What’s more, cycling is so popular here that there is even an annual festival, la Fête du Vélo, celebrating cycling every summer for the past 20 years. You can bring your own wheels and take advantage of the 19,000 bike racks offering parking space for 38,000 bikes, or rent one of the 4000 Vélhop bicycles available in several convenient locations around the city. Bikes can be rented for a few hours or up to a year and payment can be made with cash or credit card.
The heart of Petite France with the extraordinary half-timbered houses, canals and winding lanes is a perfect place to take it slow, stopping frequently and taking advantage of the many sights to pause and absorb the history of the neighbourhood. The pleasure and excitement of discovery greets you at every corner, such as coming across the homes belonging to the different trades like the Maison des Tanneurs (tanner’s house) where you can see the vented roofs that used to allow for air to circulate while the leather was drying in the attic.
Not far from the European institutions, the Parc de l’Orangerie is the oldest park and still the most popular with locals. It is the ideal spot for a pleasant tour along its pathways, stopping for a picnic, and the obligatory spot of stork-watching, or to just sit and relax in the shade and let the world go by. The park is an oasis of nature right at the doorstep of the thriving city. Keep cycling a little further to ride by the European Parliament, the Council of Europe and the European Court of Human Rights to get a sense of the pivotal role of Strasbourg in the pulse of Europe – this is the city with the second largest diplomatic presence in France, after Paris.
Located at the heart of the Imperial District, the University and Botanical Garden can trace their origin back to 1619. Home to nearly 6000 plant species, the garden is a living museum and includes an arboretum, with remarkable trees such as the pecan tree, the giant Sequoia and five bald cypresses and a two-storey tropical greenhouse. This university garden offers students and researchers a vast range of plants destined for research and observation.
This highly symbolic garden was created in 2004 as a gesture of friendship between France and Germany with over 150 hectares along the Rhine on either side of the Bridge of Europe. Just a few minutes ride from Strasbourg and Kehl, it is a unique place for a truly international circuit covering two countries in one day. You may even catch one of the many cultural events held here throughout the year such as floral exhibitions, music, and street arts.
For a more ambitious undertaking, La Piste des Forts starts just 25 minutes pedalling from downtown Strasbourg, and it goes around an 85km circuit – a circuit inaugurated in 2010. It marries heritage with nature, allowing the discovery of Strasbourg and its German neighbor, the Ortenau, as well as a belt of 19 military forts built between 1870 and the beginning of the 20th century.