The Grand Tour of Switzerland is basically a circular route that takes in natural and cultural highlights and a lot of activities. I did a stage of the tour and saw distinguished historical cities and perky mountain villages. I walked through unspoiled nature and through fashionable shopping streets and admired views that were sometimes created by nature and sometimes by human hands. A road trip as a road trip should be. The journey is the goal. No freeways. I'll take you from Fribourg to Lake Thun.
Fribourg once was a religious city with a lot of nunneries and churches. History and religion left their mark, but nowadays Fribourg is a lively university town, partly French speaking, partly German speaking. That mix and the unique layout make it an interesting town. There is an upper and a lower town. The upper town is situated on a rock surrounded on three sides by the meanders of the river Saane, complete with ramparts. The lower town straddles that river.
Obviously you visit a cheese factory and eat cheese fondue. The village is a well-preserved postcard of traditional houses, flowers, wood and plasterwork. The wonderful Chateau (Castle), dating from the thirteenth century, completes the town.
A totally different world awaits a few hundred meters away. The world of Alien. The artist who was responsible for the design of the Alien in the famous movie founded a museum in Gruyeres, filled with fantasy painting of aliens and hybrid monster-machine creatures.
Mountain walks and views: Relleri and Niesen
A cable car takes you to the top of the 1831 meter high mountain Rellerli. From there you can make beautiful walks along the mountain ridges direction Sparenmoos. At the Niesen, a nearly perfect triangular 2363 meter high mountain in the Bernese Alps also known as the pyramid of Switzerland is a funicular takes you to the top. There an amazing view of a large number of high Alpine peaks awaits. Below the beautifully blue Lake Thun can be seen. And the walk down takes you through green meadows accompanied by the sound of cow bells.
Gstaad and Saanen, the chalet villages
Gstaad is obviously a place with a reputation for jet set and famous hotels like the Gstaad Palace hotel dating from 1913 that, as befits a palace, towers over the town. A little bit more down to earth is Saanen, a textbook example of a well-preserved chalet village where every house has its story.
The lakeside cities of Spiez and Thun
Spiez is a very laid back little town right on the shore of the lake, with a picturesque castle, quiet green streets and wine grown almost in the center of town. A little furher along the shore is the town of Thun. The first settlement here dates from around 2500 BC. At the spot where the Thun lake and river Aare meet a beautiful old center was build between the twelfth and sixteenth centuries. A medieval castle towers over the city. The old wooden locks between the lake and the river still function.
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The Grand Tour