Why you should visit Strasbourg
Monday, 23 May 2022
Chloe, who is studying abroad in Strasbourg, wants convince Lingo readers why this Alsatian city is the perfect study and work destination, as well as why la capitale européenne is a must-see in your travels of la belle France!
For my year abroad, I decided to spend both semesters at the Université de Strasbourg. At first, I wondered if I had made the right decision because most French students have worked or studied in two different cities. But living in Strasbourg has been the best decision and I couldn’t be happier to have become an adopted Strasbourgeoise since beginning my study abroad adventure last September!
The best of both worlds – France and Germany (and Switzerland etc…)
Strasbourg is a distinctively unique French city by being situated a mere two miles away from the German border, specifically the German town of Kehl. Throughout the year, I have frequently travelled on the tram to Kehl, mostly because grocery shopping is significantly cheaper across the border and the food selection there is amazing, especially haferbrot, a seeded and oat-based bread which is literally soul food for me (one cannot only live off baguettes!).
Strasbourg is also located close to other German cities and towns, such as Stuttgart, Baden-Baden (a gorgeous spa town with some fantastic museums) and even Munich. Back in February, I hopped on a coach from Strasbourg to spend a magical weekend in Munich which I didn’t even think would be possible until I arrived in Strasbourg and realised that it is truly la capitale européenne – you can even take coaches going all the way to Prague or Vienna from Strasbourg!
Aside from Germany, you can also travel on the regional Grand Est TER train to Basel, the third biggest city in Switzerland. I have gone there twice, once to visit its Christmas market and a second time in March which truly showcased its beauty against the breath-taking backdrop of the Rhine. The river also runs through Strasbourg and perhaps explains why I can never resist taking pictures of the stunning rivers and lakes in Strasbourg itself!
And if you thought that Switzerland and Germany were enough, you can also reach Luxembourg (via Metz) and even Belgium (via Luxembourg) from Strasbourg without resorting to air travel. Strasbourg is therefore an eco-friendly but culturally diverse and rich city to live and study in!
An important European city
Strasbourg is home to one of the two European parliaments and is therefore politically important in international and indeed European-related affairs. Visiting the parliament is free and is easily accessible on the E tram. Although the creation of the parliament is relatively new, nonetheless the building itself feels steeped in so much history, particularly in relation to Simone Veil, the first president of the Parliament and indeed a much treasured and remembered female figure in la construction européenne.
Petite France – an Alsatian delight
If there is one part of Strasbourg that you visit, it must be Petite France – this UNESCO-listed region of the city truly showcases the magic of Alsace, whose people strongly celebrate their regional identities, identifying more as Alsatian following a turbulent socio-political history (Strasbourg has been repeatedly francisé et germanisé over the years, most recently being under Nazi-rule during WW2). The area is surrounded by gorgeous rivers and quaint, colourful houses and buildings that are unique to the Alsace region; even when the sun is not shining, Petite France is still stunning and is a joy to explore, and is conveniently located in the heart of the city and, dare we say it, the heart of Alsace, too.
Modern art, Alsatian life, a palace – museums galore!
As one of France’s biggest cities, Strasbourg has numerous museums to offer its tourists and local people, which are free with your student card (and who can resist that?). Le Musée d’art contemporain is located next to Petite France and displays a mixture of sculptures, paintings and modern art displays which are bound to appeal to anybody’s tastes. My favourite art piece was a giant balloon-like cat (featured below) which definitely displays the diversity and playfulness of the art scene in Strasbourg.
Additionally, the Palais Rohan (located next to the cathedral) boasts three museums: Beaux-Arts, archaeology, and the palace itself in which Napoleon (whom you might have heard Dr Smith talk about in first and second year!) slept. And if you thought that was enough, there is a museum devoted to Alsatian life, the statues of the cathedral, even a Voodoo museum…
The cathedral – need I say more?
An unmissable sight which is visible throughout most of the city, the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Strasbourg dates from the 12th century and demonstrates the very best of patrimoine strasbourgeois. There are no words to describe its splendour and the awe of standing in front of it!
As I’m nearing the end of my study abroad, I can now proudly say that studying in Strasbourg was the best decision because there has always been something new and magical to discover here, and you won’t regret becoming a Strasbourgeoise too!