Où?

This is Brunnen, in central Switzerland. It is the view off the terrace of what will soon be our home. We move in September.

If you’ve followed along for a while, you will know we spent some time searching for a new place to live. We knew we would move across the border to Switzerland from our current home in France, near the border by Geneva, to consolidate our lives around husband’s workplace in Zug, between Lucerne and Zurich. But it wasn’t easy deciding exactly where. For months, many of them in confinement, we scoured the ads for places to buy or rent. But there was little on offer that satisfied our criteria, or produced the longed-for effect: un véritable coup de coeur.

In the end we chose to rent, a bit far from our initial target area. Because, well this. An amazing view of the mountains — and Lake Lucerne, if you look closely. It is spacious and modern and has most of what we wanted. And a couple of things we didn’t.

That road, for example. It was the one sticking point. I had sworn we wouldn’t take a place that overlooked traffic. But it’s just far enough away, and with little traffic outside of business hours. With the windows closed you can’t hear anything; when they’re open, depending on the weather, it can be a bit noisy during the day at least. We decided to take the leap. We’ll only be renting, so we can always move. Besides, on the upside, roads mean connections. Z Frenchman can take the train or drive to work in about half an hour.

Image: Wikipedia / Tobias Klenze / CC-BY-SA 4.0.

Some of the advantages of our new location: a ten-minute walk to town — and no hills! — which is small enough to feel like a village but big enough to offer shops and a train station. There’s a direct local train to Lucerne, which takes 50 minutes, but means you can go into the city car-free. And it’s only a few minutes from Brunnen to Schwyz, with trains and connections everywhere in Switzerland.

Out of all the places we saw, there were three where I was able to ‘me projeter‘. All had one feature in common: they were built into a hill. This is quite common in Swiss apartments, at least the nicer ones. They are terraced, or stepped into the hills, taking advantage of the natural geography to create what feel more like homes than apartments. Large balconies with the best views. And it’s great to have the solidity of that mountain behind you, according to fellow blogger and feng shui expert, Colin Bisset. The energy just feels right.

The lakefront is gorgeous, with cafés and restaurants, swimming and boats. It is part of Lake Lucerne, or what the Swiss call the ‘Lac des quatre cantons’ because its odd shape touches four different cantons. We’ll be in the canton of Schwyz, but very close to several others.

As for the title of this post: very little separates ‘where’ (où) from ‘or’ (ou) in French. Just an accent. Yet their meanings are entirely different. Or are they? There is always an ‘or’ involved in ‘where’. You can’t be in two places at once, and we’ve chosen to be in Switzerland starting in September. And just as the accent makes all the difference to the meaning of this little word in French, so will the accent, or the language in general (German) make a massive difference in our lives. More on that later.

So that’s us. Where will you be this summer?

39 comments

  1. Colin Bisset · July 2, 2020

    Thanks so much for the link, Mel. And what a great place you’ve chosen – truly where the wind meets the water, great feng shui. I could certainly live with that view. Very much looking forward to reading about your new adventures in September!

    • MELewis · July 3, 2020

      Cheers, Colin. Happy to share the link: your piece on feng shui really helped me really understand some things that I felt instinctively yet didn’t give enough credit to. Will let you know if the place lives up to the view!

  2. margaret21 · July 2, 2020

    This looks quite astonishingly beautiful. I hope that it really is as perfect as it looks. And where will we be this summer? Right here, where we’ve been for months …. It could be a lot worse of course, but I would like to travel again.

    • MELewis · July 3, 2020

      That’s the thing: nothing is ever as perfect as it looks. I am determined to enjoy the view while bracing for the inevitable bumps of moving across borders. Hope you enjoy some nice weather while staying home this summer. Travel will be more enjoyable when things settle down a little.

  3. pedmar10 · July 2, 2020

    Ah yes the Swiss have an accent ::) great views indeed, its just missing the Swiss cows!

    • MELewis · July 3, 2020

      Well there is a field with some sheep just next door. The cows are nice but the bells can be rather loud!

      • pedmar10 · July 3, 2020

        It’s a Swiss picture fields with cows for their cheeses…

      • MELewis · July 3, 2020

        Yes, cows are why it’s the land of cheese and chocolate!

      • pedmar10 · July 3, 2020

        Well cheese is ok, chocolates prefer the Belgians , more like watches there ::)

  4. Garfield Hug · July 2, 2020

    I am so happy you found a lovely new place to be home from here on in September 2020! Congratulations! My best wishes and I love the scenery surrounding you. Truly beautiful.

    • MELewis · July 3, 2020

      Thanks, Garfield! Hope you’re keeping well in Lil Red Dot!

  5. paul · July 2, 2020

    Switzerland is one of those places that we would all like to live. Personally I do have some reservations a the back of my mind. Mind you, they are at the very back but they are there niggling away. Here I am in the middle of London a place that has seen the blitz and felt the blows of war and been at the heart of so much history. I am not sure I would like to live elsewhere even if it is prettier and life is so much easier

  6. Al in France · July 2, 2020

    Congrats Mel….a great situation and I could live with the road just for those views. And as you say…you are renting, so can always move in time. My very first visit to Switzerland was as a 12yr old and we stayed in Weggis (just around the corner from you). Wishing you and yours much happiness 🙂

    • MELewis · July 3, 2020

      Thanks, Al! We actually looked at several places in Weggis. Love the views there and much closer to Lucerne. Not a bad first memory of such a beautiful country!

