Strasbourg is the capital of France's Alsace region and showcases some mesmerising medieval architecture in its UNESCO-listed centre, the Grande Île (large island). Due to its location on the eastern border with Germany, it offers a unique cocktail of cultures from both sides. The centrepiece of the old town is the Gothic Cathédrale Notre-Dame, with its gloating gargoyles, astronomical clock and intricate stained-glass windows. The centre is famous for being pedestrian-friendly, so it's easy to explore on foot or by bike. Each street is lined with crooked timber-framed houses, and as night falls the lantern-lit alleys evoke a fairytale atmosphere.
To delve further into Strasbourg's fascinating history, visit the Palais Rohan, a grand 18th-century palace which is now home to three museums: the Musée des Beaux-Arts (Museum of Fine Arts), Musée Archéologique (Archaeological Museum) and the Musée des Arts Décoratifs (Museum of Decorative Arts). The nearby Historical Museum is also worth checking out, with plenty of interactive exhibits focusing on the city's early medieval days up until the founding of the European Union.
Strasbourg's magical atmosphere peaks from the end of November until December, when the festive markets appear. These have been held in the city for four centuries and feature arts and crafts, Alsatian Christmas decorations and local specialities like 'Kougelhopf' (a sweet bread usually filled with raisins) and Muenster cheese.