By Nivi Shrivastava
While one may associate Switzerland with majestic snow-covered Alps, crystal clear lakes and endless green pastures, there are plenty of things in this country that makes it an “ideal” tourist location. If you look beyond Bollywood’s favourite honeymoon destinations in Switzerland, you’ll be surprised to discover some awesome small offbeat locations that will leave you asking for more. As a traveller, if you are interested in experiencing the local life and exploring the societal aspects of a developed nation such as Switzerland then you must add a visit to Bluche to your itinerary.
The noteworthy village of Bluche is a perfect set up to showcase sustainability and mutual support system among the local farmers and students, who collaborate and work hand in hand to maintain a superb economic model at the grass-root level. The symbiotic professional relationship between the students of a famous hospitality management institution, Les Roches Global Hospitality Education, and the local villagers of Bluche is an excellent way to promote eco-tourism in the area and at the same time contribute to the local economy of the region.
The village is nestled in the Swiss-French part of the canton of Valais. It is located at the height of 1,200 meters above the sea level, next to the Les Roches’ flagship campus. As part of their curriculum, the students and staff of the college run a popular bar and fine-dine restaurant called Roots, which is located inside the campus and is open for tourists. The food and drinks prepared in this operational eatery and the college canteen is prepared using the raw material purchased from the nearby village, thus reducing the carbon footprint and promoting farm to fork philosophy.
Integrated as an important part of college education, the students at Les Roches’ learn to buy fresh Swiss cheese, green vegetables, fresh fruits, meat products, wines from Rhone valley and local ingredients that are produced by farmers from the nearby valley. The best thing about this business ecosystem is the first-hand experience that international students learn while dealing with dairy farmers, local producers and winemakers of this region. The menu of the fine dine restaurant Roots is prepared by the students and instructors using products that come from farms within 100 km. It is open for tourists as well as local foodies, and one has to make an advance online reservation to get a table here. Diners can enjoy the local Swiss delicacies for lunch and dinner and sample some authentic cheese and bread platters, ceviche salad, smoked salmon, tuna and fish, Chorizo and grated cheddar, Swiss lamb, dried beef and Gazpacho along with rare and expensive Swiss wines that are produced locally.
Explore around Bluche:
The village of Bluche can be easily explored in a day, and one can check out the French chalet-style buildings and little outlets in the upper and lower parts of the valley. The noticeable chateau-like architecture and typical wooden rooftops with floral decorations in the balconies can be seen across the countryside. The beautiful Alps in the background and slanted vineyards add a dreamy touch to the overall picturesque location of this quaint destination.
While visiting Bluche, take some time out to visit the city of Montreux, and check out the gorgeous Lake Geneva shoreline. The town has a very strong musical connection with old and new artists. In the months of July and August, Montreux hosts the annual Jazz festival which attracts music lovers and famous performers across the globe. The town also has a unique connection with bands like Led Zeppelin and Queen, and still relives the musical history through jazz bars and buzzing cafes located by the scenic Lake Geneva. According to the locals, when Freddie Mercury visited Montreux in 1978 to record the album ‘Jazz’ with his band Queen, he fell in love with the city and remarked: “If you want peace of soul, come to Montreux”. To commemorate his time in Montreux, a bronze statue of Freddie Mercury facing the waterfront was installed in 1996 at the main square of the town (place du marché), which is now a landmark for tourists.
Apart from Montreux, the other popular tourist destinations near Bluche are the resort towns of Crans-Montana. The famous twin towns get busy in winters as tourists flock here to explore snow sports, local food and luxury shopping centers during peak snow season. If you are travelling to the village from a different country, the nearest airports from Bluche can be located in Geneva or Bern, which are connected by trains and taxis. The nearest town Sierre connects the main village and campus with all kinds of public transport like bus, taxi and funicular rides. (Read more on Montreux here.)
How to reach Bluche:
The beautiful alpine village of Bluche is located in the Swiss canton of Valais close to the Rhone valley, where one can spot lush vineyards flourishing beside the river Rhone. It is connected with all modes of public transport from Sierre, Montreux, and Crans-Montana. The closest city to Bluche is a small town called Sierre, which is easily accessible by bus, taxi and funicular rides. If you do
So pack your bags and add this beautiful Swiss village in your European itinerary. And, don’t forget to indulge in guilt-free luxury as you explore the joys of sustainable lifestyle up in the hills.
(The writer is a Delhi-based journalist, and you can reach her at [email protected] )