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A Tour of Switzerland - Emmentaler AOP and the Canton of Bern

The Canton of Bern, the heart of Switzerland

Located in the center of Switzerland, straddling the German-speaking and French-speaking cultural areas, the canton of Bern plays a key role as a cultural broker. This explains why the cantonal capital, Bern, is also the federal capital and the political center of the country. One in seven Swiss lives in the canton, or 13% of the population, which places it in second place in the country. Bern is also the second largest canton, after Graubünden, it shares its borders with no less than eleven cantons.

The Bernese landscapes are soft and welcoming. No matter where you are, a stream or a lush green meadow is never far away. From the gentle wooded reliefs of the Jura to the vast Plateau and its magnificent lakes, passing by the grandiose peaks of the Bernese Oberland which spread over nearly 2400 square miles, the landscapes of the canton offer the visitor a pleasant variety.

Bern - the Medieval Jewel of Switzerland

No other city in Switzerland can claim to have preserved its historic character so well. The old town of Bern is also a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site. Its 4 miles of arbor arches form one of the longest covered shopping walks in Europe. The medieval atmosphere of the city with its many fountains, sandstone facades, alleys and historic towers is incredible.

The rose garden perched above the Bear Pit and the 101 meters of the cathedral tower offer the most beautiful views of the old town surrounded by the Aare. The old ramparts and bastions descend steeply to the river. The shops, bars and theaters of the old town, partly housed in vaulted cellars, as well as the terraces of small cafes attract both Bernese and tourists. In summer, the Aare River is a delight for swimmers, the more experienced of whom swim up to the height of the Palace located above. The banks bathe the botanical garden, the zoo Dählhölzli and the old quarter of Matte.

Yodelling, one of the sources of American country music!

In the canton of Bern, we sing the Yodel, first cousin of the famous Tyrolean of the Germanic Alps. Only the sung vowels are different. This heady singing technique of quickly switching from body to head voice was first developed in the Swiss Alps as a method of communication in the mountains, before becoming part of folklore. Every three years, you can hear these songs at the Federal Yodeling Festival, in which alphorn players and flag throwers participate. Little-known fact: Yodeling is one of the sources of American country music!

Jean-Jacques Island

To the north-west of the canton, in a region where French speakers are numerous, is the magnificent Lake Biel, which separates the canton of Bern from that of Neuchâtel. In the center of the lake, Île Saint-Pierre, linked to the shore by an isthmus from the correction of the Jura waters, welcomes tourists and residents in search of relaxation and calm. It has been inhabited since the lakeside era and bears traces of Roman civilization. It houses a priory founded in 1127 whose Gothic room is decorated with magnificent murals. The most famous of the inhabitants of Ile Saint-Pierre was Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who found there an atmosphere conducive to solitary walks, which, bringing him closer to the state of nature, favored his meditations on the feeling of existence. He cites his stay on the island in the fifth of his Meditations of a Solitary Walker.

Two museums to discover in the canton of Bern

The Gotthelf Center in Lützelflüh

The Gotthelf Center in Lützelflüh, inaugurated in 2012, allows you to immerse yourself in the daily life of the great pastor and writer. Discover this carefully restored former rectory and imagine Gotthelf meditating in his large armchair or writing his finest novels in his study. The ground floor of this venerable building from 1655 is entirely devoted to the permanent exhibition chronicling the life and work of Gotthelf.

The Paul Klee Center

The Paul Klee Center in Bern, opened in 2005, is dedicated to the person, life and work of the artist. It is the largest collection in the world of the works of Klee, one of the major painters of the 20th century. More than 4,000 of the 10,000 works of Paul Klee are exhibited at the Center dedicated to him, paintings, watercolors and drawings, but also biographical material of the artist, who has lived half his life in Bern. The building was designed by the Italian architect Renzo Piano. He created a green island from which emerge three waves of glass and steel. 

Swiss Emmentaler AOP, the original since 1221

A cooked, pressed, raw milk cheese, originating in the green meadows of the Emme Valley in the canton of Bern, Swiss AOP Emmentaler is one of the oldest cheeses in Switzerland. Its original recipe dates back to the 13th century, and the master cheese makers are still faithful to it today!

A victim of its own success, it has often been imitated, but never equaled. Only genuine Swiss AOP Emmentaler continues to be handcrafted, with 100% natural ingredients and exclusively in Switzerland, on a well-defined territory and according to methods certified by the AOP. It offers an aromatic and fruity taste, with delicate nuances of hazelnut and walnut, depending on the length of ripening. It can be shared with family and friends for gourmet breaks, aperitifs, moments of emotion and gluttony. In Switzerland, there is no cheese board without the "King of cheeses"!

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