Written by Hady Aly
You’re probably thinking that the French countryside has nothing but small towns and some villages. Well, that’s not the case here in Strasbourg. It’s been over a year and a half since I arrived, and I can tell you that I didn’t cover all of its corners. Not only is it the capital of the Grand-Est (previously Alsace) province, but it is also the siege of the European Parliament (Yeah, Brexit was discussed here in Strasbourg!). Together with Luxembourg and Brussels, they represent the de facto capital cities of the European Union.
Strasbourg is a frontier city at the French border with Germany. On the German side, you would find the German city Kehl. People are used to jumping between both cities via the Tramway without any checkpoints. It takes you about 5 minutes to get to Kehl. Moreover, Strasbourg people are lucky, they get to buy their food from Germany (because it’s cheaper, no taxes are imposed on nutrition in Germany unlike in France) and get back home in half an hour!
In addition to that, Strasbourg is a multi-cultural city due to the fact that Germans and French used to dispute over the Alsace province. So, don’t be surprised when you get into a French-speaking society with Prussian-styled buildings, like the Palais du Rhin in Neustadt, a German district which was recently confirmed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Concerning the weather, Strasbourg can be a little bit unsteady. The sun may rise and shine at the beginning of the day, but it can begin snowing by noon! (Don’t worry, this only happens in winter) However in the summer, it gets really hot and you can actually see temperature rising to 35°C (95°F). So, whenever you get this weather, head to the city centre and get into a cruise tour where you can explore the entire city floating on the Rhine River. So yeah, Strasbourg is the French Venice.
And the “Oh là là” doesn’t end here. In spring, pink blossoms flourish and weather becomes moderate. You can hang out with your friends and do outdoor activities without having to put on a heavy waterproof jacket. In front of the civil hospital, you can take a walk with your dog or feed the ducks in the Parc de Heyritz. It’s a wonderful place where you can contemplate nature and enjoy reading a book. You may also find Aerobics and Yoga classes that are widely exercised in the open air.
Speaking about transportation, Strasbourg is covered by 7 Tramway lines and tens of bus lines. The Compagnie des Transports Strasbourgeois (CTS) is the operator of the urban public transport. They have great deals for tourists. You can subscribe for the usage of all Tramway and bus lines for 250 euros annually, which I think is a great deal as it’s an essential service you will use in your daily life.
To sum up, Strasbourg is a spectacular city where you can enjoy doing your higher studies. It’s ranked as the best student city in France (not Paris, but Strasbourg!). You get the chance to meet international students from the four corners of the world. If you like visiting spectacular landmarks, both French and German, learning French language and to be surrounded by Neo-Renaissance-styled buildings, then be my guest!