Strasbourg, a culturally mixed French town, is located in the northeast corner of France, in close proximity to Germany. Known as the crossroads of Europe, both for its central location on the continent, and for the variety of official courts that meet there. The European Parliament meets in Strasbourg France 12 days a year. Visitors can sit in on debates for one hour, on a first come, first serve basis. (Check the EU website for session dates.) Also, the Court of Human rights meets in Strasbourg France, as well as the European Council. In addition to the official courts, Strasbourg's most famous building is the Strasbourg Cathedral, started in the thirteenth century. Strasbourg is undeniably a French town, yet it makes a very unique stop on a French vacation and is the perfect destination if you're looking for more unusual things to do in France.
Palais Rohan is the former residence of the town's bishop. The basement holds the archeological museum. On the 1st floor, the Musee de Arts Decoratifs features a look at the lifestyle of the 18th century rich. Above, on the 2nd floor, is the Musee des Beaux-Arts, with a collection of art dating back to the 14th century. Also of note, the modern art museum in Strasbourg France holds a collection of works spanning the major styles of the past century.
Strasbourg is perched definitively between France and Germany, and throughout the centuries has been part of both. Wine and beer are plentiful, as well as dishes utilizing sauerkraut. Strasbourg's university is one of the oldest in the world and has a solid international reputation. The university also gives the city a young and vibrant tone. The winstubs (wine taverns) are an important historic note from the Alsatian dwellers, natives of Alsace, the region surrounding Strasbourg.
The Strasbourg Cathedral is an impressive achievement of Gothic architecture. Built between 1284 and 1439, the central spire towers 465 feet into the air, and depicts the Last Judgment. The arched entryways are carved with figures. Other features of the Strasbourg Cathedral include stained glass windows, a rose window, a colorful organ case, and the Horloge Astronomique (astronomical clock). The carved wooden figures of apostles sweep about, and a rooster greets St. Peter daily, at 12:30pm.
Strasbourg hotels offer a range of styles, features, and locations to fit any budget. The cheapest accommodations are typically found near the railroad station, with Hotel Rhin, Hotel le Grillion, and Hotel Le Colmar being popular choices. Don't miss the Centre International d'Accueil et de Rencontre Unioniste de Strasbourg (CIARUS). It's a stylish hostel, with almost 300 beds, showers, and activities. For a finer take try the four-star Hotel Regent Petite France, with its good views, sauna, and marbled bathrooms. At any rate, when looking at Strasbourg hotels it is always advisable to book ahead of time, as this is one of those cities where finding last minute accommodations can prove daunting. Centrally located in Europe, Strasbourg is an unique French town, well worth a stop while on holiday.
Top image: creyesk (flickr)