Back in the times when I lived in Paris, a fellow expat and I decided it would be a great idea to leave Paris a Friday afternoon and head down to Switzerland by car for the weekend. It was actually crazy and last minute but most definitely worthwhile, even if rushed. We realized we would only be scratching the surface of what western Switzerland has to offer but we kept talking about it as a “research trip” to see how Switzerland was. A sampler trip if you will.
We departed Paris in the late afternoon and drove a few hours to our planned overnight stop at Besançon. We stayed at a small hotel close to the casino. We mistakenly thought it may be interesting to enter the casino but it was way too smoky so we just walked around town and grabbed dinner at a run-of-the-mill cafè. What struck us was that Besançon itself could have been a destination as the city looked like it had areas to explore. A visit for some other time…
Besançon was close to the Swiss border so Saturday morning it did not take us long to make it to Switzerland proper. At the border we had to buy a sticker to allow us to drive a foreign car on Swiss roads – something we were not aware of until we got to the border. We drove in the Jura region which had beautiful scenery (not an uncommon thing in Switzerland!) until we made it to Lausanne. We were not planning on exploring it on this trip so we it was strictly a drive-by. It looked like a town worth checking out but our goal was to get to Bern where we had planned to stay overnight and visit Interlaken that afternoon.
We wanted to see Interlaken that afternoon but since we had no hotel reservations for Saturday night, we drove into Bern first, went to the tourist info office, and got a hotel room. I have to say the tourist info office was fantastic and efficient in helping us secure accommodations. Why am I not surprised or am I stereotyping? 🙂 The small hotel was in the town center and we had fun driving to get to that part of town. Bern is set in an enclave surrounded by the Aar River on 3 sides. One of the best views of the town is actually from the opposite site of the river where you can take in the town’s setting and charming architecture.
After checking in, we quickly departed Bern to hit Interlaken before it was too late in the day. The drive south to Interlaken was very short and, again, beautiful. I remember listening to Billy Joel during the drive but don’t ask me what that has to do with anything; the memory just came up as I typed… Interlaken is, as the name suggests, between lakes and the setting could not be more spectacular. Of course, the tourist shops take away from the scenery a little bit so we walked away from that part of the town (after having a beer!) to find a place to eat that would not be at the heart of the tourist zone (yet, we were tourists – the irony, huh?). We found a nice place and had a great meal. Highlight of the meal was these two young women who were tourists who after the meal ordered what they thought was a dessert and it turned out to be this massive bowl of some sort of soup. They kept giggling and since they were speaking English we asked them what was up. They were embarrassed but we all laughed together at this example of the fun experiences one can have when one explores.
That night in Bern we went out to check out some of the night scene. We ended up sitting outdoors in some bar that seemed happening. We enjoyed sitting out there soaking in the scene before calling it a night.
Sunday came too fast (what did we expect?) and time to head back to Paris. We decided to make our way back via Lucerne where we stopped to have lunch lakeside before the long road ahead. We left Switzerland near Basel and made it “home” safely.
Though the trip was way too short, we enjoyed sampling some of what Switzerland has to offer. And the research trip clearly yielded a desire to go back and spend more time.
Does anyone have recommendations on unique things in Lausanne, Bern, Interlaken or Lucerne to see or do? How about any small towns in that part of the country that are picturesque/worth seeing?