As we were making our way through the south of France at the end of June our plan was to spend July in Germany and that is how we ended up discovering a house in Strasbourg. I’ll admit, I knew nothing about Strasbourg but saw that it was an easy train ride from Lyon and to Frankfurt AND the GuestToGuest house had a hammock and a small garden with a cat. All things that appealed to the kids and would keep them busy! After spending 5 nights in beautiful Strasbourg with kids, we now know that it’s a great spot for families looking to explore the Alsace region. The quaint architecture, the lively atmosphere and charming life awaits those who visit Strasbourg. The city centre, Strasbourg Grande-Ile, is listed as a World Heritage Site since 1988 and was the first urban centre in France to be classified by UNESCO. Our home was located in Schilitigheim, close to the Black Forest and the European Parliament but also only a 15 minute tram ride from the historic city centre. We hit some rainy days during our visit and took the chance to snuggle indoors, catching up on our work and allowing the kids to enjoy a bit of the slow life after our hectic travels through the south of France. On the rain free days, we explored the city centre and found enough things to have us wanting to go back!
What to do in Strasbourg with Kids
Historic Centre : The charming mostly pedestrian alleyways gives you the chance to get lost and discover some treats. Little Monkey and Baby Boy enjoyed roaming through the shops selling knickknacks, sweets and all sorts of Bretzels. Chris and I enjoyed discovering winestubs and quaint pubs where we were able to nibble on a few local good delicacies. My advice to anyone visiting Strasbourg is to spend a couple hours roaming the downtown area and taking in the sights, music (we spotted quite a few street musicians) and the most quaint Alsatian architecture. I couldn’t help but gawk at how well preserved the timber-framed craftsmen’s homes and workshops of yesteryears were. By day and by night this is one French city that was quite different from the others we visited in the south.
Notre Damme Cathedral : Okay so hear me out. There’s 332 steps. Yup. You read correctly. THREE HUNDRED and THIRTY TWO! Our 5 year old was whinny but she made it to the top while Chris had to carry Baby Boy for a majority of the 15 minute climb. It was a very narrow stairwell and we did have to make room for some others who were speeding up or coming in the opposite direction but it gave us an excuse to slow down and peer through the windows. The view from the top of this pink sandstone building is absolutely magnificent! I wish we timed it with sunset because it would have been the ideal spot! Also note that there is a fully functioning cathedral that you can visit. Complete with an Astronomical clock that is an amazing masterpiece, this is the top attraction in Strasbourg for me. We didn’t time our visit for the projection but we did see it up close and it was a true work of art. This tallest medieval tower in all of Europe also has a light show after sunset and I’m so glad we stumbled upon it one night after the boat ride and a couple drinks at the pub. Please note that the light show only takes place during July and August. We spent an hour here during the daytime visit and then another 15 minutes for the light show in the evening.
Batorama Boat Tour : We took quite a few boat tours during our 5 months through Europe with kids and this was one of our favourites. We timed it with sunset and liked that we all received a history and architecture lesson. The kids even had their own channel to listen to and the roof was see-through! Being able to see the old city and the European parliament from the boat and cruising through the aqueducts and bridges at dusk will be a memory we won’t soon forget.
Alsatian Museum : While I enjoyed marveling at the timber structures from the outside, I made good use of our Strasboug Pass and went inside this museum located in 3 former houses in Strasbourg. They were linked by a maze of stairways and connecting passages and we saw over 5,000 artifacts depicting the daily life of Alsatians in the 18th and 19th centuries. It is a stroller friendly space but I was glad we didn’t have a stroller with us the day we visited because the kids wanted to roam around and inspect everything up close during our one hour visit.
Eat : I finally found authentic Alsatian food! Our meal at the Michelin Star Au Pont du Corbeau was one I won’t soon forget! As you roam around the city you will stumble upon carts filled with bretzels (yes, Bretzels), winestubs (think cute pubs for wine!), bakeries and fine restaurants. We did cook a fair bit at our home but we also made it a point to venture out when we could so we could sample the Alsatian treats.
Chilling in our GuestToGuest home
While one could easily spend a day in Strasbourg, there’s more to see in the city and you can find a full list of things to do in Strasbourg here. Our home exchange was right by a park and the summer fairground so we enjoyed a few evenings outdoors once the rain stopped. I was told that since 1570, Strasbourg is home to Europe’s oldest Christmas Market and that the city sparkles with countless lights and colours. I hope to venture back one day to experience that!