Haguenau: Why You Should Check Out Strasbourg’s Little Sister

Small Town Wonders #2: Haguenau, France

Digital Red Crabs 🦀
7 min readApr 15, 2022

While Strasbourg is quite famous, fewer travellers know Haguenau, a cosy little town, 30 kilometres north of Strasbourg. In our blog series Small Town Wonders, we explore towns off the beaten path, and our second post is dedicated to the small town of Haguenau in France.

Crossing the Border from Germany

Lying in the north of the beautiful Alsace, you will find Haguenau, or should we spell it Hagenau? This region is special, because you wouldn’t really be able to tell whether you are in Germany or France, were it not for the sudden switch of language, once you cross the Rhein (German) or Rhin (French) river, the slightly different looking traffic signs, and the conscious knowing of just having crossed into another country (which we personally find the most exciting of all three).

The Alsatian region is a splendid example of how arbitrary boarders can be, as this region had been passed between Germany and France for centuries on and off, developing an interesting societal mélange between both cultures. Since 1945, Alsace is part of France, therefore, Haguenau would be the official spelling. But still today, most people will be able to speak some German or their own regional language: Alsatian (a stunning mix between both languages, tending towards German), but don’t worry, generally, people will speak French with you.

A clear sign that you are not in Germany anymore are the big supermarchés waiting in the periphery of any French town — the same goes for Haguenau. Go ahead and buy that Cassis which you can’t get anywhere else and that Munster cheese you were daring your travel compagnon with.

The Charm of the Town

Le moulin Dischlach

Haguenau is far from being anything special, but that’s were its charm lies. You won’t encounter herds of tourists, but down-to-earth people who actually live there. It is a cute little place, which surprises you with some beautiful architectural constructions in and around Haguenau.

You also have the chance to immerse yourself in Alsatian culture by checking out the typical restaurants, cafés, and crêpes stalls all over the town.



Foodies will love culinary delights such as:

  • Flammekueche (Alsatian pizza)
  • Quiche alsacienne
  • Munster cheese (smell alert!)
  • Dampfnüdle
  • Kougelhopf (the typical dry cake of this region)
  • Crêpes

Here is one crêperie that we recommend — The “Crêperie les têtes de Mull”, located in the “Marché aux Grains” 7. Tiny, but yummy.

Medieval Remnants

Haguenau used to have a town wall and remnants of this wall and the town’s fortification are still visible in the medieval towers of the “Tour des Chevaliers”, “Tour des Pêcheurs”and “la Porte de Wissembourg” when you enter the town.

La tour des Pêcheurs

The Town Centre

The town centre is car free, and pedestrians are offered several small shopping streets that meet in the “Place de la Républic” (the must-have square of any serious French town!). In summer and winter, various events are scheduled here, such as the Christmas market or different summer festivals.

If you want a shopping experience different to the run-of-the-mill shops that have overtaken the shopping streets of any other major town, click on the link of this cute grunge boutique.

On your stroll through the centre, you will encounter several beautiful buildings such as:

  • The famous red house, hosting the Tourist Information as well as the Musée Alsacien.
  • L’Ancienne Douane, which hosts a restaurant today.
  • Le Théâtrebuilt between 1842 and 1847, by the Parisian architect Charles Morin, (just in case you happen to know him).
  • Le Moulin Dischlachthe remnants of an ancient mill.
  • L’Hôtel de Villea neo-baroque building, built in 1906.
  • La Halle aux Houblonsthis working market hall is established in a beautiful building from the 19th century and was first used to trade hops. It’s open on Tuesdays and Thursdays.


You can also find three cosy museums, with nicely arranged exhibitions, as well as affordable prices for the budget traveller (entrance costs between 2 and 4 euros and you can get a special offer if you want to visit all three museums):

  • The “Musée Alsacien”, located in the same house as the tourist information, where you learn about the Alsatian culture.
  • The “Musée de bagage”, an astonishing museum, reflecting on peoples’ ever changing packing modes and travel loads.
  • And a historical museum, located in an astonishing neo-renaissance building, that looks like a haunted castle from the back side. We checked out the latter one, only because the building looked amazing, and the door opened just in front of us. Again, the charm of the museum doesn’t lie in its extraordinary exhibition, but in its grounded display, in its good-old-fashioned way, leading you through the history of the region from the Bronze Age to just after the French Revolution (the explanatory signs are only in French though!).

The People and their Culture

The people of Alsace welcome you warmly. If you come by car or hire a bike, you might want to check out two original villages near Haguenau: Soufflenheim and Betschdorf. Both villages can be seen in a half-day trip. They are small, down-to-earth, welcoming you with half-timbered houses, at least one boulangerie (bakery) and a church per locality. The Kougelhopf is part of Alsatian culture, and you can check out variations of Bundt cake pans in Soufflenheim and Betschdorf, where pottery is the craft of the day. (Quick side note: We almost bought a plot in Betschdorf😉)

Even if you decide not to visit any cultural site, the people in Hagenau and the staff in cafés and restaurants are very accommodating and help you with your smattering of bonjours, ouis, and je ne sais pas(ses).

Hikes and Bikes

If you wanna go for a stroll in nature, or even brought your bike with you, check out the “Forêt de Haguenau”, a big forest, just next to Haguenau. Several trails start from “Le Gros Chêne”, a restaurant in the middle of the forest, where you can relax after your tour.

Why We Enjoyed Haguenau

  • You can see everything in one day.
  • You can find good Alsatian food.
  • You can see cute half-timbered houses in the villages around Haguenau.
  • You can indulge in a real French croissant.
  • Culture-wise, it is a mixture between German and French culture, but you will hear the nicer language of the two.
  • There is no rush (except in roundabouts).
  • People are friendly.
  • Hotels prices are cheapish. The price lies between 50 and 60 euros/night in the outskirts of Hagenau.

What We Didn’t Check Out, but Sounds Cool

The audio guide for the town centre (1€ per person; available at the tourist information in French, German, and Englisch, as well as for children)

Important Questions

  • Can you get by with English? Only at McDonalds.
  • Can you get by with German? Mmm, sometimes (you should start in French, though).
  • Is it expensive? It depends on where you come from. Accommodation is cheap (50 euros; double room/night); food is as expensive as in Germany or Beligium (e.g. Crêpe: 4,50€; Pizza: 10,50€; Salad: 8,50€; Tarte Flambée: 8€); coffee prices are ok (2–3€).
  • Do you leave a tip? Was the service good or fantastic? Leave something. If not, no worries.
  • Can I get something at a bakery on Sundays? Only when you get up early! Bakeries tend to close between 11 and 12am on Sundays.
  • Do I need to bring a car? Recommendable if you wanna go into the forest or check out the villages nearby.

Extra Travel Tip

You can get a map with the perfect walking route of the town’s centre at the tourist information in Haguenau. The staff working there is immensely helpful.

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Digital Red Crabs 🦀

Digital nomadic couple 🗺, minimalists 🍃 | Sharing meaningful experiences from our travels | Support our writing: https://redcrabsdigital.medium.com/membership