24 Hours in Strasbourg
Alsace, the meaty filler in a Vosges and Rhine sandwich, is one of the most culturally distinct enclaves of France. The charms of the paragon oenophile haunt endure most indeliby in Route des Vins hamlets like Pfaffenheim, Hunawihr and RibeauvillÃ©, market towns like Obernai and Molsheim and vineyards of native Gewurztraminer, Sylvaner and Riesling, all of which seem to undulate with bucolic ubiquity. From “wine capital’ Colmar to hilltop chÃ¢teaux, authentic village winstubs (taverns) to picturesque massifs, Alsace is sublime.
Yet while a thorough tour of the region, from Basel, Switzerland all the way up to Karlsruhe, Germany, is in order, one must invariably make ample time for Strasbourg. If that translates into a mere 24 hours, so be it.
As is the case with many a city in France, the best counsel for visitors with only a day or two to spare is to start with the UNESCO World Heritage Old City of Strasbourg a.k.a. La Grande ÃŽle. The heart of the Alsace capital defines the very character of the city of less than half a million people and is a requisite base for tourists.
The old city is a focal point par excellence. Come December, La Grande ÃŽle teems with Christmas market fervour. The festive season lures legions of locals and tourists alike to Place KlÃ©ber et al. to graze on telltale edibles like pain d’Ã©pices, tarte flambÃ©e and choucroute, not to mention the ultimate traditional panaceas for the chills, eaux de vie/schnapps and vin chaud. All in all, a perfect time to be in Strasbourg for a day and night.
Where to stay: Adagio City Aparthotel Strasbourg Place Kleber
The nucleus of the city unveils a parade of star landmarks, of which the Cathedral of Our Lady of Strasbourg is the undeniable pinnacle. A foremost chef d’oeuvre of late Gothic architecture, the cathedral was built, incredibly, between 1015 and 1439. In the wise words of Victor Hugo, the Strasbourg Cathedral is a “gigantic and delicate marvel”.
Where to stay: Cour Du Corbeau Hotel Strasbourg
Saint-Thomas Church, the Protestant cathedral of Strasbourg, is a vital national monument of France and a milestone on the Route Romane d’Alsace.
Though one can easily devote a week or more to Strasbourg’s exquisite clerical architecture, other important landmarks abound. The MusÃ©e d’Art Moderne et Contemporain de Strasbourg, just outside the western periphery of La Grande ÃŽle, has a wonderful cache of modern art.
The Rhine Palace, or Palais du Rhin, dominates the Place de la RÃ©publique outside the old city and stands as a singular work of 19th century Prussian architecture.
Where to stay: Sofitel Strasbourg Grande Ile Hotel
Back on La Grande ÃŽle, the MusÃ©e de lâ€™Å’uvre Notre-Dame and MusÃ©e des Beaux-Arts de Strasbourg deserve a few hours of precious afternoon time, if only for the copious masterworks and grand environs.
Finally, no trip to the European Parliament city is complete without a cursory look at the European Quarter. The most photogenic landmark in the area is the avant-garde European Court of Human Rights by architect Richard Rogers.
Where to stay: Hilton Strasbourg