A family tour through Romandy, the French Switzerland

Written in October 2022

Switzerland is like “The Lord of the Rings”: each Canton has its own ring (that is, sovereignty), but then there’s a ring to rule them all (that is, the Federal Government). Although the film was actually shot in New Zealand, it seems that Middle Earth is actually here. Situated in the middle of Europe, it’s full of mountains and beautiful landscapes, with some old towns here and there.

Photo by Joseph Ferry

In a time when Europe was divided into different sovereign regions, which were regularly engulfed by ambitious Kingdoms trying to extend their territories, three states decided to join forces and establish a peaceful and prosperous land. Throughout the centuries, other states thought that was a good idea and join them. Thus, the three original Waldstätte turned into the Confoederatio Helvetica (the Old Swiss Confederacy), and finally, in 1848, the current Federal State of Switzerland was born. Watch here the evolution of the map of Switzerland over the years 45762-200.

The Confoederatio Helvetica (CH) had ties with the Holy Roman Empire, therefore, it’s no surprise that German is the official language in most Cantons. However, in the Western Cantons, closer to the border with France, French is the official language. There are also Cantons in which both German and French are the official languages (located between the “French” Cantons and the “German” Cantons). All these “French-speaking” Cantons constitute the unofficial region of Romandy (watch here a video of Romandy landscapes 45762-200).

Photo by Joseph Ferry

. Vaud | Official language: French | Joined Switzerland in 1803
. Geneva | Official language: French | Joined Switzerland in 1815
. Neuchâtel | Official language: French | Joined Switzerland in 1815
. Jura | Official language: French | Joined Switzerland in 1979

. Berne/Bern | Official languages: French and German | Joined Switzerland in 1353
. Fribourg/Freiburg | Official languages: French and German | Joined Switzerland in 1481
. Valais/Wallis | Official languages: French and German | Joined Switzerland in 1815

Regardless of the language you speak (English is spoken everywhere, by the way), this mysterious country is perfect for a family adventure in the wilderness (well, a very civilised and safe wilderness). So, pretend you are part of the Fellowship of the Ring and explore Romandy in all its beauty. Will you find Gandalf?


Summer is hiking time in Switzerland and you have plenty of hiking trails to choose from 45762-200, ready to receive enthusiastic families and explorers. They are classified according to the number of stages (national, regional, local) and difficulty (easy, medium, difficult). There are many possibilities to get to know the region. Frodo needed about six months to take the ring from the Shire to Mordor. How long will you take to explore this part of Middle Europe?

Here is a possible itinerary that you can follow partly or in as many stages as you want. It is designed for those who have a car, but you can check alternatives on the recommended websites.

Starting up in the north, at the border of France, Germany, and Switzerland, Basel 45762-200 is a medieval city crossed by the Rhine River and a perfect gateway into this country. About 60 km south, you can find an enchanted forest where you can go for a hike: Gorges de Perrefitte 45762-200. This can be truly the beginning of your adventure. Remember Bree, the town where Frodo and his friends met with other friends? In this case, you can go to Courtelary and visit Camille Bloch’s chocolate factory 45762-200, taking the guided tour and tasting wonderful chocolates. The factory is located in the heart of the Chasseral Nature Park 45762-200, which has an amazing view above the clouds at 1607 metres.

Photo by Joseph Ferry

Photo by Joseph Ferry

Photo by Joseph Ferry

Photo by Joseph Ferry

Further south, Neuchâtel 45762-200 is a city by the Lake with more than 1000 years. From here, you can drive along the Neuchâtel Lake towards north to find the Biel Lake and continue to drive along its west shore until you reach the city of Biel/Bienne 45762-200, the heart of Swiss watchmaking. At about 40 km southeast, Berne/Bern 45762-200, the capital of Switzerland, has plenty to see. Besides other marvellous attractions, you can take a guided tour to the Houses of Parliament 45762-200 and visit the bears at the Bear Park 45762-200, which is located at the heart of the city. An UNESCO World Heritage, the old town was built on a bend of the Aare River 45762-200, which is the longest river in Switzerland. Before the Aare River arrive at Bern, it goes through the Brienz and Thun Lakes. You can go around them by driving through Thun, Oberhofen, Interlaken 45762-200, and Brienz, along the north shore. Then, go around the Lake to the east and drive southwest towards the Giessbach Waterfalls 45762-200. When you get to the end of the Brienz Lake, make a detour to Lauterbrunnental 45762-200, the village with the waterfall.

