Just two hours from Paris and a mere three kilometres from the German border, the capital of the Alsace region acts as a European crossroads. Strasbourg was designated "European capital" just after the Second World War, and today hosts numerous international institutions. Strasbourg's historical, cultural and gastronomic heritage is well-known.
The ornate 15th century Gothic Notre-Dame Cathedral in Strasbourg dominates the city centre. Built from pink sandstone, its tower was the tallest building in the world for over two hundred years. Climb the 332 steps to see the spectacular view: on a clear day you can see both the Black Forest and the Vosges mountains. Legend has it that an underground lake exists beneath the cathedral.
A mere stone's throw away you'll find the three main museums in Strasbourg: the Museum of Fine Arts, the Museum of Decorative Arts and the Archeological Museum.
Explore the historic quarter, an area known as Petit France in Strasbourg which you'll find on the Grande Ile. Since 1570, this area has been the site of the famous annual Strasbourg Christmas Market. To get a better feel of this historic area, cruise the river and its four canals in a boat. The medieval town is dotted with original half-timbered houses, and you can feast your eyes on its quaint watch towers, mills and the covered bridges which lead to the Barrage Vauban.
This cosmopolitan city hosts three major international institutions: the European Parliament, the Palace of Human Rights and the Council of Europe. The latter was built by Richard Rogers (co-architect of the Pompidou Centre in Paris). You can even go and watch public hearings here if you fancy some courtroom drama.
Strasbourg is of course famous for its fine food. Head for a "winstub" (tavern) for an authentic experience offered by these traditional restaurants in Strasbourg. Alsacian specialities include sauerkraut with knacke, pretzels, baeckoffe (meat and potatoes simmered in white wine), flammekueche (flambéed onion tart), kougelhopf (sweet or savoury brioche cake) and Munster cheese. Don't forget to taste the renowned Alsace wines, mainly white, you'll find both fruity and dry wines (Gewurztraminer, Muscat, Pinot blanc, Tokay Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Riesling and Sylvaner) and of course the beer: Kronenbourg is the most common, as it is made in the area. In July you can taste all sorts of local specialities at Food Culture, Festival of Cultures and Flavours of Europe.
The city of Strasbourg is a delicious treat which is to be savoured slowly…
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