Impressions / Impressionen / Impressions
The impressive rock cirque called the Creux-du-Van is a kilometre (more than
The huge, tortured shapes of the stalag-mites and stalactites together with the highlight of the Reclere Caves, the "Great Hall", are truly spectacular. The Reclere caves are awe-inspiring testimony to the forces of nature when left to their own devices over thousands of years. Adjacent to the caves is the new Prehistoric Park, where a 2-km-long cultural and educational path traces the evolution of life in an exciting and inspiring way.
A cleared and marked footpath leads through the high heaths round the Cruere tarn. Information Panels along the way provide information about the region's flora and fauna. This walk combines all
Champ-Pittet is nature up close. A 40-hectare (IOO-acre) site run by Switzerland's Pro Natura nature conservation organization provides a home for an exceptionally wide variety of flora and fauna ranging from waterlilies floating on an enchanted forest pool and the rare forest alder to as many as 200 species of birds. Marked nature paths have been laid out so that visitors tan observe the animals in their natural habitat without startling them.
From paragliding and mountain biking to watching bison that seem to have wandered in from another age - this nature garden of the "Jura Arc" has something to gladden the heart of every active visitor. And all at the refreshing altitude of 1607 metres (5270 feet) above sea level!
MUSEUMS AND ART: ROMANS, CLOCKS AND WATCHES, FRIEDRICH DÜRRENMATT.
Dedicated to Friedrich Dürrenmatt (1921-90), the Centre was designed by the Ticino architect Mario Botta and inaugurated in autumn 2000. It includes an exhibition devoted to Dürrenmatt's activities in the fields of literature and the visual arts, and provides an account of the Swiss writer's life and work.
The larger of two Roman mosaics adorning a Galle-Roman Villa in Vallon was discovered in 1985. A museum dedicated to the various archaeological finds and depicting the life and times of the Roman era was opened in October 2000. Here Julius Caesar and Virgil suddenly come to life.
This is the only museum of its kind in the world devoted to the historical. artistic and scientific aspects of time measurement. More than 4000 exhibits are shown, ranging from sundials to an atomic clock.
The Vallee de Joux is one of the cradles of the Swiss watchmaking industry. The museum recounts the Story of watchmaking in this remote valley from its origins asa Cottage industry to the present day. Standing clocks from the 16th to the 19th centuries vie for attention with products of top-name international manufacturers. A special attraction is a replica of an old-time watchmaker's Workshop.
The "Musee de I'Hotel-Dieu" in Porrentruy is housed in one of the mostbeautiful former hospitals of Switzerland, built in the late baroque style. Exhibits include a maplewood pharmacy from 1847, a large collection of pocket watches made in Porrentruy between 1880 and 1950, and a gallery of topper engravings with old views of the bishopric of Basle. A special room is devoted to the reproduction of old books published in Porrentruy between 1592 and 1792.
SIGHTS: BUTTERFLIES, CASTLES, CHURCHES.
Exotic butterflies and birds in all colours and sizes flit and flutter among the luxuriant Vegetation. They live free in their recreated habitat. so don't be surprised if one perches on your shoulder. The Papiliorama is a shimmering tropical dream come true. In the Nocturama, night becomes day. Mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fishes and invertebrates you never see otherwise move around as if the visitors weren't there.
Seeing Fribourg from above, you discover one hidden gothic pearl after another. Choice vantage Points for a bird's-eye view are the tower of St. Nicholas Cathedral or the Bürglen Cate (ioreto Chapel, accessible by a tourist miniature railway). And when you go down toexplore the quiet little streets of this city of learning and art, be sure not to miss the Jean Tinguely - Niki de Saint Phalle Arts Complex.
Aida, Carmen, Nabucco and Rigoletto: Avenches stages grand Opera in the magnificent Roman amphitheatre. The event is under the Patronage of Expo.02.
