Walk Through a Fairytale in Strasbourg and Colmar, France

If you are an Instagram regular or travel magazine afficionado, you may have seen images of towns in France that look like ‘Beauty and the Beast” took place there. Strasbourg and Colmar are two of these towns and on my recent Europe trip, they were among my favorite stops. I will tell you everything you need to know to visit Strasbourg and Colmar! I will spend half this post on food and wine. You’re welcome.

Strasbourg and Colmar Basics

Strasbourg and Colmar

Where is Strasbourg?

Strasbourg is in the Alsace region of France on the German border. Since the 1600’s the city had passed between German and French control with Germany returning the city to France in 1944 after WW2. Strasbourg is official seat of the European Parliament and the capital of the Grand Est region of France. Sounds pretty important, huh?  Strasbourg’s historic city centre, the Grade Ile (Grand Island), was classified as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1988.

Language:  French

Currency:  Euro. ATMS are everywhere

How To Get to Strasbourg?

Strasbourg is connected to Paris by the TGV (train de grande vitesse – high-speed train). The two cities are only 2 hours and 20 minutes apart. These trains also have “Le Wifi”.

More info here: www.sncf.com

Strasbourg is also easily accessed by train from any of the surrounding countries.  It’s approximately 4 hours from Brussels, Belgium, 2 hours from Luxembourg City, Luxembourg and 2 hours from Basel, Switzerland and just over 2 hours from Frankfurt, Germany.

Getting Around Strasbourg

As most of western Europe, there is great public transportation. The CTS runs six super-efficient tram lines, A through F.  The main tram hub is Homme de Fer. You can get all the timetables and routes here.  www.cts-strasbourg.eu

The Bus system doesn’t run through the center (The Grand Ile)

Tickets, valid on both buses and trams, are sold by bus drivers and ticket machines at tram stops and cost €1.70 (€3.30 return). Tickets are valid for 24 hours from the time of stamping. You can also buy tickets at tourist offices.

The Bus and Train run until about 1130pm to 1230am.

Strasbourg and Colmar

Things to Do in Strasbourg

Ile de Strasbourg

This is an island surrounded by rivers and the historical old part of the city. As I mentioned above it is the first time a UNESCO site was in a city center.

Strasbourg and Colmar

Petite France

This is a historic quarter of the city, located at the western end of the Grand Ile. At Petite France, the river Ill (a tributary of the Rhine) splits into several channels, flowing through the Middle Age dominion of tanners, millers, and fishermen.

Strasbourg and Colmar

Why is it called Petite France? Well, interesting that you ask. At one point the city was in Germany. This island in the center was where the Hospice des Vérolés (Hospice of the syphilitic) was built, to cure persons with syphilis, called Franzosenkrankheit (“French disease”) at the time in German. So there you have it. You had to ask!!

Notre Dame Cathedral

Strasbourg and Colmar

This impressive Gothic Cathedral can be seen from far away, even from the other side of the Rhine in Germany. Construction began in 1176 and took over 2 centuries to complete.  It was the world’s tallest building from 1647 to 1874, at 466 feet (142 meters)

It contains a tower with 368 steps to climb for an amazing view. There are lines in the high season, so go early or give yourself enough time for these lines.

Strasbourg and Colmar

Astronomical Clock

Inside Notre Dame Cathedral is an 18-meter astronomical clock, one of the largest in the world

Rohan Palace

Visit Strasbourg
photo by ShareAlike 4.0 International

This is the former residence of the cardinals and prince-bishops of the House of Rohan, an old French noble family.  It is considered a masterpiece of the French Baroque style. Currently, it houses three museums, the Museum of Fine Arts, The Museum of Decorative Arts and the Archaeological Museum.

Cave Historique des Hospices

The historic wine cellar of Strasbourg Hospital dates back to 1395. Here you can see a wine press dating from the beginning of the 17th century and a barrel that is still filled with the wine from the year 1472! I’d give anything to taste that!!  Why is there a wine cellar in a hospital, you may ask? Apparently, wines or the vineyards were donated during centuries by the patients as a form of payment for a quality medical service. Wine and health have always had quite an interesting relationship, huh?

Just Wander The Beautiful Streets

Strasbourg and Colmar

Getting real here folks. Don’t go here armed with a list of things to do. That’s why I’m not even going to say much more (other than food to eat). You will see what you need to see simply by walking around the old city and getting lost. To me, this is the best way to visit Strasbourg.

Cafes in Strasbourg

If you don’t spend time in cafes, did you really go to France? I think not! Here are a few I happened upon and really liked but you really can’t go wrong at any of them!!

Odyssey Cafe

This cute cafe has free wifi and you can choose to sit in the outdoor area or the cozy indoor area. The waitresses were really friendly and explained the types of regional wines to me. I Each glass was 3 to 4 euro which I thought was a great deal.  I tried the Riesling and the Sylvaner, which are the least sweet wine of the region. FYI the sweetest is Gewurtztraminer followed by Pinot Gris. Wine knowledge is life, my friends.

