (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
• 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 LibertĂ©, which runs from Palais Universitaire to place de la RĂ©publique, 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 CafĂ© potager

Le CafĂ© potager is a “fast good” cafĂ© 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
đź“Ť 5 rue des Francs-Bourgeois, Strasbourg

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 “hĂ´tel 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, ChassĂ©riau, 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