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 severalmuseums, 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.
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:
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
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.
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.
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 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 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.
Inrue 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.
Inrue des Hallebardes, a row of giant mannele (Alsatian brioche men) light the way to the cathedral and place Gutenberg.
Inrue 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!
• InSquare 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…
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.
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 “hôtel 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 Lemaître, 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 📍 2 avenue de la Marseillaise, Strasbourg
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.
A deep dive into the past of 18th- and 19th-century Alsace.
Strasbourg’s Alsatian Museum is one of the country’s most important museums for regional folk arts and traditions. Explore the exhibits through a multitude of old Alsatian houses, connected by winding staircases and wooden walkways. Take a deep dive into the folk art and popular traditions of 18th- and 19th-century Alsace.
Immerse yourself in rural and domestic life by viewing the museum’s collection of reconstructed historic Alsatian homes (with a kitchen and shared family room, also known as a stub), artisan workshops, a traditional pharmacy, a wide array of furniture, costumes, and different objects (over 5000 on display).
The museum also offers a series of themed exhibits, such as regional pottery from Betschdorf and Soufflenheim, the ages of life (Christening and bris, the cradle, toys, weddings, etc.), agriculture and handicraft, as well as religious rites in Alsace (several rooms are dedicated to the main historic religions present in the region, displaying imagery, calligraphy, and votive offerings).
The half-timbered houses that contain the museum also contribute to this immersive venture into the past. Visitors alternate between exploring the inside and wandering through the exterior walkways twisting along the façades. The creaking floors and having to pass regularly in and out of the buildings allow you to delve into the historic atmosphere of these homes from a bygone era. During your visit, several windows offer an excellent view of the river Ill, l’Ancienne Douane (the old customs house), and Strasbourg Cathedral. A dedicated space presents a temporary themed exhibit every year.
The Alsatian Museum 📍 23-25 quai Saint-Nicolas, Strasbourg
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 Neustadtquarter. When it was first created in 1619, the garden was located in the Krutenau neighborhood (southeast of the historic university campus). It was eventually moved during the reign of German emperor Wilhelm I. The current Botanical Garden, which was inaugurated in 1884, was part of the project to build an imperial German university, after Alsace became part of the empire in 1870.
As soon as you step foot inside, you linger around the tiny waterlily pools where little frogs will jump into the water as you pass. On warmer days, some of them will relax in the sunshine.
Escape to a different world in the tropical greenhouse, where a selection of exotic species (palm trees, banyan trees, monsteras with massive leaves…) thrive in a hot and humid environment. On particularly hot days, you’ll almost feel like the air is cool as you step outside again.
This peaceful garden is the ideal place to recharge your batteries and stop the course of time. Enjoy a book in the shade of an age-old tree. Have a seat on one of the many available benches. Stroll along the path winding around the Bary greenhouse, skirting along the astronomical observatory, before twisting past a pond and through a series of little bamboo groves.
The steeple of St. Maurice’s church in the background is reflected in the smooth surface of the pond. The sleek mirror of the water is only ever disturbed by a fish coming up to the surface every now and then.
You get the pleasant feeling of being wrapped in a lovely blanket of lush greenery, while taking in the calm and quiet atmosphere of this place, reminiscent of certain Japanese gardens.
Strasbourg Botanical Garden is a university garden that is generally open to the public in the afternoons, but please do check the opening hours beforehand. Admission is free.
For your workouts or a picnic, please choose another park in the area (Orangerie, Contades or the University gardens just across the alley).
The entrance to the Botanical Garden is located in allée Anton de Bary, a little pedestrian side street running between rue Goethe and rue de l’Université.
The Strasbourg Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (frequently referred to as MAMCS) is one of the only museums in France to curate their collection exhibit in a manner that is representative of western European art from 1870 to present day.
The 13 000 m2modern museum building is nestled between the river Ill and the historic district of la Petite France. As its architect Adrien Fainsilber pointed out: “Interaction with the water, light and the historic old town greatly influenced the layout for the museum itself, as well as the surrounding area.” One of the building’s distinctive features is its massive skylighted central nave, which was designed as an “inside street”. It provides the museum with an architectural spine and allows visitors with a clear and open itinerary.
