The Alsatian city of Strasbourg – whose name literally means ‘town at the crossing of roads’ – lies at a fascinating juncture between old and new, German and French. It is of course famous for its colossal Gothic cathedral, but also as the seat of the European Parliament, while its half-timbered German merchant dwellings sit next to elegant French townhouses.
During your escorted tour of this wonderful city on your cruise aboard Panache along the Canal de la Marne au Rhin in Alsace, highlights will include:
Cathédrale de Notre-Dame
No trip to Strasbourg would be complete without a visit to the awe-inspiring Cathédrale de Notre-Dame. It is hard not to be impressed by this huge, pink-sandstone masterpiece of Gothic architecture. Its 142-metre spire made it the tallest man-made structure in the world for over 250 years, and if you’re feeling fit, you can climb the 332 steps to the platform below its towers and admire the stunning views of the city from this lofty vantage point.
Make sure to admire the exquisite stained-glass windows when you walk around the cathedral, including the rose window in the western portal. In the south transept you’ll find an impressive astrological clock and at different hours of the day a host of mechanical figures, including angels, Death and the Apostles, are sent out on parade.
La Petite France
Just a short walk from the cathedral is La Petite France, the home of artisanal trade in medieval Strasbourg. This maze of narrow streets and canals is full of picturesque half-timbered houses blooming with flowers in the summer months. It’s a lovely place to do some boutique shopping, have a cup of coffee or just relax in one of the waterside parks.
It was in the city of Strasbourg in the 15th century that Johannes Gutenberg, inventor of the printing press, first experimented with moveable type. His revolutionary ideas, which hugely cut down the time it took to reproduce a text compared with labour-intensive scribal reproduction, made a real contribution to the rise in literacy at the end of the medieval period in Europe.
You can see a bronze statue of Johannes Gutenberg in the appropriately named Place Gutenberg and perhaps as you read your guidebook, you can send a silent thank you to the father of printing!
Alsace-Lorraine is a unique corner of France. Discover a land of storybook castles, rolling vineyards of Alsatian wines as well as Baroque, Gothic and Romanesque architecture. For centuries, the great empires of Europe confronted one another at this strategic and military crossroads. The area's unique blend of French and German influences are strongly evident in its customs, cuisine, wines, architecture and language.
Revel in the beauty of Strasbourg, from its pink sandstone cathedral to the storybook looks of La Petite France, and partake in a scenic drive along the Route des Grand Vins, culminating in a private tasting of some of the most fragrant wines that France has on offer.
Feast on a delectable Duck a l’Alsacienne as you cruise by candlelight through the Arzviller tunnels, before a 450 foot ascent or descent on the mountainside Arzviller Boat Elevator.
Where French and German culture collide, this is a region for the adventurer in you. There can be no better view than from Panache’s hot tub as the leaves of the forested hillsides turn from green to gold to red to yellow.
The Hotel Barge Panache is a 12-passenger barge offering 6-night cruises in Alsace-Lorraine from July through October.
Route: Between Niderviller and Krafft - Click for itinerary
Accommodations: up to 12 passengers
Charters and Cabin cruises
Itineraries: All itineraries, Alsace Standard Classic, Alsace Family Cruise
Learn more: Online brochure
The 128-foot Panache is a 12-passenger luxury hotel barge of classic Dutch design, fully air conditioned with spacious public areas and six en-suite cabins, with your choice of twin or double bed configuration. En-suite bathrooms have twin sinks and oversize showers with massage jets. Panache is traditionally furnished in an old ship style with brass and mahogany, creating a comfortable and charming ambience. The salon and dining room have large panoramic windows for viewing the passing countryside, as well as comfortable sofas, books and music, and an always open inclusive bar. The sun deck is spacious and has a heated spa pool; a perfect place to watch the sun set after dinner.
Panache has a highly professional crew of six, comprised of Master Chef, Deck Hand, Tour guide, two Housekeepers, and led by a knowledgeable and experienced Captain, who will ensure your cruise is memorable and more. Their knowledge of the region, combined with fascinating chauffeur-driven private excursions and the 12 bikes provided, will allow you to explore the areas you cruise through in as much detail as you desire.