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Coordinates: 48°35′04″N 7°44′55″E / 48.584445°N 7.748612°E / 48.584445; 7.748612

Flag of Strasbourg
Coat of arms of Strasbourg
City flag City coat of arms
IMG 0384C.jpg
Strasbourg Cathedral towering above the Old Town
Strasbourg is located in France
Time zone CET (UTC +1)
Country France
Region Alsace
Department Bas-Rhin
Arrondissement Strasbourg-Ville
Canton chief town of 10 cantons
Intercommunality Urban Community of Strasbourg
Mayor Roland Ries (PS)
Elevation 132–151 m (433–495 ft)
Land area1 78.26 km2 (30.22 sq mi)
Population2 272,975  (2006[1])
 - Ranking 7th in France
 - Density 3,488 /km2 (9,030 /sq mi)
Urban spread
Urban area 222 km2 (86 sq mi) (2006[2])
 - Population 440,264[3] (2006[2])
Metro area 1,351.5 km2 (521.8 sq mi) (2006[2])
 - Population 638,670[4] (2006[2])
Dialling code 0388, 0390
1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km² (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.
2 Population sans doubles comptes: residents of multiple communes (e.g., students and military personnel) only counted once.
Warning: Value not specified for "common_name"
Imperial City of Strasbourg
Free Imperial City of the Holy Roman Empire
Duchy of Swabia
Capital Strasbourg
Government Republic
Historical era Middle Ages
 - City founded 12 BC
 - Acquired by the Empire 923 1262
 - Gained Reichsfreiheit 1262
 - Straßburger Revolution 1332
 - Annexed by France 1681
 - Annexation recognised by
    the Holy Roman Empire

Strasbourg (pronounced: [stʁazbuʁ]; Alsatian: Strossburi, [ˈʃd̥rɔːsb̥uri]; German: Straßburg, [ˈʃtʁaːsbʊʁk]) is the capital and principal city of the Alsace region in north-eastern France. Located close to the border with Germany, it is the capital of the Bas-Rhin department. In 2006, the city proper had 272,975 inhabitants and its urban community 467,375 inhabitants. With 638,670 inhabitants in 2006, Strasbourg's metropolitan area ("aire urbaine") (only the part of the metropolitan area on French territory) is the ninth largest in France. The transnational Eurodistrict Strasbourg-Ortenau has a population of 884,988 inhabitants.[5]

Strasbourg is the seat of several European institutions such as the Council of Europe (with its European Court of Human Rights, its European Directorate for the Quality of Medicines and its European Audiovisual Observatory) and the Eurocorps as well as the European Parliament and the European Ombudsman of the European Union. Strasbourg is an important centre of manufacturing and engineering, as well as of road, rail, and river communications. The port of Strasbourg is the second largest on the Rhine after Duisburg, Germany.[6] The city is the seat of the Central Commission for Navigation on the Rhine.

Strasbourg's historic city centre, the Grande Île ("Grand Island"), was classified a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1988, the first time such an honor was placed on an entire city centre. Strasbourg is fused into the Franco-German culture, and although violently disputed throughout history has been a bridge of unity between France and Germany for centuries, especially through the University of Strasbourg, currently the largest in France, and the co-existence of Catholic and Protestant culture.



The city's Gallicized name is of Germanic origin and means "Town (at the crossing) of roads". The modern Stras- is cognate to the German Straße / Strasse which itself is derived from Latin strata ("street"), while -bourg (French for "village") is cognate to the German -burg ("fortress, town, citadel") and English borough.

Geography and climate

Climate diagram of Strasbourg.

Strasbourg is situated on the Ill River, where it flows into the Rhine on the border with Germany, across from the German town Kehl. The city is situated in the Upper Rhine Plain, approximately 20 km (12 mi) east of the Vosges Mountains and 25 km (16 mi) west of the Black Forest. Winds coming from either direction being often deflected by these natural barriers, the average annual precipitation is low[7] and the perceived summer temperatures can be inordinately high. The defective natural ventilation also makes Strasbourg one of the most atmospherically polluted cities of France,[8][9] although the progressive disappearance of heavy industry on both banks of the Rhine, as well as effective measures of traffic regulation in and around the city are showing encouraging results.[10]




The first traces of human occupation in the environs of Strasbourg go back 600,000 years.[11] and neolithic, bronze age and iron age artifacts have been uncovered by archeological excavations. But it was permanently settled by proto-Celts around 1300 BCE. Towards the end of the 3rd century BCE it developed into a Celtish township with a market called Argentorate. Drainage works converted the stilthouses to house built on dry land.[12]

From Romans to Renaissance

Strasbourg seen from Spot Satellite


The Romans under Nero Claudius Drusus established a military outpost belonging to the Germania Superior Roman province at current Strasbourg's location, and named it Argentoratum. (Hence the town is commonly called Argentina in medieval Latin.[13]) The name "Argentoratum" was first mentioned in 12 BC and the city celebrated its 2,000th birthday in 1988; however, "Argentorate" as the toponym of the Gaulish settlement had preceded it before being latinized but it is not known by how long. The Roman camp was destroyed by fire and rebuilt six times between the first and the fifth century AD: in 70, 97, 235, 355, in the last quarter of the 4th century and in the early years of the 5th century. It was under Trajan and after the fire of 97 that Argentoratum received its most extended and fortified shape. From the year 90 on, the Legio VIII Augusta was permanently stationed in the Roman camp of Argentoratum. It then included a cavalry section and covered an area of approximately 20 hectares. Other Roman legions temporarily stationed in Argentoratum were the Legio XIV Gemina and the Legio XXI Rapax, the latter during the reign of Nero.

While the centre of Argentoratum proper was situated on the Grande Île (Cardo: current Rue du Dôme, Decumanus: current Rue des Hallebardes) many Roman artifacts have also been found along the current Route des Romains in the suburb of Kœnigshoffen, on the road that lead to it. This was were the largest burial places were situated as well as the densest concentration of civilian dwelling places and commerces next to the camp.Among the most outstanding finds in Kœnigshoffen were (found in 1911–12) the fragments of a grand Mithraeum that had been shattered by early Christians in the fourth century. As it were, from the fourth century, Strasbourg was the seat of the Bishopric of Strasbourg (made an Archbishopric in 1988). Archeological diggings below the current Église Saint-Étienne in 1948 and 1956 have unearthed the apse of a church dating back to the late 4th century or early 5th century, and considered the oldest church in Alsace. It is supposed that this was the first seat of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Strasbourg.

The Alemanni fought a Battle of Argentoratum against Rome in 357. They were defeated by Julian, later Emperor of Rome, and their king Chonodomarius was taken prisoner. On 2 January 366 the Alemanni crossed the frozen Rhine in large numbers, to invade the Roman Empire. Early in the fifth century the Alemanni appear to have crossed the Rhine, conquered, and then settled what is today Alsace and a large part of Switzerland.

Imperial city

Strasbourg as seen in 1493
Strasbourg as seen in 1644

The town was occupied successively in the 5th century by Alemanni, Huns, and Franks. In the ninth century it was commonly known as Strazburg in the local language, as documented in 842 by the Oaths of Strasbourg. This trilingual text is considered to contain, besides Latin and Old High German (teudisca lingua), also the oldest written variety of Gallo-Romance (lingua romana) clearly distinct from Latin, the ancestor of Old French. The town was also called Stratisburgum or Strateburgus in Latin, from which later cameStrossburi in Alsatian and Straßburg in Standard German, and then Strasbourg in French. The Oaths for Strasbourg is considered as marking the birth of the two countries of France and Germany with the division of the Carolingian Empire.[14]

A major commercial centre, the town came under control of the Holy Roman Empire in 923, through the homage paid by the Duke of Lorraine to German King Henry I. The early history of Strasbourg consists of a long conflict between its bishop and its citizens. The citizens emerged victorious after the Battle of Oberhausbergen in 1262, when King Philip of Swabia granted the city the status of an Imperial Free City.