When the MAMCS first opened in 1998, the ground floor was dedicated to modern art and temporary exhibits, while the four large rooms upstairs were dedicated to contemporary art.
In 2018, in honor of the museum’s 20-year anniversary, the layout of the permanent exhibits was entirely reimagined with a curation entitled “Joyeuses frictions” (Joyful frictions). This new approach was constructed around the most noteworthy artists of the museum’s collection: Doré, Monet, Signac, Pissarro, Sisley, Rodin, Arp, Kandinsky, Kupka, Picasso, Séchas, Brauner…
Modern and contemporary art are now exhibited side by side on both floors. The full spectrum of different techniques (painting, sculpture, sketches, etchings, photography, installations, video) are shown side by side, organized by theme in around ten different sections. Designated spaces, like the Studio, have been created within the exhibits, encouraging visitors to interact with the artwork. There are three to four temporary exhibits every year. Make sure you check out the 1000 m2 mural on the façade around the entrance: “From the Air We Share” by art collective FAILE.
In addition to the exhibition spaces, the MAMCS also has an auditorium, a bookshop, a library, and a café. Don’t miss the terrace of the Art Café, which offers a unique panoramic view of the Vauban Dam, la Petite France, and Strasbourg Cathedral.
Oslo is the capital of Norway, but more importantly, it’s also Stéphanie’s birth town.
As a dynamic, creative, inspired city, Oslo is great to visit any time of year. Facing the fjord and surrounded by forest-clad hills, it’s the ideal destination for nature lovers.
Oslo is a city in motion – it’s undergone massive changes and evolved enormously in the last few years. Entire neighborhoods – such as Bjørvika, around the Opera house – have been created. There are plenty of parks, gardens, and tree-lined avenues, making it a uniquely green city, where nature is easily accessible all over town.
Oslo isn’t a cold city, neither literally, nor figuratively. On the contrary, it’s welcoming and conducive to interesting architectural, artistic, cultural, and personal discoveries.
In the summer, the locals flock to the seaside to lounge on the beach, unwind in a floating sauna, or take a dip in the sea. In the winter, the shorter days are better suited for visiting a museum or an exhibit, or finding a nice café, bar, or restaurant where you can enjoy the koselig (pronounced “kooshlee”) atmosphere. The notion of koselig can be defined as a warm, pleasant, cozy feeling. It could be created by soft and comfortable interior that makes you want to wrap yourself up in a blanket, an intimate get-together with friends in the summer, or a lovely hot drink in the winter.
We’ve selected 4 Oslo neighborhoods that we particularly enjoy. The idea is to take in the general atmosphere of an area, rather than point out very specific (more or less touristy) sights.
The construction of the Opera house by the Oslo fjord was the first step in transforming the old harbor district of Bjørvika into a vibrant new neighborhood.
Designed by Norwegian architecture company Snøhetta, the Opera, with its white marble roof, seems almost to emerge from the cool waters of the fjord. Don’t miss the atrium inside the building (a harmonious composition of wood, metal, and glass), and particularly the roof of the Opera house, to enjoy the splendid view of the Oslo fjord
Take a stroll along Langkaia dock (to the east, across from the Opera) to observe the unique architecture of the building in detail. The dock will lead you to SALT, an open-air cultural space combining, art, music, street food, architecture, and saunas.
The Deichman Public Library (to the north, across from the Opera) was conceived as a modern-day multimedia library and as a shared, living space. It contains a vast collection of works organized by genre over 5 floors. The building’s many couches and chairs make it the perfect place to study or relax. Mini movie rooms are set up for private showings, and there are fun activities for kids. There’s even a dedicated space for 3D printing! The café terrace above the library entrance also offers an ideal view of the Opera house. The Deichman Library was recently named the world’s best new public library by the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions.
Between the Opera and the new Munch Museum, a floating footbridge allows pedestrians to walk to the tip of Sørenga – a new neighborhood that’s been built on the water, where young Oslo-dwellers and families alike meet up to enjoy beautiful summer days.
A collection of buildings called the Barcode Project and the façade of the Munch Museum make up Oslo’s new skyline.
