Ode to my favorite land

Geneva FireworksIt will probably come as no surprise that this is not about France.

After twenty-two years in this country, I still entertain a love-hate relationship with my adopted land.

Nor is it about my homeland. Dear Canada. My fondness for mon pays d’origine grows with each passing year. But if I loved it so much, why did I leave it? It’s like an old boyfriend, one who holds a special place in my heart but is still relegated to the status of ex.

My favorite country is Switzerland. Here’s why:

  1. A great brand
    320px-Flag_of_Switzerland_(Pantone).svgI’m a sucker for smart marketing and the Swiss have got a fabulous brand. That graphic white-on-red cross says everything about them: clean, safe, financially sound. The founding land of the Red Cross and home to all the major international organizations. Beyond the flag, the Swiss Confederation manages to unite the culturally and linguistically diverse citizens of all 26 cantons (provinces) with shared values and a true sense of national pride.
  2. Truly international
    Switzerland is a country with four official languages and shared borders with France, Italy, Germany, Liechtenstein and Austria. Expats abound. Geneva and Zurich are truly international cities.
  3. Swiss trains
    A marvel of efficiency, the Swiss trains are almost always on time and never on strike. You can travel almost anywhere in Switzerland by train and connecting public transit networks while admiring the spectacular scenery.
  4. The hills are alive
    Sound of Music_Julie AndrewsAs a child, Julie Andrews captured my imagination and put a song in my heart with the Sound of Music. When Maria escaped with the children across the Alps to Switzerland, I knew this was the place for me.
  5. Cleanliness
    From the toilets to the streets. People use the garbage bins, recycle and pick up after their pets.
  6. They speak my language
    French, of course. But also English, Switzerland’s unofficial 5th language, which is spoken pretty well everywhere. And whatever language you speak, there is a degree of tolerance for mistakes given that so many people are non-native speakers.
  7. Health and wealth
    Swiss Franc notesThe Swiss have a healthy attitude towards money. Okay, so it’s a country of bankers and they’re rather attached to their Swiss Francs. But I like the fact there’s no shame about wealth in Switzerland. And even the working class makes a decent living. All of which adds up to make Switzerland one of the most expensive countries in the world. (One of the reasons why I live across the border in France.) And non-coincidentally, the Swiss have the world’s second longest life expectancy.
  8. Armed neutrality, not war
    The Swiss have a history of not taking sides. It also means that they work hard to find consensus, holding referendums on every major issue. That’s something I can believe in.
  9. Small but independent
    Switzerland is a small country crisscrossed by mountain ranges. Surrounded by bigger, more powerful countries, they have kept their independence and identity. They are part of Europe but not a member of the EU.
  10. August 1st
    And finally: we share the same birthday. I knew there was another reason I liked working in Switzerland. Any country that gives me the day off on my birthday gets my vote.

Happy Swiss National Day! Happy birthday to me.

Et vous? What’s your favorite country? Adopted or home?


  1. Suzanne et Pierre · August 1, 2014

    Great post. I do totally agree with you and I do like Switzerland for all of the same reasons. Don’t know if I have a favourite country though…I am pretty adaptable and find ways to live wherever I have to live…And I also have a love-hate relationship with France…I must admit that it is a difficult country to understand fully…very complex!

    Happy Birthday to you (It is also my father-in-law’s birthday today…). (Suzanne)

    • MELewis · August 1, 2014

      Thanks so much, Suzanne! Happy birthday to your father-in-law, too! 🙂

  2. aanamalik · August 1, 2014


  3. davidprosser · August 1, 2014

    Penblwydd Hapus i chwi Mel. I hope you have a Wonderful Day. It will come as no surprise to you that my favourite country is Wales. Like Switzerland a land of hills and mountains but we grabbed the song and left the yodel to the Swiss.
    xxx Hugs Galore xxx

    • MELewis · August 1, 2014

      I love to sing and attribute a fair voice to Welsh roots somewhere in the family tree. Yodeling is definitely not one of my favorite things about Switzerland! Merci for the wishes. Big bises xx

  4. Osyth · August 1, 2014

    My favourite country IS France which is why I live here. Closely followed by Italy where I lived in the 80s … the beaurocracy there is even more killing than here hence the win-by-a-nose for my adopted homeland. Switzerland I spent 6 months in about 5 years ago and although I loved it I was constantly alarmed by the fact that there is more dirt in my house than in the entire country. I do agree with everything you have said though and more importantly wish you joyeux anniversaire 🙂

    • MELewis · August 1, 2014

      It’s true that the Swiss passion for cleanliness can border on the OCD. Interesting that France wins your heart over Italy. Maybe it’s a matter of ‘love the one you’re with?’ Merci for the birthday wishes!

      • Osyth · August 4, 2014

        Italy has it all – climate, landscape, people, food, culture but France wins my heart overall and not because I am here now … Iin fact I made a conscious decision between the two countries – return to Italy or to France (I lived in Rome and in Paris back to back 30 years ago) and France won so here is where we are settling. Strange to many but it feels right to us 🙂

      • MELewis · August 5, 2014

        And that’s exactly what counts: how it feels to you. I had the chance to leave France for Switzerland a few years ago but felt I belong here. Agree you should always go with your gut on the big things!

      • Osyth · August 5, 2014


  5. Dana · August 1, 2014

    Great post! You definitely convinced me to go to Switzerland !

    • MELewis · August 1, 2014

      Definitely worth a visit. Glad you enjoyed the post – will be interested to hear how your travels go!

  6. davidprosser · August 1, 2014
    • MELewis · August 1, 2014

      You are so good at sharing the love, David. Mille mercis 🙂

  7. Liz · August 1, 2014

    I also loved Switzerland all those years ago when I did my post grad European tour…. It must be in the genes…….. xo

    • MELewis · August 1, 2014

      I find there are a lot of similarities between Canada and Switzerland, which may explain it too. You should come back soon and see if it’s as lovely as you remember it!

  8. 365thingsiloveaboutfrance.com · August 5, 2014

    Happy Belated Birthday to you…and many happy returns. I haven’t spent much time in Switzerland, but it sounds like I should. I do understand the whole Julie Andrews connection though…my very favorite childhood movie. I’m sure you’ve guessed that my favorite country en ce moment is France. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t say that after 22 years though. I wonder how I will feel going back to the USA? (I have very low expectations…)

  9. Mélanie · August 28, 2014

    excellent post, Mel… 🙂 I was in Suisse 3 weeks ago et je te comprends… btw, I love Canada, too… ❤
    * * *
    glad to have come across your awesome blog via Suzanne & Pierre, d'autres canadiens sympas… 🙂 my very best, amitiés toulousaines et à+! cheers, Mélanie

    • MELewis · August 28, 2014

      Merci, Mélanie – and a big shout out to Suzanne & Pierre. Looking forward to reading you!

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