Around 1200, Gottfried von Straßburg wrote the Middle High German courtly romance Tristan, which is regarded, alongside Wolfram von Eschenbach's Parzival and the Nibelungenlied, as one of great narrative masterpieces of the German Middle Ages.

A revolution in 1332 resulted in a broad-based city government with participation of the guilds, and Strasbourg declared itself a free republic. The deadly bubonic plague of 1348 was followed on 14 February 1349 by one of the first and worst pogroms in pre-modern history: several hundred Jews were publicly burnt to death, and the rest of them expelled from the city.[15] Until the end of the 18th century, Jews were forbidden to remain in town after 10 pm. The time to leave the city was signaled by a municipal herald blowing the Grüselhorn (see below, Museums, Musée historique);[16] a high-pitched Cathedral bell still rings today. A special tax, the Pflastergeld (pavement money) was furthermore to be paid for any horse that a Jew would ride or bring into the city while allowed to.[17]

Strasbourg Cathedral which began undergoing construction in the twelfth century, was completed in 1439 (though only the north tower was built) and became the World's Tallest Building, surpassing the Great Pyramid of Giza. A few years later, Johannes Gutenberg created the first European moveable type printing press in Strasbourg.

In July 1518, an incident known as the Dancing Plague of 1518 struck residents of Strasbourg. Around 400 people were afflicted with dancing mania and danced constantly for weeks, most of them eventually dying from heart attack, stroke, or exhaustion.

In the 1520s during the Protestant Reformation, the city, under the political guidance of Jacob Sturm von Sturmeck and the spiritual guidance of Martin Bucer embraced the religious teachings of Martin Luther, whose adherents established a Gymnasium, headed by Johannes Sturm, made into a University in the following century. The city first followed the Tetrapolitan Confession, and then the Augsburg Confession. Protestant iconoclasm caused much destruction to churches and cloisters. Strasbourg was a centre of humanist scholarship and early book-printing in the Holy Roman Empire and its intellectual and political influence contributed much to the establishment of Protestantism as an accepted denomination in the southwest of Germany (John Calvin had spent several years as a political refugee in the city). Together with four other free cities, Strasbourg presented the confessio tetrapolitana as its Protestant book of faith at the Imperial Diet of Augsburg in 1530, where the slightly different Augsburg Confession was also handed over to Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor.

After the reform of the Imperial constitution in the early sixteenth century and the establishment of Imperial Circles, Strasbourg was part of the Upper Rhenish Circle, a corporation of Imperial estates in the southwest of Holy Roman Empire, mainly responsible for maintaining troops, supervising coining, and ensuring public security.

After the invention of the printing press by Johannes Gutenberg around 1440, the first printing offices outside the inventor's hometown Mainz were established around 1460 in the Alsatian capital by pioneers Johannes Mentelin and Heinrich Eggestein. Subsequently, the first modern newspaper was published in Strasbourg in 1605, when Johann Carolus received the permission by the City of Strasbourg to print and distribute a weekly journal written in German by reporters from several central European cities.

From Thirty Years' War to First World War

The Free City of Strasbourg remained neutral during the Thirty Years' War. In September 1681 it was annexed by King Louis XIV of France, whose unprovoked annexation was recognized by the Treaty of Ryswick (1697). The official policy of religious intolerance which drove many Protestants from France after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes (1598) by the Edict of Fontainebleau (1685) was not applied in Strasbourg and in Alsace. Strasbourg Cathedral, however, was restored from the Lutherans to the Catholics. The German Lutheran university persisted until the French Revolution. Famous students were Goethe and Herder.

During a dinner in Strasbourg organized by Mayor Frédéric de Dietrich on 25 April 1792, Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle composed "La Marseillaise". However, Strasbourg's status as a free city was revoked by the French Revolution. Enragés, most notoriously Eulogius Schneider, ruled the city with an increasingly iron hand. During this time, many churches and cloisters were either destroyed or severely damaged. The cathedral lost hundreds of its statues (later replaced by copies in the 19th century) and in April 1794, there was talk of tearing its spire down, on the grounds that it hurt the principle of equality. The tower was saved, however, when in May of the same year citizens of Strasbourg crowned it with a giant tin Phrygian cap. This artifact was later kept in the historical collections of the city until they were all destroyed in 1870.[18]

In 1805, 1806 and 1809, Napoléon Bonaparte and his first wife, Joséphine stayed in Strasbourg.[19] In 1810, his second wife Marie Louise, Duchess of Parma spent her first night on French soil in the palace. Another royal guest was king Charles X of France in 1828.[20] In 1836, Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte unsuccessfully tried to lead his first Bonapartist coup in Strasbourg.

Strasbourg in the last decade of the 19th century
1888 German map of Strasbourg as part of the German Empire.

With the growth of industry and commerce, the city's population tripled in the 19th century to 150,000. During the Franco-Prussian War and the Siege of Strasbourg, the city was heavily bombarded by the Prussian army. On 24 August 1870, the Museum of Fine Arts was destroyed by fire, as was the Municipal Library housed in the Gothic former Dominican Church, with its unique collection of medieval manuscripts (most famously the Hortus deliciarum), rare Renaissance books, archeological finds and historical artifacts. In 1871 after the war's end, the city was annexed to the newly-established German Empire as part of the Reichsland Elsaß-Lothringen (via the Treaty of Frankfurt) without a plebiscite. As part of Imperial Germany, Strasbourg was rebuilt and developed on a grand and representative scale (the Neue Stadt, or "new city"). Historian Rodolphe Reuss and Art historian Wilhelm von Bode were in charge of rebuilding the municipal archives, libraries and museums. The University, founded in 1567 and suppressed during the French Revolution as a stronghold of German sentiment, was reopened in 1872 under the name Kaiser-Wilhelms-Universität. A belt of massive fortifications was established around the city, most of which still stand today : Fort Roon (now Desaix) and Podbielski (now Ducrot) in Mundolsheim, Fort von Moltke (now Rapp) in Reichstett, Fort Bismarck (now Kléber) in Wolfisheim, Fort Kronprinz (now Foch) in Niederhausbergen, and Fort Grossherzog von Baden (now Frère) in Oberhausbergen.[21] Those forts subsequently served the French army, and were used as POW-camps in 1918 and 1945.

1918 to the present

A lost, then restored, symbol of modernity in Strasbourg : a room in the Aubette building designed by Theo van Doesburg, Hans Arp and Sophie Taeuber-Arp.
Strasbourg's monumental Romanesque revival synagogue did not survive the Nazi invasion of the city.
Post-war and contemporary Strasbourg: The Quartier de l'Esplanade (1950s) and a Tramway (as from 1994).

After World War I and the abdication of the German Emperor, Alsace-Lorraine declared itself an independent Republic, but was occupied by French troops within a few days. On 11 November 1918 (Armistice Day), communist insurgents proclaimed a "soviet government" in Strasbourg, following the example of Kurt Eisner in Munich as well as other German towns. The insurgency was brutally repressed on 22 November; a major street of the city now bears the name of that date (Rue du 22 Novembre)[22] In 1919, the Treaty of Versailles reattributed the city to France. In accordance with U.S. President Woodrow Wilson's "Fourteen Points" the return of the city to France was carried out without a referendum. The date of the assignment was retroactively established on Armistice Day. It is doubtful whether a referendum among the citizens of Strasbourg would have been in France's favor, because the political parties that strove for an autonomy of Alsace, or a connection to France, had achieved only small numbers of votes in the last Reichstag elections before the War.[23]

In 1920, Strasbourg became the seat of the Central Commission for Navigation on the Rhine, previously located in Mannheim, one of the oldest European institutions. It moved into the former Imperial Palace.