The Aventicum Musical Parade is a major international brass band Parade that takes place against the magnificent backdrop of the Roman arena in Avenches (Aventicum). The 2002 Programme features the Glenn Miller repertoire and the Swiss Army Big Band as well as bands from France, Germany, Sweden and Britain. This spectacular event is under the Patronage of Expo.02.
The village of St-Ursanne lies off the beaten track on the right bank of the Doubs, famous for its trout. A delightful survival from a more quiescent age, it has lost none of its medieval charm. A visit to St. Ursanne tan easily be combined with a hiking or bicycle tour in the Jura.
TOWNS AND TOURS: OMEGA, TINGUELY, LE CORBUSIER.
Yverdon-les-Bains has a proud history going back more than 6000 years. And you come across it at every Step. This small town offers everything from prehistoric standing stones (menhirs) in the suburb of Clendy to Roman ruins, from a 13th-century Savoyard castle to an 18th-century church and town ball, not to forget three museums (Musee d'Yverdon-les-Bains, Fashion Museum, Maison d'Ailleurs) and the Pestalozzi documentation and research centre.
La Chaux-de-Fonds, watchmaking centre and birthplace of the architect Le Corbusier, automobile pioneer Louis Chevrolet and writer Blaise Cendrars, is the highest town in Europe at 1000 m (3300 ft). It sets high Standards in other fields too, with its rich cultural life, attractive museums and numerous sporting activities. The area is a paradise for hikers and bikers, and in Winter Cross-country skiers have 400 km (250 miles) of tracked trails to choose from.
This university town has a rich cultural and architectural heritage. Guided tours take in the old town, the castle and the Collegiate Church. Numerous excellent museums link the past and the present, above all the Fine Arts and History Museum with Jaquet Droz's famous automata dating from 1774, and the Dürrenmatt Centre. And there's no shortage of bistros when you want to take the weight off your feet.
Charles the Bald and his Burgundian army were routed here by the Swiss in 1476. In the Museum Murten, you can find out how the wily Swiss got the better of the duke and his men. After tramping round the ramparts, you can take a leisurely walk along the main street and explore the arcades. Or how about a stroll along the lakeside Promenade? Or both? No rush - you tan always have a drink in one of the many cosy cafes lining the lake front while you decide what you want to do.
Bern, Switzerland's capital, is also famous for its bearpit, fountains and clock tower.
Straddling the language frontier, Biel (its German name) or Bienne (in French) is the only town in Switzerland that is truly bilingual. The town's outgoing mentality and the presence of the two language groups are everywhere apparent. Bienne has a lively new town and a charming "vieille ville" where shopping is a Prime attraction. Bienne is also a traditional watch-making centre and home to such world-famous names as Omega, Swatch and Mido. It is only a stone's throw away from the lush rolling hills of the Jura, and the Three Lakes region (comprising the lakes of Bienne, Neuchatel and Morat) is right on its doorstep.
This spa town with its mineral springs offers everything to promote wellness and relaxation. Spa amenities range from massage and solarium through hammam and Sauna to an aquadrome and giant jacuzzi. As we weil know, what's good for the body is good for the mind too.
Enjoy the glorious Panorama of the Three Lakes region from the Chaumont funicular at an altitude of 1000 m (3300 ft). Take in the chain of the Alps - and the arteplages.
A hive of activity in a peaceful natural setting with lots to see - an agricultural museum, the Tete de Moine ("Monk's Head") cheese factory and Bellelay Abbey for Starters. Or the centre for the promotion of the Franches-Montagnes horse. Don't be surprised if you suddenly find yourself face to face with one of these proud beasts on one of the many nature trails. It will quickly raise its head, then quietly resume grazing
Roam through the gently rolling vineyards. Admire the views of the lake and St. Peters Island. See the vineyards from a far on a boat trip. Visit the Ligerz viticulture museum. Swap oenological arcana and other Stories with the wine-growers. Or simply pass the time of day over a glass of heady local wine in one of the region's many cosy wine cellars.
