Fribourg – walk through the captivating old town

It was one of the precious moments when my dear half suggested that we could spend our free Sunday afternoon in the town rather than hiking in nature. And his choice was Friborg. And so, before he could change his mind, I took two printed guides (yes, people, real books! 🙂 ) and started planning a tour of this town, which we always just passed by but never stopped here.


Friborg is located less than 35 kilometers southwest of Bern. Originally, we planned to park at the Parking des Alpes near Place Georges-Python, but since it was a Sunday, we also found a vacancy in the adjacent Rue de l’HĂŽpital (parking on Sundays is free of charge).

Fribourg or Freiburg?

Friborg, like Biel, is located on the language borderline. The local river Sarine serves as the so-called Röstigraben – divides the town into the French-speaking Swiss on the west bank and the German-speaking Swiss on the east bank. That is why we can find the place name both French Freiburg and German Freiburg. And all the signs in the town are bilingual. I will keep the French version (because I like it more 🙂 ).

Old town tour

The historical part of this university town (the name literally means “Free Castle”) is located on a slope in the Sarine (German Saane) River meander. We originally chose Place Georges-Python as our starting point (Georges Python was the founder of the local university) near Rue de Lausanne, where the old town begins. A street full of shops and cafĂ©s runs downhill and leads to Place do Nova Friburgo. This is where the dominant of Fribourg – the tower of St. Nicholas de Myre’s Cathedral – appears in front of you.

To get to it, we crossed the street to get to the Town Hall with the outer double staircase. On the square in front of the late Gothic building, there is a fountain that depicts Saint George fighting a dragon.

Then we walked through the short lane of the Rue des Épouses (“Wife Street”), which is bridged with a sign of a married couple and the inscription “Voici la rue des Épouses fidĂšles et aussi le coin des Maris modĂšles”. Translated as “here is the alley of faithful wives and also model spouses” 🙂

Finally, an impressive Gothic cathedral emerged before us. It is open to the public during the day (paid tours are provided by Friborg Tourisme). Inside, it is worth mentioning an octagonal baptismal font, nicely decorated pulpit and colored stained glass.

We decided to climb the tower of the cathedral. It is 73 meters high and you have to climb 365 stairs to get up. Like in Bern, there is an entrance fee: Adult 4 francs, child 1 franc (open until 17:00, last entrance is possible at 16:30). Even though the spiral staircase seemed to be infinite (and my head was spinning), those views were worth it!

From the cathedral, we headed through the Grand Rue toward the lower part of the town. We walked down the street of Stalden down to the Place du Petit-St-Jean to the Auge district.

Over the Pont du Milieu bridge (be careful – buses run over it, so do not let the children out of sight!), we got to the other side of the Sarine River.

On Planche InfĂ©rieure, past an old granary (from 1708) with the shield in the shape of stairs and two-color shutters, we reached the Pont de St-Jean Bridge to get back to the “right side of the river.”

We found ourselves in the Neuveville district – the guides * say it’s the most photogenic part of the town. We did not go to the left on Rue de Neuveville, which is said to be full of original Gothic houses and leads to the local funicular (I will mention it later), but we went straight up to the Escalier du Court-Chemin (“staircase shortcut” – but doable with a stroller!) and found ourselves again near the Town Hall. And back again through Rue de Lausanne. Here I definitely recommend having your ice cream in Gelateria Solemio!

Where to next time

I am sure that I would definitely like to visit Friborg again because in the afternoon we spent here we certainly did not see all the sights and attractions of this town. So what’s left for the next time?

  1. Fribourg funicular – links the lower part of the town with the upper every six minutes. Nowhere else in Europe does a funicular lurch up the mountainside with the aid of (stinky) sewage water.
  2. Villars Maitre Chocolatier – the local chocolate factory is not open to the public, but it is certainly worth visiting its cafe-shop Route de Fonderie 2.
  3. CafĂ© Restaurant BelvĂ©dĂšre – The terrace of this restaurant at the beginning of Stalden Street is said to have a wonderful view.
  4. Chapelle de Lorette – another sightseeing point (view of the chapel and the path to it is captured on a photo from the cathedral tower – see above)
  5. Murtenlauf – the local race commemorates the messenger sprint from Murten to Friborg in 1476 to relay the glad tiding that the Swiss had defeated Charles the Bold…only to drop dead with exhaustion on arrival. The race is 17.17km long and I’m afraid of signing up for it because IÂŽm afraid I would end up like the poor messenger 😀 (for those interested: 85th year of the race will take place on 7.10.2018)

And what about you? Have you ever visited Friborg? What did you enjoy most here? Would you recommend a visit to others? Send me your comments!

* Sources:

  • Switzerland, Lonely Planet 2012, 7th edition
  • TuristickĂœ prĆŻvodce Ć vĂœcarsko – JOTA, 2011 (pƙeloĆŸeno z Teller, M: “The Rough Guide to Switzerland”, Rough Guide 2010)


Categories: Cities, Switzerland
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Hana Hurábová

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