I took the night train to Paris in mid-June but due to construction we had to transfer in Strasbourg for the final leg. Since I love Flammkuchen and Alsace, why not spend the day in Strasbourg and take an afternoon TGV?
The train arrived at about 6:30 but I could stay in my compartment until 7:00 giving me time to wash-up and eat breakfast on the train. I checked my backpack at the station and was off.
I had a nice walk along the Canal du faux Redoubt through a mostly deserted city (early Sunday morning!) to La Petit France where the canal meets the Ill River. The Vauban Barrage (dam), a defensive dam/bridge (it contained cannons and could be used to create floods that made it hard to attack the city) spans the river here. It was built about 1690 after plans by the military architect Vauban. There’s a walkway on top with great views of the city.
Directly across from the Vauban Dam are three islands with historic buildings and a shady park. I walked around a bit on the islands then through the historic streets and squares originally filled with tanners and butchers, before continuing along the banks of the Ill River sharing the path with dog-walkers and joggers.
At Place du Corbeau there was a mouth-watering pastry shop called Sébastien which I should have gone in right away because when I returned the Pain du Chocolat were sold out! Sébastien is located on a very pleasant square with outdoor seating and seemed to be a local favourite.
The city’s excellent history museum, Musée historique de la ville de Strasbourg is directly across the river. It has exhibits explaining the city’s role in the Holy Roman Empire (with a try-on Knight helmet), its importance as a centre of trade (Strasbourg = “road city”), the invention of printing (Gutenberg lived in Strasbourg too), the French Revolution, the city’s back-and-forth between France and Germany (multiple times), industrialisation, two world wars and finally the European Union. I spent almost three hours and enjoyed every minute. The exhibit texts are in French, German and English.
Next up, Flammkuchen, that’s the German name, it’s called Tarte Flambé in French. You can get Flammkuchen almost everywhere but I chose Mama Bubbele for their organic (Bio) ingredients from animal friendly local farms (a map on the menu shows the farms).
Mama Bubbele – an old name for grandmother in Alsace, serves Flammkuchen with many toppings. Traditional Flammkuchen is a very thin dough spread with crème-fraiche, sliced onions and lardons (bits of bacon) which is baked in the oven for a few minutes and served on a large wooden spatula. I chose the traditional with Munster cheese and it was excellent. Munster is a local semi hard cheese that is extremely strong. To drink was a wonderful local organic summer pilsner beer.
I sat in the large guest garden on the square in front of the restaurant. Immediately I noticed several groups who ordered and ate one Flammkuchen at a time until everyone was happy. What a great idea! You’re always eating warm Flammkuchen, you can try several sorts, and everyone was having a great time. Mama Bubbele seemed especially good for this sort of spontaneous party. Service was friendly, efficient and English speaking. My Flammkuchen, beer and coffee cost 20 euros. I highly recommend Mama Bubbele.
After lunch I visited the Museum Œuvre Notre-Dame. The building is located across from Strasbourg Cathedral and was originally built as the headquarters for the Cathedral’s stone carving guild. Œuvre Notre-Dame means, loosely, workshop for (the Cathedral of) Our Lady. It contains art, sculptures and building elements (e.g., columns) from Strasbourg and the upper Rhine. The building itself is from the middle ages which makes it wonderful and there are delightful views over the Cathedral square. I was sorry I had to rush for my train to Paris.
Since I’d visited the Cathedral on an earlier trip, I could forego it this time, but it’s well worth visiting. I walked back through the city to the train station and boarded my TGV for Paris. But I look forward to visiting Strasbourg and the Alsace again soon.