Wow! Another lovely new European city find just a few weeks on from our last one! One of three de facto capitals of the European Union, Strasbourg is located near the border with Germany in the pretty Alsace region. It’s home to several European institutions including the European Parliament and the European Court of Human Rights. Strasbourg’s historic city centre, the Grande Île (Grand Island), is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and we can see why. We thought it so quaint, historic, clean and romantic it was almost a Disney-esque area of the city. The Grande Ile includes an area called La Petite France where the River Ill splits into a number of channels that cascade through the area and which used to be home to the city’s tanners, millers and fishermen but is now one of Strasbourg’s main tourist attractions.


Strasbourg 2The city is famous for its huge red sandstone gothic cathedral, the tallest building in the world, apparently, until 1874, and it dominates its surrounding narrow cobbled streets of half-timbered shops and pavement cafes. The cathedral was not open when we walked by but we’ll visit next time because as well as many beautiful and unique stained glass panels that were stored in a German salt mine during the war the cathedral also apparently houses a fantastically complex astronomical clock, so it seems we should plan to go inside next time. 
We had hoped that our journey from Lucerne yesterday was going to be picturesque and lovely but it turned out to be three hours of fast, flat, busy motorway through undistinguished countryside and showery weather. Next time we’ll make a special route to travel through the beautiful Bernese Oberland region again but yesterday’s trip just ate another 250 more kilometres towards Calais. We passed through a corner of Germany as we exited Switzerland before we crossed over the Rhine into France and a few kilometres later, Strasbourg 3drove into Strasbourg. 
Our Expedia-booked hotel is right in the centre of the Grande Ile and last night we walked through the romantic, gently-lit streets to find an early dinner. Spoiled for choice we settled on a restaurant in a small square with tables laid outside and we both chose local, Alsace dishes, goat cheese and fig salad for her, knuckle of ham slow-braised in local beer and a side of sauerkraut for me. Quite delicious. 
Today we walked the Grande Ile in the warm sunshine and commented many times how much it resembled a Disney theme town, or rather, how much a Disney theme town resembles the Grand Ile quarter of Strasbourg, I guess. It’s lovely timbered buildings, winding, cobbled streets, small squares, pavement cafes and bars, trams, a Galeries Lafayette department store, many waterways, bridges, Strasbourg 4boat trips, the amazing cathedral and dozens of tourist stores made for a lovely day out in this lovely new city visit for us. Here’s another place that would make a great short destination break, maybe a Christmas market visit… Strasbourg’s Christmas market consistently tops lists of Europe’s best Christmas destinations and it’s also one of the oldest, dating back to around 1570…or maybe a Spring trip. Anyway, we’ll be back. Tomorrow, though, it’s on to Nancy….
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