Off the beaten track in the west

The rolling hills of the Emmental with the Bernese Alps in the distance.

Exploring this region is as close as one can get to being off the beaten track in Switzerland. It covers the western part of the country - from the sparsely populated Jura Mountains to the Emmental region.

This content was published on April 12, 2006 - 13:25

It also includes Switzerland's low-lying agricultural heartland between the city of Bern and lakes Biel and Neuchatel and lush rolling hills that make up the pre-Alps.

Two of the best-known Swiss cheeses (Gruyere and Emmental) are made in areas where quaint villages and well-preserved castles in a pastoral setting make it easy to believe time has stood still.

Culturally, Western Switzerland is also where the French and German-speaking Swiss meet, with the cities of Biel and Fribourg being officially bilingual.

Solothurn prides itself on being Switzerland's best-preserved Baroque city, and it's also the starting point for boat trips on the Aare River to Biel, where passengers can continue onto lakes Biel and Neuchatel or Murten, which are connected by a series of canals.

Three lakes

The "three lakes region" hosted Switzerland's national exhibition, Expo .02, and the Expo organisers put one of the accents on "human powered mobility".

It led to the extension of an already excellent network of hiking, bicycle and inline skating trails created to attract more holidaymakers.

Watch Valley

The thermal springs in the medieval town of Yverdon-les-Bains have been a popular stopping-off point since Roman times.

The towns and valleys of the Jura Mountains have built a very distinguished reputation as watch-making centres - producing some of the world's most-expensive handmade timepieces.

It's no wonder that the region has given itself the nickname, Watch Valley.

swissinfo, Dale Bechtel

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