Capital of Alsace, France, Strasbourg is mostly known for hosting European institutions. However, it is also a very nice place to visit, especially for its old town. The city itself is one of the 9 biggest cities in France, with a population of about 450,000 people if you include the surroundings. Part of the conurbation is located on the eastern bank of the Rhine, in Kehl, Germany.
Strasbourg is the seat of the Council of Europe and the European Court of Human Rights and is one of the seats of the European Parliament.
Strasbourg International Airport (SXB) is located south-west of the city at Entzheim, with domestic as well as international flights (but not as many as a real European capital should have...). There are several flights a day to and from Paris. http://www.strasbourg.aeroport.fr
Buses take travellers to the southern hub of the urban transport network (Baggersee station), which is connected to the A-line tramway (direct line to the town center). A tram-train line running directly from the airport to the town center is planned to open in 2008.
The railway station is located in the western town center, with connections to the tram system and with buses and many taxis waiting outside (to the left of the station forecourt).
You can reach Strasbourg by various highways:
from the west (Paris, Benelux) taking the A4 highway (E25). About 4 hours from Paris
from the south (Switzerland, Lyon), taking the A35 highway (E25). About 5 hours from Lyon
from the north and east (Germany), taking the A5 highway (E35).
40 kilometers of tramway lines run through the city.
The tourist office recommends a variety of walking tours through the town (Middle Ages, Renaissance, Modern and Contemporary) and bike tours through the faubourgs (Neudorf ans Neuhof).
Water-bus tours are available near the Palais des Rohans (south of the cathedral). Those tours (about 45 min.) run around the town center and the European district.
Gothic cathedral, built between 1176 and 1439, with a 142 meter tower (the highest cathedral tower in France)
Maison Kammerzell (XVth century) (to the left of the front of the cathedral)
Petite France district (XIIth - XVIth century)
Palais des Rohans, french style palace, built after the acquisition of the town by the French (1681)
Stockfeld, garden city built in the early XXth century in the south-east of the Neuhof (southern part of the town) (bus line 24)
European district (bus lines 6, 30, 72) :
Council of Europe's seat (Le Palais de l'Europe) (1977), built by Henry Bernard
European Court of Human Rights (1995), built by Richard Rogers
European Parliament (1999), built by Architecture Studio
B-line tramway terminus at Hoenheim (northern conurbation) (2001), built by the contemporary achitect Zaha Hadid.
The Christmas market. Many places, but the most important and beautiful are place Broglie and place de la cathédrale, although they are crowded... The best place to drink hot wine (vin chaud) and to eat Christmas cookies (Brédalas).
Alsacian specialities are numerous and can be eaten in many traditional restaurants, in the city or in the neighbourghood.
Alsacian pork-butcher's meat
Flamenküche or flams (tartes flambées in French)
Baekehof, beef and pork stew cooked, with potatoes and carrots, usually served for two or more persons
Fleischnackas : mixed beef meat presented like spirals and served with salads
Au petit bois vert, in the Petite France district : well cooked flams and alsacian specialities in a small room with smily waiters. The cooker usually comes at the end of the evening. Great terrace during the summer under a big tree on the bank of the river. No reservation, mid-range prices. 1, Quai de la Bruche.
Chez Yvonne, in the Carré d'Or district, near the cathedral. Usually frequented by Jacques Chirac, when he comes in Strasbourg, because of it's well known tête de veau (veal head cooked). More expensive. Rue du Sanglier.
La Gallia, the oldest university restaurant of France, in a 19th century building, built by the Germans (this explains the ceiling's decoration, with the 2nd Reich armoiries). It is the last university restaurant of France that is managed by students. Not a culinary triumph, but really cheaper prices. Quai du Maire Dietrich, near the Gallia tramway station (C-line).
Beer : Alsace is the first beer producing region of France and Strasbourg has many breweries. Most known are Kronenbourg and Fischer, whose factories can be free visited, with free drinks at the end.
Alsacian white wine : usually drunk with alsacian food, but also with fish
There are many hotels around the station, especially in the place de la Gare and in the rue du Maire Kuss. Most of Strasbourg's hotels are fully booked during the Christmas Market period (December) and when the EU parliament is in session.
Local cellphone service is mainly provided by Orange, SFR and Bouygues Télécoms.
There are many cyber-cafés on the quai des Pêcheurs, that stay open fairly late (B-line tramway, Gallia station).