Around Biel/Bienne
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The northern shore of the Bielersee/Lac de Bienne is carpeted with vineyards, and wandering or cycling through the wine villages on the lakeshore can be a peaceful way to spend an afternoon. The tourist office in Biel/Bienne can give you a booklet detailing paths in and around the vineyards and places for sampling and buying the local wine.

From Erlach/Cerlier, opposite Biel/Bienne at the opposite, southwestern, end of the lake and served by plenty of boats, a footpath leads out for an hour-and-a-half’s pleasant walk along a causeway to the wonderful StPetersinsel/Île de St-Pierre. No longer an island since the level of the lake dropped in the late nineteenth century during engineering work to control water flow throughout the Jura, this little dot of car-free, sun-dappled forest amidst the lake is well worth an afternoon. Cluniac monks were the first inhabitants, building a monastery here in 1127, but its most famous resident was the Genevois philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who spent two months here in 1765, later calling it the happiest time of his life. The renovated monastery buildings, idyllically set amidst vineyards, now house a gourmet restaurant (menus from Fr.20) and hotel (032/338 11 14, fax 338 25 82; c; April–Oct), with eleven characterful and perfectly quiet rooms.

Northeast of Biel/Bienne is the Taubenloch Gorge, accessible on regular bus #1 or #3N (10min) or on foot from Magglingen above. Legend has it that a local young man fell in love with a young woman named Dove (Taube in German), and they agreed to marry. But the evil Lord of Rondchâtel wanted her for himself, and tried to force her to marry him instead. Rather than submit to his desires, she flung herself into the deep-set and fast-flowing River Schüss/Suze, and the gorge has been named after her ever since. There’s a well-engineered path running through the dark and craggy defile for about 2km, and entry is free (although there’s a donations box near the entrance). Canyoning Taubenlochschlucht in Biel/Bienne (079/357 92 57, taubenloch@hotmail.com) run guided canyoning adventures in the gorge (Fr.65; June–Sept only).

One of the best boat trips in the region is the river trip up the Aare from Biel/Bienne to Solothurn, which takes about two and a half hours and passes the stork colony at Altreu on the way.

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