Think of France and odds are, your mind is filled with swirling images of pastel-colored macarons, berets, and eating baguettes under the Eiffel Tower.
Make no mistake, you have to do all of the quintessentially Paris things during your trip to France. But we had six days in France and I knew I’d go stir-crazy (and broke) if we stayed in Paris the whole time. When a little fairytale town named Strasbourg popped up on my Instagram feed, my childhood dreams of living out my life like a Disney princess took control of our France itinerary.
Strasbourg, France is a small-ish town in the Alsace region. Alsace is best known for its unique cuisine, wine, and Christmas markets. Its close proximity to Germany and Switzerland give it a unique vibe that’s a hybrid of all three cultures. Strasbourg is most famous for its half-timbered houses lining the canal, an area of town called Petite France. The houses date back to the 16th and 17th centuries and were once occupied by the fishermen and tanners who worked in this part of the city.
Our trip started off a little bit rocky with both of us left with missing luggage. It turned out that WOW Air had put the wrong flight’s luggage on our plane. Everyone who departed from Chicago was left without luggage. France was our first stop before heading our separate ways studying abroad so we were both a little panicked that all our things for the next 4 months were missing.
I’ll be honest — three days of dirty clothes, sharing a stick of deodorant, and washing our hair with hotel bar soap does take away from the feeling of being a Disney princess a little bit. It also definitely tests the strength of a relationship.
We took an overnight bus from Paris and got into Strasbourg at about 6am. The bus left Paris at around 11:30pm and cost 44 euro roundtrip. When we got in, we thought it would be nice to relax at a bakery until the sun rose. What we didn’t realize is that Strasbourg goes hard. We ended up sharing the tiny bakery with a crowd of stumbling Strasbourg-ians grabbing sandwiches on their way home from the bars.
After dropping off our bags at the reception of our hotel, we made our way over to Petite France. Petite France is a historical area of Strasbourg with the colorful half-timbered houses. It’s totally instagrammable and pretty much the main attraction in Strasbourg, France.
The rest of our day consisted of a long nap, lots of baguette-eatin’, and wandering through the streets to find beer to drown our sorrows about our lost luggage.
If the weather were warmer I could have spent every day just wandering through the colorful streets taking pretty pictures and drinking espresso. But low temperatures forced us to look for indoor alternatives.
One of the most beautiful structures in Strasbourg is the Notre Dame cathedral. Completed in 1439, the cathedral is known as one of the most beautiful examples of Gothic architecture in Europe. Even for the navigationally challenged, the cathedral is almost impossible to miss. The spire can be seen from just about every part of town.
We also visited a scenic viewpoint overlooking three bridges known as Ponts Couverts, or covered bridges. The bridges were originally built with wooden coverings. These roofs were removed in the 1700s but Strasbourg apparently hasn’t gotten around to changing their name.
You may have noticed I haven’t talked much about food here. I know, I know that is so unlike me. Truthfully, French cuisine isn’t that appealing to either of us (I’m vegan and Jake has food allergies). Besides, we were balling on a budget. We grabbed grocery store salads and sandwiches for most meals and chose to spend our euros on more important things (like cheap wine).
The Strasbourg Tourism Board kindly offered us Strasbourg Passes for our time in the city. The pass includes entrance to several museums, cathedrals, and attractions in the area, including a boat tour down the river. We visited in January, which meant no boat trip for us. On top of that, we happened to visit on the first weekend of the month, which is when a ton of things are free anyways. If we had visited any other week — or during a warmer time of the year — I think the Strasbourg Pass would have been a good investment.
The Strasbourg Modern Art Museum is one of the attractions included in the Strasbourg Pass. Jake loves art museums but I have a hard time spending money on them because I get so bored after a few rooms of paintings (I’m so uncultured — sorry) so this was perfect for us.
We also visited the viewing platform from the Notre Dame cathedral. The church is always free to go inside but the Strasbourg Pass gets you access to the viewing platform at the top of the cathedral. You get to take in an insanely beautiful panoramic view of the city from the top. If you go in the dead of winter like we did, expect serious wind and numb extremities but don’t miss out on this incredible view.
To warm up after, we grabbed an espresso at a cute little bakery down the street from the Notre Dame. Strasbourg, France is filled with cute little cafes and bakeries and we spent a lot of time just sitting with an espresso watching the world go by.
The rest of the day was spent revisiting our favorite views in Petite France and getting ready for our overnight bus journey back to Paris.
Tips for visiting Strasbourg, France
- Strasbourg is only a 2.5 hour train ride from Paris. We found the trains to be a little out of our budget so we opted for a 6-hour overnight bus instead.
- The tourist information office is located right next to the Strasbourg Cathedral. You can pick up your Strasbourg pass here and get more information.
- Make sure you check online if the boat will be running during your trip. We were really excited for the boat tour but when we arrived we realized it doesn’t run during most of January.
- Strasbourg is at its most beautiful during the Christmas season. The whole town is decorated with ornaments, garland, and Christmas trees.
- Here is a list of hotels in Strasbourg. If you’re ballin’ on a budget like I always am, definitely check out Hotel Weber. A double room only set us back about 50 euro a night and the location was great for walking everywhere.
Strasbourg, France is one of the most unique and charming cities I have ever visited. I felt like I was in a scene from Beauty and the Beast at least 10 times a day. Three days was the perfect amount of time to visit Strasbourg and get a feel for the city and the unique culture.
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This post may contain affiliate links, which means I earn a commission (at no extra cost to you) if you purchase from them. Thanks for supporting the content on this site. I was provided two complimentary Strasbourg Passes from the Strasbourg Tourism Board. As always, all opinions and dreams of becoming a Disney princess are my own.