Leaving Austria (see the blog here) we headed to the western end of Austria. However traffic was light and we found ourselves ahead of time. We decided that we might as well head on to Switzerland. We had hoped to stay in the high Alps however the weather going through Switzerland was not good. We kept going heading for a site we had seen (& planned to stay at previously) near Neuchâtel.
The campsite we stayed on was actually on Bielersee, the adjacent lake. However it was well situated as it turned out. Once again we had stumbled on an area where tourists were appreciated by the local tourist authority to the degree that we had a free travel pass for the local area. This added considerably to our opportunities to discover the area. The local smaller towns were pleasant enough.
However Neuchâtel itself was a town we really felt at home in. A lovely setting on the lake with a wide range of architecture and some lovely little corners. It was also somewhere to sit at a pavement cafe and enjoy a good coffee and cake (thanks to a very helpful lady in the tourist information there).
Again thanks to the lady at the tourist information and the free travel pass. We had a free trip on the river Doubs. It took a little planning to get there efficiently however it was a good experience. The river – fairly large but mostly unknown in the UK – forms the border between France and Switzerland for part of its valley. The journey there required 3 separate trains before we walked to the river to catch out boat. It was a lovely morning and there were only 4 other people on that trip. The river was calm and the cliffs along it impressive. Stepping off the boat at the end of the trip we walked a short distance to see the waterfall – one of the reasons for the trip. Wandering back to the boat for the return journey we walked across a small pedestrian bridge and found ourselves in France! A great outing and free due to our travel pass.
Gorges de L’Areuse
Where else would you visit we asked the every helpful tourist information lady? She did suggest so many things that we could have easily stayed in the area a month however that was time we did not have. The Gorges de L’Areuse though seemed like a good place for a walk. We took an early train out of Neuchâtel and got off part way trough the gorge. We walked down to the river and then back towards Neuchâtel lake via the gorge. It was a good walk along an often impressive gorge. It also had the benefit of being somewhat shady given that the temperatures were fairly high in the area.
Back in Neuchâtel
The combination of the benefits of being on the western edge of Switzerland far outweighed the fact that Switzerland is not a cheap country. On the last couple of days we finally saw the “big” mountains even – far off in the distance so not really an option for proper photographs sadly. However the campsite, the town, the travel pass, the excursions and some very friendly people made the experience well worthwhile. From here we headed back through France stopping at a site we had stayed at on the way out. They may get blogged in due course. From there we went through eastern France and into Luxembourg for a night again before heading home. Maybe the best trip we’ve done so far!