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Strasbourg, France

My husband and I just returned from a wonderful 7 day trip to Strasbourg, France. I have to disagree with Rick when he states on his blog about UNESCO World Heritage Sites, "Colmar beats anything Strasbourg has to offer." We spent a day in Colmar and it made a lovely day trip from Strasbourg but, in my humble opinion, Strasbourg makes a better base for a trip to Alsace for these reasons:
1. more museums and other things to do and see (i.e. Cathedral, Opera House);
2. more restaurants;
3. more convenient access to day trips from the train station, which has more trains than Colmar.
We flew direct on Lufthansa from Tampa to Frankfurt, then took the Lufthansa shuttle bus from the Frankfurt airport to the Strasbourg train station. The bus took about 2 1/4 hours and cost about $100 round trip per person. We spent four 1/2 days solely in Strasbourg--explored the Cathedral, including viewing the astronomical clock and climbing the 341 steps to the platform at the top of the Cathedral; visited six museums (we love museums and spend about twice as much time in them as other people), including enjoying the permanent Gustav Dore exhibit at the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (which Rick does not mention in his 2014 guide book); took a boat tour; took a mini-train tour; saw a Wagner opera at the elegant Opera House; spent a day antique and stamp shopping at the flea market on Wednesday; and enjoyed many meals, both restaurant and picnics, and delicious Alsatian wine and beer.
We purchased a 3-day Strasbourg Pass at the TI. This is well worth the money if you will be in Strasbourg for at least two days. The pass costs about 18 euros and I later calculated that I would have spent over 32 euros without it. It included a boat trip; a viewing of the astronomical clock in the Cathedral; entrance to climbing the steps of the Cathedral to the platform; entrance to one museum and half price on a second museum; a trip on the mini-train tour; plus some other discounts that we did not use.
We then spent a day on a small group trip (7 people) with the company Ophorus on their tour called "Pearls of Alsace." This was a great sampling of Alsace that included a walking tour and wine tasting in Colmar, a brief visit to Eguisheim and Riquewier, and a tour of Haut Koenigsburg castle. Our guide was knowledgable and personable and I highly recommend this tour. The two companies that Rick recommends in his 2014 France guide book for tours of Alsace are both out of business.
We returned to Colmar on our last day in order to see the museums there. Took a 30 minute easy train ride from Strasbourg to Colmar and enjoyed the Unterlinden museum, the Church of St. Martin, the Dominican Church, the Bartholdi museum, and dinner there. It certainly is a lovely town but we did not need more than one day there and I believe Strasbourg makes a better home base.
Lisa from Tampa

Posted by
15686 posts

Well said, Lisa.

I'll add my experiences.

I spent a day each in Strasbourg and Colmar on a whirlwind trip to European Christmas markets and fell in love with Colmar but I was much less taken with Strasbourg. I would definitely recommend staying in Colmar in December and day-tripping to Strasbourg.

Then last June, after 4 days in Burgundy, I drove to Eguisheim (3 nights), a tiny village just a stone's throw from Colmar. I found driving quite easy in Alsace (especially compared to Burgundy). I spent 2.5 days exploring the charming villages, toured Haut Koenigsburg and had a couple really fun hours at nearby Monkey Mountain with a colony of Barbary apes (which made up for skipping Gibraltar when I was in Spain☺). I went to Colmar one afternoon, walked around for 2-3 hours and it was just as I remembered it, but I really felt I didn't want to stay longer. It's a longer drive to the main road from the historic center of Colmar, which is a sizable city, than from Eguisheim. There were several good restaurants in Eguisheim; after freshening up, I walked the 2-3 blocks from my B&B (double room en suite for €38/night) to dinner, had as much to drink as wanted and walked home.

I returned the car when I got to Strasbourg for the last 2 nights of the trip and I'd happily have stayed another day or two. I spent hours at the Alsatian Museum and took an excellent "free" walking tour that began in front of the Cathedral at 2 p.m. The guide was entertaining and knowledgeable. I splurged (I'm a budget traveler) and stayed at the Mercure Centre. A spacious double room was €100/night + €9 for an excellent breakfast buffet with rooftop outdoor seating.