Le Barbu   (Rue Sainte-Barbe)

Great cafe to get away from crowds and have coffee or Moroccan mint green tea and a delicious homemade quiche with honestly the best quiche crust I’ve ever had (and I’ve had many). The tarte aux pommes looked incredible as well.

Tea House (Salon de The) 

I had a particularly nice Tarte L’Oignon at this cafe near the Notre Dame Cathedral

Le Kouglehopf 

Outdoor restaurant near a canal with nice selection of local specialties

Day Trip to Colmar

Strasbourg and Colmar

This is a smaller and even more fairytale-esque town, just 70km south of Strasbourg. You can take the local train, the TER Alsace.  It costs 25 euro roundtrip and takes about 30 minutes.

Colmar’s old town has cobblestone streets lined with early Renaissance buildings and medieval buildings. The Gothic 13th-century, Eglise Saint-Martin church stands on central Place de la Cathédrale. The city is also on the Alsace Wine Route.

Petite Venice

Any area of any town that has canals in the world is apparently named after Venice and Colmar is no exception.


Visit Strasbourg

Check out the winery at Cave Wolfberger.  Maybe take a canal boat. ride.  But mostly you’re going to walk around oohing and ahhing over the adorable architecture and take zillions of photos.


Visit Strasbourg

Foods to Try in Alsace

Tarte Flambee


This classic Alsacienne dish is like a very thin pizza or maybe think of it as a crunchy crepe…the classic has cheese and lardon (ham-bacon type substance) but salmon and onion often available.

Tarte Oignon

Basically a savory creamy piece of pie full of caramelized onions, sometimes with cheese or lardon.  Probably best enjoyed when not in a romantic situation!



These delectable dumplings are common in Germany as well. I especially like them with this creamy cheesy mushroom sauce. Not for the faint of heart!

Maison Alsacienne De Biscuiterie 

This quaint biscuit (cookie) shop is in both towns. How lucky can you get!  I couldn’t get enough of these crunchy buttery pieces of perfection.  A small tin is 10 euro and you can choose which cookies you have in your tin. My only regret is not getting more!!



You can’t go to France and not try cheese. You just can’t! In Strasbourg, I found a particularly nice cheese shop called La Cloche Au Fromage,  where they explained many of the types available. You can get just a small amount of many, find a bakery, some wine, and have a little feast.


This region of France is a little slice of heaven.If you have time in the regions you can visit some beautiful tiny villages called Riquewihr or Eguishem.  Everything here is sprinkled with fairy dust. Aesthetic beauty, history, food, wine…you can get your fill of all of it when you visit Strasbourg!

Did I miss something awesome to do here? Let me know in the comments!

Where is your favorite fairy-tale destination? 

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About The Author

Cherene Saradar

Cherene is a travel expert with 30 years of experience in over 100 countries and 7 continents. She has traveled solo to over 50 countries. She is also a nurse anesthesiologist with over 20 years of healthcare experience. Her passions include wildlife travel and visiting wine regions of the world.


  1. sev | 24th Oct 17

    If you come to Alsace send me an email and I will give you some wineries to visit with great dry wines ! I love Alsace, Alsace wines and the Alsace Wine route offers a lot of marvellous walks in the vineyards. And a lot of good restaurants !!

  2. sev | 23rd Oct 17

    there is a problem : WOLFBERGER and not wolerger (the F and the B disappeared).

  3. sev | 23rd Oct 17

    I think you want to talk about Wolfberger winery and not Wolerger ? For your information there are a lot of dry wines in Alsace and even fantastic red wines (some of them are very good like the wines from Burgundy). If you want some advices (I’m not a winegrower but I’m fond of good wines and in Alsace there are great wines often not known enough).

    • csaradar | 23rd Oct 17

      Oops don’t know what happened there! Thanks for letting me know. I would love to discover more Alsatian wines someday!:)

  4. Alicia | 1st Oct 17

    I think you just helped me plan my next trip – Luxembourg to Strasbourg to Basel! lol seriously tho, I’ve spent a lot of time in western France and none in eastern, so Strasbourg is high up on my bucket list! Thanks for sharing this post, it’s informative and the pics are BEAUTIFUL!!

    • csaradar | 4th Oct 17

      You’re very welcome! It’s so easy to zip around by train there. I went from Bruge to Brussels to Lux then Strasbourg then Basel. So easy and all wonderful places.

  5. Michelle | 1st Oct 17

    Can I just live in that palace and eat the tart everyday? That would be amazing!! I love the German influence of the town, and you are right, I expect Belle to pop out singing at any minute. LOL!

    • csaradar | 1st Oct 17

      I could totally live here too!

  6. Helena | 1st Oct 17

    I loved the train information cause never realised Strasbourg and Colman were THAT close. Already got a train journey in mind (slowly becoming my favourite way to travel!). Really, really good article and almost made me think that maybe I like wine after all ?

    • csaradar | 1st Oct 17

      Haha the wine here is great for people who like sweeter wine. I LOVE train travel and this region perfect for it.

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