Monday, February 17, 2020

Strasbourg, France Impressions - What I'd do again and what I'd do differently


Strasbourg hadn’t been high on my radar when initially planning this Europe trip. Instead it kind of popped up as I had a couple of extra days up my sleeve between Stuttgart and Zurich, and wanted to find somewhere to fill in some time. The priority for the trip had been Germany, Zurich (because we had some free accomodation offered to us) and Italy - France hadn’t been on my radar and I’d assumed that’d be nice to do for another time.



Oh, I’m so glad that we put it in the trip - it’s definitely been one of my favourite cities that we visited! 



If you want a small, charming old town feel, Strasbourg has that tenfold. Just a short walk from the main train station, it doesn’t take you long to find cute French style housing and cobblestone roads. It’s a bit of a bane on your life if you have a suitcase with wheels like we did, but fortunately the old town isn’t that big so you’re not in pain for too long. 













The whole time I was in Strasbourg I could not stop humming the song from Beauty and the Beast that Belle sings while strolling around town, as if they wanted to pick a town to re-film that scene in, Strasbourg would fit fairly well. The lyrics go: Little town full of little people, everyday like the one before… I’m sure you know the one!

Whilst I loved Germany lit up at night, I loved Strasbourg by day. Although the night markets were nice, Germany honestly does the Christmas Markets the best. I didn’t need the markets in Strasbourg to keep me entertained, as I was captured by all the colours and textures in the town. However, do definitely get into the Vin Chaud/gluhwein/mulled wine in Strasbourg. I found that red Vin Chaud to be sweeter, but also much stronger on the star anise front which gives it a bit more of that licourish flavour - however, the white Vin Chaud is divine. Dry, but still sweet, the Alsatians are working off a great base with their white wines, so you know it has to be good. 

I was initially a little anxious about trying to switch from German which I had a tiny bit of, to French which I had pretty much none of, but found that the people were friendly, and thoroughly enjoyed our interactions when eating out. 






And speaking of eating out, food in Strasbourg was a delight. A lot of similar things we had been seeing in Germany, but done a little differently. There was Spatzle in France as well, but here it's fried too, so had a bit more texture and crunch, and I’m all for every single cheese/cream sauce ever. Oh and snails. And foie gras. And beautiful crisp white wines - I now wish I had drunk more! 












The Notre Dam in Strasbourg also has to be one of the most underrated cathedrals, or at least I had never heard of it before planning this trip - it’s magnificent. It’s the second most visited cathedral in France after Notre Dam in Paris, and is the tallest medieval building in Europe. The stained glass windows throughout are just divine, and we were lucky enough on our second day to have full sunshine, which really lit the windows up in all their glory. 

What I’d do differently next time:
  • We stayed two nights which was just lovely for Strasbourg, but I wouldn’t have minded putting in one extra night, to go out to the Parc d’Orangrie and maybe go to a museum to fill up some time. But honestly, provided it’s not raining, I’d have been pretty pleased just to sit outside and drink wine and watch the world go by. 
  • Make dinner bookings! I so wanted to go to Le Clou around the corner from our Airbnb, but neglected to make a booking so couldn’t get in.








What I’d do again:
  • Stay in the Airbnb we stayed in. Oh my goodness. Such a beautiful apartment, in the middle of the old town, literally a minute walk from the Notre Dam, and surrounded by top quality restaurants, bakeries and patisseries. It’s just furnished so beautifully as well, and certainly felt like home for a few days. 
  • Eat at Flam’s - they do Flammkuchen - which is kind of like a pizza, but on a much thinner base (that tastes like water crackers), less cheese and no tomato. It’s super yum, and the vibe here is super chill and fun.
  • Drink Riesling and Gewürztraminer - these are two of my favourite white varietals at home and the Alsace region does them so much justice. Wah, I wish I had drunk more now!
  • Do the Notre Dam in the morning and night. Note that they shuffle everyone out at 11:30am, so that people can queue up and view the astrological clock at 12:30, where it apparently moves all it’s parts. 
  • Visit Naegal and Pain Westermann for sweets and morning pastries. I loved Naegal personally - it’s always busy in there! 








Other places I enjoyed:
  • Table De Christophe - we ate here on our second night since I couldn’t get into some of the other restaurants I wanted to (in which I threw a tantrum at myself for not planning better. Brad’s a bit of an angel for putting up with my control freak nature) - and honestly I’m so pleased we did eat here! The food was lovely, super garlicky and buttery snails, smooth and elegant foie gras, a sumptuously jammy plum tart and we had one of the best Rieslings of the trip that night too. 
  • La Corde a Linge - we stopped here for lunch as we were too early for our Airbnb. Fortunately it had stopped raining, so we sat outside which worked well since we had all our bags with us and the crisp afternoon air was just delightful with a glass of cider in hand and hot butternut squash soup.  
  • Pierre Herme! Stopped here a couple of times (it's in the lovely Galerie Lafayette) to get my macaron fix