Between the German invasion of Poland on 1 September 1939 and the Anglo-French declaration of War against the German Reich on 3 September 1939, the entire city (a total of 120 000 people) was evacuated, like other border towns as well. Until the arrival of the Wehrmacht troops mid-June 1940, the city was, for ten months, completely empty, with the exception of the garrisoned soldiers. The Jews of Strasbourg had been evacuated to Périgueux and Limoges, the University had been evacuated to Clermont-Ferrand. After the ceasefire following the Fall of France in June 1940, Alsace was annexed to Germany and a rigorous policy of Germanization was imposed upon it by the Gauleiter Robert Heinrich Wagner. When, in July 1940, the first evacuees were allowed to return, only residents of Alsatian origin were let in. The last Jews were expulsed on 15 July 1940 and the main synagogue, a huge Romanesque revival building that had been a major architectural landmark with its 54 meters high dome since its completion in 1897, was set on fire, then razed.[24] From 1943 the city was bombarded by Allied aircraft. While the First World War had not notably damaged the city, Anglo-American bombing caused extensive destruction in raids of which at least one was allegedly carried out by mistake.[25] In August 1944, several buildings in the Old Town were damaged by bombs, particularly the Palais Rohan, the Old Customs House (Ancienne Douane) and the Cathedral.[26] On 23 November 1944, the city was officially liberated by the 2nd French Armored Division under General Leclerc. In 1947, a fire broke out in the Musée des Beaux-Arts and devastated a significant part of the collections. This fire was a direct consequence of the bombing raids of 1944: because of the destructions inflicted on the Palais Rohan, humidity had infiltrated the building, and moisture had to be fought. This was done with welding torches, and a bad handling of these caused the fire.[27]

In the 1950s and 1960s the city was enriched by new residential areas meant to solve both the problem of housing shortage due to war damage, as well as the strong growth of population due to baby boom and immigration from North Africa: Cité Rotterdam in the North-East, Quartier de l'Esplanade in the South-East, Hautepierre in the North-West. Since 1995 and until 2010, in the South of Hautepierre, a new district is being built in the same vein, the Quartier des Poteries.

In 1949, the city was chosen to be the seat of the Council of Europe with its European Court of Human Rights and European Pharmacopoeia. Since 1952, the European Parliament has met in Strasbourg, which was formally designated its official 'seat' at the Edinburgh meeting of the European Council of EU heads of state and government in December 1992. (This position was reconfirmed and given treaty status in the 1997 Treaty of Amsterdam). However, only the (four-day) plenary sessions of the Parliament are held in Strasbourg each month, with all other business being conducted in Brussels and Luxembourg. Those sessions take place in the Immeuble Louise Weiss, inaugurated in 1999, which houses the largest parliamentary assembly room in Europe and of any democratic institution in the world. Before that, the EP sessions had to take place in the main Council of Europe building, the Palace of Europe, whose unusual inner architecture had become a familiar sight to European TV audiences.[28] In 1992, Strasbourg became the seat of the Franco-German TV channel and movie-production society Arte.

In 2000, an Islamist plot to blow up the cathedral was prevented by German authorities.

On 6 July 2001, during an open-air concert in the Parc de Pourtalès, a single falling Platanus tree killed thirteen people and injured 97. On 27 March 2007, the city was found guilty of neglect over the accident and fined € 150,000.[29]

In 2006, after a long and careful restoration, the inner decoration of the Aubette, made in the 1920s by Hans Arp, Theo van Doesburg, and Sophie Taeuber-Arp and destroyed in the 1930s, was made accessible to the public again. The work of the three artists had been called "the Sistine Chapel of abstract art".[30]

Main sights

Panorama from the Barrage Vauban with the medieval bridge Ponts Couverts in the foreground (the fourth tower being hidden by trees at the left) and the cathedral in the distance.


The city is chiefly known for its sandstone Gothic Cathedral with its famous astronomical clock, and for its medieval cityscape of Rhineland black and white timber-framed buildings, particularly in the Petite-France district alongside the Ill and in the streets and squares surrounding the cathedral, where the renowned Maison Kammerzell stands out.

Notable medieval streets include Rue Mercière, Rue des Dentelles, Rue du Bain aux Plantes, Rue des Juifs, Rue des Frères, Rue des Tonneliers, Rue du Maroquin, Rue des Charpentiers, Rue des Serruriers, Grand' Rue, Quai des Bateliers, Quai Saint-Nicolas and Quai Saint-Thomas. Notable medieval squares include Place de la Cathédrale, Place du Marché Gayot, Place Saint-Etienne, Place du Marché aux Cochons de Lait and Place Benjamin Zix.

Place du Marché aux Cochons de Lait.
Maison des tanneurs.

In addition to the cathedral, Strasbourg houses several other medieval churches that have survived the many wars and destructions that have plagued the city: the Romanesque Église Saint-Etienne, partly destroyed in 1944 by Anglo-American bombing raids, the part Romanesque, part Gothic, very large Église Saint-Thomas with its Silbermann organ on which Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Albert Schweitzer played,[31] the Gothic Eglise Saint-Pierre-le-Jeune Protestant with its crypt dating back to the seventh century and its cloister partly from the eleventh century, the Gothic Église Saint-Guillaume with its fine early-Renaissance stained glass and furniture, the Gothic Église Saint-Jean, the part Gothic, part Art Nouveau Église Sainte-Madeleine, etc The Neo-Gothic church Saint-Pierre-le-Vieux Catholique (there is also an adjacent church Saint-Pierre-le-Vieux Protestant) serves as a shrine for several 15th-century wood worked and painted altars coming from other, now destroyed churches and installed there for public display. Among the numerous secular medieval buildings, the monumental Ancienne Douane (old custom-house) stands out.

The German Renaissance has bequeathed the city some noteworthy buildings (especially the current Chambre de Commerce et d'Industrie, former town hall, on Place Gutenberg), as did the French Baroque and Classicism with several hôtels particuliers (i.e. palaces), among which the Palais Rohan (now housing three museums) is the most spectacular. Other buildings of its kind are the Hôtel du Préfet, the Hôtel des Deux-Ponts and the city-hall Hôtel de Ville etc. The largest baroque building of Strasbourg though is the 1720s main building of the Hôpital civil. As for French Neo-classicism, it is the Opera House on Place Broglie that most prestigiously represents this style.

Strasbourg also offers high-class eclecticist buildings in its very extended German district, being the main memory of Wilhelmian architecture since most of the major cities in Germany proper suffered intensive damage during World War II. Streets, boulevards and avenues are homogeneous, surprisingly high (up to seven stories) and broad examples of German urban lay-out and of this architectural style that summons and mixes up five centuries of European architecture as well as Neo-Egyptian, Neo-Greek and Neo-Babylonian styles. The former imperial palace Palais du Rhin, the most political and thus heavily criticized of all German Strasbourg buildings epitomizes the grand scale and stylistic sturdiness of this period. But the two most handsome and ornate buildings of these times are the École internationale des Pontonniers (the former Höhere Mädchenschule, girls college) with its towers, turrets and multiple round and square angles [32] and the École des Arts décoratifs with its lavishly ornate façade of painted bricks, woodwork and majolica.[33]

The baroque organ of Saint-Thomas church.

Notable streets of the German district include: Avenue de la Forêt Noire, Avenue des Vosges, Avenue d'Alsace, Avenue de la Marseillaise, Avenue de la Liberté, Boulevard de la Victoire, Rue Sellénick, Rue du Général de Castelnau, Rue du Maréchal Foch, and Rue du Maréchal Joffre. Notable squares of the German district include: Place de la République, Place de l'Université, Place Brant, and Place Arnold

Impressive examples of Prussian military architecture of the 1880s can be found along the newly reopened Rue du Rempart, displaying large scale fortifications among which the aptly named Kriegstor (war gate).

As for modern and contemporary architecture, Strasbourg possesses some fine Art Nouveau buildings (the huge Palais des Fêtes, some houses and villas on Avenue de la Robertsau and Rue Sleidan), good examples of post-World War II functional architecture (the Cité Rotterdam, for which Le Corbusier did not succeed in the architectural contest) and, in the very extended Quartier Européen, some spectacular administrative buildings of sometimes utterly large size, among which the European Court of Human Rights building by Richard Rogers is arguably the finest. Other noticeable contemporary buildings are the new Music school Cité de la Musique et de la Danse, the Musée d'Art moderne et contemporain and the Hôtel du Département facing it, as well as, in the outskirts, the tramway-station Hoenheim-Nord designed by Zaha Hadid.

