Strasbourg Guide

A guide to bits and bobs around Strasbourg, circa 2011-2012

  • Shopping
  • Transport
  • Restaurants
  • Christian Activities
  • Tourist Stuff
  • Random French vocab
  • Scotland -> Strasbourg travel
  • Law classes at the university

Shopping

Markets

Tuesday / Saturday – Boulevard de la Marne

  • Just after Observatoire
  • Good for cheap, good fruit and veg

Wednesday / Friday

  • Just after Republique
  • More touristy

Supermarkets

Lidl‘s your best bet for cheapness; there’s one just next to Rivétoile. Water at 17c per 2l (I remain to be convinced of the apparent fact that tap water is safe/nice to drink here), and the nicest baguettes in town for 35c.

Simply is good too, it’s all over the place. Don’t bother getting a card though, it takes AGES to save up points!

Dia is small and expensive, as is the Coop.

Eleclerc is in Rivétoile’s basement and is the biggest supermarket of centralish Strasbourg. While more expensive than Lidl, it’s bigger and benefits from offering a 10% discount on own-brand products on a Tuesday if you take 2 minutes to sign up for a card.

There is an Auchun hypermarché at Baggersee, but it’s actually really expensive, and doesn’t seem to have much other than what Eleclerc has.

Shopping Shopping

Le Léopard, down from Gallia, is the best charity/vintage shop I’ve ever been in. Quality wool and fur coats among other items, and cheap for what you’re getting!

Stradivarius is roughly equivalent to Topshop.

If you’re craving Britishness, there is a New Look in Place des Halles shopping centre (the price conversions are crazy though, making everything incredibly expensive). Also a Hollister stinks up a whole section of Rivétoile… try to keep a straight face as you’re welcomed with a “Hey, What’s Up?” in a really French accent.

Transport

Get a bike. Either rent a Vélhop or buy a used one and sell on at the end of the year.  (leboncoin.fr is a great place to look – equivalent of gumtree). Seriously, no hills and little rain (though it’s heavy when it does come on); it’s the perfect way to get about.

Sinon, you’ll be using the trams a lot, so get a subscription – in 2011/12, this is only 22€/calendar month for students, and covers buses too, so not too expensive.

If you want to explore Alsace, a group train ticket is 30€ for a day for up to 5 of you; ditto a Badem-Wurtemberg day ticket if you want to go to Freiburg and/or Baden-Baden, but for that you need to start in Kehl.

Restaurants

L’épicerie near Place Kléber is lovely if you can get a seat. A “tartine” (stuff grilled on bread) bar, it’s really reasonable and really yummy, but also rather small so not suitable for large groups.

Au Brasseur, near Gallia, does tarte flambées for 3€ during its “Happy Hour” of 17h-18h30. Not the best, but very cheap!

Flam’s near the Cathedral also does cheap tarte flambées, and also has a variety of sweet ones on offer. Depending on topping and if you decide to go for a volonté (all you can eat), can be from 5€ to 15€.

L’atelier de papa is a nice change from the traditional tarte flambées and works out about 15€ for 2 courses and a drink.

“pichets d’eau” (jugs of water) are normally free if you ask, but they can be very slow in bringing them.

Don’t tip unless the service was of absolutely outstanding quality, it’s not expected.

Christian activities

Churches

There are lots and lots of churches in Strasbourg because of its German heritage, and thankfully many of them are still alive and well! A word of warning – 10am is the customary church time here, and it’s not normal to have a morning and an evening service. I’ve not checked out many as I didn’t want to chop and change, but the 3 I’ve been to:

Trinity International Church of Strasbourg – an evangelical church located at 12, Rue de Cygne (for the moment – if you want to go, check their website beforehand as they’re going to change in the coming months). Service and songs in (American) English, services and prayers instantaneously translated into French by use of headsets. Lovely and welcoming with a thriving youth group which meets after the service twice a month for bible study and every other Saturday either has a meeting for socialising and discussion or an “Outdoor Special” (such as Thanksgiving, or Accrobranche).

St Nicholas – just next to Porte de l’Hopital  tram stop, this is a charismatic Lutheran church (I think – not good with my labels!). All in French. Evening services. Only been once but they seem nice.

Bonne Nouvelle – on Rue des Magasins, just down from the Gare Centrale. An offshoot of the Brethren (in France: Freres Larges) church, so they don’t have a minister and who’s speaking varies from week to week. My friend liked there especially for their youth group which meets every Saturday and also for dinner each Thursday.

Alternative Bible Studies (google them for more details)

Les Navigateurs  are amazing. And not just because you get a free meal and are welcomed into someone’s appartement 😉 Everyone’s really lovely and you get some really good chat going. Different groups meet different days and then there’s a grande soirée with you all together once a month or so.

Groupes Bibliques Universitaires  are the French equivalent of CUs. They’re groupes culturelles, which mean they’re not allowed to pray or worship at their meetings, and lots of non-Christians come along to explore the Bible as an important cultural big. They also run an English-speaking bible study. They have a main inter-faculty meeting once a week and then also several subject-based groups (Droit, Medicine, Langues, etc).

Touristy Stuff

All museums plus going to the top of the Cathedral are free the first Sunday of every month; the museums are free anyway if you have a Carte Culture so avoid them at this busy period, but if you’ve got the legs and stomach to ascend the twisty staircase up to the Cathedral’s roof then go for it then! Otherwise, it’s probably not worth paying for.

The Musée Alsacien and the Musée Historique are both worth a visit; the former is about an old Alsacian house and the latter goes through the whole history of the city.

Wander around the region known as La Petite France; it’s beautiful.

Parc de l’Orangerie is the biggest park and has space for lazing by the river in the sun, swapping old books in a rather random shed, and going to the zoo. It’s right next to the European institutions: the Court of Human Rights, the Council of Europe, and the Strasbourg home of the European Parliament.

Lost in translation

Coubature = an ache you feel the day after playing sports the day before

une nuage (cloud) de lait = a splash of milk

Oh dear has no French equivalent; neither does to stir; messy; awkward; random

Travel from Scotland to Strasbourg

Easyjet is your best bet which is Edinburgh – Basel/Mulhouse/Frieberg. Then you get the navette (shuttle-bus) to St-Louis (it’s sign-posted in the airport) which costs a few euros and then get the train from St-Louis to Strasbourg. You can check times on the sncf website. Another option is flying to Paris and then getting the train to Strasbourg – I never did this but my Strasbourg friend does this all the time.

Droit à la fac

Classes-wise, they’re sooo different from Glasgow. First, it’s great to be able to choose what interests you after the constraints thus far. You have the choice of 4 subjects + Francais langue etrangere or 5 subjects, which gives you either 14 hrs or 15 hrs of classes respectively. Or you could do another law subject if particularly keen given they take your best grades into account. I did the first combo first semester but dropped FLE as I felt it was a bit of a waste of time especially since you had homework for it, plus were expected to attend extra “ateliers” or workshops. Some of them were good but others were a waste of time. All in all it was nice to have that support for the first term.

The thing about law classes is that they are 3 hour long exercises in dictation, and can be any time between 8am and 8pm. You do get 2 breaks in the middle though. I think the hours and times are actually pretty standard for France. You do not get any homework, and I’ve not had to do any outside reading – they’re looking for you to regurgitate what the professor has said during the exams. Obviously it’s hard to type quickly in French so we got French people to give us their notes.

Exams… aren’t the best, French people have a completely different conception of grading and so 12/20 (a C/D) is classed as an amazing grade according to them… thankfully they’re a bit nicer with us as Erasmus students but even so it’s a bummer. Some are oral and some are written, it just depends on the teacher.

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