The view from Akrobaten footbridge, which spans the railway, perfectly illustrates the barcode effect of the architecture. Thanks to the multitude of cafés, bars, and restaurants located on the ground floor of the buildings, it’s become a very lively area.
Along the waterfront, several saunas, beaches, and pontoons attract those who want to bathe, relax, and enjoy the fjord.
Aker Brygge, Tjuvholmen and Akershus Fortress
The pedestrian docks at Aker Brygge offer a completely open view of the fjord, Akershus Fortress, and City Hall. The docks are lined with shops and restaurants that are particularly popular with tourists. Aker Brygge is also the point of departure for the little yellow ferries going out to the Bygdøy peninsula, or for fjord cruises.
For future reference: the new National Museum, which will open in 2022, is located by Aker Brygge.
Extend your stroll along the boardwalk at Aker Brygge by continuing out to the Tjuvholmen peninsula, where you will find the Astrup-Fearnley Museum of Modern Art (designed by architect Renzo Piano), a sculpture park (with pieces by artists such as Louise Bourgeois and Anish Kapoor). The clean-cut architecture of the museum and the surrounding buildings give Tjuvholmen its unique character.
Akershus Fortress was built around a medieval castle inthe 17th century. This massive, steep citadel with paved pathways is home to several museums (The Armed Forces Museum, The Norwegian Resistance Museum, and Akershus medieval castle) and offers a splendid view of Oslo harbor.
Grünerløkka and Vulkan
Exploring Grünerløkka on foot is the best way to soak up the vibe of this bustling neighborhood. “Løkka” (pronounced “luh-ka”), as it’s affectionately called, is dotted with vintage and design shops, secondhand stores, koselig little cafés and restaurants, concert venues and bars, large squares, and lush parks. The area is popular with students, young families, and pensioners alike.
At the edge of Grünerløkka, in the Sagene area, a walk along the Akerselva river will reveal a string of converted brick factory buildings, waterfalls, and green spaces.
The new Vulkan neighborhood is also located by the bank of Akerselva, with Mathallen, a food court and indoor market concept, as its main attraction. Various shops and stalls sell culinary products and dishes from all over the world (Norway, Mexico, Japan, France, Hungary, China, Italy…) that you can then enjoy outside or in the common seating area in the middle of the market.
Our tip: near Mathallen, you can explore the little side streets and alleys around legendary café-bar Blå, where you’ll discover a unique, handmade outdoor chandelier, as well as many street-art pieces.
The old tree houses in Telthusbakken and Damstredet can be reached on foot from Vulkan, where they’re hanging on to the hillside in the St. Hanshaugen (St. John’s Hill) district, near Gamle Aker Kirke (Oslo’s oldest church, built in 1100) and Vår Frelsers Gravlund cemetery (where a great many famous Norwegians are buried, such as playwright Henrik Ibsen and painter Edvard Munch).
Telthusbakken and Damstredet are both quiet and very instagrammable streets with 19th-century houses.
Telthusbakken is lined with colorful, wooden houses on one side, and with community gardens on the other. At the top of Telthusbakken, it’s worth stopping a while to enjoy the view of the east side of Oslo.
The quaint old houses that line both sides of Damstredet all have lush little gardens. The great Norwegian poet Henrik Wergeland lived in the pink house by the top of Damstredet for a few years.
Frogner, the Vigeland park and the Royal Palace
Frogner is the capital’s calm and affluent embassy neighborhood, nestled between the Royal Palace and the Vigeland park.
The Vigeland park is one of Oslo’s most popular spotsfor locals and tourists alike. More than 200 sculptures made by artist Gustav Vigeland between 1920 et 1943 can be found all over this massive park, which was created on farmland in the early 20th century. Most of the sculptures are nudes representing the different ages of life, the most famous of which are the Monolith, the great central fountain, and “Sinnataggen” (Angry Boy). The park also has playgrounds, tennis courts, two museums (the Vigeland Museum and Oslo City Museum), cafés, a stadium, and a public pool. A large number of benches and greens make it the perfect place for a picnic.
