It took me a long time to go on my own on this adventure and to discover new lands! Travelling alone requires a lot of courage. Switzerland was my first solo travel destination.
I now take you with me in my memories of June 2019.
Why did I choose to visit Switzerland?
I wanted to travel alone, yes, but not to the other side of the world either.
The goal was really to try a first destination out of France while staying close. That's good, Switzerland is only a 2 hours flight from Bordeaux!
This trip came to me more by opportunity than by desire. When I imagined "travel" I wasn't really thinking about Switzerland. The only thing that could have really motivated me would have been chocolate because I have a real addiction to chocolate!
No, travel has long evoked in me the idea of escape, exoticism, the great outdoors, a culture other than my own, in short.
Switzerland has, however, great and magnificent natural spaces and Northern Switzerland has a pronounced German culture due to its proximity to the Germanic country.
It was after the union of two people, living near the French-Swiss border, that I had the idea of visiting Switzerland.
At only 2h30 by train, I arrived in Basel, the first step of my solo trip.
Discovering Basel, the cultural capital of Switzerland
Basel is located in northwestern Switzerland in the canton of Basel-Stadt.
Basel is the third most densely populated city in Switzerland after Zurich and Geneva. Crossed by the Rhine, Basel is considered to be the cultural capital of Switzerland.
Indeed, when looking at the tourist map of Basel, I realised how many museums there are! Basel is called "the city of 40 museums".
I stayed in Basel for three days and it wasn't my idea to visit all the museums in the city!
I also wanted to discover the left and right banks of Basel on foot.
I visited a free photo gallery where photographers from all over the world were exhibiting, as well as the Museum of Cultures located in the old town on the Cathedral Square.
In 3 days I walked a lot because I really wanted to see as many places as possible.
Luckily for me, the weather was pretty good except the first day (it rained like a British drizzle), but I was equipped so that didn't stop me!
What I visited and what impressed me the most in Basel
The Town Hall on the market square: Rathaus Basel-Stadt with its colours, gilding, incredible frescoes and Gothic-Renaissance architecture ;
The old town with its cobbled streets, old houses and mansions;
The Protestant Cathedral of Our Lady made of red sandstone on Münsterplatz ;
A walk along the Rhine;
The speed of the Rhine current;
The St. Alban district;
The cleanliness of the city;
The artistic influence;
The cool and open-minded side of the local people.
What I found practical in Basel
Free transport for tourists staying in Basel (even in private homes);
Proximity to tourist attractions;
The ease of visiting the city on foot;
The tramway and its numerous lines serving both the centre and the residential areas.
Let’s head to Lausanne in French-speaking Switzerland
After 3 days of intensive walking in Basel, I continue my solo journey towards French-speaking Switzerland and the capital of the canton of Vaud: Lausanne.
It took me 3 hours by train to get there and it was an opportunity for me to rest my legs!
During the whole trip I couldn't take my eyes off the landscape because I found it so beautiful!
I saw a few valleys of the French Jura and then the train continued quietly on its way until it reached the heights of Lake Geneva.
In front of my astonished eyes, I admired the beauty of the panorama overlooking the lake and passing through the vineyards of the Terrasses de Lavaux, classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Frankly, I had not expected such a view at all!
I think I was the only tourist in the train compartment because I was the only one to get up from my seat, train moving, to take pictures.
Besides, the weather was radiant with a big sun. What a relief!
It must be said that Switzerland in the middle of June is a real treat! The sun is shining, the weather is good and beautiful (except if there is a storm on the lake, which I experienced first hand).
Lausanne is a much more athletic city than Basel! There is more height difference because Lausanne was built on 3 hills!
I understood that I was in a sporting city and that its official title of "Olympic capital" suited it perfectly.
To tell the truth, I didn't think for long about making the decision to do the most walking tours, because the bus ticket price is very expensive.
I took the bus on the first day I arrived at my accommodation (to drop off my stuff) and on my return from my veeeeeery long walk along the lake.
Stroll along Lake Geneva
I wanted to see this large aquatic space up close because I still had images of the train in my head.
