Explore Sélestat Alsace in France – The land of Storks
Did you ever know that one of the cities in France is very known as the Land of Storks? Yes! It is! It might surprise you, but Sélestat Alsace region the one that prevails until these days. I’m sure you have noticed Storks, or shall we call it La Cigogne when you visit Alsace.
Although the Alsace region is mainly the home of Storks, It is also considered an emblem of the region. Sélestat differs from the rest of the Alsatian town. Because of its incredible number of Storks that are roaming, and coming in and out of the city.
Nestled in the plain of Alsace, 45 km south of Strasbourg and 25 km north of Colmar, Sélestat developed from the 11th century under the Hohenstaufen dynasty, which gave it the status of a free city.
Sélestat Alsace is the 8th most populous town in Alsace. Aside from that, it is also ranked third for outstanding cultural heritage. Sélestat is famous for its humanist library, holding a very large number of works dating from the 7th to 16th century.
Its old town is also home to exquisite Renaissance houses, but also the Romanesque church of Sainte-Foy, and the Gothic church of Saint-Georges.
Places to visit in Sélestat
According to Sélestat’s legend, the town was named after a giant Sletto (dragon Schletto) founded the settlement after opening up the nearby Lièpvre valley in the Vosges mountains. You can see lion’s paw marks on the town’s coat of arms as well.
Since 2011, the town of Sélestat Alsace has been a candidate for the prestigious Ville d’Art et d’Histoire (Town of Art and History) quality label.
As for its Museums, you should visit the Humanist Library. It displays one of the oldest and most homogeneous collections of medieval manuscripts and Renaissance books in Europe.
Its core is the still almost intact library of Beatus Rhenanus. The library has been inscribed in the Unesco’s Memory of the World Register.
Sélestat also has a museum dedicated to bread and baking. It is the seat of the FRAC d’Alsace, a regional institution, whose aim is to collect contemporary works of art.
St. Faith’s Church (The Sainte-Foy church)
The Sainte-Foy church is a Romanesque church built in the 12th century, made of pink Vosges’ mountains sandstone and granite. It is considered as a major Romanesque architecture landmark along the Route Romane d’Alsace in the East of France.
It is also noted that the porch is decorated with cornices and historized capitals. Its furniture dates back to the 19th century, and its three towers which draw a kind of line of the sky.
Another interesting church to visit is St. George Church. A Gothic in style church, constructed from the 13th to the 15th century. The elongated narthex occupies the entire width of the facade and opens onto the Saint-Jacques square.
St. George Church
The pulpit is carved and gilded stone, dates from the Renaissance. The stained glass windows are remarkable. And the main portal is decorated with a rose window, like the cathedral of Strasbourg.
If you’re interested in religious architecture, Sélestat Alsace has some of the outstanding churches. Aside from St. Faith’s and St. George’s Church, you can also check out the Protestant church and the Synagogue.
Another place that I would consider a-must-visit is the Maison du Pain d’Alsace (Alsace museum of bread and baking), whose object is to make bread known and understood in all its forms.
The St-Barbe Arsenal
Roaming Sélestat Alsace center, the first place that you would easily find is the St-Barbe Arsenal. Highlighting its crenelated gable boasts an attractive 15C façade, which, in the 20C, was adorned with a double-sided staircase that leads to a small canopy preceding the front door.
Don’t miss to look up and see those unbelievable two stork nests on the roof of St-Barbe Arsenal which actually just a typical sight in Alsace.
Some other spots that I would put on my list of must-visit places are Quai des Tanneurs, Rue Koeberlé, The water tower, and Tour des Sorcières.
The Best way to see the Storks in Sélestat Alsace
Exploring Alsace without seeing Les Cigognes (the storks) is eating your meal without a dessert. So here’s my biggest travel tip for everyone, let’s say it’s a secret, but I’ll still want to share it with you.
It was our third day in Alsace, and for our travel itinerary, we went to do some wine tasting in the morning, then lunch. And right after that, we visited Sélestat.
Arriving at its center, we went to visit the streets and its environs. The first place we stumbled into was the Arsenal Ste Barbe. At that moment, I immediately noticed a huge nest on top of the building. It was actually a nest of a stork. It was so huge that I don’t need to use a larger lens to take a photo.
We headed to St Faith’s Church, and there, we found again some nest situated on the top of residential buildings/houses. It was really surprising to see a large number of stork’s nest in this area. It was a feeling of excitement.
When we were at the church, I begin to see some storks flying around, and others are heading to its nest. It was so amazing to see. I think it’s my second time to see storks in Alsace. The last time was when we visit Eguisheim, but I didn’t saw them up close.
The Couple Stork
We went to another church called St. George’s Church. And there, we saw again some storks in their nests. I even saw a couple (storks) they were together in one nest. I assumed that I have some baby birds (chicks) to feed. It was so sweet to see them.
As for my tip, the best way to see storks in Sélestat Alsace is to just wander in the center and observed the sky. Look up and search for the nests located on top of residential houses or buildings. You will certainly enjoy watching them.
How to get to Sélestat
It’s so easy to roam around the Alsace region when you’re already staying in one of its towns. The best way, of course, is to drive in your car or rent a car. Renting would not cost you a lot anyway. Prices are from 20 euros and above. Depending on your type of preference car.
You can also take trains (SNCF), from Strasbourg to Sélestat. It will only take you around 20 minutes. If you’re from Colmar, it’s easier. It’s a one-stop ride, from there, and it will only take 10 minutes.
If you’re staying farther, let’s say in Paris. The best way to get to Sélestat is to take the train from Gare de l’Est (East Station). Then take the one with the destination to Colmar. From Colmar take the train to Sélestat (towards Mulhouse). It will take you about 2 and a half hours.
You can also avail buses, there is some tour bus in Paris to Alsace. However, if you prefer a solemn and unstressful ride, the car would be your best option.