As in other European countries, France is seeking to improve the environment and the quality of life of its residents in larger cities.
These include Strasbourg, the unofficial “home” of the European Parliament, which is rolling out an innovative scheme designed to combat unhealthy emissions into the atmosphere.
1. Strasbourg introduces “clean air” scheme to cut emissions
Both French and foreign drivers may enter the activated low-emissions zone only with a valid Crit’Air sticker and if you drive without the environmental badge in the low-emissions zone you will pay a fine which can increase in cases of late payment.
There are several types of badge that express how much the vehicle is involved in air pollution. The least polluting vehicles are afforded preferential parking and traffic conditions and they cover the vehicle for its entire lifetime.
The system has been introduced nationwide by the French government as a way to reduce harmful vehicle emissions in areas where air quality is poorest, such as larger towns and cities. The low emission zone in Strasbourg and the Eurometropolis has the aim of reducing air pollution and improve air quality.
The French government warns of third-party scam websites that significantly overcharge unsuspecting motorists looking to buy a vignette, so be vigilant and only use the official Crit’Air website when purchasing.
Strasbourg is helping to “pioneer” the scheme which is fitting as it’s also at the heart of several other exciting new initiatives in 2023.
2. New hotels at the heart of the European business district
These include a complex of two new hotels at the heart of the European business district. AC Hotel by Marriott and Residence Inn are located in the vicinity of Parliament. Elsewhere in the city, “ClapClap” is another new hotel close to central station and also due to open this year.
One of the most frequent complaints from the thousands of Eurocrats, officials and MEPs who flock to the city each month for Parliament’s plenary is a shortage of accommodation, a long running issue being met, it is hoped, by the new hotels.
One current popular “regular” for MEPs and others attending the plenary is Hotel Roses, close to the river. Located in a traditional old building, this classic Alsace family run hotel is a 10 minute walk from the cathedral. Its sound proofed rooms are individually styled (each with their own name) while its top floor suite boasts exposed beams and kitchenette.A breakfast buffet is available and there’s also a bar and a sauna. Noted for the friendliness of the staff, it is also ideally situated for those who don’t want to travel far to get to the city’s sights.
3. Strasbourg to host the 2023 Michelin star ceremony
Also new this year is a showpiece culinary event that takes place in Strasbourg. The city has been selected by the Michelin Guide to host the Michelin 2023 France star announcement ceremony, and even that is highly publicised in France and beyond.The international aspect will be all the greater since this is the first time that all of Europe’s starred chefs will be invited to participate in the ceremony.
The MICHELIN Guide 2023 France was launched in Strasbourg On March 6. The award-winners include one new Three MICHELIN Star restaurant, four new Two MICHELIN Star restaurants, 39 new One MICHELIN Star restaurants. The new 3-Star was won by La Marine, a French island restaurant. pic.twitter.com/LJispj0ENK— Gorgeous Yichang (@GorgeousYichang) March 7, 2023
Restaurant Les Chauvins is run by owner Yannick Bangratz, who is a former 2-star Michelin chef and his son Quentin. In a relatively short space of time it’s built such an impressive reputation that it hardly needs a star (although it may not be long before it’s awarded one).Nestled in the heart of the city’s historic district, it fuses the best traditions of Alsace cuisine with modern-day tastes and serves cold and hot tapas-style dishes, mostly all made with locally-sourced Alsace products and from local producers in the region. Its owners were inspired by traditional Alsatian cuisine but wanted a new “revisited” version of this.
By placing its trust in local producers, Yannick also participates in the development of sustainable and responsible consumption.The place is often full booked weeks in advance with MEPs among the regulars.
4. European Parliament tours
Another attraction in Strasbourg are tours of the European parliament which take you behind the scenes to see how EU policymakers operate.
Between January and December 2022, the parliament in Strasbourg welcomed a total of 236.850 visitors.
Comparing the overall visitors numbers from May to December 2022 with the same period in 2019, the increase in the total number of visitors between 2019 and 2022 is of 8%.Between 2017 and 2022, the total number of annual visitors has been multiplied by 5.4.
The European Parliament seat of Strasbourg in France has been training local qualified tourist guides. This year in February, the area’s Association of Tourist Guides of Alsace members was invited to attend this training, as a member of #FNGIC which is a #FEG member. pic.twitter.com/pmBgnI9KyX— FEG – Tourist Guides (@FEGTouristGuide) March 8, 2023
5. Towards the World Book Capital 2024
That’s not all: In July 2022, UNESCO commended Strasbourg once again by naming the city World Book Capital 2024.
UNESCO and the World Book Capital Advisory Committee were impressed by Strasbourg’s strong focus on books to meet the challenges of social tensions and climate change, with programs like ‘Reading for the Planet’. The city emphasizes books’ ability to encourage debate and discussion of environmental concerns and scientific knowledge, focusing on young people as agents of change.
Strasbourg was also commended for its literary heritage and the activities it organized highlighting many artistic disciplines, from music, to theatre and illustration. The city has significant experience of organising large-scale outward-looking events.
The year of celebrations will start on 23 April 2024, on World Book and Copyright Day.
🔴 BREAKING!@UNESCO designates the city of Strasbourg 🇫🇷 as World Book Capital for 2024.— UNESCO 🏛️ #Education #Sciences #Culture 🇺🇳 (@UNESCO) July 20, 2022
Known for its strong literary heritage, the city encourages discussion on various social topics & environmental concerns through reading.
Learn more: https://t.co/j9OFlRPuGE pic.twitter.com/d2GsANAC01
Strasbourg is the first French city to achieve this status and a fitting nod to the city, the true birthplace of printing. A whole host of events will be organised starting this year with special guided tours that will explore the city’s links with writers, literature and printing.