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Our phrase book really got a workout here in Strasbourg where French and German cultures don’t so much blend as collide with such force that you’re never sure which country you’re in. Historically, Strasbourg has seen more than its share of ownership and it shows in the architecture, the food and wine, and the language. We used sign language, alot.

We stayed in the district called La Petite France, a charming neighbourhood filled with halftimbered houses on narrow cobble stone streets lined with shops and restaurants. This is definitely a walking area. We stayed at the beautiful Regent Petite France in the center of it all and right on the banks of the River Ill. At our request for typical local food, the staff directed us to L’Ami Schutz, a well-known bierstub only a block away. We could smell the food before we got there, and boy did it smell good.

Strasbourg, is known for its food (among other things), specifically the choucroute (or sauerkraut in German). I let Steve order the choucroute plate as I am still traumatized by having to eat vats of it as a kid. The plate came piled high with meat and potatoes (which I re-arranged for my perverse pleasure, and his regret) all on top of a steaming mound of sauerkraut. It smelled so good that I just had to taste it….it was incredible.

Another great dish in the area is called Tarte Flambee, a thin pizza-like creation covered in cream, onions and bacon and served on a wooden board. We heard that only restaurants who make their tarte flambees in wood fired ovens would truly render an authentic dish, but try as we might, we couldn’t find anyone who still used wood fired ovens. We even got directions to “the best tarte flambee” in the neighbouring towns but the restaurants were either closed (August holiday), or had converted to gas ovens. Regardless, the ones we tried were delicious.

There is so much to see and do in Strasbourg. It’s the cultural capital, the food capital, the historical capital, the seat of European Parliament, home to the Gutenberg printing press, the beautiful (and huge!) Strasbourg Cathedral.

You can spend your days shopping, eating, drinking, or learn the history while taking a river cruise. And that’s just the city. If you want to explore further, rent a car and spend some time exploring the wine route. As far as white wine goes, Alsation wines are hard to beat.