Swiss Travel: Murten


One of the benefits of having globetrotting guests staying with us is I get to do some more traveling too! I generally wouldn’t think: hey, X, let’s hop in the car and drive for several hours to explore a new town, just the two of us. Not usually, anyway. X can be very closed minded about things like that. But with my sister and brother-in-law visiting, it seemed like the right thing to do.

After their jaunt to Italy, they wanted to explore some of Switzerland. And as luck would have it, there is very little of Switzerland that I’ve actually seen yet. If it’s not around Lake Geneva, then it’s new to me.


Our first destination was Murten, in the canton of Fribourg. It was a two hour drive away, and pretty much the first thought that comes to mind is that this place is old. Like, really old. Apparently they’ve found Mesolithic settlements here (that’s 8200 to 5500 BC, so we’re talking older than written history). It is for the most part a charming town by a large, picturesque lake, but we kept our explorations to the walled medieval city.


We spent pretty much the whole time here trying to find a place to eat for lunch, or in fact eating for lunch, so our tour was gastro-centric. It was lovely to walk by all the shops and taverns that lined the picture-perfect streets. We agreed that Murten was so stereotypically quaint Swiss that it could have been designed by Disney – we mean this as a compliment.


It’s one of those places I see more and more now that I live in Europe and can hardly believe it’s real. Do people actually live here? I find it mind blowing that real people get up, eat breakfast and go to work behind the walls of these stunning places, older than anything you and I have ever seen, and think it’s normal. Do you think they look at suburban America, with the picket fences and a gazillion cars on the road and say “no way, that’s not real. No one actually lives in a place like that.”?


We did find a charming Italian restaurant, which turned out to be great. That’s always the fear in a touristy town like this, that you’ll fall into the tourist traps. Z and I are notorious for this, despite pretending to be aware of them. We show up somewhere super hangry and ready to eat RIGHT NOW, then once we’ve had mediocre, overpriced food, we wander around and find about a dozen places that would have been nicer if we’d just had the fortitude to look. Today, we had been looking for awhile. Our first choice appeared to not actually have a front door. We ended up figuring out that the entrance was down a set of stairs set into the pavement behind cellar doors (we think). So that was out. Our next try was an Irish tavern, which only served weird flatbreads, so we decided to just have a drink and skip the meal there. This was my first time in a primarily German-speaking town, a language which I understand zero. My first attempt at ordering something from a German waitress failed – I ordered a water, she brought me a beer, which my brother in law and sister helped me with. The next place we wanted was hidden behind some construction, and then proved to be too fancy for a toddler to be in. So by this point our hunger had reached close-to-hanger levels. The Italian place looked nice, and welcoming, and proved to be great. X was welcomed as though he was a grown up – he got his own chair, placemat and cup, all of which were greeted by him with great delight. And the food was good. So what more could you ask for?


With our bellies full and the medieval town extensively explored, we decided to head along – we had other places to be, other sights to see. Murten is a beautiful place, though. I would definitely like to come back to check out the museum, since clearly the area has a long and fascinating history. Maybe when X is just slightly older.


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