Basel, Switzerland?

Old Nov 2nd, 2001, 12:18 AM
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Basel, Switzerland?

Just found out I have an upcoming trip to Basel, Switzerland, mostly business but will have some free time. Never been there. What's the city like? What are some interesting things to do, places to eat, shop, etc.? Also, French is my second language, not German. German is the official language of Basel, I'm told, but how many people there speak French? Or should I just revert to English? My German is pretty much tourist German and not much more.
Old Nov 2nd, 2001, 12:34 AM
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I was there quite some years ago around Christmas time and it is a lovely old town with lots to see.

My memory may be failing me, but I believe that it is in the French speaking speaking part of Switzerland. Indeed I recall that the airport was actually in France with one exit marked France and the other Switzerland.

I was there on business too, but had a great time.
Old Nov 2nd, 2001, 12:42 AM
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I am Swiss from Basel but living in Zurich now.
Ok, for all questions, you will find a very good web page for Basel at: (German and English version)
You can speak German, English or French. A lot of people in Basel speak at least two of them.
Great old town, great museums.
Dont' miss the following:

Museum of Fine Art (Kunstmuseum)

Fondation Beyeler (Finest Collection in Riehen, just outside the town)
Remember Cristo's wrapped trees?

Museum Jean Tinguely (Niki de Saint Phalle's husband. He died some 10 years ago though).
Remember the Stravinsky Fountain in Paris?

Not knowing what your preferences are re. food, it's difficult to make suggestions. However, you will find a lot of nice places, esp. in the old town.

Come back, if you have further questions.
Just curious: What hotel will you be staying at?
Enjoy my home town! It's a great walking place.
Old Nov 2nd, 2001, 01:42 AM
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Thanks to all. I think the hotel is the Meridian but I haven't gotten my details back from the travel department. Regarding restaurants, I like bistro type cuisine, lots of salads and vegetables, not huge platters of meat or heavy dumplings. Are there any nice wine bars? I'm not much of a beer drinker.
Finally, one thing I like to do with free time is walk through parks. What are some of the nicer, greener parks in Basel?
I already had a look at the baseltourism web site.
Thanks again.
Old Nov 2nd, 2001, 02:19 AM
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swiss: There is no Hotel Meridian in Basel! I suppose you will be staying at the Hotel Merian am Rhein****.
"Merian" is a historic family name in Basel. Rich rich people.... LOL
It's a nice place facing Rhine and Münster. Not too large (some 90 beds). Close by, used to be the red light district of the town. But it has more or less gone now.
It is on the smaller side of the town and really in the heart ofthe city. But for shopping, cross the river and go for the Freie Strasse which is the main shopping street.
For ladies' wear (are you female??) go to Merkur or Feldpausch. But you will also find a lot of nice boutiques around Freie Strasse, Barfüsserplatz, etc.
A nice, but steep shopping street is the very nice Spalenberg starting close to the Marktplatz where you will find the red Town Hall. Full of small boutiques for all sort of things. You really have to discover the city by walking.
Most parks are in the outskirts of the town. The is none in the really center. You will find a nice one surrounding the Fondation Beyeler which is about 15 min. by tram (Nr. 6) from your hotel.
Some nice places (bistrot like) are:

Restaurant Luftschloss
Luftgässli 1
Very trendy place. Nice snacks.

Bodega zum Strauss
Barfüsserplatz 16
An old time favourite with a lot of locals, an institution!

Le Train Bleu
at Hotel Victoria opposite the train station
Newly openened, featuring light cuisine with a taste of southern France and market fresh ingredients.
Was there last Friday night. Delicious!!

Restaurant (and Bar) zum Teufelhof
Leonhardsgraben 47-49
on top of the Spalenberg
Inventive cooking in the old town, charming seeting with a touch of art

Brasserie Au Violon
Im Lohnhof 4
Lively brasserie, traditional French cuisine, served up in a former prison! Very trendy

Zum Goldenen Sternen
St. Alban-Rheinweg 70
Basel's oldest historical banquet-rooms, garden restaurant and Rhine-terrace. Nice in the summer time.

Schneidergasse 11
Old town pub with lots of atmosphere. For connoisseurs of fine gordon bleu (biggest selection around).
An old favourite of everybody!

I am not sure, if you will be able to find all those places. For some, I suggest you have your hotel make a reservation, especially for dinner. But maybe, you prefer just to walk along and have a look at the menus and decide only then, whether to go inside or not.
Anyway, you will certainly not starve in Basel. There are also some very nice chocolate shops/patisserie places in Basel: Bachmann, Schiesser, Pellmont, Brändli. If you see such a shop -- they all have branches in the very city -- go ahead if you like upscale chocolate products. A very good one is Frey, opposite the train station, open on Sundays!

