Discovering the Hidden Gems of Strasbourg (2023 Travel Guide)

Strasbourg, the capital of the Grand Est region in northeastern France, is a city that boasts a rich cultural heritage and a history that spans back centuries. As the second largest city in France, Strasbourg has been an important center for trade and commerce, as well as a hub for education and innovation. The city’s unique location on the border between France and Germany has contributed to its diverse and cosmopolitan character, making it a true melting pot of cultures.

Despite its prominence and popularity as a tourist destination, Strasbourg still has a number of hidden gems waiting to be discovered by adventurous travelers. From quaint neighborhoods and picturesque canals to stunning architecture and delicious local cuisine, this city has much to offer for those willing to explore beyond the typical tourist attractions.

In this blog post, we’ll be taking a closer look at some of Strasbourg’s best-kept secrets and highlighting the hidden gems that make this city such a special and worthwhile destination.

Here are some of the best hidden gems of Strasbourg:

  1. Petite France: This charming neighborhood in the heart of Strasbourg is a picturesque area of winding streets, canals, and half-timbered houses. It’s a great place to explore on foot, with plenty of cafes, restaurants, and shops to discover along the way.
  2. Barrage Vauban: This historic dam was built in the 17th century and offers stunning views of Strasbourg’s skyline and the River Ill. It’s a great spot for a picnic or a leisurely stroll, especially on a sunny day.
  3. Place du Marché-aux-Cochons-de-Lait: This square, located in the heart of Strasbourg’s historic district, is home to one of the city’s oldest markets, which sells fresh produce, flowers, and local delicacies. It’s a great place to experience the hustle and bustle of daily life in Strasbourg.
  4. Musée Tomi Ungerer: This museum, dedicated to the work of the celebrated artist and illustrator Tomi Ungerer, is a hidden gem that’s worth seeking out. The museum’s collection includes more than 8,000 drawings, paintings, and sculptures, as well as a selection of Ungerer’s rare books and posters.
  5. Jardin des Deux Rives: This beautiful park, located on the border between France and Germany, is a peaceful oasis where visitors can enjoy stunning views of the Rhine River and the Strasbourg skyline. It’s a great place to go for a walk or a bike ride, especially during the warmer months.

Get to know Strasbourg

Explore the beautiful city of Strasbourg in this self-guided walking tour and scavenger hunt. 

Strasbourg is a city located in northeastern France, near the border with Germany. It is the capital of the Grand Est region and has a rich history that spans back over 2,000 years. The city was founded by the Romans in 12 BC and has since been a hub for trade, commerce, and education. Strasbourg has a unique blend of cultures, with influences from both France and Germany, which is reflected in its diverse architecture, cuisine, and traditions. The city is famous for its stunning Gothic cathedral, which is one of the tallest in Europe, as well as its charming half-timbered houses and winding canals. Strasbourg is also home to a vibrant arts scene, with numerous museums and galleries showcasing everything from contemporary art to ancient artifacts. For those who love the great outdoors, Strasbourg has plenty to offer, including the beautiful Parc de l’Orangerie and the scenic cycling routes along the Rhine River. Whether you’re interested in history, culture, or outdoor activities, Strasbourg is a city that is well worth exploring.

Let’s introduce the hidden gems…

1. Petite France

Petite France is a historic neighborhood located in the heart of Strasbourg, France. It is situated on the Grande Île, which is the historic city center of Strasbourg and is surrounded by the River Ill. Petite France is a charming and picturesque area that is well known for its traditional Alsatian architecture, winding streets, and half-timbered houses.

The neighborhood gets its name from the hospital that was once located here, which treated soldiers with “French disease” (syphilis) during the 15th century. Today, Petite France is a popular tourist destination and a must-see attraction for anyone visiting Strasbourg.

One of the highlights of Petite France is its beautiful canals, which are lined with colorful buildings and crossed by several picturesque bridges. The area is also home to a number of small cafes, restaurants, and boutique shops, making it a great place to explore on foot.

In addition to its charming atmosphere, Petite France is also home to several historic landmarks, including the 17th-century Maison des Tanneurs (Tanners’ House) and the Ponts Couverts (Covered Bridges), which date back to the 13th century. Visitors to Petite France can also enjoy stunning views of the Strasbourg Cathedral, which is located just a short walk away.

Overall, Petite France is a beautiful and romantic neighborhood that is well worth a visit for anyone traveling to Strasbourg.

Why it is worth visiting

Here are the reasons why Petite France in Strasbourg is worth visiting:

  • Beautiful and picturesque neighborhood with traditional Alsatian architecture, winding streets, and half-timbered houses
  • Stunning views and photo opportunities of the area’s canals and bridges
  • Rich in history and culture, with historic landmarks such as the Maison des Tanneurs and Ponts Couverts offering a glimpse into Strasbourg’s past
  • Located in the heart of the Grande Île, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most well-preserved medieval city centers in Europe
  • Great place to relax and unwind, with several small cafes and restaurants where visitors can enjoy a cup of coffee or a meal while taking in the sights and sounds of the neighborhood
  • Pedestrian-friendly area, making it easy to explore on foot.

