Despite World War I and World War II damage, much remains of Old Strasbourg, including covered bridges and towers from its former fortifications, plus many 15th- and 17th-century dwellings with painted wooden fronts and carved beams.
The city’s traffic hub is place Kléber, dating from the 15th century. Sit here with a tankard of Alsatian beer and get to know Strasbourg. The bronze statue in the center is of J. B. Kléber, born in Strasbourg in 1753; he became one of Napoleon’s most noted generals and was buried under the monument. Apparently, his presence offended the Nazis, who removed the statue in 1940. This Alsatian bronze was restored to its proper place in 1945.
From here, take rue des Grandes-Arcades southeast to place Gutenberg, one of the city’s oldest squares. The central statue (1840), by David d’Angers, is of Gutenberg, who perfected his printing press in Strasbourg in the winter of 1436 and 1437. The former town hall, now the Hôtel du Commerce, was built in 1582 and is one of the most significant Renaissance buildings in Alsace. The neighborhoods within a few blocks of the city’s Notre Dame Cathedral are loaded with medieval references and historical charm.
La Petite France is the most interesting quarter of Strasbourg. A virtual island, it’s surrounded by scenic canals on four sides, and its 16th-century houses reflect in the waters of the Ill River. In “Little France,” old roofs with gray tiles have sheltered families for ages, and the cross-beamed facades with roughly carved rafters are in typical Alsatian style. For a good view, walk along rue des Moulins, branching off from rue du Bain-aux-Plantes.
Strasbourg by Boat — Floating through Strasbourg on a boat excursion on the Ill River from the Palais de Rohan is one of the best ways to see the city. The 70-minute cruises cost 13€ for adults and 7.50€ for children and includes a free audioguide in various languages. From March to early November, rides depart at 30-minute intervals daily between 9:30am and 9pm, with hours extended to 10pm May to September. In November, departures are at 10:30am and 1, 2:30, and 4pm; from December to February, rides depart every 30 minutes from 9:30am to 5pm, and in July and August an additional cruise is at 8:45pm to view the spectacular sound-and-light show (15€ for adults and 10€ for children). For information, call Batorama, 9 rue de Nantes (www.batorama.fr; tel. 03-88-84-13-13).
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.