Happy New Year to all! Here we go 2013, many things await for us to achieve. During the holidays, we have achieved another inspection trips for our travellers from Asia. Lately we have got many requests from China, Singapore, Thailand, and Rhine Fall is one of the places in their wish list. We planned the route, set up the date, and voilà, off we went to visit Rhine Falls near Schaffhausen, very close to Zurich. We drove 2 hour and a half from Montreux, directly to the Schaffhausen. Arrived there, and we could see that this place is definitely well-known!! It’s easy to find parkings, there are even parkings for buses. So, you can guess how much people are visiting this place, the facilities are ready. We could hear the falls at the entrance, but we couldn’t see much of it. After paying CHF 5 per person, we entered the site. Just the first stretch of stairs, we could already start to see the beauty of this Rheinfall. Many people stopped here already to take some photos, but of course it got more beautiful in every stretches we walked down.
Once we walked down to the bottom, there’s a little cave which leads us to get even closer to the fall, get sprayed by the falls. At that point, it was pretty amazing, he sound, the freshness of water spilled on us. Everyone couldn’t miss the photo over here. It gives an impression of you are in the falls, but you don’t get soaking wet. Well, we didn’t stay long, obviously many people would like to come in and take a great shot from this spot too.
After we had enough of this side, there are 2 glass elevators await for us to bring us back up to the entrance. It’s quite convenient for family with baby and stroller, or with the disabled. Then we walked across the new walkway bridge, well, train way bridge as well. Crossed to the other side of the falls, and it was a nice strolling stretch actually. From there, we saw the falls with the Laufen Castle… and that is beautiful.
We can see that our travellers from Asia will enjoy the beauty of this massive Rheinfall.
Find out another wish list in the next post soon..
At Café de Tour, ‘see more’ is our mantra. This means that we try to include in our visits and programmes, places and destinations that are not only beautiful, different or just special, but we also try to include places that are not that well-known outside the borders of Switzerland. The Chillon castle is definitely a place that everybody visiting Switzerland should see. But there are definitely other places that are worth a visit, and unknown to even some local people. Estavayer-le-Lac is such a place. I have to admit that I didn’t know much about it but every time I saw the image of Estavayer-le-lac on their website, I’ve wanted to visit this place and tell you more about it. The picture with eagle eyes angle towards the lake, the water is crystal clear and emerald green, feel so much natural.
When we arrived there, the first thing that impressed us, what the huge fortifications that guard the entrance of the town. They seemed to come out the 12th century when the town was founded with the guard tower, the gate and the moat.
Going through the gate we stepped right into the old town, or should I say ‘medieval town’. It is indeed a charming small medieval town since 12th century with very rich history behind. The whole town of Estavayer-le-lac is part of the Inventory of Swiss Heritage Sites, and as you walk through it, you really have the feeling of walking back in the old time. In Switzerland we are lucky, as there are a lot of well-preserved medieval towns and cities. Berne, Lausanne, Murten spring to mind, but what is different with Estavayer-le-Lac is that there is very little reminders from modern life. Walking through the town, one can easily try to imagine how life was in the past.
So we walked through the town, basking in the nice medieval atmosphere of the town, and then we finished with the Chenaux castle. There is a nice walk around its garden and fortifications, but unfortunately we could not visit inside the castle, as it is not open to visitors. But the walk around the castle is still worth the time. After the morning visit, we then decided to go down to Neuchatel Lake. After the old town, it really felt like we walked in a big resort with a beautiful lake in front. The town is well-ordered, very clean, trees are shaped beautifully, and there’s a little horse garden just before crossing the road to the lake, and its big pier.
Since we were here for the beach, we walked back to the main road, and continued to the north, followed the sign board to ‘La Nouvelle Plage’. It is one of the camping areas, the other one so called ‘La Corbière’ Yet, if you want to go to the beach and enjoy the lake side? La Nouvelle Plage is the place you want to head to. It was middle of the afternoon when we stepped our feet on the beach area. No surprised, it was crowded. However, we still found a great spot right on the sandy beach, and behind us was a little playground and a big slider. This place, I tell you, it couldn’t be more perfect for family with small children. You can go into the lake, nice and sandy, or if you happened to get bored with jumping in the lake (which is not the case for us), you could go on the slider with your kids. 2 different kinds of fun at the same place your kids can enjoy. How great is that!!
