Quick facts about Strasbourg

  • Population: 280,000 in city itself, over 1 million with surrounding towns, the 8th largest in France
  • Foundation: 58BC as Roman city of Argentorate
  • Neighborhoods to visit: 
    • La Grand'Ile: the central island of the city with dozens of historic buildings and museums, including Notre Dame cathedral.
    • La Petite France. medieval half-timbered houses on the Ill river canals
    • Le Neustadt: ornate buildings from the 19th century German period
    • The European quarter: headquarters of international institutions
    • La Krutenau: student neighbhorhood between downtown and campus
    • Kehl: town just across the border in Germany
  • Languages: French and Alsatian (local dialect of German)
  • Travel time to Paris by train : 1 hour 50 minutes

More on Strasbourg from the city office of tourism

See what's happening in Strasbourg this weekend

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Interesting things about Strasbourg

It's a border city

Strasbourg sits on the Rhine river, just across from Germany.  The city has gone back and forth between the two countries four times since 1870. 

See for yourself: Take a stroll through the Neustadt with its German imperial architecture.  Or catch the tram  to Kehl, the first town in Germany, just a few minutes away.

You can bike everywhere

With over 400 miles of bike lanes, Strasbourg is the most bikeable city in France.  Most of the city center is closed to cars.  You can take your bike on the tram and there is bike parking everywhere.

See for yourself:  Every Accès student gets a bike and a helmet for the semester.  

It's a European capital

The European Parliament, the Council of Europe, Pharmacopea and the European Court of Human Rights are all headquartered in Strasbourg.

See for yourself: World leaders often come to speak at Strasbourg's European institutions.  Most meetings are free and open to the public.

It's really beautiful

From the gothic Notre Dame cathedral (the tallest in the country) to the narrow streets of La Petite France and the cafés along the canals, Strasbourg is one of the most breathtaking cities in Europe.

See for yourself: Most students live close to the downtown with host families or in student boarding houses

Cool things that Alsace gave the world

The Christmas Tree

The idea of decorating a pine tree at Christmas comes from Alsace in the 16h century.  

Check out the Christkindelmarikheld on the Place Broglie every December since 1570.

La Marseillaise

The French national anthem is named for the southern city of Marseille.  But it was composed in Strasbourg.  Rouget de l'Ile composed the song during the French Revolution for Alsatian soldiers to sing as they marched. 

Sauerkraut

Slow-cooked in white wine and served with a potatoes, knack sausages and smoked meats, "choucroute strasbourgoise" is an Alsatian specialty. 

Try it out at a local restaurant like La Maison Kammerzell.

 

Printing

The invention of moveable type printing by Johannes Gutenberg in Strasbourg revolutionized the diffusion of ideas throughout Europe and the world.

Learn more at the Bibliothèque Humaniste in Sélestat.

The world's fastest car

The factory founded by Etorri Bugatti in Molsheim in 1909 still custom designs sports cars, including the Veyron.

See one firsthand at the Bugatti foundation in Molsheim or the Cité de l'Automobile in Mulhouse.

Storks

The cigogne is supposed to bring good luck in Alsace, especially if it nests on your house.  And that's probably where the idea of storks delivering babies comes from.

See for yourself: there are dozens of nesting pairs in Strasbourg's Parc de l'Orangerie

Famous people from Strasbourg and Alsace

Louis Pasteur

1822-1895, Chemist, Microbiologist.  Inventor of the pasteurization technique for preserving dairy products.  Developed vaccine for rabies. Professor at University of Strasbourg

Louise Weiss

1893-1983, Journalist, Political activist, Member European Parliament.  Early advocate for women's suffrage in France. Founder of newspaper L'Europe Nouvelle. Elected MEP and President of European Parliament

Jean Calvin

1509-1564  Theologian,  One of the main protagonists of the Protestant Reformation. Exiled in Strasbourg where he works as pastor and writes The Institutions of the Christian Religion.

 

Albert Schweitzer

1875-1965  Polymath, Medical doctor, Theologian, Organist, Founder of hospital of tropical medecine in Lambaréné, Gabon, Winner of Nobel Peace Prize  1952