Spectacular Scenery and Solitude: Top Things to do on the Swiss-French Border - Al Fresco Holidays
The 573 kilometre stretch of land that makes up the French-Swiss border is not, perhaps, the best choice of destination for a family looking for theme parks, loud entertainment and beaches in bucket-loads. However, for many people, this is seen as a definite advantage!
Quiet, reserved, with an overwhelming abundance of dramatic mountain scenery and wild woods, the territory appeals more to those looking for some solace in nature and tranquillity, rather than those seeking sun, sea and non-stop activity.
It is precisely this peaceful, naturally beautiful quality that makes the Swiss-French border so appealing. Perfect for families seeking natural adventure in relatively tourist-free terrain, or couples looking for a more authentic travel experience, the area has a charm all of its own, making it a really excellent choice of location for your next getaway.
Best of Both Worlds: Swiss Splendour and French Rural Idyll
As you might expect, being positioned on the Swiss-French border has the distinct advantage of offering two cultural atmospheres for the price of one on your holiday.
The gentle, rolling hills of France offer plenty of wide open space and lush scenery, whilst the breathtaking mountain vistas of Switzerland provide a landscape filled with chances to hike, explore or just relax and enjoy the surroundings.
Top Things to do on the Swiss-French Border
When you arrive, you’ll no doubt want to take the time to truly appreciate the glorious natural panoramas and fresh air. However, when you’re ready to get active once more, you’ll be pleased to hear that there are plenty of exciting things to take part in whilst in the area. Here are just a few of the best ways to spend your time whilst on the Swiss-French border.
As with most areas of mountainous terrain, the area is also blessed with a number of scenic lakes, ranging from the huge Lake Geneva to many smaller bodies of water. These millpond-calm lakes, with their pretty surroundings and fish swimming below the surface, provide the perfect location for canoeing; and conditions tend to be safe enough to allow children to enjoy the sport too.
2. Mountain climbing
If you’re feeling particularly energetic and want to experience some of the most impressive views in the area, then mountain climbing is a wonderful way to spend a day or two on your holiday. The region has many mountains, with routes suitable for climbers of all abilities, from seasoned pros to complete beginners. From the higher reaches, you’ll be treated to unforgettable scenes of the verdant landscape below.
3. Sample the wines
The Swiss-French border boasts some particularly fine wineries, particularly around the Jura region, where you can partake in some sampling of the local speciality, vin jaune (yellow wine).
4. Visit the castles
To get a real taste of the history of the region, pay a visit one of the local castles. Chateau Chillon, on the shores of Lake Geneva, is one of the finer examples, with a history that dates back hundreds of years. You can explore inside the castle and wind a path along subterranean passages, through large banqueting halls and past the deeply wooded banks of the lake itself.
The area is a real hotspot for hikers, and there are plenty of routes, leading along mountain passes, past lakes and rivers, and through deep, atmospheric woodland. For travellers with children, it’s good to know that there are many routes suitable for little feet, and it’s a wonderful way to spend a day, armed with a picnic! The Ajoie region is particularly excellent for long walks through the Jura forest.
6. Fine dining
As with any region that borders two countries, there is an interesting culinary fusion in the area, where decadent French cuisine meets the varied flavours of Swiss cooking. Given France’s formidable reputation as one of the culinary giants of the western world, it’s hardly surprising to discover that there is a wealth of excellent restaurants, nestled within the quaint villages and towns along the Swiss-French border.
If you want to explore the region in greater depth (and at greater speed) then cycling is by far the best way to do it. There are many places on the French-Swiss border that offer cycle hire, allowing you and your family or friends to set off for the day on the peaceful village roads, visiting the picturesque villages and travelling past farms, rolling fields and pretty lakes.
8. Visit the cities
Basle, Switzerland’s third largest city, is also conveniently located on the border. Basle is a joy to explore, with a truly gothic skyline, over 40 museums and a startlingly impressive cathedral. Alternatively, head to Geneva, a fascinating city that blends modern sophistication with a charming historical old town with seamless ease.
Where to Stay when Visiting the French-Swiss Border
If you’re travelling as a family, or simply looking for accommodation that provides a friendly, laid-back ambiance with plenty to do in the near vicinity, then Camping Val de Bonnal is an excellent choice. The camp site is located directly next to a lake, where you can take part in canoeing, swimming, or simply exploring the natural surroundings. It also has a great location to explore the sights further afield.