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  Switzerland 2009 - Lakes Neuchatel to Geneva


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Swiss lakes - Neuchâtel to Geneva

Driving down the northern shore of Lake Neuchâtel we stopped at the lakeside at Grandson, a pleasant small town with a castle and marina but also a busy railway line. After a free night parked at the aire next to the campsite and BMX track we drove to the larger town of Yverdon les Bains where we found free parking by the sports arena, a short walk from the lake and the town centre, which also had an old castle and pedestrianised town square. 
Now heading north east up the lake we called in at Estavayer-le-Lac, a town renowned for its rose gardens but we were too early in the season. The old town centre and turreted castle were worth wandering around and there is also a frog museum with colourful examples suspended across the streets. From there it was a short drive to Portalban where there was another free and popular aire by the marina car park and recycling depot, which was only open for a couple of hours in the evening and what seemed like the whole town turned up on bikes, mobility scooters and on foot pulling trolleys and carts loaded with junk - they obviously take it seriously here! 

The next morning we drove to Avenches where there was a small Roman amphitheatre being set up for an operatic production and most of the town centre was dug up for pipelaying. This was the main Roman city in Switzerland but is now a small town with some interesting shops, and signs and flags with a negro woman with a white headband, the significance of which was unclear.  On to Murten on a smaller blue lake, Murtensee with a pleasant waterside park. After a stroll alongside the lake and admiring the strange colourful Nikki de Saint Phalle sculpture (more later) we walked through the town gate in the walls to the arcaded main street where the cafés were busy being a Sunday lunchtime. 

Castle at Grandson   Yverdon town square
Castle at Grandson          Yverdon town square

 Estavayer - Frog museum   Estavayer - castle entrance
Estavayer - Frog museum and castle entrance

 Negro sign at Avenches   Butcher's shop at Avenches
Signs at Avenches

Murten - Nikki de Saint Phalle sculpture
Murten - Nikki de Saint Phalle sculpture

Bern - Zytglogge clock
Bern - Zytglogge clock

As we had planned to visit Bern for a day we drove on to the ACSI listed campsite between Thorishaus and Flamatt as there was good train connection to the city centre. The site was a typical Swiss one, mostly old static caravans and chalets but in a pleasant setting near a river and cycle paths. In the afternoon we watched the strange game of Hornusson being played in the next field with teams throwing large paddles in the air to catch a puck launched from a sling rather like a drive in golf. (there are some videos on Youtube) 

We bought a one day ticket to Bern 30CHF each, (cheaper with a discount card!) the next day and after a short delay due to the train running late (a rare occurrence judging by the apologies offered by the announcer) wandered around the city visiting the large munster cathedral with its amazing detailed portal with over 200 figures depicting Judgement Day above the main door , and the Dance of Death stained glass window. We strolled along the arcaded streets with shops selling expensive luxuries avoiding the almost silent trams. We seem to strike(!) lucky in arriving at animated clocks just before midday but were rather underwhelmed by the Zytglogge  although it was no doubt impressive when first built at the end of the thirteenth century. By mid afternoon with weary legs we caught the train back to Flamatt.

Bern - arcaded street
Bern - arcaded street

Bern - Dance of Death window detail
Bern - Dance of Death window detail

Bern - munster portal
Bern - munster portal

Bern clock and tramwires   Bern munster - strange figureBern - grotesque statue
      Bern clockface and tramwires             Strange sights in the munster       and a grotesque statue 

Heading south we drove to Fribourg which was busy on a Saturday with a farmers market in the centre with some interesting stalls with no prices displayed on anything, a blacksmith shoeing a horse and some street entertainers. The town is quite interesting although as in Bern many of the buildings are in a drab olive sandstone but there  are also many medieval buildings. After looking at the funicular railway that runs on sewage - (extreme recycling!) we visited the modern Jean Tinguely and Nikki de Saint Phalle gallery displaying some of his amazing mechanised constructions and a selection of mostly small figures by his wife and a large sculpture in the grounds. 

From there we drove to Romont. The old town has several towers and an impressive castle with a stained glass museum and a large treadmill inside the castle gateway with fine views across the valley with neat farms and the Alps in the distance. 

 Romont - castle   Romont - treadmill
           Romont - castle and treadmill

After lunch we decided to continue to Bulle and on to a small airfield near Gruyères busy with pleasure flights. Overnight parking was allowed here so we parked up with another motorhome and walked a mile or so to the lively old walled town in the evening where the restaurants were busy serving raclette and Gruyère cheese dishes to the many tourists.

Fribourg - view over town

Fribourg - another Nikki de saint Phalle sulpture
Fribourg - another Nikki de saint Phalle sulpture


Gruyeres main square
Gruyères main square

The next morning we drove south calling in at the TCS campsite at Enney where there was a free service borne outside the entrance, then back to Bulle and a virtually empty motorway to Vevey and along the northern shore of Lake Leman (Geneva), calling in at Cully a small resort surrounded by vineyards and busier Ouchy, the lakeside suburb of Lausanne. Being a sunny Sunday there were crowds everywhere so we drove on to the pretty village of Saint Prex where we parked behind the sports centre and had a peaceful overnight stay. The old town centre and promenade were very attractive and we lazed around watching the Swiss at play and an old time steamers gala as an added attraction. 
Saint Prex -   steamer on lake Leman    cat ladder     Saint Prex - colourful street
  Saint Prex -   steamer on lake Leman                   cat ladder                              colourful street

Saint Prex promenade
  Saint Prex promenade

Saint Prex gateway
Saint Prex gateway

On the Monday we headed back along the lake to Morges where there was another free borne at the TCS campsite then parked at Ouchy just past the Olympic Parc and museum which is worth a visit. There were many interesting sculptures in the grounds including several made from sand depicting recent Olympic Heroes, and high jump and pole-vault bars set at the current unbelievable world record heights. As the weather was fine we decided to head for the Alps and drove on the motorway to Martigny and the Vallais region.

Ouchy chateau and lakeside
Ouchy chateau and lakeside

Lausanne - Olympic Parc entrance     Lausanne - Olympic flame     Lausanne - Olympic Parc entrance
The Olympic Flame at the Olympic Parc Lausanne

Lausanne - Olympic Parc sand statue 1     Lausanne - Olympic Parc sand statue 2     Lausanne - Olympic Parc sand statue 3
sand sculptures

Lausanne - Olympic Parc torso statue           Lausanne - Olympic Parc Swatch rings sculpture          Lausanne - Olympic Parc cyclists statue

Olympic Parc statues

Lausanne - Olympic Parc sumo statue      Lausanne - Olympic Parc swimmer statue      Lausanne - Olympic Parc face statue

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