Searching for Butterflies in the Forests of Strasbourg

Nature has always been a source of peaceful solitude. A place to escape and appreciate the beauty our world has to offer. Anytime I feel stressed or things are overwhelming I retreat to the forest, the mountains, or anywhere outside of the city. After moving to Strasbourg a few months ago, and, then, spending three months in confinement, I found myself missing nature. I was almost craving it, and, luckily for me, Strasbourg offers the perfect blend of nature and city. In fact, Strasbourg is host to two forests, Neuhof Forest, to the south, and Robertsau Forest, in the north.

In this post, I explore the forests of Strasbourg, while searching for butterflies.

Mountain Small White Butterfly Found in Neuhof Forest StrasbourgPin
Mountain Small White Butterfly

Neuhof Forest

I arrived in Strasbourg in January, a bitterly cold month here. The rainy weather did not permit much visiting, and I had many administrative processes that consumed all of my free time, which is more or less a rite of passage when living in France. As the days and weeks past the weather slowly improved, and I began to plan all the things I could do in Strasbourg. Then came the virus, and so did confinement. I thought at the beginning it would be short, and I would be back outside exploring my new hometown in no time. Three months passed with no such luck. I began to long for the outdoors. I missed the sun on my face, fresh air, and that morning dew smell.

As things slowly began to reopen I searched for places to escape and return to nature. I discovered that Strasbourg was surrounded by two relatively large forests, Neuhof Forest and Robertsau Forest. I started with Neuhof Forest, located just south of Strasbourg. Every Sunday morning for the first 3 weeks after confinement, I would head out with my camera and just explore. Neuhof forest preserve is full of paths that lead in every direction, fields of butterflies, and massive trees that are home to colorful insects and chatty birds.

My favorite part of Neuhof forest is the vast open fields of tall grass. From a distance, they look particularly unappealing – dry with a spot of green and bright yellow every now and then. I found these fields held, however, a secret beauty – butterflies. Around noon, butterflies would come and hop across the field. It was really wonderful to see these beautiful creatures. In the pictures here, I document the butterflies that I observed. In fact, there is a very detailed and informative website that has recorded all the Butterflies of France. I used this website to learn more about the butterflies that I had photographed. I most often observed the common blue butterfly. While there were others, the common blue was the only one that slowed down enough for me to capture a photograph. If you have read my about me page, you will know that I am a scientist at heart, and so I find these kinds of details fascinating.

After several Sundays exploring Neuhof Forest, I decided to see what Robertsau had to offer.

Common Blue Butterfly Found in Neuhof Forest StrasbourgPin
Common Blue Butterfly
Unidentified Butterfly in Neuhof Forest StrasbourgPin
Unidentified Butterfly

Robertsau Forest

Robertsau Forest is slightly more organized than Neuhof, and it attracts more visitors. The entrance is not from the end of the Line E tram, so the higher volume of weekend tourists is not too surprising.

My first day at Robertsau Forest was serenaded with songs from what sounded like hundreds of frogs hidden in the brush. I tried to capture a photo or two, but these little creatures were well-hidden. I also wanted to head further into the forest to find more butterflies. By this point, I was infatuated with butterflies, and I was curious to see what other species lived in this part of France.

The entrance to Robertsau is less rugged than Neuhof, and to really get into nature, I had to walk about 40 minutes to 1 hour. As I walked up and down the neatly ordered paths I spotted insects, spiders, and bright blue dragonflies, and I began to wonder if I would see any butterflies. Sure enough, as the afternoon set in, they began to appear. In fact, they were most abundant near fishing spots. Butterflies of all colors flocked to these areas, and, for me, it was nothing short of awesome.

I continued to visit Robertsau Forest and each time I was able to learn about a new species of butterfly that I had not seen before. Of course, they are too often in a hurry for me to capture them. While I write this post, I am still visiting these areas and photographing butterflies.

Silver-Washed Fritillary Butterfly found in Robertsau Forest StrasbourgPin
Silver-Washed Fritillary Butterfly

Summary of My Time Exploring the Forests of Strasbourg

Sometimes the best adventures are located just outside our front door. Granted, this is not the most adventurous or dare devil-type post I have written, but the simplicity of searching for butterflies in the forests of Strasbourg was rejuvenating after a long confinement. I found the forests of Strasbourg to be a wonderful quiet escape from the city. Neuhof forest preserve is definitely quieter than Robertsau. Neuhof forest can be reached by bus, but I just walked. By walking to Neuhof forest, I was able to see some of the smaller villages around Strasbourg and appreciate the peaceful solitude. Robertsau, on the other hand, can be reached by tram (Line E), and is slightly busier, but there are so many paths to explore, one can easily escape the more popular trails.

Exploring the forests of Strasbourg gave me a chance to step away from the typical tourist attractions. These off-the-beaten-path destinations are not in any tourist book, and definitely offer a side of Strasbourg that is often overlooked.


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Read More About My Other Adventures

Hope you enjoyed my post on exploring the forests of Strasbourg. Here are some of my other adventures that you might find interesting.


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