Grand Est Region and Alsace
The Grand Est region, established in 2016, is comprised of three regions (Alsace, Lorraine, and Champagne-Ardennes) and ten departments (Ardennes, Aube, Marne, Haute-Marne, Meurthe-et-Moselle, Meuse, Moselle, Bas-Rhin, Haut-Rhin, and Vosges). Strasbourg, once the capital of Alsace, is now the largest city and capital of La Grand Est.
Strasbourg – The Capital of Alsace
Located in the heart of Europe, Alsace has a strong cultural identity and has changed nationalities four times between German and France. Some residents speak Alsatian, a regional dialect that is a mixture of French and German. Strasbourg is endowed with a rich historical past and a remarkable architectural and cultural heritage. Because of the city’s unique cultural significance, the city center of Strasbourg, “La Grande Ile,” has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage site and includes Notre Dame de Strasbourg Cathedral and the district of “La Petite France”.
Alsace has three mains urban areas: Strasbourg, known for its prominence as the European capital and regional metropolis, Mulhouse, the industrial capital of the Upper Rhine, and Colmar, the administrative capital of the Upper Rhine. The Alsace Region is endowed with a strong cultural identity and has changed its nationality four times between Germany and France—this history is one of the reasons that Strasbourg became the ideal location for the European Parliament and an epicenter for European collaboration. Alsace is known for their Franco-German traditions and gastronomy, including Tarte Flambée, Sauerkraut, wine, and its Christmas market.
The city of Strasbourg is comprised of ten neighborhoods, each of them with its own unique charm. Bordered by the Roberstau forest, the Rhine and the Ill Rivers; Robertsau (pronunciation: Row-bear-tso) is one of the northern neighborhoods of Strasbourg. In this neighborhood, you will find the Chateau de Pourtàles (your home for the semester), the Brussière Farm, as well as countless restaurants, supermarkets, pharmacy, fresh food market, bakeries, and many ATM machines. Roberstau is also served by Strasbourg’s bus system (Line 1 and 15A) and by the tram (Line E).
Strasbourg’s German Neighbor: Kehl
The Franco-German relationship is strong, and the EU Parliament’s position in Strasbourg is symbolic of the friendship and trust between the two countries. Thus, it is little surprise that Kehl, the small German city across the Rhine, is easily accessible from Strasbourg via the bus, tram, car, and pedestrian footpath. Many Germans living in Kehl commute to Strasbourg for work, and vice-versa. It is also not uncommon for people in Strasbourg to commute across the Rhine to pick up their groceries.
European Institutions in Strasbourg
As a symbol of Franco-German reconciliation, Strasbourg was chosen in 1949 as the host city for the Council of Europe and is now the seat of many European institutions, including European Parliament, the Council of Europe, and the European Court of Human Rights. The city and the urban community are part of the Eurodistrict and play an active role in many European and international network.