I don’t know if I’ve said it before, but I’m not a huge fan of France. Visiting Paris almost 5 years ago proved to be a necessary but not completely positive experience due to the people I encountered. Any time I asked for help, I’d receive an eye roll and just enough information to get me to the next person and ask them instead, leaving the original person alone. While I love learning about the French history, visiting French towns are not high on my list for that reason.
Fortunately, I got a chance to change my mind about French people when we visited a city with an adorable old town area, Strasbourg. Think of the most quintessential half-timbered, German-style houses and quaint European architecture and you’ll find it here. You could easily mistake it for Germany, being almost at the border in the region of Alsace, and it is lovely. My mind was ultimately changed about France and I’m a little more open to the possibility about liking it 🙂
The huge Notre Dame Cathedral (no, not that one) rises high over Strasbourg and makes it hard to get lost in the old town area. Along with that, the numerous bridges divide the old town from the rest of the city and serve as picturesque photo ops. The cathedral is the highest in the country.
We communicated mostly in German, which we loved, but it was pretty easy to find our way around despite the French language barrier. The people we encountered or asked for help were very friendly and helpful even if we didn’t speak French (except for one shop-owner who yelled at me because I was “blocking the way” of the giant storefront while I stood for a second trying to translate something on my phone…)
We ate lunch in what I think was the main town square, observed the cute carousel, and watched as a crowd started to form around a circle of chess tables. One man on the inside played against everyone else as opponents, casually walking by each game and swiftly moving piece after piece in rapid succession as if it were rehearsed.
Right by the cathedral was a gelato place with a line out the door. I waited and ordered in a weird French/German hybrid language and brought back our haul. They made it pretty! I recommend going here if the line isn’t too long, you can’t miss it.
As far as family travel, Strasbourg was very stroller-friendly with lots of outdoor seating at restaurants and not many steps. We like to eat outside as much as possible – it makes it so much easier with the stroller! If you have older kids, I’m sure they would love the carousel and different street performers.
In other news, we’re on a mission to find the best macarons in Europe and Strasbourg did not disappoint.
The adorable place we went had an option for a foie gras macaron but we weren’t brave enough. Maybe next time 🙂 Check out their website here. They were a little pricy but oh so delicious and pretty.
Strasbourg was a little far for a day trip but ended up being worth the 2.5 hour drive. We walked a lot during our wanderings, explored the open-air market going on, bought some amazing French cheese from one of the vendors, and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.
We’re going to have to revisit near Christmas time, as it has one of the oldest Christmas markets in Europe dating back more than 440 years. Maybe we’ll try to do a walking tour too, you know how I like those 😉 Now I have a whole list of fairytale French cities to visit and there are so many more possibilities!
Until next time,