We arrived in Kehl just before 08:00 on the Saturday morning to find the coaches waiting to transport us across the Rhine to the city of Strasbourg.

Even though we were docked at Kehl on the German side of the Rhine we were not actually visiting the town itself. Therefore, I thought that I would tell you something of the small town. It was first mentioned in 1038 and 300 years later it was taken over by France as it was seen to be part of the defence system for Strasbourg. It received town rights in 1774. It was annexed by Austria and in 1815 it was returned to Germany.  In the 1840s, the first railway bridge over the Rhine was built between Kehl and Strasbourg and made it possible to travel from Paris to Vienna by train. After WWI Kehl was given to France for 7 years to prevent an attack on Strasbourg by Germany. Since 1953 the town has been part of Germany again.

Trevor and I would once again and, on all future walks, join different groups, I in the easy walking group and he in a regular one, but to get to Strasbourg we went on the same bus. We crossed the Rhine on one of 4 bridges at this point. There was one each for pedestrians, vehicles, trains and trams. Strasbourg is in the Alsace region of N. Eastern France and in the people of the region are called Alsatians. It is also believed that the breed of dog called Alsatians came from this area.

3 of the 4 bridges – pedestrian, vehicles and rail

As we drove into the city of Strasbourg, the largest port on the Upper Rhine and the cultural centre of Alsace, we passed some very modern buildings which constitute the offices and courts of the Council of Europe (CoE), also known as the Palace of Europe, and the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). Interestingly, the UK which has exited the EU, is still a member of the CoE. We were disappointed that the guide did not arrange for the driver to even slow down so that we could get photos as some of the buildings were unusual in design.

A street that we then turned into was line with lots of very tall trees at the top of each one was a very large Stork’s nest, most with adult Storks caring for their young. Nests could be seen on rooftops and on top of chimneys. Some years ago, the Storks, which had been a part of the Strasbourg city scene for so long that it was known as the City of Storks were under threat of extinction. In 1971, they were reintroduced and now, there are about 600 couples now in the city.  They are now protected, which is wonderful but, those who must park the family car in the street are not too thrilled. Do go to the ink to read about the myths and legends about these beautiful birds. It would take too much space to tell them to you here.

A Stork in its nest. There was one in every tree

In the Orangerie Park, the oldest and largest park in Strasbourg, there is The Institut de Orangerie which has a breeding section and since 1971 more than 800 baby storks have been born. We didn’t get to visit the park but learnt that it is very popular with families, joggers, strollers and anyone else who would like to have ‘fun in the park’. Children, particularly, love the playground.

In the centre of the New Town of Strasbourg we stopped in front of the Kaiser’s Palace which faced on to Republic Square. After the Franco-Prussian War in 1871, all the Alsace region was annexed by the Germans and, as Strasbourg was the Capital of the area, they used it as the place to build the Kaiser’s Palace. Over the years it has been owned by nobility, the municipality, the monarchy, the state, the university, and the municipality again. It has been home to the Archaeological Museum, Museum of Decorative Arts and the Museum of Fine Arts. It is a magnificent building with a very prominent dome.

Kaiser’s Palace

Republic Square was beautiful with Spring flowers and tall trees. It has 5 buildings on 3 sides, none of which is residential. They are the National and University Library, the Tax building, the Opera House, the Prefecture Grand Est or Regional Administration for the Eastern Region and the Palace. The 4th side is open. There are three trees in the Square donated to Strasbourg by Japan.

One of the trees from Japan
Spring flowers
The Library
Opera House

As we walked from the Palace to the Cathedral, we passed many buildings and artistic works of special interest after crossing the River Ill. This river surrounds the Old City, creating an island of half-timbered houses, canals and flower-filled squares.

River Ill

The first was the Janus Fountain seen immediately after we crossed the Ill River.  It is an arcade-like structure plus head of Janus, made by Tomi Ungerer in 1988, at display at Place Broglie, close to the bridge to the Place de la Republique in Strasbourg. It was inaugurated on occasion of the 2000th anniversary of the city, depicting the double identity of the city: French/Latin – German/ Celtic with the face of Janus looking both ways.

Janus Fountain

As we walked, we passed the residence of the military governor, a lovely building which had cannons on either side of the entrance and a list of Strasbourg Generals from 1830 – 1849.

Entrance to the residence of the Military Governor with a cannon and the names of the 19th Century Generals (in shadow)

There was a tall and imposing statue of François Christophe de Kellermann who had been a General in the army, a Marshall of France and was involved in the Napoleonic Wars. Later he was instated as the 1st Duc of Valmy.

Marshall Kellerman, Duke of Valmy

Before we reached the Cathedral there was a row of Platenen Trees the full length of the street and on one of the buildings with the words, Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité, the national motto of France. A reminder of the French Revolution 300 years ago and still important words in France today.

Platanen Trees and a beautiful lamppost
Building with French Motto written on the higher ledge

The group with which Trevor was walking past a bronze sculpture of Albert Schweitzer sitting on a wall. He was born in the Alsace region and is best known as a missionary doctor to West Africa.

Albert Schweitzer

The last road down which we walked on the way to the Cathedral was a bit different. Its name, Rue du Dȏme-Münstergasse, was written on a brass plaque embedded into the road and its main form of trade was sweet delicacies. A few of the shopkeepers stood at their doors with plates of cakes for passing folk to try. Most of the homes in the street were from the 17th Century.

Street name plate. The writing below means: Ancient Roman Road
Delicious baked goods
17th Century homes

The Cathedral is Roman Catholic was built between 1015 and 1439 in the Romanesque-Gothic style as with many of the cathedrals in Europe. It is known as the Cathedral of Our Lady of Notre Dame. At the entrance, the doors are decorated with Biblical stories as the majority of the people of the time were illiterate, particularly in Latin. Until 1874 it was the tallest building in the world. It has majestic stained-glass windows which include a beautiful Rose Window and the Emperor Windows depicting 5 Emperors of the Holy Roman Empire.

The Cathedral
Rose window
Windows in the Cathedral
Chancel and Sanctuary

In the NE corner is an Astronomical Clock with sculptures showing different times of day, the 12 apostles in different times of life and angels. It is the 3rd clock to be placed here but it is still built on the engineering of the previous two dating to 1352.

Astronomical clock

We finished our visit to Strasbourg in the Cathedral Square which is surrounded by shops, hotels and the Tourist Centre. Originally, homeowners only paid municipal rates on the floor area of the ground floor so this was kept as small as possible with bigger rooms above. There is a model train which drives around the Square and neighbouring areas. There were dozens of gift shops, so we were able to buy our magnet from one of these.


Bakery in Cathedral Square
Hotel and shops
Tourist train

On our return to the boat and after lunch, the 2 of us walked along the path between the dock and the town of Kehl and were delighted to find a Biblical Garden. I found this written about it:

In the park is a Biblical Garden. Each of the 17-stele which are made of red sandstone from the Vosges tells a Biblical story. One side of the path is Old Testament and the other side is New Testament.

The Bible Path
St John

A wonderful way to finish our day in Strasbourg and Kehl.