I recently received this wee message from Andrew who poses a number of not uncommon questions about Strasbourg.  Seeing as there’ll be a vast influx of new students to the city very shortly – I thought an open reply might prove useful to other new readers of EiS?

I am soon to be moving to Strasbourg for a year, and I am trying to find a place to live. I don’t really speak much French at all (though I’m going to do an intensive course in the next few weeks). There are two apartments that I am considering at the moment, and I wonder if you might be able to give me an idea of what the areas are like. The first one is in Robertsau, and the second in Koenigshoffen East. From what I’ve read, Koenigshoffen can be a wee bit dodgy. Is that accurate? I can’t really find any opinions on Robertsau though. It looks slightly more salubrious from the pictures and so on that I’ve seen, though it’s less conveniently located for me.

Hi Andrew, Interestingly neither of the neighbourhoods you mention is particularly well served by public transport. However, given that the best way to get around Strasbourg is by bike, you should not regard this as a problem. Though it might be worth having another look around – just in case you want to be closer to the tram system? Centre/Gare, Meinau, Cronenbourg, Schiltigheim and Neudorf are worth considering, which are all very good in parts.

Robertsau is the most Bourgeois suburb of Strasbourg. Close to the forest, it is clean, quiet and bursting at the seams with very well paid expat European workers and untaxed civil servants. It has the highest proportion of Audi’s than any other part of the city. Towards the St Anne area you will find the Escale social centre where the English Speaking Community hold their weekly coffee mornings – a useful point of help and reference for any new anglophone in town. It is also the only suburb, that I know of anyway, to boast it’s very own naturist beach. Which all makes it sound quite attractive I’m sure? It is however considerably further from Strasbourg City Centre than many other, less expensive, areas.

Koenigshoffen “East”, by contrast, does not actually exist. It is either Koenigshoffen or it is not. Despite your first impressions though it does not come very high up on the dodginess chart. Montagne Vert and Hautepierre are really the only ones to avoid for that reason alone. There is a little more life in Koenigshoffen than over in sleepy Robertsau however, with a good selection of 24hr kebab outlets for your walk home from the centre; it is also somewhat moins cher all round. In my view it would be the better choice if you were intending to spend much of your time in the city centre; and wanted to play loud music once in a while – without fear of police intervention.

Also, what was your experience of setting up electricity, internet etc. like? I’m a little daunted by the prospect. It’s difficult enough dealing with EDF in English, so if I’m trying to negotiate my way through a call centre en Francais I’ve got no chance 🙂

When we first arrived in Strasbourg we asked our relocation agents SCOT to do this for us.  Like you, we didn’t know what we were doing either – the whole thing seemed a tad daunting.  However there really isn’t much to it nowadays – because you can do most of it online.  You can sign up with Electricité de Strasbourg on their website – then fill out the paperwork they send to you in the post (usually a contract and a direct debit form).  The same goes for internet providers – among which you will be hard pressed to beat Numericable for bandwidth. The advantage of doing everything online for someone with limited language skills – is that you can whack anything you don’t understand through an online translator like Babelfish for a bit of coherence (not total lucidity mind you).

If you have any other questions – please just ask!