Switzerland is the most beautiful country I have ever visited.
2003 was my first family visit to Switzerland. Following a two day drive from the UK as an 11 year old girl, I remember vividly being in complete awe of the mountains, and the lakes and landscapes which followed, and ever since, have been besotted with the country and the entwined cultures and languages within it.
Two branches of my family live within the canton of Fribourg, near the district of La Gruyère – yes, the cheese! The area is gorgeous, with rolling, open green landscapes, overlooked by spectacular snow capped mountain ranges, including the 2,000m peak of La Moléson which towers in the distance.
I have been fortunate enough to spend many a summer holiday, and winter weekend in the area over the years, and thoroughly enjoyed returning this Easter weekend to revisit such fond childhood memories.
Over the next few blog posts, I will be writing about different districts and places that I re-visited in Switzerland this weekend, and although they may not be the top tourist attractions, it may be useful for someone, somewhere!
The nearest town to my aunts home is Fribourg. A relatively large town, although the town centre is nothing to shout about, there is a standard commercial centre with a relatively well connected station and university. However, much like other large towns and cities in Europe, there is an “old town” adjacent to the newer, lack-lustre extension. The style of the old town may not be as typically or drastically Swiss in comparison with Basel or Bern, but it still exudes a traditionally gothic feeling as it paves the way into the Sarine valley at the base of Fribourg.
There are a plethora of small cafes, bars and restaurants along the cobbled streets of the old town. Offering a comfortable place for locals to mingle on a Saturday morning.
Sights in the town are relatively limited, however, here are a few recommendations for anyone who happens to be visiting:
- Cathedral of St Nicholas
- The cathedral is the focal point of the old town, surrounded at the foot by small restaurants and bars. I believe you can venture to the top of the cathedral for a small fee.
- Les Bains de la Motta – Public Swimming Pool
- This was undoubtedly the best place to go as a child! Located at the foot of the city, the 50m pool is still enticing. There are water fountains, diving boards and two pools for children and adults, alongside a large sunbathing area with many cabins and lockers – a popular attraction for locals and tourists in the summer sun!
- Poya Bridge
- The new bridge connecting the two sides of the valley is a modern addition to the old fashioned town. The bridge provides some great views of the valley below, and can be accessed by car and on foot.
- Villars Chocolate Shop
- Swiss chocolate is a delicacy, and in Villars chocolate shop – a delicacy that one can behold! Villars has a small shop and cafe at the top of the town offering some good deals on the most popular of its selections. A specialist item to be tried here is the “Têtes au Choco”, biscuit based, marshmallow filled, chocolate covered bites!
- Fribourg Gotteron Ice Hockey Team
- Fribourg Gotteron is the local hockey team, for a real taste of local experience and a fun evening out – I recommend trying to catch a match, of course, during the winter months!
- The Valley of Sarine
- The valley itself is an unexpected sight within the town. You can catch great views of the dense forestry and rivers below from any of the crossing bridges.
Beyond Fribourg, many traditional Swiss houses lay in small communities, with their top heavy, terracotta tiled roofs, and stockpiled logs for the winter snow. These villages between Fribourg, stretching to the other side of La Gruyère are so peaceful, with the only audible sound quite often being the cowbells worn around the necks of the roaming livestock.
Although Fribourg is not the first place I would recommend to visit, hopefully this will be of use to anyone in the area! More to come on La Gruyère and Montreux Riviera.