The city has many bridges, including the medieval, four-towered Ponts Couverts.

Next to it is a part of the 17th-century Vauban fortifications, the Barrage Vauban. Other bridges are the ornate 19th-century Pont de la Fonderie (1893, stone) and Pont d'Auvergne (1892, iron), as well as architect Marc Mimram's futuristic Passerelle over the Rhine, opened in 2004.

The largest square at the centre of the city of Strasbourg is the Place Kléber. Located in the heart of the city’s commercial area, it was named after general Jean-Baptiste Kléber, born in Strasbourg in 1753 and slaughtered in 1800 in Cairo. In the square is a statue of Kléber, under which is a vault containing his remains. On the north side of the square is the Aubette (Orderly Room), built by Jacques François Blondel, architect of the king, in 1765-1772.


The Pavillon Joséphine (rear side) in the Parc de l'Orangerie
The Château de Pourtalès (front side) in the park of the same name

Strasbourg features a number of prominent parks, of which several are of cultural and historical interest: the Parc de l'Orangerie, laid out as a French garden by André le Nôtre and remodeled as an English garden on behalf of Joséphine de Beauharnais, now displaying noteworthy French gardens, a neo-classical castle and a small zoo; the Parc de la Citadelle, built around impressive remains of the 17th-century fortress erected close to the Rhine by Vauban;[34] the Parc de Pourtalès, laid out in English style around a baroque castle (heavily restored in the 19th century) that now houses the Schiller International University, and featuring an open-air museum of international contemporary sculpture.[35] The Jardin botanique de l'Université de Strasbourg (botanical garden) was created under the German administration next to the Observatory of Strasbourg, built in 1881, and still owns some greenhouses of those times. The Parc des Contades, although the oldest park of the city, was completely remodeled after World War II. The futuristic Parc des Poteries is an example of European park-conception in the late 1990s. The Jardin des deux Rives, spread over Strasbourg and Kehl on both sides of the Rhine, is the most recent (2004) and most extended (60 hectare) park of the agglomeration.


For a city of comparatively small size, Strasbourg displays a large quantity and variety of museums:

Art museums

Unlike most other cities, Strasbourg's collections of European art are divided into several museums according not only to type and area, but also to epoch. Old master paintings from the Germanic Rhenish territories and until 1681 are displayed in the Musée de l’Œuvre Notre-Dame, old master paintings from all the rest of Europe (including the Dutch Rhenish territories) and until 1871 as well as old master paintings from the Germanic Rhenish territories between 1681 and 1871 are displayed in the Musée des Beaux-Arts. Old master graphic arts until 1871 is displayed in the Cabinet des estampes et dessins. Decorative arts until 1681 ("German period") are displayed in the Musée de l’Œuvre Notre-Dame, decorative arts from 1681 to 1871 ("French period") are displayed in the Musée des Arts décoratifs. International art (painting, sculpture, graphic arts) and decorative art since 1871 is displayed in the Musée d'art moderne et contemporain. The latter museum also displays the city's photographic library.

Other museums

  • The Musée archéologique presents a vast display of regional findings from the first ages of man to the sixth century, focussing especially on the Roman and Celtic period.
  • The very large Musée alsacien is dedicated to every aspects of traditional Alsatian daily life.
  • The Musée zoologique is one of the oldest in France and is especially famous for its gigantic collection of birds.
  • Le Vaisseau ("The vessel") is a science and technology centre, especially designed for children.
  • The Musée historique (historical museum) is dedicated to the tumultuous history of the city and displays many artifacts of the times. It previously displayed the Grüselhorn, the medieval horn that was blown every evening at 10 to order the Jews out of the city, but this item was accidentally dropped and shattered into many small fragments and thus is no longer displayed.
  • The Musée de la Navigation sur le Rhin, also going by the name of Naviscope, located in an old ship, is dedicated to the history of commercial navigation on the Rhine.
  • The Musée de Sismologie et Magnétisme terrestre,
  • the Musée Pasteur,
  • the Musée de minéralogie and
  • The Musée d'Égyptologie[36] are all three part of the University and only open to public some hours a week.


Growth of the city's population

The metropolitan area of Strasbourg includes 638,670 inhabitants (2006)[4], while the Eurodistrict has a population of 884,988 inhabitants.[5]

1684 1789 1851 1871 1910 1921 1936 1946 1954 1962 1968 1975 1982 1990 1999 2006
22 000 49 943 75 565 85 654 178 891 166 767 193 119 175 515 200 921 228 971 249 396 253 384 248 712 252 338 263 941 272 975

River Ill, seen from the terrace of the Palais Rohan


Strasbourg is the seat of some internationally reputed institutions in the musical and dramatic domain:

Other theatres are the Théâtre jeune public, the TAPS Scala, the Kafteur...


  • Musica, international festival of contemporary classical music (autumn)
  • Festival international de Strasbourg (founded in 1932), festival of classical music and jazz (summer)
  • Festival des Artefacts, festival of contemporary non-classical music
  • Les Nuits électroniques de l'Ososphère
  • The Spectre Film Festival is an annual film festival that is devoted to science fiction, horror and fantasy.
  • The Strasbourg International Film Festival is an annual film festival focusing on new and emerging independent filmmakers from around the world.


Universities and schools

Strasbourg, which was a humanism centre, has a long history of higher-education excellence, merging French and German intellectual traditions. Although Strasbourg had been annexed by the Kingdom of France in 1683, it still remained connected to the German-speaking intellectual world throughout the 18th century and the university attracted numerous students from the Holy Roman Empire, including Goethe, Metternich and Montgelas, who studied law in Strasbourg, among the most prominent. Nowadays, Strasbourg is known to offer among the best university courses in France, after Paris.

Until January 2009 there were three universities in Strasbourg, with an approximate total of 48,500 students as of 2007 (another 4,500 students are being taught at one of the diverse post-graduate schools):[37]

Since 1 January 2009, those three universities have merged and constitute now the Université de Strasbourg.

The prestigious Institut d'études politiques de Strasbourg (Sciences Po Strasbourg) is part of the University of Strasbourg.

The campus of the École nationale d'administration (ENA) is located in Strasbourg (the former one being in Paris). The location of the "new" ENA - which trains most of the nation's high-ranking civil servants - was meant to give a European vocation to the school.

The École supérieure des Arts décoratifs (ESAD) is an art school of Europe-wide reputation.

The permanent campus of the International Space University (ISU) is located in the south of Strasbourg (Illkirch-Graffenstaden)

Other important schools include the INSA (Institut national des sciences appliquées), the ECPM (École européenne de chimie, polymères et matériaux), the INET (Institut national des études territoriales), the ENGEES (École nationale du génie de l'eau et de l'environnement de Strasbourg), and the CUEJ (Centre universitaire d'enseignement du journalisme).


Lateral view of the National Library.

The Bibliothèque nationale et universitaire (BNU) is, with its collection of more than 3,000,000 titles,[38] the second largest library in France after the Bibliothèque nationale de France. It was founded by the German administration after the complete destruction of the previous municipal library in 1871 and holds the unique status of being simultaneously a student's and a national library.

The municipal library Bibliothèque municipale de Strasbourg (BMS) administrates a network of ten medium-sized librairies in different areas of the town. A six stories high "Grande bibliothèque", the Médiathèque André Malraux, was inaugurated on 19 September 2008 and is considered the largest in Eastern France.[39]


As one of the earliest centers of book-printing in Europe (see above: History), Strasbourg for a long time held a large number of incunabula in her library as one of her most precious heritages. After the total destruction of this institution in 1870, however, a new collection had to be reassembled from scratch. Today, Strasbourg's different public and institutional libraries again display a sizeable total number of incunabula, distributed as follows: Bibliothèque nationale et universitaire, 2 000 [40] Médiathèque de la ville et de la communauté urbaine de Strasbourg, 349 [41] Bibliothèque du Grand Séminaire, 237 [42] Médiathèque protestante, 66 [43] and Bibliothèque alsatique du Crédit Mutuel, 5. [44]


A street-level tram in Strasbourg

Strasbourg has its own airport, serving major domestic destinations as well as international destinations in Europe and northern Africa.

