Paris and its diverse arrondissements remain my true love, but the city doesn’t mind us having flings. Indeed, with so many French and European destinations just a short train ride away, weekend getaways from the capital are just as easy as they are exhilarating.
We’re kicking off our new series on our favorite weekend jaunts with Strasbourg, a city in Alsace, a region in Northeastern France known for its Franco-German heritage. This includes the city’s picturesque historical village with half-timbered medieval houses built along the canals, the magnificent Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Strasbourg (the world’s tallest building from the 15th to late-19th century) with its pink-hued sandstone façade, and Christkindelsmärik, France’s oldest and most magical Christmas market that features the creations of Alsatian artisans and producers.
For this trip, I decided to forgo the snow, opting for an impromptu summer escape. During the weekend, I realized that Strasbourg’s best kept secret is perhaps its summer season. Even sans the Christmas market, the city exudes a liveliness and historical charm that I haven’t found elsewhere in France, with locals playing music along the canal and strolling the colorful streets, basking in the midsummer warmth.
So if you’re in the mood for a weekend adventure, follow along on my itinerary for 48 hours in Strasbourg in the summer, including river boat rides, architectural wizardry, and a cheese lover’s paradise!
4pm – First things first, go for a stroll around La Petite France, the quaint historic center of the city. The quartier of fishermen, millers, and tanners during the Middle Ages, La Petite France is known for its distinctive half-timbered houses, covered bridges, and peaceful canals. While exploring, stop into Pâtisserie Thierry Mulhaupt, recommended to me by a Parisian pastry chef, for one of their excellent kougelhopf (a raisin-filled yeast cake baked in a Bundt mold).
7pm – Dine at Porcus, an Alsatian charcuterie restaurant whose high-quality local meats and traditional family recipes make for a truly gourmet experience. Don’t leave without trying their choucroute, a beloved Alsatian recipe of finely cut cabbage, sausages, charcuterie, and potatoes, as well as the knack d’Alsace, a regional specialty sausage that mixes pork, beef, and various spices. Just remember to reserve in advance – it’s quite a small space.
10am – Start off the day with coffee and breakfast at Café Bretelles, a cozy establishment in La Petite France that emphasizes seasonal and locally sourced ingredients. Try their aromatic long black coffee, torrefied by Mokxa Strasbourg, and their homemade granola with fresh fruit – un délice.
11am – It’s a short ten-minute walk from the cafe to the storied Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Strasbourg. After circling the church and marveling at its elaborate stone sculptures, get a ticket for the astronomical clock tower show, which takes place inside the church at noon and includes a short film on the attraction followed by a theatrical and technical spectacle by the intricate clock itself. Remember to arrive in advance to line up for tickets, and check out the panoramic view at the top of the cathedral if you can brave the stairs (330 in total).
1:30pm – Head over to La Fignette to try my favorite Alsatian fare: flammekueche, a thin bread dough rolled into a rectangle and topped with crème fraîche, onions, and bacon bits. Of course, that’s the classic recipe – La Fignette also offers other options topped with Munster cheese (highly recommended), smoked salmon, or a cornucopia of vegetables. Pair it with a chilled glass of white Alsatian wine, varieties known for their crisp and fruity notes.
3:30pm – There’s no better way to visit Strasbourg than by gliding through its waterways, so book tickets in advance for a Batorama boat tour. The “Strasbourg, 20 Centuries of History” circuit gives an overview of the exceptional historical and architectural breadth of the city, including the modern structures in the European neighborhood, the covered bridges and Vauban dam of the Grande Île, and the elegant palaces of the Neustadt, the German imperial district.
7:30pm – After a long day of exploring, tuck into a hearty dinner at La Cloche à Fromage, a cheese lover’s dream restaurant by cheese master René Tourrette and his family. The popular establishment (remember to reserve!) serves around 100 varieties of specialty raw milk cheeses presented under a special glass dome. Their pièce de résistance is their raclette, a huge wheel of oozing cheese scraped over potatoes and charcuterie. Pair with a glass of red for French gastronomic perfection.
11am – A Sunday morning is the perfect occasion to take in some culture at one of the city’s museums. Musée d’Art Moderne et Contemporain de Strasbourg, housed in a glass structure of cathedral-sized proportions, contains an impressive collection of paintings, sculptures, decorative & graphic arts, and photography. Don’t miss Kandinsky’s ceramic-tiled music room, designed to create an environment infused with artistic and spiritual qualities identical to that of the artist’s abstract paintings.
1pm – Local friends told me that other than Alsatian fare, Turkish cuisine is particularly tasty in Strasbourg. Their coup de cœur? Tzatzi, a mezze and cocktail restaurant with a colorful and modern interior serving homemade dishes inspired by Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisines.
Order a mix of hot and cold mezzes (like baba ganoush and their savory falafels), the pide (Turkish flatbreads topped with assorted vegetables, meat, and spices) as well as one of their specialty cocktails (I loved the bubbly Mediterranean Lady).
2:30pm – Before boarding the train back to Paris, take one last stroll through the Parc de l’Orangerie, whose grounds are filled with an abundance of flora, fauna, and even flamingos! Wander through the free mini zoo, home to more than 48 different species, sip one final glass of Alsatian wine at the Jardin de l’Orangerie bar overlooking the lake, and take a peaceful walk through the garden’s elegant promenades.
- There are also plenty of day trips you can do from Paris.
- Or how about a staycation? Check out the Paris’ best new hotels.
- For more information about Strasbourg, head to visit.alsace.
Written by Diana Liu for HiP Paris. Looking to travel? Check out Haven In for a fabulous vacation rental in Paris, France or Italy. Looking to rent long-term or buy in France or Italy? Ask us! We can connect you to our trusted providers for amazing service and rates.