Few, but good, options in Petite France

About two minutes after Tour de France organizers announced the 2006 race would start in Strasbourg, I booked five nights at a hotel on the edge of the old city. Then I salivated for months.

The canal-spliced neighborhood called Petite France always seems tranquil to me even when it's overrun by tourists, with half-timbered houses reflecting in the water, window boxes spilling over with geraniums and swans trolling the riverbanks. I imagined leisurely walks and perhaps a boat ride in my spare time while settling in to cover my seventh Tour.