2. Barrage Vauban

Barrage Vauban, also known as Vauban Dam, is a historic dam located in Strasbourg, France. It was built in the 17th century by the famous French military engineer, Vauban, and is one of the most impressive examples of military architecture in Europe.

The dam was originally built to help defend Strasbourg from enemy attacks by controlling the flow of water from the River Ill. Today, it serves as a bridge, a dam, and a viewing platform that offers stunning views of the city and the surrounding area.

The Barrage Vauban is a unique and impressive structure that combines both practical and aesthetic features. The dam is designed in the shape of a large arch and is decorated with intricate carvings and statues. Visitors can walk across the top of the dam and enjoy panoramic views of the city and the River Ill.

One of the most unique features of Barrage Vauban is its terrace, which is located on the roof of the dam. The terrace offers breathtaking views of Strasbourg’s old town, the Cathedral, and the Ponts Couverts. It’s a popular spot for tourists and locals alike to take pictures and enjoy the views.

In addition to its stunning architecture and beautiful views, Barrage Vauban is also home to a museum dedicated to the history of Strasbourg’s waterworks. The museum includes exhibits on the city’s hydraulic systems, water mills, and dams, providing visitors with an in-depth look at the engineering and technology that made Strasbourg a major European city.

Why it is worth visiting

Barrage Vauban is worth visiting for several reasons:

  1. Unique and impressive structure: The dam is a beautiful and impressive structure that combines practical engineering with intricate architecture and design. It’s a unique example of military architecture and a testament to the skill and creativity of its builder, Vauban.
  2. Stunning views: The terrace on the roof of the dam offers panoramic views of the city and the surrounding area. It’s one of the best places in Strasbourg to take in the sights and capture beautiful photos.
  3. Historical significance: The Barrage Vauban played an important role in the defense of Strasbourg during its early history. Visiting the dam is an opportunity to learn more about the city’s past and its military and engineering history.
  4. Museum and exhibits: The museum inside the Barrage Vauban provides an in-depth look at the city’s hydraulic systems, water mills, and dams. Visitors can learn about the technology and engineering that helped make Strasbourg a major European city.
  5. Pedestrian-friendly area: The Barrage Vauban is located in the heart of Strasbourg’s historic district, which is a pedestrian-friendly area with many cafes, restaurants, and shops. It’s a great place to explore on foot and take in the sights and sounds of the city.

3. Place du Marché-aux-Cochons-de-Lait

Place du Marché-aux-Cochons-de-Lait is a historic square located in the heart of Strasbourg’s old town. The name of the square translates to “Piglet Market Square” in English, and it has a fascinating history that dates back to the 15th century.

In the Middle Ages, the square was home to a market where farmers would bring their piglets to be sold. The square was an important center for the trade of pork products, which were a staple of the local cuisine. Today, the square is a popular tourist attraction and a bustling hub of activity.

The most prominent feature of Place du Marché-aux-Cochons-de-Lait is its beautiful fountain, which was built in 1898. The fountain is adorned with statues of animals and people, including a pig, a rooster, and a boy holding a goose. It’s a popular spot for visitors to take pictures and admire the intricate details of the sculptures.

The square is surrounded by beautiful buildings, including several half-timbered houses that date back to the 16th and 17th centuries. The buildings are adorned with colorful shutters and flower boxes, adding to the charm of the square.

Today, Place du Marché-aux-Cochons-de-Lait is a bustling center for cafes, restaurants, and shops. It’s a popular spot for locals and tourists alike to relax and enjoy a meal or a drink. The square is particularly lively during the Christmas season when it is transformed into a festive market with stalls selling handmade crafts, food, and drinks.

Why it is worth visiting?

Place du Marché-aux-Cochons-de-Lait is worth visiting for several reasons:

  1. Rich history: The square has a fascinating history dating back to the Middle Ages when it was an important center for the trade of pork products. Visiting the square is an opportunity to learn more about the local cuisine and the city’s past.
  2. Beautiful fountain: The fountain in the center of the square is a beautiful piece of artwork that is adorned with intricate sculptures of animals and people. It’s a popular spot for taking photos and admiring the architecture.
  3. Colorful buildings: The buildings surrounding the square are beautiful examples of half-timbered architecture that are adorned with colorful shutters and flower boxes. They add to the charm and character of the square.
  4. Lively atmosphere: The square is a bustling center for cafes, restaurants, and shops, making it a great place to relax and enjoy a meal or a drink. It’s particularly lively during the Christmas season when it’s transformed into a festive market.
  5. Central location: Place du Marché-aux-Cochons-de-Lait is located in the heart of Strasbourg’s old town, making it a convenient and easy-to-find destination for visitors. It’s within walking distance of many other popular attractions, making it a great starting point for exploring the city.

4. The Musée Tomi Ungerer

The Musée Tomi Ungerer is a museum dedicated to the work of artist and illustrator Tomi Ungerer. The museum is housed in a beautiful 18th-century mansion in the heart of Strasbourg’s historic old town.

Tomi Ungerer was a prolific artist and illustrator who created works in a variety of media, including children’s books, political cartoons, and erotic art. His work is known for its irreverence, humor, and social commentary, and has been widely celebrated throughout Europe and beyond.

