How To Bike Your Way Through A Vacation In Switzerland
Knowing about my love of travel, friends always ask, “Where’s the next trip?” I reply, “Biking in Switzerland.” When they express their admiration for my athleticism, I begin feeling guilty for my part-truth and add, “Well, e-biking.” The “E” stands for “electric.”
I first discovered this term while flipping through a Butterfield & Robinson trip catalog. Curious about what it entailed, I contacted B&R and learned that an e-bike doesn’t do the pedaling for you—it assists. What better way to bike the Alps?
I adore Switzerland, but living in Florida presents a challenge for training to ride through the mountains. I booked the five-night trip then preceded to convince two other friends that this would be a dream girls’ trip. They acquiesced. Peggy and Deb were on board and ready to roll.
The itinerary was a fairytale come true: Lausanne to Bern with overnights in Vevey (home to Charlie Chaplin) and Gstaad (a celebrity favorite). Think cheese, chocolate and wine, and riding by the countryside, UNESCO honored vineyards, and empires of the Savoie, Bernese and Vaudois. This area was a favorite of Lord Byron, where he famously penned the dramatic poem “Manfred.”
After leaving the Swiss Riviera, we were pedaling off to the pastures of Gruyère, land of Swiss fondue, toward the Pays-d’Enhaut (the highlands) and those special cows who produce that delightfully tangy cheese. Speaking of cows, I never realized that the grass and flowers cows consume produce distinct milks, hence cheeses specific to different regions.
Our next leg of the trip was the true adventure—the famous Alpine pass of Col du Pillon, a 5,000-foot climb. Fantasizing we were on the Tour de France, I eagerly hit the pedals but quickly succumbed to “turbo power” on my e-bike for the climb. No shame—just adrenaline—as we headed toward the Tsanfleuron Glacier with its stunning scenery and captivating backdrops of snow peaked caps.
Loving the descent and with no pedal assist needed, we were off to our last foray of pastures and contented cows to the fabulous cheese area of Emmental (more noteworthy fondue). Wishing there were more biking days to go, we arrived at our final destination of Bern—a city that embraces old-world charm with an international sophistication.
IF YOU GO:
- Butterfield & Robinson’s motto of “slowing down to see the world” rings true. Recently celebrating its 50th anniversary, active travel is its specialty, including biking, walking and boating; butterfield.com.
- Beau-Rivage Palace of Lausanne has been family owned for the past 150 years. This amazing historic hotel is a magnificent nod to the best of Europe, with a stunning location on the shores of Lake Lausanne and a backdrop of the Alps; brp.ch/en/home/
- Zurich is a direct flight from Miami and the perfect starting point for a Swiss trip. Since 1844 the Baur au Lac hotel commands the best views with a private park on the lakeshore and convenience to the historic sites and famous shopping of Bahnhofstrasse; bauraulac.ch.