  7. acflory · July 2, 2020

    So glad that things went well. And yes, those views really are spectacular. Are you going to be in a French speaking area or will you have to learn German?

    • MELewis · July 3, 2020

      Thanks, Meeks! It’s not French-speaking, sadly…. Some of the older generation speak a bit of schoolbook French but it really is the German-speaking part. Mostly I will have to get by in English. I don’t even have basic German and Swiss German a dialect that is apparently quite hard to learn.

      • acflory · July 3, 2020

        Hopefully English will be an option. I expect we’re going to get some funny posts in the future. 😉

  8. Becky Ross Michael · July 2, 2020

    This looks perfect, and I hope you love it!

    • MELewis · July 3, 2020

      Thanks. I will certainly try!

  9. MK Graetz · July 2, 2020

    Oooo – what a delicious view! it does sound ideal in almost every way. And, as you say, you’re renting – so it’s not like you’re locked in. Lucerne is one of my favorite places, and between the restaurants on the lake, the trains and the fabulous mountains, it sounds like a dream. I do appreciate when you also remind us of the realities of life anywhere – the difference between living there and being on vacation.
    Here in Kentucky, things have opened up a little but may be locking back down as the virus spirals out of control in other states. I am planning on a little beach trip with my niece (husband is not a beach guy, but my soul needs the ocean) that’s a 10-hour drive away. I’m not ready to get in an airplane yet. We’re renting an apartment and will have minimal people contact – we’ll eat outside at restaurants, or at home. Love even thinking of other places – thanks for a gorgeous post!

    • MELewis · July 3, 2020

      Glad you enjoyed the post and the vicarious travel to the Lake Lucerne area. Wow, ten hours is a bit of a drive! Glad you are able to get away during these strange times of pandemic. Like you, I need to be by water (preferably the sea but lakes will do) but husband is also not a beach person. This summer for our vacation we are staying local, near Interlaken, but I’m already craving a true beach holiday. Thanks for sharing and enjoy the ocean!

  10. chezperrier · July 2, 2020

    It’s just so beautiful! I’ve been to Switzerland twice; first staying Interlaken and visiting the surrounding area many years ago.The last time I was there was 11 years ago, when my husband and I drove from his French village near Lyon to Geneva. It was a scorching 42 C that day and the top of my head got sunburned on the boat on Lake Geneva! In hindsight, would have been a better idea to explore the shady streets of the city, haha. I love Switzerland and I’m really looking forward to reading about your experience there!

    • MELewis · July 3, 2020

      Thanks, I look forward to sharing it with you! There’s a lot to love in Switzerland with mountains and lakes no matter where you go. Those boats on the lake can be extremely hot in the full sun though. I know the drive from Lyon to Geneva well as we did it for many years and still go back to visit family. We may cross on the road one day!

  11. Katherine Wikoff · July 2, 2020

    Congratulations! This sounds like a good spot, at least for now. Beautiful place, water in the distance, and conveniently located. I hope your move goes smoothly. Quelle aventure!

    • MELewis · July 3, 2020

      Thanks, Katherine! It certainly has a lot going for it, and lower density is one of the attractions especially right now! Fingers crossed for the move. Last time it took me two years to unpack…

  12. Suzanne et Pierre · July 2, 2020

    I am immensely jealous. This looks like a dream place and Switzerland is so beautiful. Glad you were able to find such a lovely place so well located. We visited Lucerne in May 2014 and unfortunately the weather wasn’t great and fog covered the lovely mountains but we were quite impressed by the city. Good luck with the move and learning German! (Suzanne)

    • MELewis · July 3, 2020

      How frustrating for photographers to arrive in such a scenic place under fog! But that’s a reality of being close to the mountains. I do love Lucerne and am looking forward to being closer to it and also Zurich. The German will be challenging but I will make an effort to learn at least the basics.

      • Suzanne et Pierre · July 3, 2020

        We had also visited Zurich and truly enjoyed the city. It was a pleasant surprise as we didn’t know what to expect. As for German, I have never tried to learn it but Pierre has (though he isn’t fluent) and he said that it is difficult at first because it is a rule-based language but once you have mastered the rules, it is easy to make progress.

  13. awtytravels · July 3, 2020

    Nice! Well chosen

  14. Joanne Sisco · July 3, 2020

    Congratulations on finding a new home with such a lovely view!!

    Now the fun part begins. Packing!!

    • MELewis · July 6, 2020

      Thanks! We’ll see if it lives up to it. As for the packing, and especially unpacking, don’t remind me… 😭

  15. nessafrance · July 4, 2020

    What a fantastic view! I’m glad you’ve found somewhere. Good luck with the move. We don’t have plans to move very far this summer.

    • MELewis · July 6, 2020

      Probably wise to stay close to home for now, especially when you live in such a lovely place. Hope our new place is as good as it looks…I’m sure there’ll be a few frustrations to report in future posts!

  16. CompassAndCamera · July 5, 2020

    Congrats! The new view is stunning! Cheers to finding your new home!

    • MELewis · July 6, 2020

      Merci! It’s a huge relief. Now I just have to find a home for two outdoor cats…😿😾

      • CompassAndCamera · July 7, 2020

        Oh, I would take them if I could!! But I’m across the ocean.

      • MELewis · July 7, 2020

        Aw, thanks! Hopefully I’ll find a cat lover closer to home. 🤞🏻

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