Oh dear, I better stop now. I am getting hungry, it's lunch time here!

To Tangata: Basel is definitely in the German speaking part of Switzerland. But the fact that France is not far, you may hear a lot of French too. And correct, the airport, called Euroairport, is on French grounds.
Old Nov 3rd, 2001, 05:19 AM
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Hello everyone. I am really enjoying this tread about Basel! Switzerland has long had its place in my heart, but I've always settled into small lake towns (Rapperswil, Brienz, Leissigen, Rivaz, Gerra-Gambarogno) and visited the cities from those locations. I've never been to Basel and have been wondering about it for a long time! This is my question: Ursula, is it really a 'walking town'? When I read about the museums, historic sites, etc., they seem so far apart. I would love to visit the Kunstmuseum and the Beyeler. I stumbled upon the Beyeler's website a couple of months ago when I was researching a design assignment for my highschool art students, and I was hooked. I'm a train person, though, not a car-renter. I suppose I'm intruding on Swiss-miss' thread to see if it really is possible to enjoy Basel on foot and to ask about the extent of its old town -- I always think of Basel as being so modern, so business oriented. No? Have a wonderful business trip, Swiss. jw
Old Nov 3rd, 2001, 06:49 AM
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I was only in Basel for a day (I was staying in the Hasliberg area) but I just have to chime in and say that I loved it! It has a "medieval university town" flavor to me, and we did do quite a lot of walking. Many of the side streets are absolutely charming with the various colors used in the shutters and trim and the flowerboxes and all. Don't forget to take a pastry and hot chocolate break!
Old Nov 3rd, 2001, 03:10 PM
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Basel is very compact and an excellent walking town. All essential sites are easily reached by foot.

Though Basel has cultivated modern architecture for the last few years (among others Herzog & de Meuron, the architects of Tate Modern in London and the new de Young Museum in San Francisco are based here), it has a beautiful old city which is best explored by walking.

The Fondation Beyeler is in the northern suburb of Riehen. Although I could indicate a few pleasant walks from the city to Riehen, it would take you a couple of hours to reach it by walking. It is served by the city's streetcar system with cars runnig eight times an hour from city centre (line number 6 to "Riehen Dorf" stop).

If you are staying at a hotel in Basel you will be getting a "mobility ticket" covering public transport in the city and the inner suburbs for the length of your stay.

Enjoy your stay

Old Nov 5th, 2001, 11:03 AM
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jjw: As said above by Phil, Basel is a walking city like most cities in Switzerland. Only the Fondation Beyeler is a little outside -- close to where I grew up -- but only some 20 min. by tram as mentioned above.
Of course, there are business areas like any town which are of no interest for a tourist. But nobody will oblige you to go there. On the other hand, there are some very interesting modern buildings, if you are interested in architecture.
Right now, the FB has a special exhibition about the German painter Anselm Kiefer. Quite impressive, huge paintings. But the permanent collection is there anytime too.
The Museum of Fine Arts is right in the middle of the town, a couple of minutes from the Münster (cathedral).
You might also be interested to visit the Art Basel. Usually taking place in mid-June. It's the world largest art fair. They planned an Art Basel in Miami this December, but cancelled it due to the recent events. It's now postponed to December 2002.
Old Nov 5th, 2001, 11:19 AM
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We spent a very full day in Basel last summer, traveling for the day from Zurich. We walked a lot. The Jean Tinguely museum as mentioned above was a real highlight. Although it was across the river and a pretty good walk through a pleasant park along a medical center area on the river, it was probably the most distant from the station of all the sites we visited. We also took the little boat across the river to reduce the return trip -- the boat is attached to an overhead cable and is pulled across by the current. We found it a very interesting city with a pleasant mix of old and new -- but more of a working city than a tourist city.
Old Nov 5th, 2001, 11:25 AM
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I like Luzern and Lugano better. Zurich and Basel are similar I think, and neither are as nice as the two above. Thank you
Old Nov 5th, 2001, 11:31 AM
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Well, Luzern & Lugano are wholesome, but so are Zurich & Basel... each city has its advantages.
Ursula: though I am not Swiss I share your enthusiasm about travle in Switzerland; thanks for your invaluable posts.
Old Nov 5th, 2001, 11:32 AM
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LOL a working city. Of course, Patrick. We all need to work to be able to make great trips. Still, Basel is THE museum town in Switzerland and has a lot of visitors.
The best atmosphere in Basel is definitely during the Art Basel. A lot of trendy people around (but no hotel rooms!). During those some ten days, you think you are in different town. If ever possible, I never miss that event.
Glad to hear you visited the Tinguely Museum. I like it too. It's a great place to spend with children.
Old Nov 5th, 2001, 11:42 AM
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Eli, thanks. I think you can find nice things in every city in the world. But of course, all depends what you are looking for and interested in.
I love to live in Zurich. It's great, close to the lake, interesting cultural events, next to the mountains and nature in general. A good hub for air travels too.
But I also understand tourists who have never seen mountains, snow, or maybe even cows. So, there is something for everybody and I am glad not everybody has got the same interests. It would be awful, all tourists in the same place.
Old Nov 5th, 2001, 11:48 AM
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"Good hub for air travel"????? I don't think it was a good hub a few weeks ago... (no hard feelings, just pulling your leg. I couldn't believe when Swissair was grounded. I always imagined it as a sound rock just like the Bank of England, Soviet Unio... bad examples - forget it). ;-)
Old Nov 10th, 2001, 05:20 AM
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What an interesting thread! I'm convinced. I'll add Basel to my itinerary next trip, and will investigate Art Basel. This might be a good time to reiterate my fondness for Switzerland. I've gone on and on about my favorite places in other threads, but it's delightful to know that every time I return, I'll find additional 'favorites'. And the people I've met have been unfailingly gracious. I'm wondering. . . . is there any chance a retired teacher with little income could possibly live out her sunset years (not there yet, but beginning to think about it) somewhere in Switzerland? I can hear the laughter, but it's something to dream about. No reply expected; just don't mock me, please.
Old Nov 10th, 2001, 06:24 AM
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My apologies to swissmiss --


