Traveling along the French-German border: 3 days in Strasbourg and Karlsruhe (1/2)

I liked the idea immediately: three days, two countries, one trip – as a German-French travel team on the road in Strasbourg and Karlsruhe. First Laurène shows me the highlights of the Alsatian capital, then we discover together the second largest city in Baden-Wurttemberg.

And so we meet at the train station of Strasbourg on a picture-book autumn day. It's a work of art in itself: colorful on the outside, flooded with light on the inside, where a glass construct docks with the old building.

Day 1: Strasbourg – La Petite France and Grand-ile

Only a few minutes walk to La Petite France. The Old Quarter is simply charming with its narrow streets, floral decorations, half-timbered houses and canals. There are outdoor tables and chairs everywhere for a little break with a glass of wine to go with your tarte flambee. The light is soft, the leaves are slowly changing color, but the walls of the houses store the warmth of the day, so that you can still sit outside in the evening in September. We find a particularly nice spot on the terrace under the ancient plantain tree at the "covered" bridge.

The Ill River flows around the entire historic city center, turning it into the Grand-ile, the "Big Island". In the past, tanners lived in La Petite France, they needed a lot of water for their work. You can still see it on the houses, in the open attics where the skins were drying.

La Petite France La Petite France La Petite France La Petite France La Petite France La Petite France

From "Little France" we walk to the Strasbourg Cathedral. The landmark of the city was built more than a thousand years ago. Until 19. In the 19th century, the cathedral was the tallest building in the world at 142 meters. Depending on the daylight, the sandstone facade sometimes shimmers reddish, sometimes golden. The interior is also worth seeing and the astronomical clock from the 16th century. Century a small miracle in itself. Every day at 12.30 o'clock you can watch the twelve apostles pass by Christ.

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For those who would like to see Strasbourg from a different perspective: It's worth climbing the 332 steps up to the viewing platform. In between, wall slits give a foretaste of what awaits us at the top: an amazing panorama of Alsace, the Vosges and the Black Forest … and worth every bead of sweat.

Strasbourg Cathedral Strasbourg from above Strasbourg from above Astronomical clock in Strasbourg Cathedral

For lunch, Laurène suggests Harmonie Bowl and Juice, a vegan bistro just five minutes from the cathedral. The name says it all: all dishes are freshly prepared in front of the guests and served in a bowl. Whether vegan, gluten-free, or not, I don't really care. The main thing is that it tastes good. And it does. My Tokyo Bowl with rice, black sesame, red beans, seaweed, avocado and sprouts is very tasty and nice and light as a lunch. With "appetizer" (vegetable juice of the day) and dessert such as matcha cake, we have a complete menu. Definitely a good restaurant choice.

Vegan food in a bowl is available at Harmonie Bowl & Juice International high school International high school

Strasbourg is wonderful to discover on foot, I find sights worth seeing at every corner: the gingerbread store Pains d'Epice, where you can buy the typical Christmas pastry all year round. (Tip: Strasbourg has a beautiful Christmas market, the Marche de Noel is spread over 14 places in the city), the international high school (Lycee international des Pontonniers) with the weeping willow, which bathes its branches in the water or the Place de la Republique with the flower islands in the new town.

Neustadt, also known as the Kaiserviertel, received Unesco World Heritage status in 2017 for its unique mix of neo-Gothic, neo-Renaissance and Art Nouveau styles. Designed and built by German architects when Alsace was part of the German Empire of Wilhelm II between 1871 and 1918. heard. The Grand-ile has been on the World Heritage List since 1988. This makes Strasbourg the only city in the world to hold two such titles at once.

Place de la Republique in the New Town

Cave des Hospices Strasbourg: A place to enjoy – and to creep out

For our next destination we leave the Grand-ile via the Quai Saint-Nicolas at the former customs house. The Cave historique des Hospices de Strasbourg (built in 1395) is located in the basement of the hospital. In the Middle Ages, few could afford decent treatment, so people paid in kind, such as land or wine. The hospital never owned vineyards, but the cellar was soon filled with bottles of wine. So it happened that every patient got a jug of wine to drink during the day.

To this day there is a Hospice wine. However, they do not press the wine themselves, but the respective winegrowers, who let some of their best wines mature in the barrels of the Hospice cellar for six to ten months. Then it is sold under the Hospice label.

With an audio guide, we learn a lot about the history of winegrowing in Alsace during the tour. The oldest wine in the cellar dates back to 1472, but is still drinkable.

