The Grand Tour of Switzerland

This summer we were lucky enough to be invited by the Switzerland Tourism Board to spend a week in the mountains of Switzerland on a road trip along the country’s ‘Grand Tour’.

The beautiful, scenic route connects the highlights of Switzerland’s landscapes, including eleven UNESCO world heritage sites and 22 lakes. Motorways are chiefly avoided on the ‘Grand Route’, which is 1643 kilometres long. Its highest point is Furka Pass, which is 2419 metres above sea level, and the lowest point Lake Maggiore, at 193 metres above the sea level. In the following feature, we present the highlights of our trip.

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1. WHITEPOD ECO-LUXURY HOTEL – MONTHEY

All images © whitepod

Day 1: At 13:05 we arrived at the airport in Geneva and picked up our car. From here, our road trip along the Grand Tour began. The first stage was three hours to our first destination the Whitepod Hotel in Monthey. On our way we passed by idyllic roads and the beautiful castle ‘Chateux d’Aigle’. Arriving at the hotel. we were impressed by the amazing hotel area which is surrounded by nature at 1,400 metres above the sea level. From the pod’s balcony we had a spectacular view over Lake Geneva and the magnificent mountain scenery. The hotel offers a camp of 15 pods with fully-fitted bathrooms, luxury bedding and wood-burning stoves. Each pod is decorated differently and extra cosy.

WhitePod Eco-Luxury Hotel
Route des Cerniers, 1871 Les Giettes
www.whitepod.com

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2. GRIMSELPASS

All images ©  Switzerland Tourism

Day 2: We woke up at 5:30 am to catch up the sunrise. After having breakfast in the beautiful Chalet we got back into the car and continued our trip to the Vallis through the beautiful Grimselpass which connects the Bernese Oberland with the Hasli Valley. The wild, sparsely-grown pass is marked by reservoir lakes, granite rocks, power plants. Amid the road suddenly appeared a stunning reservoir dam, where we had to pull over to take some photos of the beautiful panorama. After three hours we got back to the car and continued our trip to Diemtigtal.

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6. DIEMTIGTAL – ALP HOESEL

Image No.1,2,3 © Tourismus & Naturpark Diemtigtal / Andreas Brügger

There we had the pleasure to meet Norbert from the ‘Naturpark Diemtigtal‘, who introduced us the lovely Family Bruegger. The Brueggers have owned their farm for 3 generations and nowadays have cows, goats, picks and cats. After guiding us through their daily routine, we were allowed to milk goats by ourselves, which was unexpectedly not so easy. After finishing all the work we sad down an had a cozy supper with self-made, cheese, bread and milk from the cows next door.

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3. CREUX DU VAN

Day 3: We awoke at 6:30 and after a quick breakfast we got back in the car to drive to the Great Altesch Glacier in the Valais. After a 1 hour drive we pulled over to do a hike at the Creux de Van, also known as the Gran Canyon of Switzerland. The Creux is a impressive natural rock arena. It consists of 160 meter high vertical rocks surrounded by a four-kilometer-long and over one-meter-wide valley basin. The summit offers a breathtaking, panoramic view. The natural landscape of Creux du Van provides a habitat for ibex, chamois and marmots, and is the oldest conservations area of Switzerland, located at the border of the cantons of Neuenburg and Vaud.

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4. LAC-SOUTTERAIN

The next stop on our third day was the Lac Soutterain which is located between Sion and Sierre. The Lac is Europe’s largest subterranean lake that can be sailed on. The grotto is 300 meters long and about 20 meters wide and can be visited by boats. It’s water temperature is constantly at 11 °C (52 °F). Monthly there are classical concerts in the cave, allowing up to 120 people the chance to have a exceptional adventure. After this unique experience we headed to our designated destination: The Aletsch arena (Valis).

Lac Soutterain
Rue de Lac 21, 1958 St-Léonard
www.lac-soutterain.com

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5. THE GREAT ALETSCH GLACIER

All images © My Switzerland

6:30: After a nice stay in the Waldhaus hotel, we had the chance to take the first gondola to the Grand Altesch Glacier, together with staff. After a 30 min gondola ride, we arrive at at the viewpoint at 2647 metres above sea level and were the only ones (besides the staff) up there, with this breathtaking view all to ourselves. The glacier stretches over 23 km from 4000 m over the sea level (Jungfrau region) to 2500 m (Massa Gorge). The best spots to admire the Great Altesch Glacier are Hohfluh, Moosfluh, Bettmerhorn and Egggishorn. After spending there 2 hours we attempt our last journey to Geneva, passing by the beautiful, historical city La-Chaux-de-Fonds, the hometown of the pioneering architect Le Corbusier, where we had the pleasure of visiting Maison Blanche, the family house of Le Corbusier, which he designed for his parents in 1912.

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7. MAISON BLANCHE – LE CORBUSIER

All images © Guillaume Perret

This house looms large due to its status as the first work built by Le Corbusier as an independent architect. It acted as a type of laboratory where he experimented with construction techniques out for the first time. The Maison Blanche, also known as the Villa Jeanneret-Perret, was completely renovated in 2005 and is now open to visitors from Friday to Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm.

Maison Blanche
Chemin de Pouillerel 12, 2300 La-Chaux-de-Fonds
www.maisonblanche.ch

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8. GENEVA

All images © FGTC Olivier Miche

In the afternoon we arrived in the gorgeous historic city of Geneva, dubbed ‘the world’s smallest metropolis’. After a quick refresh, we went out for a walk along the beautiful promenade of Lake Geneva with a view on the city’s signature feature: The Jet d’Eau. Culturally, this city on the westernmost fringe of Switzerland has much to offer. Quays, lakeside promenades, countless parks, lively side streets in the old town and elegant shops. A huge plus are the ‘mouettes’, a type of water taxis which enable visitors to move from one lakeshore to the other on Lake Geneva. After having a wonderful last day in Geneva, we reluctantly left to the airport to fly back to Berlin.

Thanks to Switzerland Tourism for making this wonderful trip possible.

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