Especially as the weather was super nice and I didn't want to postpone the ride to the next day for fear of a sudden change in the weather.
Backpack, water bottle and camera ready, I leave for... 4 hours of walk! Might as well tell you that in the evening I arrived completely exhausted in my accommodation.
It wasn't planned at all and I let myself be carried along as the walk went on. Each time, I wanted to see what was behind this or that corner.
That day I took a lot of pictures! That walk was really soothing.
On the way, I made a diversion to the Olympic Museum and its park overlooking the lake. I didn't do the exhibition because it wasn't in my budget and I wanted to be outside.
Discovery of the old town of Lausanne
I stayed 3 days in Lausanne too. On the second day I decided to visit the city and there too I was able to work out my leg muscles!
I went through different neighbourhoods. From the old city with its cathedral high above Lake Geneva to the modern city and its shops.
I noticed that there were a lot of young people in Lausanne. The city is home to a number of beautiful colleges, including the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and also the university. They alone have no less than 26,000 students a year.
I would say that Lausanne is a big city (about 420,000 inhabitants) that moves quite a lot.
People like to go out with friends, go for walks, go shopping, and have a fulfilled social life.
Fear of the city!
The last day in Lausanne was, how shall I put it... stormy! It was announced and I knew it.
So, in the morning, while the weather was still fine, I decided to go for a last little trip to the lake until mid-afternoon.
Then, the weather got worse and the storm came quickly over the city. The mountains on the French side of the lake were ink coloured and so was the lake.
I didn't escape it.
I made my way back from the bottom of town to the top (where I was staying) as best I could, knowing that I had to pick up a dish at an Indian restaurant in the heart of town.
Anyway, after 2 hours I arrived home completely soaked and my host laughed at me for arriving like that.
I will surely remember this last day in Lausanne!
End of the journey in Geneva
My little Swiss trip ends in Geneva where I spent a day before my return to France.
I arrived in Geneva in the morning by carpool by Lake Geneva.
I walked around the bay until I arrived on the other side, then I headed in the direction of old Geneva to visit the typical alleys, see the period houses and a Protestant church.
I noticed that there are a lot of water activities around Lake Geneva in Geneva but also in Lausanne (sails, boats, cruises between France and Switzerland, pedal boats) which reminded me a bit of the Atlantic coast.
Afterwards, I went back down through the modern city (the contrast is striking), before heading towards the train station and the airport.
Just before arriving at the station, I discovered a very surprising street, totally contrasting with the atmosphere of the business city.
A street with colourful shutters, an atmosphere a bit LGBT, peace and love like in San Francisco.
In short, I loved it!
I hadn't seen a "party" in Switzerland before. It's true that the country is known to be quite calm in general and people are rather discreet.
In 10 minutes by train, I arrived at Geneva International Airport which is huge! If my memories are good, it took me 20 minutes on foot from the station platform to the main airport precinct!
Of course, I passed by the chocolate shop because it was out of the question to go back to France without Swiss chocolate! I didn't have much room in my backpack, but this came in without any problem.
What was my surprise also when, on take-off, my plane passed over the lake and as it turned around, I realised that the huge mountain that was towering above the others in the distance was none other than the Mont-Blanc! The view was very clear and it was absolutely magical. I keep a very vivid memory of it.
This first experience taught me a lot about myself.
Seeing that I was able to cope very well on my own and above all to live it with detachment.
Finally, when you have an ease to go towards others, it is no longer a problem to travel alone.
I did well on the whole but when I needed to call on the locals, whether in Basel or Lausanne, I had no difficulty in doing so.
In Basel I spoke English for three days because Swiss German is spoken there. I know that there are French border workers in Basel but they were all at work hahaha!
And in Lausanne and Geneva you can speak French without any problem.
What about you: what do you know about Switzerland?
Thank you for stopping by,
25 Novembre 2020
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Whether you are an avid traveller or a first-time adventurer, all NomadSister editors are passionate about travel. They share their advice and experiences with the desire to give you wings!