The Royal Palace, which was built in the neo-classical style and finished in 1849, has been the main residence of the Norwegian royal family since the country gained its independence in 1905. It’s easily recognizable by its yellow façade and its ornate balcony with six Ionian columns. While the Palace square is one of Oslo’s must-see sights, the Royal Palace is only open to the public in the summer months. It is possible to watch the changing of the guards (every day at 13:30).
A majestic statue of King Karl-Johan of Sweden-Norway (born Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte in the French town of Pau) towers over the Palace square.
The Palace is located at the west end of de Karl Johans Gate (Oslo’s main shopping street), and is surrounded by the large, beautiful park of Slottsparken.
• 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 Egyptian House, located in the Neustadt quarter (10 rue du Général Rapp), was designed by young, self-taught architect Franz Scheyder in the early 20th century. The building’s style is a blend of Art Nouveau and an idealized interpretation of ancient Egyptian esthetics. This unusual apartment building is easily recognizable by its large central fresco, and by its wrought-iron balconies wth stylized bat motifs.
Looking for a dynamicand enjoyable cityto spend a weekend with your family, a group of friends, travelling solo or for a romantic getaway? Strasbourg is just the place for you!
Strasbourg is a very comfortably sized city. It’s neither too big, nor too small, and all the main sights are easily accessible by foot or by bike. The Grande Île (the historic city center, surrounded by the river Ill) and the Neustadt quarter are both UNESCO World Heritage sites. Located only a few kilometers from the German border (which you can cross by tram), Strasbourg is an international city – home to a number of European Institutions.
Don’t miss any of the major sights during your first visit – here are Strasbourg’s 5 must-see spots:
Strasbourg Cathedral. 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 morehere
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 morehere
Neustadt.The old German imperial quarter has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since July 2017. On avenue de la Liberté, which runs from Palais Universitaire to place de la République, you will find an array of different architectural styles. The Palais du Rhin, Strasbourg National Theater (TNS) and Strasbourg National University Library (BNU) are iconic Neustadt buildings. Find out more here
The European Quarter and the parc de l’Orangerie.Strasbourg is home to several European institutions, such as the European Parliament, the Council of Europe, and the European Court of Human Rights. The peculiar architecture of the European Parliament, which symbolizes the construction of Europe in progress, is a stand-out structure in the neighborhood. With its 26 hectares, the Orangerie is Strasbourg’s oldest park. Find out more here
The Banks of the Ill (the river running around Strasbourg) are perfect for a walk along the water. The quai des Bateliers, which is entirely pedestrian, is particularly suited for a nice stroll. If the weather is nice, why not follow the river all around the city center? You can also explore the city by sightseeing-boat. Find out more here
Check out our full weekend guide!
We’ve prepared a complete guide, ideal for a first-time weekend visit. It has everything you need: concise information (just enough, not too much), useful links, our favorite spots and a ready-made itinerary on Google Maps.
The Museum of Fine Arts is located on the upper level of the Palais Rohan, which also houses the Museum of Decorative Arts and the Museum of Archaeology. Designed like a grand Parisian manor – or “hôtel particulier” – the Palais Rohan was built for Cardinal de Rohan-Roubise, Prince-Bishop of Strasbourg, between 1732 and 1742. After the French Revolution, the Palace served as an imperial and subsequently royal residence, before becoming a museum after 1870.
The Museum of Fine Arts presents an overview of European painting spanning from the Middle Ages to 1870. The museum’s twenty rooms thereby allow you to wander through five centuries of European art, such as the Italo-Byzantine style, the Italian Renaissance, Nordic landscapes, still lifes and vanitases, Dutch 17th-century landscapes, and 19th-century portraits. The collection features pieces by notable artists like Giotto, Titian, El Greco, Botticelli, Raphael, Rubens, Goya, van Dyck, Delacroix, Chassériau, Corot and even Courbet.
The Palace’s refined architecture serves as a magnificent backdrop for the museum’s collection. The brightly colored walls and neat lighting showcase the artworks, highlighting their hues and bringing out their contrasts. The golden parquet floor, which creaks charmingly with every step, immerses visitors further in a time long since passed. Beyond the magnificent paintings, the windows looking out over the palace courtyard and Strasbourg Cathedral are eye-catching as well.
