Strasbourg is the capital of Alsace and is located on the left bank of the Rhine River, in France’s northeast. With a population of more than 470,000, it is one of the only cities (along with Geneva and New York) to be selected as the seat of international organisations without actually being a capital city. The European parliament, the Court of Human Rights, and the Council of Europe are just some of the famous institutions that have chosen Strasbourg as their seat.
The Old Town district is a gem waiting to be discovered, and the atmosphere surrounding it is truly enchanting. The listing by UNESCO of this historic centre as a World Heritage Site in 1988 topped off the success of this bicultural city with Germanic accents. The heritage-listed area includes the famous Notre-Dame cathedral and the enchanting Petite France district.
Strasbourg is separated from Germany by the Rhine River and remains proud of its rich and tormented history. Having emerged even stronger from the painful memories of the two World Wars, the city has become the symbol of Franco-German reconciliation, and by extension, of European friendship.
- Grande Île (Historic Centre)
- German Imperial District
- Railway Station
- European District
- River Rhine
- Germany (City of Kehl)
Getting around: the tram system…
The city’s popular, futuristic six-line tram system has been serving the local community since November 1994. Its total length of over 50 kilometres of networks ranks it among the best in France, second only to that in Lyon.
The success of the tram system lies in the organisation of its network: the different lines do not meet at a central point, which makes connections easier and increases the frequency of services. This “grid system” concept is unique in its kind in France but is popular and well-practised in neighbouring Germany and Switzerland.
A combined parking and tram ticket gives visitors the option of leaving their car in complete security in any of the several “Park and Ride” areas located on the city’s outskirts and continuing to the city centre by tram.
The implementation of the tram system has allowed the Council to begin a large redevelopment program of the city centre in an effort to greatly reduce traffic and pollution. Place Kléber, the city’s nerve centre has become a pedestrian zone, along with many other roads of the Grande Île. This, and the incessant streams of cyclists, contributes to the typically Strasbourgeois relaxed rhythm of life.
Events in Strasbourg
The city’s most popular event is the Christmas market which has been held in the old town since the 16th century. The Alsatian capital is self-proclaimed “Capitale de Noël” and is by far the largest Christmas market in France.
Find out more about Christmas in Strasbourg
How to get there
There are approximately 15 daily TGV-Est trains from Paris Gare de l’Est to Strasbourg, taking only 2.40 hours. Travelling by train from Paris is by far the easiest way to discover Strasbourg on a two day-trip.
Strasbourg is also easily reached from Paris (490 km) by the Autoroute de l’Est (motorway A4) within 5 hours, and from the German cities of Frankfurt, Stuttgart and Munich and the Swiss cities of Basel and Zurich through an excellent network of motorways.
If you are travelling from Australia or America, the best way to reach Strasbourg is to take a flight to Paris Charles de Gaulle airport and take a TGV train from there. You may consider flying to Frankfurt or Zurick and hire a car and drive from there.
Have you visited Strasbourg recently? Was it a good experience (or not?) Tell us about your stay, we’d love to hear from you!