Our Anniversary to Italy: Part 8 – What did we do in Strasbourg?

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Emily Jablon:  Daraius and I went to Europe in September to celebrate our 2nd anniversary for ~2 weeks.  It was my first time in Italy so I was very excited!  In Italy, we visited Varenna on Lake Como, Milan, Venice, and Rome.

Since we were in Europe, we visited a friend in Strasbourg, France and also spent a night in Zurich.  We started our trip with a one day layover in Chicago to see friends!

Things To Do In Strasbourg
Emily and Daraius in Petite France

Our Anniversary To Italy – Trip Report Index:

Activities In Strasbourg

It rained almost every day while we were in Strasbourg, but we still really enjoyed the city!

We read the Rick Steves’ France guide book (our Amazon link), and our friends in Strasbourg took us to many of Rick’s recommendations.

Strasbourg Cathedral

The Strasbourg Cathedral is an enormous, yet beautiful, structure and considered one of the best examples of late Gothic architecture.  It is on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

It was the world’s tallest building up to 1874 (that’s only ~140 years ago!)

One evening, we watched the light and sound show on the Strasbourg Cathedral.

Things To Do In Strasbourg
The Light and Sound Show at the Cathedral

Classical music played while lights were showcased on the Cathedral.

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The Cathedral Bathed in Lights

This was a special year because it was the 50th anniversary of the Treaty of the Elysée – friendship between France and Germany who had many disputes over the borders.

The Cathedral looked beautiful and un-worldly with all the lights shining on it.

Things To Do In Strasbourg
The Cathedral Looked Beautiful With the Lights

It is a very good show, because the story of the music and lights is open to interpretation.  You can follow along even if you don’t speak French.  And the lights and sound really encompassed the breadth and depth of human emotion, including sadness, despair, hope, and happiness.

Things To Do In Strasbourg
Everyone got Something Different From the Light Show

The best place to watch the show is not directly in front (unless you like looking up all the time!), but about half way down the street that runs directly in front of the church.

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View of the Light Show From Our Hotel Window

There are gorgeous stained glass windows inside the Cathedral.

Things To Do In Strasbourg
Gorgeous Stained Glass Windows Inside Cathedral

One of the largest clocks in the world, an 18-metre astronomical clock, is inside the Cathedral.

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There was a Giant Clock in the Cathedral!

I really enjoyed the Romanesque & Gothic architecture.  The ceilings were so high.  I’m glad I don’t have to dust them!

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The Cathedral’s Very High Ceilings

I loved all the details in the Cathedral.  The stained glass windows really set off the architectural touches.

Things To Do In Strasbourg
Stained Glass Windows & Organ


One morning, we met my penpal, Gaetan, and his brother, Thomas, outside the cathedral.

Things To Do In Strasbourg
A Morning View of the Cathedral

Gaetan and I “met” in 1997 through a penpal exchange program in my school.  I could choose a penpal from any country, so as a teenage girl, I chose a male from France to be my penpal.  I wrote him a letter, and received one back!

We kept writing each other for many years, and then lost touch through college, and then reconnected (thanks Internet!).  We finally met in 2009 in Colmar, France, and have been in touch since then.

They took us for coffee and we hunted around for the perfect croissant.  We met in the late morning and the bakeries were out of fresh croissants.  The brothers were very upset about this!

We walked around the city a bit, in and around the small, cobblestone streets.   We also checked out the shops.

Things To Do In Strasbourg
Emily in one of the Shops

I loved seeing all the clocks, some even played music!

Things To Do In Strasbourg
There Were Lots of Clocks and Some Played Music

I convinced Daraius to put away his iPad and pose for a photo.

Things To Do In Strasbourg
Daraius and Emily in Strasbourg

The pretty building behind me is a lycee, or school.  This particular lycee is the International School of Pontonniers.

Things To Do In Strasbourg
Emily With the International School of Pontonniers in the Background

Strasbourg is very pretty because of its cute, colorful, half-timbered homes and windy streets.

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The Buildings in Strasbourg Were Cute!

The Ill River runs through the town.

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Daraius by the Ill River in Strasbourg

Petite France

We walked through Petite France and stopped along the way to take pictures.  The Petite-France area is filled with half-timbered houses from medieval times and is also a UNESCO World Heritage site.

We wanted to go on the boat along the river, but there was a long line.  So we skipped it.

Things To Do In Strasbourg
We Walked Through Petite France

Strolling through Petite France was very relaxing and fun.

Things To Do In Strasbourg
Emily and Daraius Having fun in Petite France

I’d never been to Venice, so Petite France looked exactly like what I thought Venice would be – canals & quaint homes.  Turns out that the real Venice was much different than what I imagined it to be.

Things To Do In Strasbourg
Emily and Daraius by the Canal in Petite France

I loved the half-timbered homes that looked like they came from a story book.

Things To Do In Strasbourg
The Buildings Reminded me of a Nursery Story

Everything was so picturesque.  It felt like being in another world!

Things To Do In Strasbourg
Emily Enjoying the Picturesque Setting

We walked on top of a covered bridge and saw more of the old city.

Things To Do In Strasbourg
Emily and Daraius on a Covered Bridge in Petite France

Strasbourg is very close to Germany so there is a lot of German influence, especially in the architecture.

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German Influence Revealed in Architecture

We went shopping for a bit and bought a small souvenier, and then went to the Place Kléber or main square to enjoy the people watching.

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People Watching in Strasbourg

People watching is one of our favorite things to do when we travel!

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Emily People Watching at the Strasbourg Plaza

There were kids playing in the water fountain and families enjoying the weather together.

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Emily Sitting at the Water Fountain

One woman took off her shoes, put her feet in the fountain, read a book, and ate lunch.  It was so nice to see everyone enjoying the day together!

We even saw an Office Depot along the way to the square.  Daraius wanted to see if he could get 5X points on his Chase Ink Bold card but was scared away by the long line…

Things To Do In Strasbourg
There was even an Office Depot

Bar Exils

In the evening, we walked to Bar Exils for a cocktail with our friends.

Things To Do In Strasbourg
We had Cocktails at Bar Exils

I ordered a Pink Panther, which had rum, vodka, Malibu, crème, strawberry, and grenadine.  I saw it on the menu and was curious to try it!

Things To Do In Strasbourg
We Ordered Drinks From the bar

It was like a strawberry and crème Italian soda, and very delicious!

Things To Do In Strasbourg
The Pink Panther was Worth the Repeated Attempts to Order it!

At first, the waitress did not understand what I wanted when I told her “Pink Panther.”  So after a few tries, Gaetan stepped in and said “Pink Pan-TER!” with a strong French accent.  She immediately nodded her head!

For other activities in Strasbourg, visit the Rick Steves site or get the Rick Steves’ France book.

Bottom Line

We had a great time walking around Strasbourg.  If you’re in the Alsace region also consider checking out Colmar, the Alsace wine route, and the other quaint towns along the way.

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