Like other visitors must have been before us, we 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
The Jardin des Deux-Rives stretches across 150 hectares and consists of two half-gardens on either side of the Rhine, linked by an elegant cable-stayed footbridge. This cross-border landscaped park, which was inaugurated in 2004, is a symbol of French-German friendship.
• On the French side, in Strasbourg, you enter the park by walking along the riding school, or by taking the Sentier des planètes (path of the planets) in the middle. Spanning 281 meters, the solar system has been scaled down 16 billion times, to give you an idea of the distance between the Sun and the different planets of the solar system
As you explore the park, you’ll also find: – a water wall (in a semicircle, on either side of the central axis) – themed and pop-up gardens where you can daydream for a while – a large lawn where flower shows, and cultural events are organized in the summertime (concerts with the Strasbourg Philharmonic Orchestra de Strasbourg or open-aircinema nights) – a sculpture path (with works by Sylvie Blocher, Andrea Blum, Tadashi Kawamata, Philippe Lepeut and Akio Suzuki) that continues on the German side of the Rhine – picnictables – playgrounds – a boules pitch.
• Cross the Passerelle Mimram footbridge (only for pedestrians and cyclists) which spans the Rhine. This cable-stayed footbridge designed by architect Marc Mimram was imagined as a hyphen, a connection between France and Germany. Its two decks converge to form a central platform, above the middle of the Rhine. Stop for a while and enjoy the view or watch a riverboat pass by.
• On the German side, in Kehl, a peaceful, paved promenade, shady and well maintained (der blaue Weg), winds along the riverbank.
Everyone can enjoy the park however they like: – if you’re the contemplative type: the walking path is dotted with benches at regular intervals – if you’re more sporty: there are several kinds of gym apparatus – for plant lovers: explore the Biblical Garden – ufologists: climb into a flying saucer (UFO is an exhibit space) – art lovers:admire the sculptures, like Begegnung by Josef Fromm (which notably symbolizes the friendship between France and Germany) and the Roses Frontalières (Border Roses) by Thomas Rother (honoring members of the French resistance who were murdered mere hours after Strasbourg was freed in 1944).
If you move a little further away from the river to find higher ground and climb the Silver Fir Tower (Weisstannenturm). At 44 meters high, this tower offers a splendid view of the Rhine, Strasbourg Cathedral, and on clear days – all the way to the Black Forest and the Vosges mountains.
Before embarking on a “street art safari” in Strasbourg, we generally begin by agreeing on a search perimeter of a certain number of blocks. Then we comb the streets, looking for a collage, a graffiti piece, a mural, or a painted power box – as if we were looking to spot wild animals on a photo safari in Africa. Whenever we find street art we haven’t seen before, we like to take the time to really examine the piece and figure out what it’s all about, before taking a snapshot of it – as a keepsake.
We love the wildly creative aspect of street art, as well as the accessibility of it, thanks to its presence in public spaces. This form of artistic expression is so much more than just a splash of color or a backdrop for the urban cityscape.
Here are 15 of our favorite street art pieces in Strasbourg
Now that the magnolias have blossomed, the wisterias are starting to bloom – signalling the arrival of spring and eventually the early days of summer. Here and there, buildings are clad in creeping, brightly-colored floral terraces, natural spiral staircases, cascades of sparkling lilac or white… Garden archways don their spring attire and bask in the sunlight.Every year, these fragrant climbing clusters enchant photographers, lovers of beauty and flower enthusiasts alike. They also attract bees and bumblebees, who indulge in their nectar.
Here are some of our favorite shots of Strasbourg’s wisterias in bloom:
Located at the corner of rue Mercière and place de la Cathédrale, the belly-measuring column, or “Büchmesser” in Alsatian, was built in 1567 and restored in 2016.
This pink sandstone column is a Strasbourg icon and the vestige of a tradition dating back to the 14th century.
The bourgeois members of the City Council would use it to gauge their portliness every year for the Schwoertag, which was the day they would swear their allegiance to the Constitution. After being sworn in, they would visit the various guilds in town and attend a feast. Afterwards, if they were unable to slip sideways through the space between the column and the wall of the building, it was time for them to go on a diet.
Try it yourself, by slipping wetween the belly-measuring column and the wall. The space is 35 centimeters wide!