Strasbourg City of streets, history, romance and shopping

Monica Mendoza
Kaiserslautern American


If you’re a history enthusiast, a romantic or a shopper, then a day trip to Strasbourg, France is in order. Just two hours drive from Kaiserslautern, this international city deserves several trips to discover its history, explore its medieval and modern architecture and enjoy the shopping district.
Founded by the Romans in 12 BC, Strasbourg − the “city of streets” − is surrounded entirely by water.

In the 14th century, the man-made canals lead to Ponts Couverts fortification, built with a dam to keep the city from being seized. The residents would flood themselves before being overtaken. “My favorite thing about this city is the water,” said Stephan Bonnert, Horizon Tours guide.

History on every corner
In 1428, Strasbourg was the place where German-born Johannes Gutenberg is said to have been working on a secret project of movable type and printing press. In 1455, Gutenberg’s printing press revolutionized the world, bringing the printed word to the masses. And in Strasbourg, they erected a statue to salute his time in their city.

Imagine what life was like in 1770 when Marie Antoinette, the Archduchess of Austria, met the crown prince of France − King Louis XIV − at the Bishop’s manor in Strasbourg. She, only 14 years old, was married to him in hopes of forging peace between France and Austria.

Only 20 years later, in Strasbourg town square, near the opera house and theater, Claude-Joseph Rouget de Lisle, a captain in the Army, wrote “La Marseillaise,” the French national anthem, during the French Revolution.

Strasbourg, an international hub

***image1***  Strasbourg is a city that wears its history well, having lost only some buildings and monuments when Napoleon fell. It was part of the German Empire until after World War I and relived its history during World War II when Germans again occupied the city.

But war is not what defines the city. Strasbourg was, and still is, known as an international hub, moving commerce through river and roads. With a population of 388,000, Strasbourg is one of the largest metropolitan cities in the Rhine Valley.

Strasbourg, in the Alsace Region of France, is known for its rare wines. Wine growers are limited on the amount of grapes they can grow per acre.
 “This is an effort for them to focus on quality, over quantity,” Mr. Bonnert said.
The city’s crown jewel is the gothic Notre Dame de Strasbourg, Our Lady of Strasbourg, which was 300 years in the making. During the time the cathedral was under construction 160 other cathredrals around the world were built. Inside, the church is flooded with light by the stained glass windows.
“It’s one of the finest examples of medieval architecture,” Mr. Bonnert said.

Shopping and romance
Le Petite France − with its Hansel and Gretel half-timbered houses − is where streets were named for the craftsmen who worked there. From here there are outstanding views of the canals and flowers.
Find the Gutenberg statue and there begins the shopping district, with everything from Prada to French scarves.
• Find out about guided tours at or


If you go:

• Cathedrale Notre Dame, open 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. M-F; 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Admission is free and €3 to climb  322 steps to the plaform.
• Get a “Strasbourg Pass” at the Strasbourg Office of Tourism for €10.90 good for one museum, the Cathedral platform and a boat tour.
Call  0388-52-2828.