For a most unusual thrill, try zipping through the Franches-Montagnes on a giant scooter with your family or friends at your own Pace. You can choose between two routes: 7 km (4 miles) from Saignelegier to Peu-Pequinot, or 20 km (13 miles) from Peu-Pequinot to Goumois, including 10 km downhill. Hold onto your hats, and off you go!
WATER: BOATS, WATERFALLS, SURFING.
THREE LAKES BOAT TRIP
For a different perspective on the lakeside villages, vineyards and woods, take a boat tour of the lakes of Bienne. Neuchatel and Morat, passing through the Broye and Thielle canals. Occasionally you will catch sight of an angler trying his luck, or a heron standing motionless on one leg in the shallows. Break your journey for a dish of perch at a lakeside restaurant in Morat, washed down with a pitcher of local white wine. Then back to the boat as it sails into the setting sun on Switzerland's longest
You board the semi-catamaran "Siesta" for the varied voyage to Bienne in Soleure, the loveliest baroque town in Switzerland. The journey takes you past the Altreu stork colony and the small town of Büren, as the nearby heights of the Jura mountains slide by. Now, how about a Siesta after the "Siesta"?
This easy tour stays mostly on level ground with a few undulations, following the flat terrain or gently rolling hills of the Swiss "Mittelland". Wherever possible, the reute sticks closely to the Aare, linking attractive towns and villages you will be tempted to explore. Picnic spots abound in the delightful countryside and along the scenic banks of the lakes of Wohlen and Bienne. And, of course, you tan simply stop and take a dip if the going gets too hot .
The charming small medieval town of Estavayer-Ie-Lac on Lake Neuchatel boats Switzerland's best-equipped water sports centre. The "Nouvelle Plage" (New Beach) features a playground, restaurant, camp site and unique water ski lift. Pedal boats, surfboards and catamarans are available for hire.
Starting from Yverdon-les-Bains, discover Lake Neuchatel the environmentally friendly way on a solar-powered boat. Families, school Parties or groups of friends and business associates tan explore the lake's hidden charms from a new angle. The boats take 8 to 24 passengers.
KNOWLEDGE AND DISCOVERY: HORTICULTURE, CLASSIC CARS.
Located at the far end of the Le Locle valley, Col-des-Roches houses a sight unique in Europe. At the foot of the rock wall behind an old mill, gapes a cavern which setted as an underground factory for 400 years. The renovated, refurnished manufactory, driven by the power of the subterranean watercourse, tells the gripping story of the courageous and inventive people who once lived here.
What was it like to live in the Stone Age? Thanks to excavations at the La Tene site near Neuchatel, archaeologists have been able to recreate a Neolithic lake settlement in Gletterens. The thatched mud huts give a vivid impression of what everyday life must have been like 5000 years ago.
The hill separating the lakes of Neuchatel and Morat was of major importante even in Celtic times. You tan also see caves dating from the First World War which were hewn out of the sandstone. The sunny slopes are the site of one of Switzerland's smallest wine-growing regions, accessible via an an 8-km (5miles) educational path.
The area was an important north-south transit route even before Roman times. Vallorbe, Romainmotier, La Sarraz and Orbe, known collectively as The Three Valleys (Les Trois Vallons), offer an extraordinary range of sights. History, museums and nature combine to form a harmonious whole, with countless opportunities for outdoor leisure pursuits.
Muriaux, a small village in the Franches-Montagnes has recently upped its horse-power. In addition to the real wild horses for which it is famous. it now offers an automobile museum with some fifty cars ranging from early 20th-century classics to the present day. The museum specializes in sports cars, coupes and cabriolets. Distinguished marques like Bugatti, Peugeot, Maserati, Lamborghini, Rolls-Royce, Aston Martin, Jaguar and Mercedes vie for attention in a collection that is guaranteed to make any car enthusiast's heart beat faster!