By the time we left the nice beach, it was late evening, and people started to make their BBQ dinner. Of course, there are a few spots available for you to make your own BBQ. There’s a bar, where you can get a fancy glass of Caipirinha. If you imagine yourself, wake up in the morning and walk right into the lake with the least crowd possible, you could rent the space for an overnight camping here.
We have definitely ‘classified’ Estavayer-le-Lac as a ‘see more’ town. We don’t have any itinerary that travels through the charming town yet, but we will be working on it. But again, if you would like to visit it, we can sure organise something for you.
How was your weekend? We spent the Sunday on playing games, and also watching other people played games. There was a game festival took place at the castle of La Tour de Peilz. Yes, another beautiful castle located on the bank of Lac Léman, dated back to the Duke of Savoy. It was unfortunately destroyed during the Burgundy wars. Then many years later, it was reconstructed and remained in a private hands until 1979. The municipal of La Tour de Peilz has bought it back and now popular for the game museum.
The entrance is free, and there were so many game corners that you and your kids can try out. The garden area outside the castle was the area for those ancient wooden games. Even with hula hoop, well it has been developed from the ancient greece game to be a colorful plastic, still many kids enjoyed it.
Inside of the castle, we found many corners dedicated to board games. There was eating corners, there were many pretty girls were selling pastry, giggling with locals and travelers, making such a nice atmosphere on the garden overlooking the lake. It was great to sit down there, let the kids run, have some sweet and drinks, and enjoy the view.
What we found very nice about the area around this castle is its ‘beaches’ Well, it’s not a sandy beach where kids can build a sand castle, but they sure can swim in a lake and play with lots of small rocks. There are 2 places, they called it le Bain des dames (ladies bath) and le Bain des hommes (men bath) Most of the time, it is quite busy at les Bain des hommes because it is bigger, more green garden to lie down, there’s a playground for kids, and there’s also the stand for grilling your dinner.
There are quite a few nice and chill out beaches along with beautiful castle in Switzerland. Check out more information on our website http://www.cafedetour.ch
Another beautiful place that I don’t mind living here at all. A new castle city! or Neuchatel. We started exploring this city from top to bottom. We drove up to see a panoramic view over the lake of Neuchatel at the Castle Vaumarcus, a beautiful medieval castle dated back in the middle age of Switzerland. Nowadays, it’s a private residential, yet there is 1 and the only one room as bed&breakfast. Imagine yourself in a medieval bed and room in a 10th century castle. Then, wake up in the morning, you can go to have your nice breakfast at the Café du Chateau just adjacent to it. Well well, I better borrow my daughter’s princess costume, so I could pretend that I’m a real princess in a real castle for once!!
We drove down to park the car in an old town. The town is rich with historical background, including its castle and fortification. However, I don’t feel like walking in a total medieval town. This charming town is very cute, old buildings mixes with some cool quirky feature of modernization. When walking in this town, better watch out, not to fall into a little river line running through the street. It’s actually the River Seyon, which used to flow through this city. The river flooded and caused of lost of lives, it was diverted through the tunnel a few bloc away. To keep this river in memory, the water channel have been created through the length of Rue du Seyon nowadays.
The more time we spent on this town, the more french touch we felt. With all the café that spill out on the small street, and cobbled square, it creates such a nice atmosphere. Especially with the background of Café des Halles – one of the many sites listed as Swiss heritage site of national significance. This ‘maison’ deserved it, don’t you think?
Walked a bit further to the direction of the lake, there are many spots for picnic. People spent their time chilling out along the lake, biking, chatting, looking at the lake and the Alps and Jura.
It’s a lovely stretch for promenade indeed. If you would like to have a taste of luxury services, Beau Rivage Hotel located just right over there, overlooking the Lake of Neuchatel.
We actually walked back up to visit the castle and its fortification. Unfortunately, we couldn’t visit inside of the castle, it’s now the place for municipality. However, we did visit its tower, and its fortification. The footbridge does give a special feeling of medieval town. It connects to the park of the castle, a great spot for picnic and view point here.