Just a few meters away from it, things used to be rather gruesome. In a room behind the wine cellar dissected since the 14. The corpses of the executed in the nineteenth century. The door is locked, only a sign tells the story.

Historic wine cellar in the Strasbourg hospital

Thanks to the canals, Strasbourg can also be explored wonderfully from the water. On a Batorama boat tour we see not only the center, but also the European Quarter a little further away with the European Parliament, the European Court of Human Rights and the Council of Europe. The tour starts at the dock below the Palais Rohan, which by the way houses two interesting museums: Museum of Decorative Arts and the Picture Gallery in the Museum of Fine Arts.

Charming chauvinism: Alsatian tapas and fine wines

We have dinner at the restaurant Les Chauvins Père et Fils. The restaurant is somewhat hidden in the quarter behind the cathedral, in a side street – a real insider tip. Since the beginning of 2018, father and son have been serving Alsatian cuisine interpreted in a modern way in a purist, cozy atmosphere. Bare wooden tables and sayings in Alsatian dialect on the walls underline their concept. Who, with a twinkle in their eye, call themselves chauvinists – full of pride and awareness of Alsatian cuisine and products.

Classic Alsatian recipes as a mini burger, tomato cappucino (with tarte flambee dough for dipping) or hot dog with knacks (typical Strasbourg sausage) – all sound tempting, so order quite a few different tapas and share (is strongly encouraged). Of course, the best accompaniment is the wines of the region. If you prefer a red wine from Chile, you can get that too – made by an emigrated Alsatian winemaker. To start, we had a tarte flambee, half classic and half topped with cheese. As photogenic as the tapas look, as good they taste. This was certainly not my last visit here.

Alsatian tapas at the restaurant Les Chauvins

Day 2: Strasbourg – Karlsruhe: Art and Artificial Intelligence

On the second day, the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MAMCS) is on our agenda. But before that, Laurène shows me her favorite viewpoint in Strasbourg: the panorama terrace on the Barrage Vauban (big lock) with a beautiful view of La Petite France.

The MAMCS has been in existence for 20 years in 2018, and to mark the occasion the creators have redesigned the exhibition, which will be on display from October onwards.
Impressionism, paintings, sculptures … not everything is obvious to me as an art layman. However, what I like is the architecture of the museum itself with lots of glass and light. From the terrace you also have a beautiful view of the old town. One last photo, then it's au revoir Strasbourg.

View of La Petite France MAMCS MAMCS Arok Hotel, Strasbourg Strasbourg train station Strasbourg train station France meets Germany: Laurene (r.) and Antje

How to get there:
To Strasbourg you come e.g. from Stuttgart comfortably by TGV in 90 minutes. There are also direct connections between Strasbourg and Karlsruhe several times a day, and the trip takes about 40 minutes.

Where to stay:
In Strasbourg I stayed at the Hotel Arok'n Roll, opposite the train station. The location is perfect for a short trip, as you can leave your luggage at the hotel until you leave. The city center is only a few minutes walk or 3 stops by streetcar (stops in the station basement).

The design hotel was renovated from top to bottom in 2018. There is an open bar area in the foyer where a petite dejeuner is served until 11 am: Guglhupf, jams from the region, juices, eggs and bacon.

In Karlsruhe we stayed at the Achat Plaza Hotel. This hotel also scores with a good location (10 min walk to the center or by streetcar, which stops right in front of the door). Very good breakfast, served in the room on request.

Food& Drink:
Harmonie Bowl& Juice, 5 Rue St etienne, Strasbourg,
Restaurant Les Chauvins, 3 Rue du Faisan, Strasbourg,
Berry Su Cafe, 124 Kaiserstrabe, Karlsruhe,
Oberlander Weinstube, Akademiestrabe 7, Karlsruhe,
Vogelbrau, Kapellenstrasse 50, Karlsruhe,

Caves des Hospices Strasbourg:
1 place de l'Hôpital, Strasbourg,
A bit hard to find, from the streetcar stop Porte de Hôpital it's about 4 min by foot. The entrance is after the archway on the right side.

Batorama boat tour:
Place du Marche-aux-Poissons, (tickets: Boutique Batorama, 18 place de la Cathedrale)
The trip takes about an hour and starts at the landing stage below the Palais Rohan.

Center for Art and Media (ZKM) Karlsruhe, Lorenzstrabe 19, Karlsruhe,

The trip was in cooperation with Atout France and the German National Tourist Board (GNTB). Thanks also to Strasbourg Tourisme, Karlsruhe Tourismus and Alleo for their support. However, this has no influence on the nature, content and scope of this article, my opinion remains, as always, my own.

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