I continue to enjoy all of your posts on Switzerland, and as you know, I share your . . . shall we call it obsession . . . with the place. I also share your dream to live in Switzerland -- six months, six years, twenty years, any time I can manage. Anyway, just to fuel your daydreams, I thought I'd share the websites I've found for info on living there. -- links to worldwide embassies. (click on "visas," then "visa types," then on "resident" under "immigration"). There you'll find the official requirements for applying for resident status. The one problem here is that you're supposed to have "close ties" with Switzerland, or a relative there. However, as a retired military person, I know that every rule or policy has an exception and a procedure for waivers, so I don't let that worry me unduly. I also think it's possible to "grow" a valid connection or perhaps a sponsor through investment firms (the Zurich office of Merrill Lynch or the Geneva office of Smith Barney, you know ...) or an immigration lawyer., a site I found from a link at Ed & Julie's wonderful site (thanks again, and always, Ed; your contributions live after you!). This is a professional firm that helps folks get through the immigration process. They list a residency requirement of 100,000 SF annual income. They also suggest you contact them by e-mail if you want to know if you qualify., the site for links to local real estate agencies. Just helps me picture my digs **when** I move. In addition to selling properties, some of these agencies lease apartments for three or six months, an option I often think about while waiting for the right time to make the permanent move.

It's a fine way to spend a Saturday afternoon -- too bad the weather is so nice outside!!

Old Nov 10th, 2001, 07:36 AM
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If you're serious about retiring in Switzerland, consider the Ticino--lots of retirees live there. The weather is great as is the food. The main towns can be expensive and crowded (and hot in the summer!) but there are some very pretty small towns where apartments can be had for reasonable amounts. We have relatives who retired in a town near the Italian border. They live in a very nice townhouse with a small garden, large second floor balcony (about 170 square feet) and private parking. They pay about $1000 a month, but there are 1 bedroom apartments in the complex that rent for about $600 a month, including heat and hot water.
Old Nov 11th, 2001, 05:05 AM
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Thanks to all you sweet people -- swissmiss for opening the subject (well I know you didn't really, but thanks anyway), and to all the informative messages about Basel, and swandav and [email protected] for encouraging my temporary insanity. I've copied all the websites, but I choked on the 100,000 swf -- this really is just a flight of fancy, isn't it--. And, [email protected], surely you are joking: Lago Maggiore is perfect! And, as many of you know, I've already got my village picked out! Hope all your dreams come true. J.
Old Nov 11th, 2001, 07:36 AM
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swissmiss -- my apologies again!

Yes, that 100,000 SF is a choker, but, again, I think that that may be negotiable. That figure is not mentioned in the Swiss Emb website! And, even if I don't get to reside there permanently, I know I can spend 180 days there each year -- six nice months. So I may just downsize my life, get a retirement apartment in the states, and split my year between an apartment in the states and a six-month furnished-flat lease in Switzerland. So let your dreams flow.


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