Few cities in France can claim to be as industrial as Mulhouse. Regarded as the French Manchester, Mulhouse's history has ebbed and flowed with the rise and fall of various industries. Up until the 1970s it was among France's wealthiest cities. But as heavy industry began its inevitable decline, so did Mulhouse. Not unlike the north of England and the American Rust Belt, the city fell on hard times, with surging crime and unemployment rates.
After decades of decline, Mulhouse has started to re-emerge on the national scene as of 2020, though the seeds of the city's renaissance were planted since the 2000s. Thanks to its history, cultural heritage, geographic location, and a plethora of investments made to gentrify neighbourhoods, rehabilitate public transportation, and new stores, the city is slowly by surely getting out of its dark ages.
Mulhouse is on the main line from Paris to Basel, and is also served by long-distance TGV services from Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur to Switzerland, Germany, and Luxembourg, and medium-distance TER services from Strasbourg. There are also local international services to Müllheim in Germany, for connections to Freiburg and Karlsruhe. For ticket purchase, see the SNCF.
2 Bus stop. Drop off point for all major bus operators: ALSA, FlixBus, Ouibus.
The closest airport, EuroAirport (MLH IATA) is some 25 km south and serves Mulhouse, Basel and Freiburg. To reach the city from the airport by public transport, take bus 11 to Saint Louis railway station and then a local train to Mulhouse.
Other airports within a two-hour drive include Strasbourg Airport, Karlsruhe/Baden-Baden, and Zürich Airport.
By tram and bus
The city centre and major suburbs are linked by a three-line tram system. Other parts of the city are served by a bus network, although bus routes may be less frequent and have more limited operating hours. Both are operated by SOLEA. A single fare is €1.50, a carnet of ten single tickets is €13.40, a day-pass €4.30, and a three-day pass €8.20. There is also a tram-train service, extending certain journeys on route 3 onto the railway line to Thann.
- 1 Place de la Réunion. The main square of the old town of Mulhouse. Major buildings include the Temple (Protestant Church) of St. Etienne, popularly nicknamed the "cathedral", and the old town hall. The Temple was constructed in the nineteenth century, although it looks much older, and incorporates stained glass and furnishings from the medieval building that it replaced. The former town hall, which houses the city historical museum (free entry), is notable for its elaborate mock-marble trompe d'oeil painted decoration.
- The old town. The mostly-pedestrianised old town is not as picturesque as some others in Alsace, as it was mainly stone rather than timber-framed, and it was severely damaged during World War II. However, it still includes some attractive old buildings, most significantly the Cour des Chaines, a 16th-century townhouse now used as an arts centre.
- 2 The New Quarter. Centred on the Place de la Republique, the New Quarter was constructed between the old town and the canal (and later railway) in the early 19th century to house important business institutions and the homes of newly wealthy industrial families.
- Tour de l'Europe, 3, bd de l'Europe. A skyscraper with a restaurant on the top floor. Acts as a landmark within the city centre if you get lost.
- 3 Écomusée d'Alsace, Chemin du Grosswald, 68190 Ungersheim (16 km north, via the D430, exit junction 5. Hourly bus service M-Sa on route 54 (journeys via Pulversheim only)). Open mid Mar–early Nov 10:00–18:00; late Nov–early Jan 10:30–18:30. Museum of traditional Alsatian rural life featuring 74 original buildings, agricultural lands, and craft demonstrations. Adults €15, concessions and children (aged 4-14) €10.
- Musée du papier peint, 28 rue Zuber B.P. 41 F. The museum of wallpaper manufacturing.
- 4 Cité de l'Automobile - Collection Schlumpf (National Auto Museum - Schlumpf Collection), 15 rue de l’épée (Tram stop Musee de l'Auto (route 1)), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Daily, opening times vary by season. France's largest motor museum and one of the largest in Europe, built around the collection of the industrialist Schlumpf brothers, seized by the nation in 1981 in lieu of unpaid taxes following the bankruptcy of the company. The museum is known in particular for its collection of Bugattis, including two of the six legendary Type 41 "Royale" super-luxury cars. The collection also includes a wide range of other French and European road and racing cars. Two specialised collections are a collection of official and unofficial radiator cap mascots, and the Jammet Collection of children's pedal cars, some items from which are displayed adjacent to the full-size cars that they represented. On weekends and bank holidays in high summer, live historic car shows occur in the neighbouring "Autodrome", with collection vehicles in motion €13, €10.50 concession.
- 5 Cité du Train (City of the Train - National Railway Museum), 2, rue Alfred de Glehn (Tram Musees (route 3 and tram-train). The stop is in easy walking distance, but a rail shuttle operates on certain weekends in high season), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Daily, 10:00-1700 winter, 10:00-18:00 summer. France's national railway museum and one of the largest in Europe. The museum is divided into three display areas: the "Spectacle Trail", a thematic display with some impressive and controversial scenic and lighting effects; the "Platforms of History", a more traditional chronological display of vehicles; and the open air "Railway Panorama", housing additional vehicles and a few very large architectural and technical items. There are generally no train rides available, although in the "Platforms of History" area the huge Nord 4-6-4 232U1 is hourly used for demonstrations of a steam engine's motion, electrically powered, and in high season two miniature railways operate indoors and outdoors. €12 adults, €9.50 children. Also combined tickets with Electropolis museum.
- 6 Electropolis, 55 rue du Pâturage. Electricity museum.
- Zoological and botanical garden, 51 rue du Jardin Zoologique.
- Musée des beaux arts, 4, place Guillaume Tell. Art museum.
- Carrefour, rue de Berne (Take exit 20 from the A36 motorway and turn towards Ile Napoleon). A hypermarket near the motorway where you can buy all you need for the trip.
Many cheap kebab shops.
- Zum Sauwadala, 13 rue de l'Arsenal, ☏ . 12:00-14:00, 19:00-01:30. Traditional Alsatian restaurant in the old town with gigantic portions.
- Il Cortile, 11 rue des Franciscains, ☏ . Tu-Sa 12:00-13:30, 19:00-21:00. Very good but expensive upmarket Italian restaurant.
- Murphy's Pub: an Irish-themed bar downtown.
- Caffe Leffe: a cafe by day and bar by night.
- Zen (2 avenue Lutterbach; near Daguerre tram station) a bar and Chinese restaurant. Sometimes has well-attended karaoke nights.
- 1 Hotel Ibis Mulhouse Ville Gare Centrale, 53, rue de Bale, ☏ . From €60.
- 2 Auberge de jeunesse de Mulhouse, 37 Rue de l'Illberg (Tram 2 to Palais des Sports), ☏ . 103-bed youth hostel next the university campus and its sports facilities. Breakfast (€4) available. beds from €20, rooms from €27.
Mulhouse is generally safe twenty-four hours a day and quiet at night, but people unfamiliar with the area would do well to steer clear of areas like Bourtzwiller (north of the A36) and Les Coteaux (at the west end of tram line 2). Beggars can be a nuisance, but you don't have to give them anything; they won't harm you. In the unlikely event that you should find yourself in trouble, call 112 free from any payphone or from your mobile.
- You can continue your trip to the wine-growing areas of Alsace, or the other major Alsatian cities of Colmar and Strasbourg.
- For fans of French-made cars, the Peugeot museum is located at the PSA factories in Souchaux near Montbéliard about 40 km from Mulhouse.
- Germany and Switzerland are both reached in half an hour by car. The nearest major cities are Basel and Freiburg.
- The Black Forest is a relatively short distance across the German border.