Fribourg, Freiburg, A Charming Town And Lots Of Fun In Any Language

Founded in 1157, Fribourg was a sovereign republic until it joined the Swiss Confederation in 1481. Fribourg sits in a valley between lakes and mountains with the Saane river (Sarine in French) flowing through it. It is a gorgeous setting, but this is Switzerland, where picturesque settings abound.  We’ve gotten accustomed to the incredible beauty and now almost expect it.  Fribourg did not disappoint.

Fribourg isn’t large (population 40,000), but is charming.  It is home to the University of Fribourg.  This gives the city a slightly more cosmopolitan atmosphere and the vibrancy of a university town.   It’s medieval neighborhoods are well-preserved and charming.  The buildings show a blend of French and German Swiss culture.

Fribourg is known for its beautiful Gothic buildings.  Its old patrician townhouses combine German baroque and French classicism.  They have tons of detail, from stone carvings to ornate doors, to places to scrape your shoes.  Architectural buffs and home decor enthusiasts will love them.

Wander the small, steep streets and medieval staircases.  If you get tired, you can easily stop at a cafe in one of its many cobblestoned squares adorned with fountains.  Fribourg also has a funicular for those less enthusiastic about urban hiking.

Walk across Fribourg’s beautiful bridges.  The Pont de Berne, is a well-preserved covered wooden bridge dating from 1580.  The solid, yet elegant, Central Bridge links the old town with opposing cliffs.

Crossing the river and climbing the hill on the opposite side yields stunning views of Fribourg’s Old Town.  The St. Nicholas‘s Cathedral  lofty 15th-century Gothic bell tower is also easily visible on the skyline.

The city hall’s (Hôtel de Ville) gothic clock tower dates from 1546 (the blue pointy thing).  On Wednesdays, the square in front of city hall houses a market.  The nearby Rue de Lausanne is a car-free pedestrian zone.

Fribourg is not just the name of the city.  It is also the name of the canton (like the state).  The canton of Fribourg is bilingual with the Saane river (Sarine in French) forming the language boundary. On one side, they speak French, on the other, Swiss  German. All road signs in the Canton are bilingual!

Fribourg is the French speaking of the city.  Freiburg is the German spelling, but is not commonly used to avoid confusion with the German town of Freiburg.

It is worth taking at least an afternoon to wander Fribourg’s streets.  We plan on returning to spend an evening there.

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How Do You Pronounce Ouchy?

How do you pronounce this?

 

Ouchy is a town on Lac Leman (Lake Geneva) near Lausanne.  It is known for hosting Byron (and Shelley), the Olympic Museum next-door its castle and its beautiful lakefront.

 

Ouchy fontaine

Ouchy fontaine (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

When we went with Pitbull, it was gray and freezing cold.  Last year, we were able to enjoy the beautiful waterfront.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ooo-she? Ew-she? He likes to pronounce it like a minor injury, ouch-ee.  I’ve been trying Ew-chi.  After a bit of research, I found out Ouchy is pronounced ūshē‘.  How would you pronounce it?

 

Getting even more advanced, how would the French pronounce this?

 

 

 

Daytrips from Geneva

Stumped for what to do when you come visit?  We’ve been here and explored a bit.  Here are some ideas for daytrips:
  • Lausanne – It is famous for its beautiful promenades on Lac Leman (Lake Geneva).  It has a beautiful port (Ouchy), an Old Town dating back to the 14th century and is home to the Olympic Museum.  As with all the lakefront towns, there are nice parks along the water and landings for boats that will take you aound the lake.
  • Montreux – It is home to the world famous Montreux Jazz Festival. It offers incredible views of the Swiss Alps, has a beautiful lakefront promenade and is close to the Château de Chillon (see below).
  • Vevey – Although it isn’t the wildest town, it’s an adorable town and a wonderful place to spend the afternoon.  It’s home to Nestle so it has a food museum.   McCarthyism forced Charlie Chaplin to resettle and he chose this peaceful town.
  • La Côte, which is between Lausanne and Geneva, centered around Rolle, and Lavaux, which is between Lausanne and Vevey.  The CGN boats also stop at many of the wine towns, so you could include a trip on one of those in your adventure.  There is lots of information about Lavaux.  Visitors who want to stay closer to Geneva could go to the cute town of Morges (link to post).  Although we haven’t been, we hear that Coppet is nice.

  • Château de Chillon – This is Switzerland’s most famous castle.  Rick Steves ranks it as one of the top ten castles in Europe.  It is situated on the opposite side of Lac Leman (Lake Geneva).  It is fully restored and furnished with a collection of excavated antique weapons, chests and other items.