A couple of weeks ago, we decided to go for a little visit of the Three Lakes region over the week-end with the visit of Avenches, Yverdon, Estavayer-le-Lac, Murten and Neuchâtel. We wanted to give you a little account of the visit. Sao already talked about the medieval town of Murten here, so we will not repeat ourselves. Today I would like to talk to you about Avenches.
Avenches nice little medieval town in the north of the Canton of Vaud that was built on a hill during the Roman times. It was actually a Roman settlement called Aventicum, which became the capital of the Roman Switzerland around 15-13 B.C. The name comes apparently from the Helvetian spring goddess Aventia. The town is actually quite small with only three main medieval streets. But those are very well preserved, and walking through them, I could easily picture how the town looked and felt in the Dark Ages. On top of the hill, there is a very nice square in front of the Protestant Church, that was built in the 11th century, where we had a nice relaxing drink after an afternoon in the sun. Another interesting sight is the town’s castle, but we did not stop to visit it.
We finally walked to the main attraction of the town, the large, and very well-preserved, Roman amphitheatre. It is a unique sight in Switzerland, and even if not as impressive as the Colosseum in Rome, you can still imagine the games in this arena where animal fights, gladiatorial combat and staged hunts took place to entertain the masses. The tower you see at one end of the amphitheatre is the Tour de l’Eveque (Bishop tower), which houses the excellent Roman museum.
As we were visiting the town, the arena was the scene of the annual summer opera festival. This year Giacomo Puccini’s La Bohème was being performed. I never been to an opera myself, but this festival is really a cultural highlight of the country. We could see many people who were coming for the show and they looked geniuly excited to be here. We might give it a try next year. It is actually not the only festival that takes advantage of this special surroundings. In August, the amphitheatre hosts the rock music festival appropriately called Rock Oz’Arènes. It’s a very good rock festival with always some good names and the amphitheatre gives it quite a special atmosphere. ZZ Top, Iggy and The Stooges, Alice Cooper were on the programme this year. Let’s see what the programme will bring next year.
After visiting the amphitheatre, we decided to go visit the other famous ruins of Aventicum. After 5 minutes walk from the Amphitheatre, we went to see the Cigognier Sanctuary, or what is left from it. It’s an impressive high roman column remaining from an ancient temple which was said to have emulated the luxury of the imperial buildings in Rome. It’s actually quite difficult to imagine how it looked like, as most of the stones have been used to build the medieval town. But next to the site, we found some good explanations on a signpost that give clear explanation and helped us imagine how the temple looked like. By seeing at how big and tall that pillar was, and understanding that it was only one pillar out of dozens, we could imagine how huge the actual temple was. We then visited some other roman ruins, such as the Theatre, the Forum Baths, and the same comment applies again. But with the help of the signposts and a very clear descriptor from www.aventicum.org, we still could imagine how those temples and buildings might have looked like, and how big they were too.
To finish off the visit, we decided to walk to the ancient city ramparts of the charming town. The twenty-minute walk made us understand how huge the city actually was. We walked through fields and forrests from the remains of the theatre to reach the ancient city gates and watching towers. From there, looking back at the town, I could now see how Aventicum was the provincial capital of Helvetia. The city covered lots of ground indeed.
At the ramparts and next to the city gate, we also visited the one of the remaining watch towers. It is called the Tower of Tornallaz and it is the only one that has been preserved. It served apparently as an observation and reporting post since the medieval times. The tower was restored several times, but they have kept the original architecture and the original medieval feel. It was really well-done. From the top of the tower, we could see Avenches, and on the other we had a magnificent view of the lakes of Murten and Neuchâtel.
Overall, it was a nice cultural afternoon spent in Avenches. We did not take advantage of it, but the Avenches tourism office organizes guided tours of the town, and they also organize tours, workshops and shows where the guides dress up and act like romans as they explain the history town in a fun way. It was really fun when we visited Besançon, and we will definitely give it a try in the future.
If you want to visit Avenches, it is located close to Yverdon and Payerne in the north of the canton de Vaud, less than one hour from Lausanne by car. The train also goes there, but it takes slightly more time. Café de Tour also organizes an itinerary that follows the trails of the Romans in Switzerland, you can see more details here.
Thank you for reading, and see you soon when we’ll tell you more about Neuchâtel.