Train services operate from Gare de Strasbourg eastward to Offenburg and Karlsruhe in Germany, westward to Metz and Paris, and southward to Basel. Since 10 June 2007, Strasbourg has benefited from the opening of the first phase of TGV Est (Paris–Strasbourg). The TGV Rhin-Rhône (Strasbourg-Lyon) is currently under construction and due to open in 2012.

City transportation in Strasbourg is served by a modern-looking tram system that has been operated since 1994 by the regional transit company Compagnie des transports strasbourgeois. A former tram system, partly following different routes, had been operating since 1878 but was ultimately dismantled in 1960.

Being a city next to the Rhine and along some of its most important canals (Marne-Rhine Canal, Grand Canal d'Alsace), while crossed by the Ill, Strasbourg has always been an important centre of fluvial navigation, as is attested by archeological findings as well as the important activity of the Port autonome de Strasbourg. Water tourism inside the city proper attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists yearly.

European role


Strasbourg is the seat of over twenty international institutions,[45] most famously of the Council of Europe and of the European Parliament, of which it is the official seat. Strasbourg is considered the legislative and democratic capital of the European Union, while Brussels is considered the executive and administrative capital and Luxembourg the judiciary and financial capital.[citation needed]

Strasbourg is:


France and Germany have created a Eurodistrict straddling the Rhine, combining the Greater Strasbourg and the Ortenau district of Baden-Württemberg, with some common administration. The combined population of this district is 884,988 according to the latest official national statistics.[5]


Internationally-renowned teams from Strasbourg are the "Racing Club de Strasbourg" (football), the "SIG" (basketball) and the "Étoile Noire" (ice hockey).[46] The women's tennis tournament "Internationaux de Strasbourg" is one of the most important French tournaments of its kind outside Roland-Garros.

Notable people

In chronological order, notable people born in Strasbourg include: Johannes Tauler, Sebastian Brant, Jean Baptiste Kléber, Louis Ramond de Carbonnières, Marie Tussaud, Ludwig I of Bavaria, Charles Frédéric Gerhardt, Gustave Doré, Émile Waldteufel, Jean/Hans Arp, Charles Münch, Hans Bethe, Marcel Marceau, Tomi Ungerer, Arsène Wenger and Petit.

In chronological order, notable residents of Strasbourg include: Johannes Gutenberg, Hans Baldung, Martin Bucer, John Calvin, Joachim Meyer, Johann Carolus, Johann Wolfgang Goethe, Jakob Michael Reinhold Lenz, Klemens Wenzel von Metternich, Georg Büchner, Louis Pasteur, Ferdinand Braun, Albrecht Kossel, Georg Simmel, Albert Schweitzer, Otto Klemperer, Marc Bloch, Alberto Fujimori, Paul Ricoeur and Jean-Marie Lehn.

Twin Towns - Sister Cities

Strasbourg is twinned with:

Strasbourg in popular culture

  • One of the longest chapters of Laurence Sterne's novel Tristram Shandy ("Slawkenbergius's tale") takes place in Strasbourg.[48]
  • An episode of Matthew Gregory Lewis's novel The Monk takes place in the forests then surrounding Strasbourg.
  • British art-punk band The Rakes had a minor hit in 2005 with, their song "Strasbourg". This song features witty lyrics with themes of espionage and vodka and includes a cleverly-placed count of 'eins, zwei, drei, vier!!', even though Strasbourg's spoken language is French.
  • On their 1974 album Hamburger Concerto, Dutch progressive band Focus included a track called "La Cathédrale de Strasbourg", which included chimes from a cathedral-like bell.
  • The 2008 film In the city of Sylvia is set in Strasbourg.



  • Connaître Strasbourg by Roland Recht, Georges Foessel and Jean-Pierre Klein, 1988, ISBN 2-7032-0185-0
  • Histoire de Strasbourg des origines à nos jours, four volumes (ca. 2000 pages) by a collective of historians under the guidance of Georges Livet and Francis Rapp, 1982, ISBN 2-7165-0041-X


  1. ^ Commune : Strasbourg (67482) on INSEE
  2. ^ a b c d Only the part of the metropolitan area on French territory.
  3. ^ Unité urbaine 1999 : Strasbourg (partie française) (67701) on INSEE
  4. ^ a b Aire urbaine 1999 : Strasbourg (009) on INSEE
  5. ^ a b c The official website of the Eurodistrict indicates a population of 868,014, but this does not take into account the official figures for 2008 of the Ortenaukreis, which had a population of 417,613 on 31 December 2008. 884,988 is the addition of the French 2006 census and the German 2008 census. The real actual number of inhabitants is in fact even higher, due to the steady growth of the Urban Community of Strasbourg.
  6. ^ Figures on the port's website
  7. ^ Annual rain in Strasbourg
  8. ^ Daily measurements for Strasbourg and Alsace
  9. ^ Measurements made on 18 October and 19 October 2005
  10. ^ Outlines of the urban transportation policy led by the urban community of Strasbourg
  11. ^ Racontez-moi Strasbourg Guy Trendel, Édition La Nuée Bleue, p.10
  12. ^ Histoire secrète de Strasbourg, Michel Bertrand, Édition Albin Michel, p.11 et p.12
  13. ^ Graesse, Orbis Latinus
  14. ^,,3840415,00.html
  15. ^ (French) The "Valentine's day massacre" of 1349
  16. ^ (French) The Jews of Strasbourg and the Great Plague
  17. ^ (French) The Jews of Strasbourg until the French Revolution
  18. ^ Strasbourg Cathedral and the French Revolution (1789-1802)
  19. ^ The Napoleon room, in French
  20. ^ Recht, Roland; Foessel, Georges; Klein, Jean-Pierre: Connaître Strasbourg, 1988, ISBN 2-7032-0185-0 (French)
  21. ^ Partial plan
  22. ^ 11 novembre 1918: le drapeau rouge flotte sur Strasbourg
  23. ^ As can be seen here, the Alsatian autonomists won many votes in the more rural parts of the region, but in Strasbourg and its periphery, the clear winners were the Social-democrats
  24. ^ La Synagogue Consistoriale du quai Kléber: de la pose de la première pierre à sa destruction (1896-1940) (French); Daltroff, Jean: 1898-1940, La synagogue consistoriale de Strasbourg, Éditions Ronald Hirlé, 1996, ISBN 2910048357
  25. ^ "Civilians on the frontline ? Allied aerial bombings in north-eastern France, 1940-1945"
  26. ^ Pictures of Strasbourg in ruins after the 1944 bombing raids
  27. ^ Peintures flamandes et hollandaises du Musée des Beaux-Arts de Strasbourg, Éditions des Musées de Strasbourg, February 2009, ISBN 978-2-35125-030-3 (French) - page 14
  28. ^ View of the assembly room
  29. ^ City of Strasbourg fined in storm death
  30. ^ Reopening of the restored rooms
  31. ^ History and description of the instrument
  32. ^ Pictures
  33. ^ Views
  34. ^ Parc de la Citadelle with remains of the Vauban fortress
  35. ^ Overview
  36. ^ Overview of the collections
  37. ^ Figures
  38. ^ Figures
  39. ^ Strasbourg ouvre une grande médiathèque sur le port in L'Express (French)
  40. ^ "Bibliothèque Nationale et Universitaire de Strasbourg - BNU". Retrieved 2009-06-16. 
  41. ^ "Portail de lecture publique". 2007-09-04. Retrieved 2009-06-16. 
  42. ^ "Supplément au catalogue des incunables et livres du XVIe s. (jusqu'en 1530) de la bibliothèque du grand séminaire de Strasbourg = Supplement to the Catalogue of Incunabulum and Books of the Sixteenth Century (Until 1530) of Strasbourg High Seminary Library". Retrieved 2009-06-16. 
  43. ^ "La Médiathèque Protestante - fondation saint thomas". Retrieved 2009-06-16. 
  44. ^ "Général". Retrieved 2009-06-16. 
  45. ^ List of international institutions in Strasbourg
  46. ^ "Etoile Noire de Strasbourg". 2009-05-31. Retrieved 2009-06-16. 
  47. ^ "Dresden - Partner Cities". © 2008 Landeshauptstadt Dresden. Retrieved 2008-12-29. 
  48. ^ Full text

External links

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Strasbourg Cathedral arriving from place Gutenburg
Strasbourg Cathedral arriving from place Gutenburg

Strasbourg (German: Straßburg, Alsatian: Strossburi,) [1] is the capital of the Alsace region of France and is most widely known for hosting a number of important European institutions. It is also famous for its beautiful historical centre - the Grande Île - which was the first city centre to be classified entirely as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.


