Encircled by the River Ill and the Canal du Faux Rempart, the Grande Île or “Big Island,” is the UNESCO–listed historic center of Strasbourg and home to the majority of the city’s top attractions. The islet serves as the prime focus of sightseeing tours and hosts the city’s world-famous Christmas market during the festive season.
Go for a private guided walking tour of Grande Île, starting at Cathedral of Notre Dame, the city’s most iconic landmark, where you can take in views of the city from the 216-foot (66-meter) viewing platform. Next door, the Palais Rohan (Rohan Palace) hosts the Archaeological Museum, the Museum of Decorative Arts, the Museum of Fine Arts, and the Galerie Robert Heitz, while the ornate Maison Kammerzell is a fine example of a half-timbered medieval townhouse. Make your way to the picturesque La Petite France district, where the River Ill feeds a network of canalways crossed by the Vauban Dam and the historic Covered Bridges.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Grande Île is an ideal spot for travelers of all ages, especially photography buffs.
- The area is wheelchair accessible, though narrow and cobblestone streets might be challenging.
- Go to Petite France for a meal in the most atmospheric corner of the island.
How to Get There
Grande Île is the historic core of Strasbourg and is surrounded by the River Ill and the Canal du Faux Rempart. The best way to get around the area is walking. From Paris take the high-speed TGV train, which takes about 2 hours.
When to Get There
Strasbourg’s historic center is open year-round. Strasbourg is a magical place to visit any time of year. The peak season is June through August, when the city hosts a number of events outdoors including the music festival and the film festival, and during the Christmas holiday when the city is festooned in lights and decorations and people from all over visit the Christmas market.
Cathedral of Notre Dame
The crown jewel of the island is the UNESCO-listed Cathedral of Notre Dame, the second most-visited cathedral in France. With its 465-foot (142-meter) spire and dramatic red façade sculpted from Vosges sandstone, the church was the tallest building in Europe for many centuries.xa0Highlights include 12th-century stained glass windows, the magnificent 18-meter-tall astronomical clock, and a climb up the 300-step spiral staircase to the viewing platform for a view over the city.
- Kamerzell House (Maison Kammerzell)
- Place Gutenberg
- Christmas Market (Christkindelsmärik)
- Rohan Palace (Palais Rohan)
- La Petite France
- St. Thomas Church (Eglise St. Thomas)
- Strasbourg Cathedral of Notre Dame (Cathédrale Notre Dame de Strasbourg)
- Alsatian Museum (Musée Alsacien)
- Tanners House (Maison des Tanneurs)
- Strasbourg Covered Bridges (Ponts Couverts)
- Vauban Dam (Barrage Vauban)
- Orangerie Park (Parc de l'Orangerie)
- Fort of Mutzig (Feste Kaiser Wilhelm II)
- Château du Haut-Koenigsbourg