Strasbourg, the perfect mix of France and Germany, manages to effortlessly juggle its medieval past and its progressive future. Grande Île, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is full of twisting lanes and café-rimmed plazas, with wonderfully photogenic streets lined by timber-framed houses in an array of colours. Petite France is where the artisans worked in the Middles Ages and is the most atmospheric area of the city. Here you can drink in the panoramic views of the River III and the Grande Écluse (Vauban Dam) from the Ponts Couverts (Covered Bridges), which is especially beautiful at night. You’ll enjoy wandering the maze of canals and narrow cobblestone streets, particularly Rue du Bain-aux-Plantes. The star of the city is the Cathédrale Notre-Dame. This Gothic cathedral has beautiful stained-glass windows, notably the western portal’s jewel-like rose window. The Renaissance astronomical clock outside strikes at 12:30pm and a spiral staircase leads up to a magnificent view of Strasbourg, the Rhine plains, the Black Forest and the Vosges Mountains.
If you want to dive into some art, Palais Rohan and the Musée d’Art Moderne et Contemporain are your best bets. Palais Rohan (Musée des Beaux Arts et des Arts Décoratifs) is a miniature Versailles with an interesting archaeological section, a floor that capture the lavish lifestyle of the nobility in the 18th century and an excellent collection of paintings by notable artists such as Courbet, Delacroix, Goya and Botticelli. Musée d’Art Modern et Contemporain showcases an outstanding fine art, graphic art and photography collection. You’ll find works by Kandinsky, Picasso, Magritte, Monet and Rodin. Don’t miss the museum’s Art Café which has a terrace overlooking the River III and Petite France. For a taste of nature, head to the Parc de l’Orangerie, the oldest park in Strasbourg. This flowery park was designed in the 17th century has several playgrounds, a swan-dotted lake, and a waterfall.
As much as Strasbourg’s Christmas markets are internationally renown, their regular markets are just as worthy to visit. The best is the Marché Cronenbourg which offers an abundant selection of fruit, vegetables, cheese, meat and more. It’s the place to go when stocking up for a picnic. Au Pont Corbeau serves the epitome of Alsatian comfort food with generous servings of salted and smoked bacon, and smoked sausage and its well known jambonneau grill: pork knuckle, with its perfectly braised flesh and crispy, crackly skin that melts in your mouth. Strasbourg is definitely a must-visit when travelling to France!