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Tips and Advise for visiting Switzerland by Road to Travel Inc.

Monday, April 4, 2016

What to do in the Pays-d’Enhaut region, Switzerland

The tranquil Pays-d’Enhaut Mountain Region is nestled between Lausanne and Interlaken, in the pre-Alps of the Canton Vaud. It is a beautiful place to visit on private tours of Switzerland as there are many things to see and do.

Enjoy the outdoors

All year round, outdoors enthusiasts can enjoy many activities in the Pays-d’Enhaut Region. In summer, there are more than 300 kilometers of hiking and mountain bike trails to explore. In winter, you can go skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing or sledging.  

Explore the Alpine villages

The traditional Alpine villages in the Pays-d’Enhaut offer a fascinating journey into the history of this stunning corner of Switzerland. In Rougemont, Rossinière and L’Étivaz you can see historic churches, old timber houses and chalets, and many historic monuments. Local artisans pass their skills from one generation to generation and visiting their wood carving, patchwork, lace making and pottery  workshops is like stepping back in time.

The Hot Air Balloons Festival
Ride a hot air balloon

Château-d’Oex is the world’s capital of hot air ballooning. The stunning views over the Alps, from Mont-Blanc to the Eiger, the Matterhorn, the Jura and Lake Geneva will take your breath away. Here you can also visit a hot air balloon museum, Espace Ballon, to discover how they are operated and learn how the first around the world hot air balloon flight was launched from Château-d’Oex in 1999. 

Every year, the town hosts the International Hot Air Balloons Festival that attracts visitors from across the globe.

Étivaz Cheese
Sample local Alpine cheese

Do not miss a chance to taste the famous Étivaz mountain cheese that has been made in the area since the 12th century. In the charming village of L’Étivaz you can visit the maturing cellars and learn how the cheese is produced from the fragrant milk of the indigenous Simmental cows, one of the world’s oldest breeds of cattle. The best way to enjoy the Alpine flavours of Étivaz is in a local bar with a glass of crisp Swiss wine admiring the snow-capped peaks around the village.

Photos by: Roland Zumbühl/Wikimedia Commons, Festival International de Ballons à Château-d'Oex/Facebook, Joselu Blanco/Flickr.

Blooming beautiful: flower events in Switzerland

If you think Switzerland is all about snow-capped peaks and ski resorts think again. On private tours of Switzerland in spring and early summer you can also see some spectacular bloom displays that will take your breath away.

The Tulip Festival in Morges
The Tulip Festival, Morges

From mid-April for six weeks more than 120,000 tulips of 300 varieties burst in bloom in Parc de l'Indépendance in Morges, on the shore of Lake Geneva. This much anticipated free event attracts thousands of locals and tourists alike who come to the town to admire the riot of spring colours that the festival is. The event has been organized by the Lake Geneva Horticultural Society since 1971 with horticulture apprentices tending to the tulip bulbs in the park. Morges itself is a very pleasant town with several historic sites such as prehistoric pile dwellings, a castle, old inns and Bronze Age settlements.

Jardin des Iris
The Iris Garden at Vullierens Castle, Vullierens

In the Iris Garden (Jardin des Iris) 50,000 irises of over 500 varieties bloom for four weeks from mid-May at the private Vullierens Castle. American-born Doreen Bovet, the owner of the castle, started the irises collection in 1950 opening her garden to the public in 1955. Set against dramatic views of the Alps, you can admire irises in all imaginable shades and colours: honey, purple, orange, mahogany with many new varieties added every year. At the castle, you can also taste the excellent wines produced on its grounds and see a large collection of sculptures. After the irises finish blooming, the garden fills up with fragrant lilies until the end of August.

Alpine Flowers
Alpine Garden, Schatzalp

From June to September the two-hectare Alpine Garden (Alpinum Schatzalp) becomes a colourful display of blooming high-altitude flowers from the Pyrenees, New Zealand, China, Nepal and Tibet. The garden, which is part of the historic Hotel Schatzalp, is surrounded by dense forests, alpine pastures and is a pleasure to walk in listening to the sound of birds and running mountain brook at a distance.

Photos by: Maarten Danial, Jardin des Iris/Facebook, Peter Stevens.

Sechseläuten, springtime festival in Zurich

In mid-April, as the weather get warmer and trees burst in blooms, a springtime festival, Sechseläuten, is celebrated in Zurich. It is a beautiful event that attracts tens of thousands spectators and can be visited on private tours of Switzerland.

Sechseläuten in Zurich
The festival’s tradition goes back to the 16th century, when the City Council decided that in summer work should stop an hour later than in the winter. The second largest bell rang out at 6.00pm to introduce the new working hours and the beginning of spring for Zurich’s residents. The festival’s name, Sechseläuten, literally means “the six o’clock ringing of the bells”.

In the 19th century the bell ringing was combined with another great tradition that existed in the city, - burning of a snowman-like figure called Böögg to chase winter away. 

The festival opens on Sunday afternoon with up to 3,000 children marching through the city dressed in historic costumes.

Parade of the Guilds
On Monday afternoon, the Parade of the Guilds takes place with 3,500 members of the various city’s guilds walking through the streets accompanied by 350 horsemen, 50 horse-drawn parade floats and 30 music bands. Until the end of the 18th century, the guilds, associations of craftsmen, played an important role in governing the city, however, nowadays, they mainly carry out social functions.

Burning of the Böögg
The climax of the festival is the burning of the Böögg at 6pm on Sechseläutenplatz, on the shore of Lake Zurich. The snowman figure is 3.40m high and is placed on the top of a 10m tall bonfire. The popular believe is that the faster the fire reaches the snowman figure and his head explodes, the hotter the summer will be. If it takes 10-15 minutes for the Böögg to explode, summer will be rainy and cold. Horse riders gallop around the burning snowman, music plays and everyone cheers waiting for the explosion to greet arrival of the spring. 

The festival continues with a street feast of grilled sausages and other local delicacies. 

Photo via Flickr by: Conrado Plano, Adnan Yahya, Denis De Mesmaeker