Strasbourg is one of the nine largest cities in France with nearly half a million inhabitants in a metropolitan area spanning across the river into the German city of Kehl, on the eastern bank of the Rhine.

The city itself is the seat of the Council of Europe, the European Court of Human Rights, the European Ombudsman, the Eurocorps, the European Audiovisual Observatory and, most famously, the European Parliament[2], which also holds sessions in Brussels.


While it may be possible to find people who will engage in a conversation with you in German, the lingua franca of Strasbourg (and all of Alsace) is French. It is possible to hear German spoken on the streets, especially around the Cathedral. Alsatian (the historic germanic language of Alsace) is a declining language, spoken mostly by the region's older residents or in rural areas.

Get in

By plane

Strasbourg International Airport (SXB) [3] is located south-west of the city at Entzheim, with domestic as well as international flights. Air France [4] is the principal operator. There are several flights a day to and from Paris. A train is running to the town center (€3.60, including a tram connexion). The travel time is 9 minutes and the frequency is 15 minutes.

Karlsruhe/Baden-Baden Airport (FKB) [5] is located about 60km away in Germany. Ryanair [6] operates from Karlsruhe following a court ruling that declared its subsidy arrangements at Strasbourg Airport a contravention of European legislation. The best way to get to Strasbourg is to get a bus from the airport to Baden-Baden Hauptbahnhof (Main Station) from here trains run to Strasbourg, normally with one change. From station to station the journey is about 45m-1hr. Here is a timetable for direct bus from the Airport running to Strasbourg, this is tied into meet Ryanair flights from London.

Frankfurt International Airport (FRA) [7] is about three hours away from Strasbourg, and is one of the nearest inter-continental airports to Strasbourg. Lufthansa [8] operates a shuttle bus between Strasbourg and Frankfurt, Germany (but an indirect connection by train can be cheaper if booked online [9] in advance). The bus takes 2.5 hours and costs €55 (one way). See [10] for more information. Reservation is necessary for the Lufthansa Airport Buses from/to Strasbourg.

Strasbourg train station, known for the sky dome
Strasbourg train station, known for the sky dome

Strasbourg is well served by regional, national and international train services, predominantly by SNCF (French Railways), but also by Deutsche Bahn (German Railways).

With the opening of the new TGV Est Européen [11] on 9 June 2007, journey times from Strasbourg to many destinations, including Paris, have been significantly reduced. TGV trains have replaced most existing slower services (previously served by Corail or Corail Téoz).

Major destinations include the following major towns and cities with multiple daily departures. Journey times are approximate, some require TGV trains.

A number of overnight trains with sleeper and couchette accommodations also serve:

From summer 2007, the TGV Est Européen created new direct services to:

The railway station, impressively renovated with a new glass cocoon frontage, is located a short walk west of the town center on Place de la Gare. There are connections to the tram system and buses, with many taxis waiting outside (to the left of the station forecourt).

For details of all services, and to make reservations, contact SNCF [12]. For regional travel, contact SNCF TER Alsace [13] who co-ordinate the efficient and well served regional train network. When planning trips east of Strasbourg into Germany or countries beyond, you could save money by comparing the fares offered by Deutsche Bahn [14] to those of the SNCF [15].

By car

You can reach Strasbourg by various highways:

  • from the west (Paris, Benelux) taking the A4 highway (E25). About 4 hours from Paris and 2 hours 15 minutes from Luxembourg.
  • from the south (Switzerland, Lyon), taking the A35 highway (E25). About 5 hours from Lyon
  • from the north and east (Germany), taking the A5 highway (E35).

Driving into Strasbourg's old city is relatively easy although there are a few streets off limits to cars. There are many large garages surrounding the old city if your hotel does not have its own parking facility. Some carparks are more expensive than other, especially for longer stays. At the moment the one at Petite France Ste Marguerite is the cheapest at 6.40€/24 hour and 4.80€ for each consecutive day. See the Parcuswebsite for details.

  • Eurolines [16] provides bus services to the city, but is not permitted to actually stop in the city centre. Services call at the Stade de la Meinau, close to the Lycée Couffignal tram stop.

Get around

Strasbourg is most easily explored on foot, and the historic city centre can easily be explored in a day or two. To be able to cover more ground, you should consider hiring a bike or using the public transport network.

By bike

Strasbourg is ideal for cycling - the city center is flat and there are plenty of bike lanes and bike paths. You can rent bikes at:

  • rue du Maire Kuss, in front of the train station
  • rue des Bouchers, on the south bank of the Ill river, near the rue d'Austerlitz and the Porte de l'Hôpital tramway station.

Bikes are allowed on trams except during peak hours.

More information on cycling in Strasbourg: [17]

By bus and tram

Buses and trams in Strasbourg are operated by the Compagnie des Transports Strasbourgeois (CTS) [18]. A few dozen numbered bus lines and five tram lines (named A to E) serve the city. A single ticketing system covers both bus and tram. Tickets are sold in 'tabacs' (newsagents), tourist offices, CTS boutiques or from vending machines at tram stops. Tickets should be validated before use, either in the machines on tram station platforms or in the machine by the driver when you board the bus.

Summary of fares (as of September 2008):

  • Aller Simple (one way) €1.40
  • Aller Retour (round trip) €2.70
  • 10 x Aller Simple €12.00
  • 30 x Aller Simple €33.50
  • 24H Individuel (24hr ticket for one person) €3.60
  • Trio (one day ticket for up to three people) €5.20

If using the buses and/or trams a lot, Europass tickets are available from all automatic ticket machines and are valid on all local tram and bus services (including those that cross the border to Kehl) for either 24 hours or seven days.


Strasbourg is a popular tourist destination primarily thanks to the beautifully preserved and pedestrian friendly city centre, which can be explored on foot or bicycle in a few days. Don't forget that Strasbourg's appeal now brings tourists to the city throughout the year, with large tour groups especially frequent during the summer months and during the annual winter market. Staying for a few days will allow you to see the city when it's calmest, first thing in the morning and during the evening.

The main Tourist Office [19] is located on Place de la Cathédrale, with a smaller office in the concourse level of the railway station. Both are open 09h00 to 19h00.


The tourist office sells a variety of self-guided walking tours through the town (Middle Ages, Renaissance, Modern and Contemporary) for €1 each, and also arranges bike tours through the Faubourgs (the suburbs of Neudorf and Neuhof). Maps, brochures and last minute accommodation are also available.

Water-bus tours are available near the Palais des Rohans (south of the cathedral). Those tours (about 45 min.) run around the town center and the European district.


