I head west from Zurich. After a two-hour train ride, I reach Avenches. A small well-known but unknown place just a few minutes’ walk from Lake Murten.
First of all, I go to the tourist information office in the town centre at the church square. The nice lady explains to me in detail all the attractions to be found in the old Roman city. She also points out many other activities in the area. There is even a nearby beach on the lake to discover!
A leisurely tour of the medieval town
Where should I start? I decide to take a stroll through the town centre. According to my map, it’s just a kilometre and a half. Along an ancient tower, a shooting range, I reach the museum, the castle, accompanied by a view into the distance.
The next stop is the Roman monuments, which Avenches is famous for. Four times as many people lived here at that time. You’d never know today looking at the (almost) empty amphitheatre.
The area with the individual ancient sites is huge and there are remarkably few visitors. So I stroll to all the highlights. There’s an exciting app that brings the individual ruins to life and reconstructs them visually. Be sure to look for the four small binoculars, known as stereoscopes, and download and install the “Erleb-Ar” app via the QR code on site.
Break at the heart of the city centre
After a short lunch break on Rue Central, the picturesque main street, the next highlight awaits me: The Swiss National Stud Farm, just a good one-and-a-half kilometres outside of Avenches and easily accessible on foot.
The Swiss National Stud Farm of Agroscope
I can’t really imagine what it might be either, so I accept the suggestion of the tourist office and take a guided tour of the Haras. These are available for an hour and a half, starting at 15 francs per person. Haras? This word comes from Arabic and means «place where horses are bred». That makes sense. After all, this is where Freiberger stallions, originating from Saignelégier by the way (tip: youth hostel!) are bred and refined with the utmost care. The area can be visited free of charge at any time; information boards help you find your way. But I have to admit, a tour with such an enthusiastic guide is much more exciting. She knows quite a lot of background facts and has answers to all my questions.
60 stallions, two donkeys and lots of storks currently live here, the countless storks only in summer. But the pride and joy are the cold blooded horses. Purebred and designed for optimisation. I find a riding hall, a «fitness circuit for horses», a clinic, a reproduction centre, a carriage hall, a saddler, a bridle room and spacious stables.
Conclusion: They place a lot of emphasis on nutrition, well-being, but also on the further development of the horses in breeding here. A spa for these noble animals that need 16 hours of exercise a day and only sleep for five hours! I didn’t know that until now.
An oasis: Avenches Youth Hostel
Slightly exhausted by all the impressions of the day, I now head to the cosy Avenches Youth Hostel – just a few minutes away from the train station. A huge garden and a familiar scent welcome me. The wood in the large fire pit is already burning. It smells like barbecuing and spring. Grégory, hostel manager and chef, is draping vegetables on it and some guests have gathered to watch him cooking live.
Perfect timing. On the terrace, I enjoy a delicious dinner and the rays of sunshine before heading into my cosy room. What a perfect end to a wonderful day: Avenches – I’ll be back!
Be sure to visit Avenches Youth Hostel. You can look forward to history, cycling tours to Lake Murten and Lake Neuchâtel (in summer, don’t forget your bikini of course!) and the youth hostel garden to chill out!