In “The Lord of the Rings”, Frodo had to cross the region of Eregion, or Hollin, to get to the Misty Mountains. Here, the Misty Mountains can be the Bernese Alps, or Bernese Oberland, and, instead of going through Moria, you can go through the Lötschberg tunnel 45762-200 to pass to the other side of the Bernese Alps – just take the road south in Spiez. This tunnel is actually a train line, so cars are transported on the train, an one-of-a-kind experience. Once you are on the other side, you can go to the Grande Dixence Dam 45762-200, where, besides a guided tour to the Dam, you can also enjoy a hiking through the Ibex Trail. Finally, instead of going to the woodland of Lothlórien (yes, it would be nice to see the Elves), you can go along the Leman Lake north shore, stopping at Lausanne 45762-200 and ending your trip in Geneva 45762-200.


Switzerland is the land of skiing. It was here where the sport was born and the first resorts were open. Alpine skiing, sledging, cross-country skiing, snowshoe trekking… if it is related to snow, you can find an organised activity 45762-200 in this country. Therefore, you can find ski resorts and ski schools everywhere. However, in Romandy, the best place to ski is in the Bernese Alps, or Bernese Oberland, an extensive range of high mountains located in the Cantons of Vaud, Berne/Bern, and Valais/Wallis. Or the Misty Mountains, if you prefer. Unlike the Fellowship of the Ring, when they were caught by an avalanche at the top of the high mountains, you are perfectly safe in all of these ski resorts.

Photo by Joseph Ferry

Photo by Joseph Ferry

Photo by Joseph Ferry

Let’s start our supposed tour in Berne/Bern, the capital of Switzerland, as a reference point. At about 85 km southeast until Spiez and then southwest you find Gstaad 45762-200, a renowned and luxury winter sports centre, and further 20 km southwest you find Les Diablerets 45762-200, a ski village at 1200 metres of altitude. Going around the Bernese Alps to the west, you can reach the “4 Valleys45762-200 a cluster of ski resorts, a little further south, which are: Bruson, Verbier, La Tzoumaz, Nendaz, Veysonnaz, and Thyon. Towards northeast, you can find the combined ski resort of Crans and Montana 45762-200 situated at 1500 metres of altitude. Further south, Zermatt 45762-200 is a ski resort famous due to the Matterhorn 45762-200, the pyramid shaped mountain that inspired the Toblerone chocolates.

Heading north, on the other side of the Bernese Alps, you will find Grindelwald 45762-200 and Wengen 45762-200, two ski resorts not very far from Lauterbrunnental. Nearby, you can visit the Piz Gloria 45762-200, situated at 2970 metres of altitude and with the most jaw-dropping view of the high mountains around. This was one of the shooting locations of the James Bond film “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” and you can find here many references to it. After eating a James Bond meal, you can go back to Bern, which is 75 km northwest.

Photo by Joseph Ferry

Photo by Joseph Ferry

Photo by Joseph Ferry


Summer’s complete tour

Winter’s complete tour


Information about Switzerland:

Official name: Swiss Confederation

Capital: Berne/Bern

Official information about entering in Switzerland: https://www.eda.admin.ch/eda/en/fdfa/entry-switzerland-residence/information-entry-switzerland-residence.html 45762-200

Official Language: German, French, Italian

Currency: Swiss franc (CHF) – ₣

European Union: Not a member

Schengen Country? : Yes

Type of Government: Federal assembly-independent directorial republic with elements of a semi-direct democracy

Foreign embassies in Switzerland: https://www.eda.admin.ch/eda/en/fdfa/representations-and-travel-advice/foreign-representations-in-switzerland.html 45762-200

Emergency number: 112

Country Code: CH

International Phone Code: +41