Strasbourg: France’s Little Piece of Germany

Strasbourg can best be summed up by an argument I had with my German friend Julika while walking the street.

Me: This town seriously looks just like Germany!

Julika: No way, it’s totally French.

Me: But look at the half-timbered houses!

Julika: Have you seen the balconies?

In fact, Strasbourg is kind of half and half- which makes sense considering it’s located in Alsace, a region that France and Germany fought over for centuries.

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But… if we’re being precise, Strasbourg and Alsace are historically German-speaking, which explains the city’s Germanic name, as well as the Germanic roots of Alsatian, the local language.

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Bilingual street signs in French and Alsatian

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Considering this trip was a vacation from my au pair job, the first order of business was to sample the local brew. Which, incidentally, was called unicorn beer.

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After enjoying some sun and well-deserved carbonated beverages, we mosied over to the Petite France neighborhood, the city’s most Pinterest-worthy district (in fact it’s even a UNESCO World Heritage site). The area is undeniably beautiful- it abounds with half-timbered houses, picnic-worthy canals and willow trees drooping their long hair over the water.

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We weren’t the only ones enjoying the rare sunny day in April- even though it was a Thursday, it seemed like the whole city had taken off from work to bask in a bit of soleil.

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My only regret from my time in Strasbourg? Not trying choucroute, my favorite Alsatian dish ever. In all fairness it’s a winter dish and was out of season, but still..

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My only regret from my time in Strasbourg? Not trying choucroute, my favorite Alsatian dish ever. In all fairness it’s a winter dish and was out of season, but still…
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Men playing boules, also known as pétanque. Usually it’s only the old men playing, so I was a bit surprised to spot these whippersnappers!

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As the sunny afternoon drew to a close, we found a nice café and ordered a carafe of local riesling as well as some tarte flambée, or as they say in Alsatian, flammekueche. Tarte flambée is a typical Alsatian dish that is reminiscent of pizza, except that it’s covered in crème fraîche, onions and lardons. Yum.

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If you want to learn how to make tarte flambée, here’s my recipe!
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If you want to learn how to make tarte flambée, here’s my recipe!

After a luxuriously long dinner, we headed to the town’s beautiful Gothic cathedral, where we sat on the steps, chatting and people-watching.

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And because I love you guys, here’s a shot of me from the next morning looking like a complete nerd with an umbrella.

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Photo by Sateless Suitcase

And then Julika looking a lot more like a modern-day Mary Poppins.

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Have you ever been to Strasbourg? Wasn’t it fantastic? And did you think it was more French or German feeling?

Also, here is Julika’s take on Strasbourg– warning, beautiful pictures ahead! And to learn about Strasbourg’s incredible Gothic cathedral check out Julika’s post here.

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About Ashley Fleckenstein

Ashley is a travel and lifestyle blogger who lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Since college she has au paired in Paris, backpacked the world solo, and lived in Uganda. Her work has been featured by Buzzfeed, Forbes, TripAdvisor, and Glamour Magazine.

30 thoughts on “Strasbourg: France’s Little Piece of Germany”

  1. I haven’t been to Strasbourg in a while, but I have to agree with you, that the city is definitely a blend of German and French cultural influences. To me, it leans a bit more towards the French side, but I suppose that’s because I’m German and subconsciously notice the small differences, like street signs and the types of stores they have. :)
    xx
    Melanie

  2. I love this Ashley!! The write-up of our little French vs. German debate made me laugh out loud :) I’m still convinced it looks nothing like Germany though!
    Your photos are stunning! And my umbrella suits you very well :)

    • Aw thanks! And I still have a few more posts coming about Karlsruhe and Colmar. And I personally think Strasbourg looks nothing like France, so I guess we never could compromise, hehe.

  3. My best friend studied aboard their in college while I was abroad and I just fell in love with the charming little town! And I love that umbrella!!

  4. I love Strasbourg! Have been a few times. I would call it French with heavy German influence! The food is what makes me think of Germany more than anything, since many dishes are hearty and rich, the white wines are similar to those on the German side (but better in my opinion :)) and there is plenty of good beer.

  5. Oh my – Flammekueche! It has been such a long time since I had my last slice. I road tripped from Germany to Spain when I finished Uni (which was like a thousand years ago) and we stopped over at Strasbourg. I loved it! (Although I do remember quite some rain despite it being mid-summer…!!).

  6. I have to go check that area of France out one of these days. Absolutely looks worth the drive. I hear it’s beautiful at Christmas and that’s my favorite time of year, so we’ll see. Lovely photos!

  7. It is a very long time since I went to Strasbourg and my trip was brief. I remember it being a beautiful place and playing chess in a park with a complete stranger.

    I suspect I felt it was more German than French but it was marginal. The mix of the two are what make it such a wonderful place.

  8. love your blogs Ashley.You know how much I care for La Belle France and of course wonderful Paris since 1954.Wish I could have been an au pair in my youth.But have so many wonderful memories of all my wonderfult trips.Keep on living it .This is the time of your life. love Always Papa Lou.

    • Thanks so much for commenting Papa, it means the world to me that you enjoy reading my blog! I know we both love France and it has always meant a lot to me to hear about your trips and recommendations. I would love to see your photos from 1954… Paris must have been such a different place then! Love, Ashley

  9. Came to you via Ifs, Ands & Butts.

    I love Strasbourg, and your photos are amazing! Also, I love Flammkuchen (as they call it here). So basically your entire post was just one big win!

  10. What fun you make of every town you visit. I can just feel your laughter and excitement.

    Love,
    Gamma

  11. I’m in Strasbourg right now and it is super nice. Had a tarte flambee (yum) and am going to try your recipe when I get home.

  12. I studied abroad in Strasbourg about a year ago. It was so beautiful and your pictures brought back so many wonderful memories that I had forgotten. After living there for a whole semester, I would definitely say that it is more German then French, but it still has many great little aspects of French culture. The food was fantastic and tarte flambee was definitely my favorite food there as well! I’m so glad you were able to post this!

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