Estavayer-le-Lac

Fribourg Region

The little medieval town of Estavayer-le-Lac on the south-east bank of Lake Neuchâtel combines one of Europe's most beautiful nature reserves with the joys of a very varied water sports paradise.

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Settled in prehistoric times, colonised by the Romans, plundered by barbarians, coveted by barons: thrilling traces of the civilisations which have shaped this region can be found, for example, in the reconstructed Neolithic village of Gletterens and in the nearby Roman museum. In Estavayer you can see many signs of its rich history: the Savoy castle from the 12th century, the Gothic abbey church and the cobbled streets. If you take a walk along the former town walls, you have a good view of the town. It is from Moudon Square that you have the finest panorama over the Jura mountains to the north of the lake. Numerous rural inns and bars serve regional specialities.

Estavayer, with its yachting marina and two bathing beaches is also a water sports paradise. Two camping and caravan sites form an important part of the available accommodation. Sailing, surfing and pedalo boating are all popular. One special adventure is to try the water-ski lift: here all the family, including children who can swim, can go water-skiing.

There are many varied footpaths and cycle tracks so you can discover the rural surroundings of Estavayer. The gentle hills in the hinterland form the backdrop for an enjoyable excursion by covered waggon that will ultimately take us to Portalban, a fishing port.

The nature reserve of "Grande Cariçaie" – one of Europe's finest nature reserves – extends all the way along the south bank of Lake Neuchâtel. This damp habitat is home to 1000 plants and 10,000 species of animal, about a third of all the flora to be found in Switzerland and a quarter of all species of animal known in Switzerland. Viewpoints have been set up along the paths, and there are special observation huts in the woods and on the moorland areas for watching birds. You can learn more about them in the two nature centres - BirdLife in La Sauge and Pro Natura in Champ-Pittet.

Highlights

  • Old Town – a well-preserved Old Town with beautiful medieval buildings.
  • Frog Museum – stuffed frogs arranged in satirical "human" scenes, dating from about 1850.
  • Lake Neuchâtel – the largest lake situated entirely within Switzerland's borders, well provided with ferries which also carry bicycles.
  • "Grande Cariçaie" – Switzerland's largest wetland area and a unique paradise for birdwatchers, it extends over 40 km along the entire south side of Lake Neuchâtel.
  • Water-ski lift – one of the highlights of the water sports paradise that is Estavayer.

Top Events

  • Free4Style - International Wakeboard Contest: wakeboard, jet-skis and all kinds of other vehicles for water sports come together – along with their acrobatic drivers - here in Estavayer (June/July).
  • Estivale Open Air – open-air music festival on the shores of Lake Neuchâtel (July/August).
  • Festival of St. Laurentius – blessing of the fishing boats in Estavayer (August).

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