In My Viewfinder: Stunning Strasbourg Before Setting Sail

Strasbourg’s historic city center, the Grande Ile (Grand Island), was classified a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1988, the first time such an honor was placed on an entire city center. © 2012 Ralph Grizzle

Barge cruising or river cruising from Strasbourg, France? Be sure to add a couple of days before or after your cruise to explore this lovely city. I spent an evening cycling euphorically around stunning Strasbourg.

The city ranks as one of the most beautiful I’ve ever visited, and fortunately, I have had lots of time to explore. I arrived by TGV train from Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, an easy 2.5-hour journey from Terminal 2D to Gare de Strasbourg.

After wheeling my luggage for a couple of blocks, I paid under €2 to catch a modern tram to Lycée Kléber, where I wheeled my luggage for another couple blocks and checked in to the Hilton Strasbourg.

Rates were remarkably low: €65 (less than US$80) for a seventh-floor room facing the old town and Strasbourg Cathedral. The Hilton features an Executive Lounge, adding to the remarkable value. I stayed for five nights.

A great rate and a great view at the Strasbourg Hilton. © 2012 Ralph Grizzle

The most interesting this I’ve learned about Strasbourg so far: An incident known as the Dancing Plague of 1518 struck around 400 people who were afflicted with dancing mania and danced constantly for weeks, most of them eventually dying from heart attack, stroke or exhaustion.

Can’t wait to explore Strasbourg tomorrow and Sunday before departing the city on European Waterways’ Panache for a luxury barge cruise. More on that to come. Stay tuned!

One of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever visited, Strasbourg. © 2012 Ralph Grizzle
Flowers in Petite France. © 2012 Ralph Grizzle
From Petite France, the Strasbourg Cathedral. © 2012 Ralph Grizzle
Strasbourg has many bridges, as well as canal cruises for sightseeting. The city itself has been a bridge of unity between France and Germany for centuries. © 2012 Ralph Grizzle
Strasbourg is home to the Petite-France district or Gerberviertel (“tanners’ district”) alongside the River Ill. © 2012 Ralph Grizzle
Described by Victor Hugo as a “gigantic and delicate marvel”, and by Goethe as a “sublimely towering, wide-spreading tree of God”, the cathedral is visible far across the plains of Alsace and can be seen from as far off as the Vosges Mountains or the Black Forest on the other side of the Rhine. © 2012 Ralph Grizzle
At 142 meters (466 feet), Strasbourg Cathedral was the world’s tallest building from 1647 to 1874, when it was surpassed by St. Nikolai’s Church, Hamburg. Today the Cathedral is the sixth-tallest church in the world. © 2012 Ralph Grizzle
Although considerable parts of the cathedral are still in Romanesque architecture, it is widely considered to be among the finest examples of high, or late, Gothic architecture. © 2012 Ralph Grizzle
Strasbourg Cathedral was completed in 1439 (though only the north tower was built) and became the world’s tallest building, surpassing the Great Pyramid of Giza. © 2012 Ralph Grizzle
With its proximity to the Rhine River, Strasbourg is a destination for many river cruisers. © 2012 Ralph Grizzle
The Parc de la Citadelle is built around impressive remains of a 17th-century fortress. © 2012 Ralph Grizzle
Strasbourg is the official seat of the European Parliament. © 2012 Ralph Grizzle
Strasbourg is the official seat of the European Parliament. © 2012 Ralph Grizzle
In addition to the Strasbourg Cathedral there are several other medieval churches that have survived the many wars and destructions that have plagued the city. © 2012 Ralph Grizzle

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