Spring has finally arrived and with it a desire to travel and explore nearby destinations. Strasbourg is only 2 hour drive from Heidelberg and has been for long time on my travel list. So, with expected weather of 25 degrees, two weeks ago it was the perfect opportunity to travel to Strasbourg for a day trip.
Famous for its Christmas Market, European Parliament and great reputation for wine and gastronomy, Strasbourg is a very connected city by rail, air and road from major European destinations, making it an attractive destination for meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions.
In February 2017, The MICE Blog and Atout France launched an industry wide campaign entitled #BizinFrance. The campaign promotes France as the perfect destination for incentive travel and international meetings and events. It aims to highlight the expertise of Atout France and its partners in assisting event planners to access the variety of destinations and activities France has to offer. The campaign runs in the months running up to IMEX Frankfurt 2017 in May, at which Atout France will be exhibiting with their destination partners. The MICE Blog will support the face to face event activities online via Twitter and LinkedIn, by highlighting five business areas: incentive and team building, corporate hospitality at major events, international associations, automotive industry and technology.
My Strasbourg MICE destination
I travelled with my mother and combined site-visits with leisure, or as you might know it bleisure. Strasbourg is one of the partner destinations exhibiting at IMEX Frankfurt and this was the right time visit.
We were greeted by Clarisse Kremer, Business Development at Strasbourg Convention Bureau and we had a busy programme ahead. Most venues in Strasbourg are within couple of minutes by tram of walking distance. From city centre we took a short 10 minutes tram ride to the Strasbourg Exhibition & Congress Centre, our first stop.
Strasbourg Convention & Exhibition Centre
Located near the European Parliament, it’s the major and biggest event venue in Strasbourg. Between 2014-16 it was renovated to correspond to increasing demand to add exhibition space and increase capacity.
We saw the three auditoriums, each with capacity for 500, 1200 and 1800 people and exhibition halls. Exhibition halls are suitable for exhibitions, gala dinners, product launches etc. The venue has also smaller meeting rooms, with the most popular the Marie Curie room. They have an eye catching red furniture and natural day light.
The hotel is facing the Strasbourg Convention & Exhibition Centre and just five minutes away by foot. It has the biggest room capacity in the East of France, with 245 rooms and biggest meeting room capacity in the area, with 1,200m2 space. The hotel is able to accommodate up to 650 guests for a cocktail. The large atrium is also suitable for exhibitions.
They have also an Executive Lounge dedicated to clients staying in Executive & Suite categories. Clients are offered drinks and snacks all day, newspaper and magazine available and free Wifi. From 6pm to 8pm they can also enjoy open bar and cocktails. Perfect way to relax after a long business day or when you need to work remotely.
Sofitel Strasbourg Grande Île
Afterwards, we took the tram back to the city centre to visit the Sofitel Strasbourg Grande Ile, one of the three five star properties in Strasbourg area. Nestled in the heart of Strasbourg’s famous Grande Ile district, a UNESCO world heritage site, it’s the very first Sofitel hotel in the world. Don’t be discouraged by the humble facade, because the moment you enter you will be surprised how big and luxurious the hotel actually is.
For meetings and events it offers 11 meeting rooms with plenty daylight for up to 180 people. If you are looking for a more unconventional event space for a small drinks reception, the Imperial Suite can be used for small events up to 50 people. With private terrace and Cathedral views this room will definitely make an impression.
The restaurant Terroir & Co run by the Chef Vincent Rimmely will introduce you to the regional cuisine and selection of 51 Grand Cru wines will introduce you to the heritage and vineyards of Alsace. You can also find a small vineyard in the hotel.
Lastly, the Link Bar and the Terrace are ideal for aperitifs and receptions.
Cooking Class with Cuisine Aptitude
It was already lunch time and time for our cooking class with Cuisine Aptitude. For the course duration of 30 minutes we learned one simple recipe, and afterwards ate together. The total experience was about 1.5 hours. Our menu was “Ravioles de gambas à la pâte de curry. Salade de légumes croquants à la sauce sweet chili” (I’ll keep this in French). The class was in French, but language skills weren’t really necessary, just basic cooking skills and good mood.
The best part was eating together and meeting new people who also took part. Of course this class can be also privatised for groups. It can be as short as the one we did or a longer version, cooking more dishes.
Strasbourg Boat Tour
Afterwards we had a little time to browse the shops for souvenirs before boarding for a one hour audio guided tour around Strasbourg. That’s the best option to explore Strasbourg if you have very little time.
Afterwards we had few more hours to explore the city centre. This included visiting the famous Pâtisserie Christian, for the most delicious and beautiful desserts. We saved it for last, because didn’t want to carry the cakes in the heat, but that also left us with very limited choice. So tip for you, get there early.
If you are looking for a destination where you can combine your business event with short incentive activities, venues within short distance from each other, as well as offer great accessibility for your delegates by road, rail and air, Strasbourg definitely ticks all these boxes.