A few weeks back, B had a meeting to attend just outside Strasbourg, France – just after our trip to Leukerbad. It was a city I’d been eager to see that we hadn’t been able to get to on our Christmas Market trip to Colmar. He had a hotel in the center of town and was traveling by train (which if you can’t tell below, James absolutely loves) so even though we had a nine week old baby, we decided to go for it! What was the worst that could happen?
Well with babies that could mean anything – but one of the tough things that could happen was that it would rain relentlessly from dawn until dusk. Never once took a break. But fortunately, our baby already has travel experience so he knew to be a total star! I threw the rain cover on the stroller, set out with a humble heart full of the best intentions, and saw a seriously gorgeous place. In “Midnight in Paris” (I know, a Woody Allen movie but still very cute) the last (substantial) line is “Paris is more beautiful in the rain” – a sentiment you often hear. And while I would have much preferred a sunny day with baby J, the same applied to Strasbourg.
I armed myself with one of Rick Steve’s audio walking tour guides (a free app download) recommended by my mother-in-law and with one earbud in, one out to listen for the baby, learned a bit about the culture in this gorgeous Alsatian region.
Strasbourg is a French town with a German feel – Strasbourg itself means “town at the crossing of roads” – because it was passed back between France and Germany over the course of three wars and two hundred years. That means you can enjoy lots of German favorites like spaetzle (buttery noodles) and pretzels or a more French take like tarte flambée (kind of like pizza!) and quiche lorraine – and the best beer and wine from both.
My Must Sees:
Petite-France: No need to put this in your Google Maps because it will just take you to the center of a neighborhood – but as soon as you reach the canal, you’ll immediately take a sharp inhale and enjoy all the German half-timbered houses alongside the more French townhomes. In the summer they would’ve reflected beautifully in the water, but no matter! This region has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it’s not hard to see why. I would have happily wandered along all day.
The Notre-Dame Cathedral: I mean WOW. This Gothic marvel began construction before 1200 and many of the the stained glass windows date back to 1300. For a time, it’s 446 feet tall spire made it the tallest building in the world. Given the rain, they were not allowing visitors to climb the spire (an activity I normally always pursue to offset my investigative eating), nor were they running the famed astronomical clock but it was such a delight. The Cathedral itself has been through the ringer – during the Protestant Reformation it was converted into a Protestant church, but fortunately the decorative elements were removed, as they were in St. Pierre’s Cathedral in Geneva. During WWII, Hitler controlled the area and wanted to turn it into a National Monument, removing the stained glass windows. By the grace of God, American soldiers found the windows hidden in a salt mine in Germany. Indulge me one minute for a quick cheer of USA! USA! USA! 🇺🇸There is enhanced security presence because of a very regrettable terrorist attack at last year’s Christmas Market, but the long line is truly worth the wait.
As Strasbourg is an important seat of the European Union, there is an international airport and a bustling train station making trips from Paris particularly easy. I’d truly encourage anyone who loves French and German cultures make the stop – I hope you have wonderful weather!! All the same, it was a wonderful lesson in just getting out there, hoping for the best – and enjoying a recovery beer with your baby. A totally normal choice, right?
Remember to follow along on Instagram to see more real-time updates! Blogging with a baby is proving to be tricky 😉. Soon to come I’ll share our incredible visit to Piedmont, Italy! A total showstopper. In the interim, you can visit the travel tracker for our full archives of expat travels.
THANKS SO MUCH AS ALWAYS FOR READING!