  • Yvoire – if you want to head by boat to lunch in a beautiful setting, stroll around a charming (but tiny) town and pay in Euros, this is your town.  While there are a lot of places on the lake that are larger and more exciting, it’s not a bad way to spend an afternoon (link to friend’s post). 
  • CERN – If you like science, this is a must.  It is also, incidentally, the setting for the first scene of the book Angels and Demons.  IMPORTANT NOTE: These tours must be booked far in advance.  If you are interested in doing this, pick the day(s), fill out the form (on the link) and send it in as soon as you book your flight.

 

No Body Bags in this Morges

 
Sorry for the bad pun, I just couldn’t help it.  I’m also sorry for the excessive “Cute Swiss Towns” posts.  You might have guessed.  We’ve had visitors and have been busy showing them around.  As a visitor, I really appreciate anything my hosts do to show me or teach me about where they live.  I, perhaps erroneously, assume that the rest of the world appreciates this as well.   As a result, staying with us can be a sort of boot camp.  If you give me the slightest indication that you want to see and do things, it’s on.  You were warned.
 
When my mom was here, we went to Morges.  It’s located between Geneva and Lausanne, near Nyon, on Lac Leman (Lake Geneva).  Some people commute from there to Geneva (the housing is so tight in Geneva that some people don’t have a choice, others like this adorable town).  
It is adorable and while it doesn’t have lots of fancy museums, it has cute streets, nice cafes and beautiful views.
 
 
Boot camp looks really rough

It’s Switzerland.  Of course they have a castle.  He, as always, liked the cannons best.

Don’t plan on attacking Morges; they have at least two cannons.  Vaud is the name of the canton (the Swiss version of a state).

Surprising Vevey

Charlie Chaplin spent the last 25 years of his life in Vevey.  You can easily see why.  It is a cute, calm, old town with breathtaking views and nice surprises.

 
 
 

The older area near the water is filled with belle époque era buildings.  They have covered the town in flowers.  There is a nice, lengthy lakeside promenade with many parks.  This makes it a perfect place to slow down, walk around and be pleasantly surprised.

This looks cool during the day
…and at night.
Definitely unexpected
 
The Museum of Alimentation (food) had an awesome vegetable/herb garden out front, definitely a nice surprise.*
 
Seeing kids jumping from the pool area into the lake was definitely surprising. Although if you saw the bridge jumping post, it is, perhaps, less so.
It would have been surprising if he had actually caught something.
 
A surprisingly good place to chill out,  we wished we had brought our suits.
 
 

This game was another surprise.  Please let me know if you know what they were playing.  It looked like fun.

 
It would have been surprising if we had jumped in the fountain.  We wanted to, but the kids wouldn’t get out. 
 
 
What?  You don’t see this every day?
 
 
 
Okay, the DeLorean wasn’t too much of a surprise, but the rest of the cars at the car show we stumbled into were.
 
* Nestlé is headquartered in Vevey.  They sponsor the museum and might have had something to do with the fork too.

Lovely Lausanne

We like living in Geneva, but keep hearing about Lausanne. People have told us that it is more Swiss, there is more nightlife and that it is prettier. There is a better view of the alps on that side of the lake. I had to check it out for you and  set off on a road trip with Andrés, Wildcat, Hokie and another yankee.
The obligatory cow picture

Lausanne was definitely pretty. It had beautiful old buildings, nice parks, plenty of statues and lots of flowers.

 
We went to the climbed the huge hill* from the lake to get to the old town. We stopped by a couple of old churches. It was definitely worth going to the Lausanne Cathedral. The views from there were amazing. If it were Disneyworld, they would have one of those little camera signs telling you it is a good place from which to take a picture.
 
The Lausanne Cathedral
Inside. It was built as a Catholic Cathedral, during the reformation, they took out some of the ornamentation.
The streets of Lausanne were adorable. You could have a wonderful afternoon, just walking around, shopping or having a nice bite.

We hear that Lausanne has more of a night life than in Geneva. They definitely seem to get more live music acts. We are hoping to  head there to see a concert sometime.

Lausanne has the International Olympic Museum. They have a really nice park and the view doesn’t suck. We didn’t go in because the weather was too good.  Since it is someplace I would like to visit again, I’m saving it for a rainy (or merely freezing) day.

The Olympic Flame
Oh yeah. I almost forgot…here’s the view. It’s a bit of all right. That makes it official, we are at the ugly end of the lake.
*If you come, be prepared, Switzerland is not flat.