Bonjour en la romandie
Like the sun we went from east to west during this week, which brought us to the French speaking part of Switzerland, the “Romandie”. Our destination Camping des Pêches in Le Landeron was located at the south tip of Lake Biel/Bienne, the warmest of the lakes we tried.
I didn’t need to use my slightly rusty French to check in, as the staff spoke fluent German and also good English, very convenient. Again we received a lot of information, maps, tips and a little voucher book with lots of freebies like free public transport in the area, a boat trip, free entry to the Strandbad, some museums and more. The bistro/restaurant on site offered tasty food for prices that were a bit on the high side for a family campsite.
One interesting quirk was the arrangement of the showers. We got one (!) card, with which you started the shower for seven minutes. Even with undressing first and then starting the machine outside of the cabin, seven minutes didn’t seem like a long time, especially with long hair to be washed and rinsed. When the water ran out, there was a decision to be made: wipe off the remaining soap or waddle out and restart the water. 🙂 The card was to be returned upon departure to calculate the costs for showers, but we couldn’t find any extra fees so we must have been within some limit and the total price for two nights was 91 CHF.
After packing, driving, and unpacking on a hot day, we thought the best thing would be to cool off in the water. We took our bikes and went to the lake, which was only about 700 m away and just past the little shop (“épicerie”) that sells a small selection of fresh and canned food, household items and swimming costumes. Sandy trails cut through the forest and brought us right up to the shore.
The beach area lay next to the marina in the shade of the large trees when we arrived late afternoon. The water was just the right temperature: cool enough to be refreshing, but not too cold to enjoy being in there. It wasn’t too busy on that Thursday afternoon, just a few families had a swim and a pick-nick. The kids played with an inflatable toy on the water, which was about hip-deep for probably 50 m from the shore. What a perfect little spot. <3
The next day promised changeable weather conditions, so we decided to use the feebies and go to Neuchâtel (34’000 inhabitants) by train and do a boat trip and a city tour.
The train station in Le Landeron was only 3 bike minutes away (about 10 min walking), the train between the lake and wine yards took just 15 min.
Upon arriving at the train station in Neuchâtel, we decided to not take the metro straight down to waterfront but to walk instead the roughly 15 min through the old town. With the voucher book we got a free ride leaving at 2 pm, which left time for an “Apéro” as it’s typical for Switzerland (wine and nibbles basically).
It was the perfect time to be on a boat, because rain and storm hit us just then. The free tour took about an hour and dropped us off back where we had started from and we started exploring the city from there.
We didn’t make it to the castle, but we paid the church a short visit, which sits on a hill and allows a stunning view over the old town and the lake. Following the medival streets back down to the center we just had to stop at an antique bookshop with a certain Harry Potter feel. We took pictures (honestly, I did not see the sign “no pictures” there) but I hardly dared to touch some of the oldest gems of history. And because most was in French, unfortunately it made little sense for me to buy anything.
The rest of the afternoon we just bumbled around, getting in and out of cafés to flee from the rain showers which kept coming and going. We closed the day at a Chinese Restaurant Mei-Jing next to the station. Despite the dark clouds we insisted to sit outside to enjoy the amazing view. They willingly dried some tables and chairs for us. When the rain actually came, they moved us to a different table under a tree. All that happened with a smile. The food was also excellent and fresh, which, combined with the excellent service and the stunning views justified the bit expensive prices. The restaurant itself though is located in the basement of the hotel and rather dark, which is why we insisted to sit outside.
It was a great closure for a relaxing but also diversified week. <3