Switzerland has always been on my wish list of places to visit in Europe. Seeing a stage of the Tour de France has been a life bucket list item for Tim. So when we decided to move our trip up to July instead of October, Tim took that as his chance to see a stage of the Tour de France. Stage 16 of this year’s race just so happen to be ending in Bern, Switzerland. I consider that more than a win-win situation. (We originally talked about going to the south of France had we not moved our trip up.)
We arrived in Bern on a Sunday evening after leaving Paris. Our friend Aaron, who is currently living in Germany for work (lucky guy), came down to meet and hang out with us for a couple days. We stayed in this AirBnB, which worked great. We were able to walk anywhere in the city, train station was close and there was a grocery store across the street. Going to a restaurant is SO expensive in Switzerland, so we tried to make grocery store runs as much as possible. We actually got pretty lucky with our AirBnB because it was one of the last places available that wasn’t outrageously expensive due to the Tour coming through.
We dropped our bags off and headed out to explore the town, stopping to eat at a restaurant inside the Kleine Schanze Park. There’s also a look-out point there to see the alps. We walked around the Old City, which is a world heritage site. It was so cute! With it being a Sunday, not many people were out and about. (yay!) We stopped at a couple other look-out points and made our way to the Altes Tramdepot – a visitors center and restaurant/brewery right by the Bear Park. It was a really cool place.
Our first full day in Bern was spent hanging out along the race route for the Tour. We walked to the Stade de Suisse, which is where the finish line was for that stage. It was just over 3 miles from our AirBnB to the stadium, but it really wasn’t a bad walk. Plus the weather was gorgeous. We got to the finish line super early (we were expecting big crowds) and actually could have claimed spots right there, but decided to walk further down the course. The last 1KM (or so) of the stage is always a sprint and we wanted to see the riders for longer than one second. We found a great spot right before the 1KM flag on a curved uphill. That way we could see the riders coming up the hill, which slowed them down a bit. Being close to the tourist center for a bathroom was also handy.
There’s a caravan (parade) that comes through before the riders throwing out free swag to the audience. We heard it was really great stuff, but it ended up being food samples and other random stuff we didn’t really care about. Not a big deal.
Peter Sagan won his third stage of this year’s tour that day (by 2 cm!). We didn’t get to see them cross the finish line but it was really neat to see the peloton coming up the hill. Tim always DVRs the race, so being able to see that in person vs on TV was a really cool experience. We were standing next to a couple who were going to be riding in the caravan out of the city for the next stage. Now that would be neat.
We made our way to the finish line to try and catch some of the post-race festivities (holy cow was it crowded) before making our way back to the city center. We stopped in to a pub for a burger (it was pretty mediocre) and headed home. I had caught a nasty head cold and felt pretty miserable by the end of the day. After walking close to 8 miles and being in the sun made us all pretty exhausted. Plus we had big plans for the next day!