In the morning, we left the hotel to go to the closest bike shop, one that we had found on the Internet. We arrived at the bike shop to find it locked up with a new address on the door, an address that meant nothing to us but that we suspected was far way. Unsure what to do next, we walked across town to the tourist office. The lady there advised us to go straight down the street to the Vélhop shop. We had to jig one street over to actually find the shop, but it was there with lots of bikes and a nice man who, I think, was a native German speaker but who insisted that his English was quite good if we would only speak more slowly. He fitted us with bikes (3 speed) and carefully drew a route for us on a bicycle map of Strasbourg.
It was difficult to ride near the center of town because although there were bicycle lanes, pedestrians were all over them as well as other cyclists, intent on wherever they were going and determined to get there in the shortest possible time. These bikes were rather big and unwieldy but we slowly adjusted to them, my husband more easily than I. When we drew away from the center of town and were riding on the bike path along the canal, the traffic thinned and riding became easier. At first the scenery was mostly industrial.
Along a Canal in Strasbourg
But as we continued the scenery became leafier and prettier. We passed a couple of large parks and some men pulling in nets full of wiggling small fish. As we progressed we saw signs for other bicycle routes and places where we had to decide what route to follow.
Signs to Other Places (including Germany)
A Cycling Crossroads
We tried to stick to the route the man at the Vélhop store had drawn for us as closely as possible. Soon we came upon the imposing European Parliament where statesmen from all over Europe meet one month of the year.
A Glimpse of the European Parliament Building
The European Parliament from the Front
After we rode around the parliament building, we rode through an area of cute small cottages, all alike. Then we started to ride past larger dwellings and eventually we approached the downtown again.
Pretty Buildings along the Canal
By this point we were starving, so finding a restaurant became our focus. As we approached some businesses, we saw a few unappealing restaurants. After parking our bikes and struggling with the chains that were a part of the bikes, we set off on foot. Across the canal, I spied a likely looking brasserie, the Artisan Brasseur d’Alsace, a 19th century establishment. We were soon seated and served with delicious Croque Monsiuers in a most interesting atmosphere. We could tell that we were close to the University of Strasbourg by the clientele. We chatted with a young man seated next to us from Brazil who was starting a master’s degree in sociology at the university. Although I hit my head twice on the sort of lintel that was on the back of the long bench where I was seated, we were both glad that we had chosen this restaurant.
We returned the bikes to the shop and talked to the man about where to go the next day. He gave us several ideas, and we definitely planned to return. However, when we eagerly arrived at the shop the next day, our friendly man was not there. The only person around was a woman who would not acquiesce to rent us the comfortable bikes that we had the day before although there were about thirty of them sitting right there and more in a large room behind a window. She said that they were for long-term rentals, and then she changed her story and said that they needed repair. The bikes that she was willing to rent were too big for me, so our plans for cycling on our last day in France were ruined. We were disappointed but there is always a lot to do in a city like Strasbourg, and we had had a wonderful time on the previous day.