Grand Île

  • Cathédrale Notre Dame. Built between 1176 and 1439 and with a 142 metre tower (the highest cathedral tower in France), the cathedral is undoubtedly Strasbourg's finest architectural highlight. Just near-by on place du Château is the Musée de l'Oeuvre Notre Dame [20]- a splendid museum of medieval religious art related to the cathedral.
  • Astrometric Clock in the cathedral
  • Maison Kammerzell (XVth century) (to the left of the front of the cathedral)
  • Palais des Rohan [21], French style palace, built after the acquisition of the town by the French (1681). Home to the Museum of Fine Arts, the Archaeological Museum and the Museum of Applied Arts.
  • Musée Alsacien, 23-25, quai Saint-Nicolas (just across the river from the Ancienne Douane), +33 03 88 52 50 01, [22]. 9h00 to 18h00. This museum features articles from the daily lives of Alsatian peoples from the 13th to 19th centuries: clothing, furniture, toys, tools of artisans and farmers, and religious objects used in Christian, Jewish, and even pagan rites. The exhibits are in rooms connected by wooden staircases and balconies in adjacent multistory Renaissance-era houses around a central courtyard. The museum was renovated in 2007. €4.  edit

Petite France

Petite France
Petite France

Petite France is the name given to the small area between the rivers, just south of the Grande Île. It is home to some of Strasbourg's prettiest and most photogenic streets and buildings, with half timbered townhouses leaning out over the narrow cobbled streets. Petite France resembles Colmar (a city an hour south), with picturesque canal and half-timber houses.

Elsewhere in Strasbourg

European Parliament
European Parliament
  • Orangerie - a beautiful classical park. It has a small free zoo featuring birds and a few other animals. Also has an excellent playground for young children.
  • Stockfeld, garden city built in the early XXth century in the south-east of the Neuhof (southern part of the town) (bus line 24)
  • European district (bus lines 6, 30, 72) :
    • Council of Europe's seat (Le Palais de l'Europe) (1977), built by Henry Bernard
    • European Court of Human Rights (1995), built by Richard Rogers
    • European Parliament (1999), built by Architecture Studio
  • ARTE Television [23] headquarters. 4, quai du Chanoine Winterer, near the European district.
  • B-line tramway terminus at Hoenheim (northern conurbation) (2001), built by the contemporary architect Zaha Hadid.
  • Place de la République - A central crossroad encircled by neoclassical public buildings
  • Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art - recommended also because of the interesting building
  • Historical Museum - museum of Strasbourg's history
  • Zoological Museum
Strasbourg old town facades
Strasbourg old town facades

Christmas markets can be found in many places, but the most important and beautiful are place Broglie and place de la Cathédrale, although they are crowded. They are the best places to drink hot wine (vin chaud) and to eat Christmas cookies (Brédalas).

Even when there are no special events on in Strasbourg, walking around the old town is a very nice way to pass a day. And there are lots of good cafes to stop and rest in as you make your tour.


From time to time, the city organizes a general market in vast parts of the center, where many street vendors offer various products and the shops join in with special discounts. Then, the city center on the island is partly closed for parking or driving and the trams don't go on the rue des Francs Bourgeois. The 29th July 2006 (a Saturday) was such a day, information about regular market dates is hard to find on the net. If you manage to track down the date of this market, write it here and don't miss it.

There is a marché aux Puces (flea market) on rue de Vieil-Hôpital on Wednesday and Saturdays. The Place des Halles, 24, place des Halles, is a shopping center with over 100 shops and restaurants north of the city center, but within walking distance. Open Mon-Fri 09:00 to 20:00, and Saturdays until 20:00.

A new shopping centre, Rivetoile, opened at the end of 2008 at Place d'etoile, in between the Etoile Polygone and Etoile Bourse tram stops. This new development has shops similar to Place des Halles as well as higher budget shops and a selection of cafes.

Try Galeries Lafayettes at rue du 22 Novembre and Printemps at 1-5 rue de la Haute Montée. Rue Hellebardes and Gutenberg offer designer clothes and men's clothes. Bruno Saint Hilaire has designer clothes for men and a shop in 8, rue Gutenberg. There is a low-budget, secondhand clothing shop in 6, rue de la Lanterne, and various gadget shops can be found in rue des Juifs.

For cheap groceries, including local wines and beers, try one of the three outlets of NORMA, a German discount chain whose three outlets are conveniently located at the corner of rue St Michel and rue Ste Marguerite near the central train station; at 79, Grand'Rue near the center of Grand Île; and at 27, rue des Frères near the Cathedral. Open Mon-Fri 10 am to 8 pm, Sat 9:30 am to 7 pm.

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Alsatian specialties are numerous and can be eaten in many traditional restaurants, in the city or in the neighborhood. Particularly you shouldn't visit Alsace without having the sauerkraut (choucroute in French). Choucroute seems to have a standard price throughout Alsace of 14 Euros. Don't be too dismayed by this seemingly high price as what is brought to you is heaping plate of Sauerkraut (big enough for 2 people) as well as sausages and other meats. This is usually translated as "garnished sauerkraut" on English menus, when in doubt ask your server. Other specialties include the Alsatian pork-butcher's meat, Flammeküche or flams (tartes flambées in French) which is a sort of wafer thin pizza made with onion-cream sauce, Baeckeoffe, beef and pork stew cooked, with potatoes and carrots, usually served for two or more persons and Fleischnackas, mixed beef meat presented like spirals and served with salads.

  • A l'ancienne douane ('To the old customs house') on rue de la Douane, near the cathedral, next to the Ill river. A big restaurant for tourist groups. You are almost sure to find a place here even if you have no reservation. Mid-range prices.
  • Au petit bois vert, 1, Quai de la Bruche, in the Petite France district, serves well-prepared flams and Alsatian specialties in a small room with smiling waiters. The chef usually comes by at the end of the evening. Great terrace during the summer under a big tree on the bank of the river. No reservation, mid-range prices.
  • Kirn (le restaurant), 17-19, rue du 22 novembre (at the intersection of Fossé des Tanneurs west of Place Kleber), +33 03 88 321610 (, fax: +33 03 88 320865), [24]. The restaurant is above a fine Alsatian specialty food shop on the ground floor.  edit
  • Au Dauphin, 13, place de la Cathédrale (on the corner of cathedral square next to Hotel de la Cathédrale; look for a red awning and walk through the inner courtyard to get to it), +33 0388 21 01 46 (, fax: +33 0388 21 03 87). Try the choucroute aux trois poissons; it is very fresh and a wonderful take on the traditional sauerkraut dish. They also serve the traditional choucroute garnie, with up to seven types of meat, including headcheese.  edit
  • Le Sanglier ('The boar'), on rue du Sanglier in the Carré d'Or district, near the cathedral. A small restaurant with a traditional setting. If you want a Baeckoffe, you must inform the restaurant 24h before. Mid-range prices.
  • Winstub La Vigne, 14, rue de Sébastopol (across the street from the Mc Donald's at Les Halles shopping center), +33 03 88 220109. This charming and friendly winstub has more moderate prices than its counterparts in La Petite France or near the cathedral, with choucroute garnie and baeckoffe under €15 and bottles of Alsatian wine for about €20.  edit
  • Kim Youn (Fooding Coréen), 5, rue Gustave Doré (toward western end of Grand Ile between rue de Jeu des Enfants and rue du 27 novembre), +33 03 88 321554. Mon-Sat 12h-14h30, 19h-22h. €7-9.50.  edit
  • Mooze, on rue de la Demi-lune near Place Kleber: sushi restaurant. Sushi moves on a conveyor belt in front of you.
  • Tiger wok on rue du Faisan. Asian food. They cook your dish in front of you.
  • Une Fleur des Champs Organic and vegetarian food and beverage, a delicious and varied menu concocted daily from fresh produce and meat sellers in the area. They also offer bulk goods and produce for sale. Prices are modest and portions are large in a quiet, family style atmosphere.
  • Au Brasseur, 22, rue des Veaux. This a restaurant and microbrewery. Try one of their beers and a tarte flambé for about €10. Has a small children's menu.
  • Al Boustane on rue de la Krutenau. This Lebanese restaurant features sandwiches and kebabs.
  • Flams on rue des Frères near the Cathédrale. [25] Serves a great variety of flams (tartes flambés) and has an amazing winelist for a budget joint.
  • L'Epicerie, 6, rue du Vieux Seigle, off the rue des Francs Bourgeois. Features sandwiches "tartines" (about €4). Food from noon to night. Tables on street and inside.
  • Le Frangin two doors down from Flam's on Rue des Frères serves a wide range of home-cooked pasta and pizzas at reasonable prices. Pizza and pasta main courses range from €8-9, meat dishes €14-15 and an Alsatian beer €2.50. The owner is friendly and the food is good, satisfying Italian cooking.
  • La Gallia, on quai du Maire Dietrich near the Gallia tramway station (C-line). The oldest university restaurant in France, in a 19th-century building, built by the Germans (which explains the ceiling decorations). It is the last French university restaurant that is managed by students. Not a culinary triumph, but very affordable.
  • Saladin City, 41, Grand'Rue. Tunisian/Algerian couscous and kebabs. No alcohol. €6-7.  edit
  • Zorba on rue de Zurich. This little Greek restaurant in the Krutenau area features sandwiches, souvlaki, and kebabs.
  • Chez Tante Lisele on the Grand'Rue. Very friendly.
  • Chez Yvonne, in the Carré d'Or district, near the cathedral. Usually frequented by Jacques Chirac, when he comes to Strasbourg, because of its well-known tête de veau (cooked veal head). More expensive.
  • La Boucherie, 4, Rue du Vieux Marché aux Vins. This chain restaurant is kid-friendly, with a small children's menu, highchairs, and a toy and colouring book for young children, and will satisfy a craving for red meat at a reasonable price.
  • La Stub, 4, rue du Saumon, just one block from the Vox cinema on rue des Francs Bourgeois in the center of Grand Ile. This local Alsatian favorite features Fischer brews for €2-3 and tartes flambés for €7-8.
  • Restaurant Avanos, 20 Grand'Rue, 03 88 226257. Spécialités orientales: couscous, döner, grilled meats, fish. 3 plats du jour choices every lunchtime. 10% off takeaway meals every evening. €10-12.  edit
  • Beer : Alsace is the first beer-producing region of France and Strasbourg has many breweries. Best known are Kronenbourg and Fischer, whose factories can be visited for free, with free drinks at the end of the tour.
  • Alsatian white wine : usually drunk with Alsatian food, but also with fish. The main varieties are Gewürtztraminer, Riesling and Pinot Gris. They have a particularly floral flavour and are well worth investigating.


