Petite France is an area in Strasbourg, Alsace, France. It is great to take a little boat trip in the area from which you will have a wonderful view on almost the whole of Strasbourg and its magnificent buildings. You will even be able to take a glance at the facilities of the European Parliament from the boat. The European Parliament is especially notable at night due to its glamorous illumination.
Petite France (“little France”) is located right by the river Ill on the Grande Îlem, the main island where the river splits up into a number of canals and cascades through a small area of medieval half-timbered houses and baroque sandstone buildings. Interestingly, in the Middle Ages, this area wasn't a place of romance at all: Le Petite France was the place where tanning-houses and slaughterhouses were situated. The Grand Île area was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988.
Typical for the area are the steep rooftops of the houses which are of up to four attic floors and were used to dry leather back in the day. The heart of the district marks the Cathedral of Our Lady of Strasbourg which reaches up high to the sky. Today Petite France is a well known place to shop and is ideal to simply stroll around at the same time since the area is mostly car free.
It is funny, the former disdained district of nothing but trouble developed to the tourist magnet of
Strasbourg to this day. Its name gained Petite France from a hospital where French soldiers used to be treated.
How to get there
With public transportation:
Strasbourg is easily reachable from Germany with the trains of the Deutsche Bahn (DB) and is even still located on the German railway network. Take tram lines A or D in the direction of the city center to reach the Strasbourg cathedral from the central station or take a walk there. You won't miss the district – it is located directly by the river.