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"111 places you must have seen": Around Lake Neuchâtel with Mobility

A Swiss author has travelled around Lake Neuchâtel for the well-known book series "111 places you must have seen". Find out how Mobility helped him and how a biologist from Norway ended up in a Mobility car.

Text   Charly Veuthey

30.06.2024

  • Lifestyle

André Vallana came across the series by chance in a Lausanne bookshop: “I was at Payot in Lausanne when Marc Voltenauer and Benjamin Amiguet were presenting 111 places in the Vaud Alps that you shouldn’t miss. I thought the book very elegant and realised that Neuchâtel wasn’t in the series. That’s when I pitched my idea of writing about 111 places around Lake Neuchâtel to the publisher.”

And as André Vallana doesn’t have a car, he decided to use vehicles in the Mobility fleet for his visits and reports. “I had a car of my own for a very short while. I live near Lausanne station and haven’t had one for many years. I hired Mobility cars when writing the book, because I invested a lot in the quality of the photographs and went around with a bag containing lots of lenses. So I travelled by train before using Mobility for the last few kilometres.” Sometimes his diary dictated use of a car, as when he went out fishing on the lake in the early hours with Claude Delley.

A unique region in Europe

André Vallana is a history buff. He’s made a number of documentaries of a historical nature relating to Canton Neuchâtel. His book describes the house where Marat was born, the house of Queen Berthe, the medieval frescoes at Engollon and a boundary marker demarcating Cantons Fribourg and Vaud half-submerged in the lake at Delley-Portalban… “I knew from the outset that history and heritage would play an important role in the book. Over the months, however, nature became just as important.”

He’s particularly keen on the Grande Cariçaie nature reserve, Switzerland’s largest lakeside marsh and home to a quarter of the country’s flora and fauna: “It’s a unique resource in Europe. I worked closely with the Grande Cariçaie ornithologist.” He visited the Champ-Pittet bird hide to photograph the kingfishers that have become emblematic of his book. He also describes the train that runs through the reserve, the village of great crested grebes… And he urges visitors to experience the Champ-Pittet and La Sauge nature centres, which are “great gateways to discovering the treasures of Lake Neuchâtel.”

Car sharing with a biologist from Norway

It’s also because of his fondness for the La Sauge site that he sometimes had to use Mobility. “Early morning and evening are good times to catch birds on film. The bus timetables weren’t always adapted to my needs.” He also describes how he met a Norwegian biologist with the same timetable issues: André Vallana offered him a lift to the site and ended up spending the afternoon with him.

The book finds the author returning to his roots, as it were. While still a teenager, he fought to have the Grande Cariçaie protected.

Another key focus of the book is the crafts and living traditions in the environs of Lake Neuchâtel. This found André Vallana taking an interest in the making of gâteau du Vully and gâteau-au-sel (both savoury specialities) and traditional plaited loaves; he invites his readers to visit the Espace abeilles beekeeping paradise, the Jardin des délices and the fishermen’s huts that have been transformed into little bars… “I met 60 people face-to-face to write the book and spoke with lots of others. Through them I made wonderful discoveries, which I share with my readers.”

The book is part of the well-known series "111 places in .... that you have to see" and was published in May 2024. The publisher is Emons Verlag.

Images: AndrĂ© Vallana 

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