There are many hotels around the station, especially in the place de la Gare and in the rue du Maire Kuss, but this area does not offer consistent quality for accommodations. Most international hotel chains are represented with the usual 2 or 3 star hotels, many of which host the large tour groups who come on weekend breaks. If your budget allows, try staying on the Grande Île (city centre). Most of Strasbourg's hotels are fully booked during the Christmas Market period (December) and when the EU parliament is in session for a few days every month, usually for the period around the tenth. Book ahead if in doubt, as last minute accommodation can be difficult to find during these periods.

  • Centre Internationale d'Accueil et de Rencontre Unioniste de Strasbourg (CIARUS) [26] offers a variety of hostel accommodation, with rooms from 1 to 8 beds. Rates start at €21/night, and there's a canteen. 7 rue Finkmatt. Tel: (+33)388152788.
  • Auberge de Jeunesse des Deux Rives [27] Rue des Cavaliers. Twenty minutes bus ride from town and fiften minutes from the European Institutions, this youth hostel is located in a leafy suburb close to the Rhine. Tel : (+33)388455420 Fax : (+33)388455421.
  • Auberge de Jeunesse René Cassin [28] 9 rue de l'Auberge de Jeunesse. Ten minutes from the city centre, this hostel offers a restaurant, bar and activities for guests. Tel : (+33)388302646 Fax : (+33)388303516.
  • The Formule 1 hotel [29] is a budget hotel located 55 route du Pont du Rhin. Tel : (+33)891705401.
  • PV-Holidays Adagio Strasbourg Place Kleber +33 1 58 21 55 84, Self-catering apartments situated in the heart of the historical quarter of the “Grande île”, just 10 minutes walk from the TGV station. Each of the 57 apartments sleep 2-4 people, are air-conditioned and completely fitted out: kitchen, television with international channels, etc.Located in the centre of the Alsatian capital makes this Aparthotel an ideal stopover location for business trips or for a long weekend. Car park less than 300m away.
  • Cardinal de Rohan, 17, rue du Maroquin (right by the cathedral), +33 03 88 328511 (fax: +33 03 88 756537), [30].  edit
  • Hotel Cathédrale, 12-13 Place de la Cathedrale (right across from the cathedral), +33 03 88 221212 (fax: +33 03 88 322302), [31]. Best location of any hotel in Strasbourg, stylishly decorated, and more affordable for rooms without views of the cathedral. €55-150.  edit
  • Hotel Hannong, 15, rue du 22 Novembre (near the center of Grand Ile), +33 03 88 321622 (fax: +33 03 88 226387), [32]. Recently renovated, with stylish bar and restaurant, facing a fairly quiet street.  edit
  • Hôtel Vendôme, 9, place de la Gare / 19 rue du Maire Kuss (across from the train station), +33 03 88 324523 (fax: +33 03 88 322302), [33]. Recently renovated. 10 minutes from the Cathedral. Free wireless internet. €45-73.  edit
  • Mercure Gare Centrale, 14-15, place de la Gare (near the central train station), +33 03 88 157815, [34]. A 3-star hotel.  edit
  • Château de Pourtalès, 161, rue Mélanie (near the EU Parliament in the neighborhood Robertsau), +33(0)3 88 45 84 64 (, fax: Fax +33(0)3 88 45 84 60), [35]. checkin: 14:00; checkout: 11:00. A 3-star hotel.  edit
  • Sofitel, 4m place Saint Pierre le Jeune, +33 03 88 154900, [38]. Not far from both the Cathedral and Petite France.  edit



Local mobile phone services are provided by Orange, SFR and Bouygues Télécoms. Payphone kiosks are plentiful and international calling cards can be purchased in post offices and 'tabacs' (corner shops). Most of the internet cafés listed below are also equipped for making online telephony calls (Skype etc).

  • Cyber Café L'Utopie. 21 rue du Fossé des Tanneurs. [39] 15 PCs with high speed ADSL internet access charged by the hour, accommodation also available. Tel : (+33)388238921.
  • Net.Sur.Cour [40] 18 quai des Pêcheurs. High speed ADSL internet access with scanners, laser and inkjet printing up to A3. Tel : (+33)388356676.
  • Ultima. 11 rue du 22 Novembre [41] 3 games rooms and 20 computers with high speed internet. Tel-Fax : (+33)388520352.
Pedestrian Bridge to Kehl, Germany
Pedestrian Bridge to Kehl, Germany

Stay Safe

Strasbourg is one of the safest large cities in France and the tourist has little to fear. Of course the standard precautions apply and watch out for pick-pockets in the area of the Cathedral (and even inside according to the signs) during high tourist season. Unfortunately, some areas in the west and the south are named as the home of poor, workless people. But in general, the city of Strasbourg is not known for violence.

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary



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Proper noun


  1. A city in the région of Alsace, France; previously part of Germany.




Proper noun


  1. Strasbourg

Derived terms

Simple English

Strasbourg (French: Strasbourg, pronounced /stʀazbuʀ/; Alsatian: Strossburi; German: Straßburg) is a city in the east of France. The city has about 272,000 inhabitants. There are about 450.000 people in the metropolitan area. The city is also the capital of the Alsace region, and the Bas-Rhin département. It is located at the border with Germany, the city on the other side of the Rhine is called Kehl.

Strasbourg is the seat Council of Europe, of the European Court of Human Rights and of the European Parliament. A lot of people also consider Strasbourg as the capital of the European Union.

It's the seventh largest city in France (The first three are Paris, Lyon and Marseille). It is special in that the whole old town has been classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

The city was founded in 12BC by Drusus, the brother of Tiberius. Its celtic name was Argentorate (which the Romans called Argentoratum). People think this name is linked to the river Ill (that flows into the Rhine near Strasbourg).

At that time, it was situated on the Limes, a fortification the Romans built across Europe (to keep out the Germanic tribes). There was a fortification (named castella drusi, drusus fort) at that spot. Soldiers need to live from something, so a local civilian settlement developed there. Later, the Limes was pushed farther east.


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