I didn't know about the Lufthansa shuttle bus, even though I was flying Lufthansa from Frankfurt. I took the train to Frankfurt, which was a little cheaper than the bus (€29 train ticket, €4.55 train to the airport). For another €5, I put my bag in a locker and spent a couple hours in Frankfurt.

Posted by
11613 posts

I completely agree with you, Lisa. Colman was lovely, but Strasbourg had everything I wanted in Alsace. I was there for four nights, could have stayed longer.

Posted by
27 posts

Chani,
Thank you for your comments. Where did you stay in Eguisheim? We were there for about 1 1/2 hours on the "Pearls of Alsace" tour with Ophorus and loved it. Had lunch at Cafe A Edel by the fountain in the small main square. Asparagus was in season so I had a delicious quiche a l'Asperge. There were hardly any tourists, especially compared to Riquewihr and Colmar. If I were to go back I would like to stay there and travel the Route du Vin from there.
When taking the train from Frankfurt to Strasbourg, how long did it take you and did you have to change trains?
Lisa

Posted by
15686 posts

Hi Lisa,

I stayed here. Breakfast was "tired" (yesterday's pastries and sliced bread) and skimpy - but at her prices, you can afford to eat out. All the rooms (5) have private baths, but 2 of them aren't connected to the rooms, you have to cross the hall to get to them. There was a small fridge and a microwave in the hall. I would definitely stay there again. I loved the peace and quiet in the evenings.

The train was non-stop to Frankfurt (not the airport), a 2-hour journey. I'm always anxious when I'm not close to my departure airport, so I took an early afternoon train (I had a 9.30 pm flight home). I would probably do it again, instead of the shuttle, just because I think the trains are less likely to have delays than the buses.

Aren't you wishing you could go back tomorrow?

Posted by
734 posts

Lisa,
I was so happy to read your views. We will be spending 2 nights in the Alsace region after our 8 day BoMSV tour and I am still holding reservations for a hotel in Colmar and Strasbourg. I felt the same as you, that getting around the region would be more convenient in Strasbourg so I was leaning toward making that our home base for 2 nights and visiting Colmar on a day trip. I think I'm going to cancel the Colmar hotel now!

Posted by
215 posts

I enjoyed reading this review and plan to go to Strasbourg the first week of November. Is there a direct train from Paris CDG? I am exploring that right now.

But my real question is where has anyone stayed in Strasbough for 3 of us at a good value and nice breakfast? I want to be in the city Centre and it appears the train station is right there in the Centre ?

I have a lot more research to do but my first priority is finding my B&B or hotel and sounds like you may know.

Thank you,

Kathy

Posted by
11613 posts

I also stayed in Strasbourg and daytripped to Colmar. I loved Strasbourg! I wish I had had more time there (three nights, should have been 4-5), but at a different hotel (unpleasant desk staff).

Posted by
3210 posts

Kathy,
There are trains that go directly from CDG to Strasbourg. The train station is not in the town center. You want to choose a hotel on the island. I stayed at the Hotel Rohan on Rue du Maroquin which was comfortable, reasonably priced and convenient to all sites. It's located about a hundred feet from the cathedral. The TI is on the same square and I bought a tourist pass that was worth the price. They also have a nice audio guide available. For authentic Alsatian charcroutte, try Restaurant Au Pont Corbeau at 21 Quai Saint-Nicolas. Another great restaurant (reservations at lunch or dinner since it's small) is Porcus at 6 Place du Temple Neuf.

Posted by
3342 posts

Thanks for posting. I really enjoyed our brief stay in Strasbourg - we took the same "Pearls of Alsace" tour with Ophorus. Just reading your words brought back many happy memories. Hopefully someday we can spend more time there and in Colmar as well.

Posted by
3342 posts

Kathy - We stayed at the Hotel Hannong last October and I think it would tick all your boxes. It was the cheapest place we stayed on our trip and the breakfast was outstanding, not as good as the Bauer Bloch's breakfast in Munich, but pretty darn near. I loved that it was an easy walk from the train station. Our room was huge with a big modern bathroom with a luxurious tub and a separate shower. The wine bar looked appealing, but we didn't have time to check it out. Plus, the front desk staff were uniformly nice and their restaurant recommendations were spot on. Sorry I can't remember what it cost, but I think it was less than 130 Euros. If you book online the breakfast is half price.