WALLPAPER* CITY GUIDE, 2009
With its Christmas market, timber-framed houses and gingerbread shops, Strasbourg is often dismissed as some dusty setting fit for a Brothers Grimm fairy tale. But the Alsatian capital is much more than that. Fiercely attached to its unique local traditions, laws and
dialect, it considers itself as the centre of Europe. A consummate mix of the Gallic and the Germanic, it’s a seductive blend of café terraces and cosy wine bars, of elegant boulevards and medieval alleys; a gemütlich city full of bons vivants where Goethe met his first love and Rouget de Lisle wrote ‘La Marseillaise’.
After hundreds of years of being fought over by two powerful empires (it changed hands four times in the 20th century), Strasbourg has kept the best of both worlds. Only two hours and 20 minutes away from Paris on the TGV, it couldn’t be more different to the French capital, with its relaxed ambience and friendly locals. Efficient public transport – the trams and cycle paths are the country’s best – zips you to modern architecture and
leading cultural institutions, such as the Musée d’Art Moderne et Contemporain (see p028) and Théâtre National de Strasbourg (see p041), in minutes, while the characterful city centre, dotted with Michelin-starred restaurants, can be easily navigated on foot. There’s enough here to keep you entertained for weeks, especially if you’re planning to explore the surrounding countryside (see p096) and its excellent vineyards and first-rate museums.