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.
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!
• Place de la République: there are several magnolia trees at both the north and south end of the park in the middle of the square. This is definitely one of Strasbourg’s most beautiful and popular spots to see the blossoming magnolias.
• Quai Koch, below pont Royal. Down by the riverside, you’ll find an ideal view of Saint Paul’s church.
• Place Brant, by the bus stop, in front of café Brant. This majestic magnolia tree is the centerpiece of place Brant. The view towards the Palais Universitaire is particularly beautiful.
• Place Broglie, in the garden of Palais du Gouverneur militaire
• Parc de Contades, at the northeast corner of the park, not far from the passerelle des Arquebusiers. A lovely spot where you can enjoy the calm atmosphere of the parc.
• Parc de l’Orangerie, around Pavillon Joséphine
• Lycée des Pontonniers, visible from pont Saint-Etienne and the banks of the river Ill below
• At the back of Saint-Pierre-le-Jeune Catholic church, at the corner of rue Saint-Arbogast and rue du Général de Castelnau
• Outside 5 rue Fischart (the former Departmental Archives)
• The corner of quai Lézay-Marnésia and rue des Récollets, in a garden you can see from the street
• On the University’s Campus de l’Esplanade, between the Faculty of Languages and the Institute of Biological Chemistry
• Place de l’Étoile, by the main entrance to City Hall
Located just northeast of place Broglie (in square Markos Botzaris), the Janus Fountain, also known as The Birth of Civilization, was designed in 1988 by Alsatian illustrator Tomi Ungerer, on the occasion of Strasbourg’s 2000-year anniversary. The piece is named after Janus, the two-faced Roman god.
Tomi Ungerer pointed out that “the Rhineland [had been] at the heart of [his] work”. The two faces of the fountain represent the duality of French and Germanic culture in Strasbourg and Alsace. One of the faces is turned towards the historical city center, while the other points towards the old German imperial quarter of the Neustadt.
The aqueduct structure, composed of 5000 bricks, symbolizes the Roman origins of Strasbourg, where the military outpost of Argentoratum was once located.
From the (free) parking lot by parc de Pourtalès, there are two paths, each leading to very different spaces and atmospheres.
On one side, the beautiful scenery around Château de Pourtalès opens on a large sculpture park and the château gardens.
On the other side of the parking lot, you’ll find the forêt de la Robertsau. This place means a lot to us because it offers a break, far away from the urban environment, although the city is only a few hundred meters away. It’s also important to us because we chose to have our wedding pictures taken there
As you walk along the asphalted path (for cyclists and pedestrians only), the trees start to form a tunnel of foliage. In the spring, the ditches are full of blooming wild garlic.
The tapping sound of woodpeckers resonates throughout the forest. If you’re very lucky, you might even spot a deer! Old stone kilometer markers and bunkers from the war have been gradually covered in greenery – nature has taken over again. The sound of horses’ hooves is muffled on the dirt tracks below the raised path. Long-haired Highland cows graze in the surrounding fields. Frolicking dogs swim in the little ponds, under the watchful eye of their owners.
You can continue your walk along the dyke, past fields and farms until you reach the village of la Wantzenau.
In July 2020, the forêt de la Robertsau was made a national nature reserve.
Formerly an abandoned port site, Presqu’île Malraux/Rivetoile has turned into a bustling neighborhood, made up of apartment and office buildings, a shopping center (Rivetoile), cafés and restaurants, a multiplex movie theater and several cultural buildings (like the Cité de la Musique et de la Danse and the Médiathèque André Malraux).
We love walking along the docks from the Black Swan towers to the Cité de la Musique et de la Danse*. You can access the peninsula by starting at the towers, near Winston Churchill tram stop.
On the bridge between the movie theater and the refurbished Seegmuller warehouse, turn back to look at the outline of the three towers, which reminds us of a bar chart.
A little further on, the sky is beautifully reflected in the façade of the Médiathèque André Malraux. Continue your walk towards the two massive Paindavoine cranes (they’re illuminated at night, and you can control the lights remotely!) and the Cité de la Musique et de la Danse.
After crossing the Braque footbridge, as you stroll under the trees along quai des Alpes and quai du Général Koenig, see if you can spot a coypu swimming in the canal.
In the summertime, if the weather allows it, enjoy the beachy vibes of “les Docks d’été”.
(*If you’re coming from the city center, the walk would start at the Cité de la Musique et de la Danse.)
Parc du Heyritz is a haven of tranquility tucked between the Hôpital Civil de Strasbourg and the hustle and bustle of place de l’Étoile.
As you approach the park, a weeping willow on the right-hand side seems to form a curtain through which you enter. A floating pontoon borders the bassin de l’Hôpital and runs the entire length of the park. You can spot a wide variety of animals: fish, birds, frogs, tortoises, lizards, and coypus. In the spring, you can also watch the ducks diving between the water plants with their ducklings.
The pontoon leads to the far side of the park, where you’ll find playgrounds and gym apparatus, a reflecting pool, allotment gardens and terraced lawns where you can relax. In the summer, the park is occasionally used as an open-air cinema.
Quai des Bateliers runs along the Ill between pont Saint-Guillaume and pont du Corbeau.
Recently pedestrianized, quai des Bateliers is like a little green haven in the middle of the city. A space where you can breathe, take a walk along the water with your family, your friends, or your partner. The atmosphere is cool and calm, flowing with the river and the boats gliding past.
Stop for a moment under the lush trees, relax for a while on one on the pontoons directly above the Ill, or on the large floating pontoon (by pont du Corbeau). The crooked houses between n°22 and n°26 seem to lean against each other, as though they had their own definition of balance.
The quay is lined with cafés, galleries, shops and independent bookstores. We particularly enjoy the Librairie du Tigre (n°36), which specializes in comic books.
In the springtime, you can see wisteria cascading down a few of the façades along the opposite riverbank.
As you walk along the quay, the Cathedral appears in the background. The view from the footbridge passerelle de l’Abreuvoir is particularly appreciated by photographers.
A little further down, the Cathedral seems to play hide and seek behind the Palais Rohan (vestige of the 18th century aristocracy’s way of life, and now home to three museums) and the Historical Museum (which presents the history of Strasbourg from the Middle Ages to the founding of the European institutions).
Quai des Bateliers ends by pont du Corbeau, where you can continue towards:
rue d’Austerlitz and the neighborhood of la Krutenau to your left
quai Saint-Nicolas and la Petite France if you follow the river
rue du Vieux-Marché-aux-Poissons, the Historical Museum, the Cathedral and the Palais Rohan to your right.
Alternatively, you can choose to walk level with the water along the banks of the Ill, which you can access either from pont Saint-Guillaume or from the Palais Rohan.