Living in Mannheim means that France is just a couple of hours away, so on the weekend my gal Emma and I hopped the Franco-Allemande border to visit our Warwick amigo Jack who’s spending this semester studying in Strasbourg.
Compared to Mannheim’s modernity, visiting Strasbourg was like stepping into a postcard. Historically passed between France and Germany like a cigarette, the city’s architecture is heavily influenced by both countries, rendering it a beautiful mash-up of German fairy-tale magic and French chicness. Truly magnifique.
Thus, we spent a lot of time simply wandering around the city, enchanted by its magic. With its rivers, romantic bridges, and overflowing flower-pots, every photo I took was screensaver-worthy and I literally did not see an ugly building. Even the kebab shops were picturesque.
Aside from wandering, we sampled some of Strasbourg’s cafés and restaurants. Being a vegan in France is always difficile and Strasbourg wasn’t much of an exception. I messaged one restaurant to enquire about veganism, to which they replied: “Don’t worry, we have plenty of burgers and pizzas and cheese dishes.” True to form, I survived mostly on my classic French diet of dry bread, double-stuffed Oreos, and soya yogurt.
However, we did visit one amazing vegan restaurant called Vélicious for lunch on Friday. Tucked away in a residential area a fifteen-minute walk from the city centre, it’s a hidden veggie gem. Their menu is 100% vegan and 100% delicious. The Oriental seitan wrap was amazing, but the best part was the vegan patisserie counter. There were so many bright vegan pastries and cakes that I took about an hour to choose one, and finally picked a raspberry mousse cake just because it was pink. It may have set me back €4 but it was worth every cent.
On Saturday we visited La Petite France, a tiny area of Strasbourg which is officially part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. With narrow streets and tiny houses and the smell of crêpes in the air, it felt like I was living out an episode of Once Upon A Time and there is honestly no better feeling.
So the city itself was stunning, but the best part was spending the weekend with Warwick friends, living the Strasbourg Erasmus student life. The city is so different to Mannheim, but all the exchange students are going through exactly the same roller coaster experience of being strangers in a strange land, navigating the endless paperwork and paying over-the-odds for Cadbury’s fingers in Carrefour. It must be a universal exchange student mood, and it’s clearly one that bonds us.
I left a little piece of my Warwick Erasmus heart in Strasbourg, and I can’t wait to go back and disturb my friend Jack again when the Christmas markets descend on the city.