Strasbourg is a charming city that walks a fine line between France and Germany, carrying the culture and customs of both with impeccable style. It makes a wonderful stop off on a barge holiday in France that takes in the Alscae and Lorraine. Aside from the imposing and impressive gothic Cathedral, the old town, with its crooked half timbered houses and cosy Alsatian winstubs (tavernas), is a delight to behold. In complete contrast, the glitzy EU Quarter has its own unique appeal. It lies on the outskirts and, despite the contradiction with its neighbour, doesn't appear out of place. |
For any discerning traveller on a barge holiday in France’s eastern region of Alsace, Strasbourg is a must. With so much to see and do, we have made a short list of some of the architectural highlights.
La Petite France
This gorgeous part of the city is a haven for photography lovers. Everywhere you turn, a photo opportunity pops up. Fishermen and tanners line up selling their wares along the waterways, weirs and locks that are bordered by the delightful black and white half timbered houses. And if you lift your gaze to the rooftops, you will see openings in the roofs where the hides of animals were hung out to dry. Rue du Bain aux Plantes is a quintessential cobbled street and is a beautiful place to enjoy a local meal or a drink.
This fortified construction that bridges the river was built in the 1600s, but was still in use as a defence for the city in 1870 when the Franco-Prussian War was fought. Vauban, a great French military engineer, designed the bridge with pink sandstone from Vosges. The construction was designed to raise the level of the island in times of siege, and flood the area to the south. It also had barriers that dropped down so that invaders could not get through.
Inside the bridge is a corridor and visitors can climb up to the roof and admire the view of the Ponts Couverts and the cathedral.
It is rather apt that the home of the European Parliament should be in Strasbourg, especially when you consider the city’s history. Many different cultures, religions and languages have had a place here and many conflicts have been reconciled. Despite not being a capital city, Strasbourg was deemed the ideal place to host this international institution.
You can get a tour of the building if you book in advance, but even just taking in the structure from the outside you get a feel for the importance of this modern cylindrical building that houses the 750-person capacity debating chamber.
While this stunning place may have been at the centre of a French and German tug of war for many centuries, it has come out shining and has capitalised on the best of both in terms of culture and tradition. On a barge holiday in France's Alsace you will get the chance to explore and hopefully the suggestions above have offered you a good place to start.
Remember that when booking your barge holiday in France, choosing a reputable tour operator is key. Teams of experts with local knowledge will be able to guide you towards the best itinerary and help you get the most out of your time.
Paul Newman is the Marketing and E-Systems Executive for European Waterways, the UK's most respected provider if you're looking for an all-inclusive, luxury barge holiday in France or other great destinations. Part of a team of experienced barging aficionados, Paul is first in line to endorse the perks of a slow-paced barge cruise to anyone looking for a unique holiday experience.
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