Love medieval cityscape and modern buildings? You’ll feel right at home in France’s unspoiled treasure, Strasbourg. I experienced the medieval town last winter. Far from the big city of Paris, this quiet yet lively city is home to the biggest mosque in France and one of the best Christmas Market in Europe!
Strasbourg is the capital and the largest city of Alsace, a region in the north eastern France bordering Germany. Nestled along France’s border with Germany, Strasbourg was yanked back and forth between Germany and France over centuries and finally decided to join France at the end of World War II. Due to the location at the border of these two countries, it has an appealing blend of both French and German influences in the architectural, culture and cuisine.
With so much to do in Strasbourg, it’s well worth the trip either from Paris, Black Forest or Zurich!
Strasbourg is small enough to walk around but big enough to have plenty of eating places and convenient enough for shopping either to shop Strasbourg local products as souvenir or French luxury brands. And come winter it goes totally over the top as one of the best Christmas Markets in Europe! I think I have found a new contender to battle out with Paris as my favourite French city.
Check out my Muslim Friendly day trip itinerary to Strasbourg!
#1 Roam the Old Town at the Grand Ile
Grande Ile is where the town of historic centre is. The Grand Ole, which translates to Big Island, is an old town surrounded by River III, a tributary of the Rhine on one side and by Canal du Faux-Rempart River on the other side.
The island is the historic centre of the city and recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1988. Throughout this town you can see half timbered houses and buildings that are straight out of a fairy tale. Walk around and enjoy the old town.
#2 Pass by Strasbourg’s landmark Cathedral Notre Dame de Strasbourg
Cathedrale Notre Dame de Strasbourg is the city’s main landmark. Strasbourg Cathedral is constructed of dark pink sandstone quarried from the Vosges Mountains and completed in the 15th century. It was the tallest construction in the world for over 200 years (1647 – 1874) with Gothic architecture.
At 142 metres, it remains the tallest 15th century structure in the world. There is a 16th century Astronomical Clock inside the church, which comes to live during a daily afternoon show.
You can also climb to the rooftop viewing platform for incredible views over Strasbourg and all the way to the Black Forest in Germany on a clear day as well as having a bird’s eye view of the old town city’s roofs below.
#3 Wander the Fairy Tale Streets of Petite France
Walk through this neighbourhood and you’ll feel as though you stepped into a fairy tale. Medieval narrow cobblestone streets, colourful half timbered houses and winding waterways make the Petite France area the most picturesque part of the city with lovely mixture of French and German influence.
Originally the houses here were built for tanners, fishermen and millers. But today Petite France has become Strasbourg’s popular tourist attraction which packed with restaurants, hotels and gift shops. Despite being busy it’s a really charming place to wander around the backstreets or stop for a drink along the waterfront.
#4 See the Covered Bridges at Les Ponts Couverts
The Ponts Couverts are a set of three bridges and four towers constructed on the River III as a fortification in the 13th century. Initially, each of the bridges was covered by a wooden roof that acted to protect the defenders who would have been stationed on them in time of war.
Eventually, the roofs were removed in 1784 but the name of covered bridge has remained in common use thereafter. Then, Barrage Vauban was built to supersede the Covered Bridge as a defensive mechanism but remained in use as bridges.
#5 View the Vauban Dam at Barrage Vauban
The Barrage Vauban or Vauban Dam is a bridge and defensive works built on the River III in the 17th century. The main defensive role of this dam was to raise the water level of the River III and flood the lands south of the city making enemy impassable, in the event of an attack.
#6 Take a Boat Trip around the Canals
Don’t miss the boat trip to see the cityscape by water along the River III. Look out for the iconic Posts Couverts and Petite France in the old areas of the city, and the European Institutions in the modern part of Strasbourg. 1 out of 3 European Parliament is located here in Strasbourg.
If you’re short on time, this boat tour covers all Strasbourg’s historical highlights!
#7 Go to the Best Shopping Spot in Strasbourg nearby Homme de Fer (Iron Man Square)
Homme de Fer is a tram station located at the heart of Strasbourg’s shopping areas. It is home to a great selection of stores and is always crowded with tourists and locals looking for a great deal.
Once you reached this place, you will be excited and ready to shop the French’s brands. You’ll be spoilt for choices with malls such as Place des Halles, Galeries Lafayette and other high streets brands such as Sephora & Zara that are just a walk away from this tram station!
#8 Eat Europe Halal Fried Chicken at Saiko Chicken
Where to Eat
Finding halal food in Strasbourg is easy! You can find halal restaurants almost everywhere in Strasbourg mainly Indian or Middle Eastern cuisine. But we wanted to try out this Europe halal fried chicken restaurant named Saiko Chicken. It is more like a small fried chicken store which you can dine in or take out.
It is Malaysian students spot to satisfy halal fried chicken cravings. So don’t be surprised if you bump into other Malaysian here. And you can make friends with other local Muslim while dining in as most of them are friendly. The owner of Saiko Chicken is a Russian Muslim family. It is located at 8 Rue du Vieux Marché aux Vins, 67000 Strasbourg, France.
#9 Perform Prayer Comfortably at Mosquée Strasbourg Gare (Strasbourg’s Islamic Centre)
On the way back to the main railway station at Gare de Strasbourg, we drop by Strasbourg’s Islamic Centre and perform our prayers. It is just about 6 minutes walking distance from Saiko Chicken and easy to find. Ladies praying hall is upstairs and it is pretty much self-explanatory when you are there.
It is normal to see the kids are having religious class in ladies praying hall. You can proceed to perform your prayer quietly without disturbing the class. It looks similar to other retail shops from the outside but watch out for Mosquee Strasbourg-Gare signage and get in from there. Strasbourg’s Islamic Centre is located at 9 Rue Thiergarten, 67000 Strasbourg, France.
#10 Alternatively Perform Prayer in France’s Largest Mosque at Grande Mosquée de Strasbourg (Great Mosque of Strasbourg)
If you have more time in Strasbourg or if you are driving, head to the Great Mosque of Strasbourg and see the largest mosque in France. It is a new mosque which has wonderful interior and exterior design, and located on a beautiful spot on the banks of the River III, near the popular Petite France neighbourhood.
Strasbourg is the best multicultural city to fall in love with and definitely has something for everyone!