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The best way to visit Strasbourg is on foot, you’ll miss things otherwise and this is a city that is full of things you shouldn’t miss. Colourful streets lined with half-timbered houses, winding alleys of shops and restaurants and elegant courtyards. Fairy tale pretty in some parts such as Petite France, architecturally splendid in others, the Neustadt (new town district) for instance, and friendly, funky and fun in areas like the Place d’Austerlitz and its surroundings. You can rack up the footsteps here, though it’s a small big city. But that’s not a bad thing as the calories you burn can be replaced at so many restaurants that are seriously scrumptious – I promise you, you don’t come to Strasbourg and start a diet! What to see and do in Strasbourg Petite France If you love towns with medieval halftimbered houses painted the colours of a pastel rainbow – you’ll be in seventh heaven in Strasbourg’s UNESCO listed Petite France district on the Grand Ile where canals cascade to create a stunning landscape. In the 16th century people suffering from syphilis were sent here to isolate them from the mainland and it was considered quite a poor district until the late 1980s. Now UNESCO listed, it’s a major attraction and perfect for a stroll and sitting at a terrace watching the world go by and for shopping, with many of the former wash houses now restaurants and quirky stores. It’s easy to spend a half day wandering, or even a whole day if you like to take your time and explore in detail and relax along the way.
The Cathedral of Notre-Dame The number 1 attraction in Strasbourg is the red stone Cathedral with around four million visitors a year. You don’t need to be a cathedral fan for this one, the sheer monumental size and exquisite detail is mind boggling. The cathedral is, to quote a cliché, breath-taking and features amongst its medieval stained glass windows, a 14m high rose window. It was the tallest man made building in France until the 19th century and though it was closed when I went, you can climb the 329 steps in one of the towers for a bird's eye view over the city and as far as the Vosges Mountains. There’s an astronomical clock which lures the crowds every day, especially at 12.30 pm when a parade of automaton figurines, including the apostles, takes place. Lit up at night on a cobbled square lined with shops and restaurants, it really is eye-poppingly incredible. Boat ride Hire an electric boat and see Strasbourg from its watery arteries at your own pace. Or, if you’d like to relax and take in the sights, including the swanky buildings of the European Parliament, without effort, join a guided boat ride with Batorama. On a sunny day, book the open top boat if you can.
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