The Musée Tomi Ungerer contains over 11,000 works by Ungerer, including original drawings, paintings, sculptures, and posters. The museum’s exhibits are divided into three sections: the “Picture Book” section, which showcases Ungerer’s work for children; the “Societal” section, which features his political and satirical illustrations; and the “Erotica” section, which displays Ungerer’s erotic art.

Visitors to the museum can also explore a variety of interactive exhibits and multimedia displays that provide insight into Ungerer’s life and work. The museum also hosts temporary exhibitions and events throughout the year, making it a lively and engaging destination for visitors of all ages.

The Musée Tomi Ungerer is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in the art and culture of Strasbourg. It provides a fascinating glimpse into the work of one of the city’s most celebrated artists, and offers a unique perspective on the social and cultural issues of his time.

Why it is worth visiting?

The Musée Tomi Ungerer is worth visiting for several reasons:

  1. Unique collection: The museum is dedicated to the work of Tomi Ungerer, an artist and illustrator who created a wide range of works in different media, including children’s books, political cartoons, and erotic art. The museum’s collection of over 11,000 works provides a unique and comprehensive overview of Ungerer’s life and career.
  2. Beautiful location: The museum is housed in a historic 18th-century mansion in the heart of Strasbourg’s old town, providing a beautiful and atmospheric setting for visitors to explore.
  3. Interactive exhibits: The museum’s exhibits are engaging and interactive, allowing visitors to learn about Ungerer’s life and work in a fun and informative way.
  4. Temporary exhibitions: In addition to its permanent collection, the museum hosts a variety of temporary exhibitions and events throughout the year, ensuring that there is always something new and exciting to discover.
  5. Cultural significance: Tomi Ungerer was a prolific and influential artist who had a significant impact on the art and culture of Strasbourg and beyond. Visiting the Musée Tomi Ungerer is a chance to learn more about his life and work, as well as the social and cultural issues of his time.

5. The Jardin des Deux Rives

The Jardin des Deux Rives, also known as the Garden of the Two Banks, is a public park located on the border between France and Germany in Strasbourg and Kehl. The park covers an area of 60 hectares and is situated on the banks of the Rhine river, offering beautiful views of the water and the surrounding landscape.

The Jardin des Deux Rives was created in 2004 as part of a larger effort to promote cooperation and cultural exchange between France and Germany. The park features a variety of natural and landscaped areas, including gardens, forests, meadows, and wetlands, as well as a number of recreational facilities such as playgrounds, sports fields, and walking and cycling paths.

One of the highlights of the Jardin des Deux Rives is the Passerelle Mimram, a pedestrian and cycle bridge that spans the Rhine and connects Strasbourg and Kehl. The bridge is named after its architect, Marc Mimram, and provides a unique and stunning perspective on the river and the surrounding landscape.

Another popular feature of the park is the Rose Garden, which contains over 1,300 rose bushes of more than 500 different varieties. Visitors can also explore the Arboretum, which showcases a variety of tree species from around the world, and the Etang du Rohrschollen, a wetland area that provides habitat for a variety of wildlife.

Why it is worth visiting?

The Jardin des Deux Rives is worth visiting for several reasons:

  1. Beautiful natural setting: The park is situated on the banks of the Rhine river and offers stunning views of the surrounding landscape. Visitors can enjoy a peaceful and relaxing escape from the city and immerse themselves in the beauty of nature.
  2. Recreational activities: The Jardin des Deux Rives offers a variety of recreational facilities, including playgrounds, sports fields, and walking and cycling paths. Visitors can engage in physical activity, explore the park, and enjoy the outdoors.
  3. Cultural exchange: The park is a symbol of cooperation and cultural exchange between France and Germany. Visitors can learn about the shared history and culture of the two countries and experience the beauty of cross-border cooperation.
  4. Unique features: The Jardin des Deux Rives features a number of unique and interesting attractions, such as the Passerelle Mimram bridge, the Rose Garden, and the Arboretum. Visitors can explore these features and discover something new and exciting.
  5. Peaceful retreat: The Jardin des Deux Rives provides a peaceful and quiet retreat from the city, offering visitors a chance to relax and recharge in a beautiful natural setting.

In conclusion, Strasbourg is a city that offers a unique blend of history, culture, and natural beauty, and it is filled with hidden gems just waiting to be explored. Whether you are interested in visiting historic landmarks, exploring charming neighborhoods, or experiencing the city’s vibrant cultural scene, there is something for everyone in Strasbourg.

From the picturesque streets and canals of Petite France to the stunning views from the Barrage Vauban, and from the charming Place du Marché-aux-Cochons-de-Lait to the fascinating Musée Tomi Ungerer, Strasbourg is a city that has something special to offer. And, with its beautiful park and unique cross-border cooperation, the Jardin des Deux Rives is a must-visit destination for nature lovers and culture enthusiasts alike.

So, if you are planning a trip to Strasbourg, be sure to add these hidden gems to your itinerary. You won’t regret it! Whether you are a first-time visitor or a seasoned traveler, you are sure to discover something new and exciting in this beautiful city.


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