Carte postale

The postcard-perfect view from our holiday rental in Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland.

We stayed for a week just steps from Staubbach Falls, the highest free-falling waterfall in Switzerland at 297 metres. The falls attracts a steady stream of visitors daily who climb the hundreds of steps up to the lookout point on a rocky ledge behind the falls.

It is amazing to wake up each morning to this view, and to go to sleep with the backdrop of water rushing down from the glaciers.

It seems that the name ‘Lauterbrunnen’ can be interpreted to mean ‘clear spring’ or ‘many springs’ or even ‘noisy springs’. My vote goes to the latter version. Below us was a road that goes to the Jungfrau campground, with a pretty constant flow of traffic. And just across from was a lovely church spire. The bells chime every 15 minutes between six in the morning and ten at night, and every hour on the hour all night long. That means that if you’ve just fallen asleep, exhausted from a day of cycling or hiking, there is a good chance you’ll be woken when the church bells chime out twelve strokes at midnight. One, two and three a.m. seem much lower-profile but are still enough to waken the light sleeper.

Among the tall tales Swiss rental owners will tell you: “Pretty sure the church bells stop at night.” When you point out that they don’t, the reaction is: “Why would they bother you? We don’t even hear them anymore.”

I did not acclimatize to the church bells but still managed to get a good night’s kip with ear plugs and sleeping pills. Not ideal but at the moment I need all the rest I can get. And in between times they were rather pretty…

Now we’re home for another week’s stay-cation before getting back to work and gearing up for our move in a month’s time. I am beginning to panic slightly at the daunting to-do list, so news from this blog may be sporadic for the next few weeks. Please bear with me: I’ll be back soon with a revamped identity and more cross-cultural adventures.

Here’s to ‘clear springs’ to you all until then!

A bientôt…


  1. Colin Bisset · July 27, 2020

    I just love that place. Soul cleansing might be the term…

    • MELewis · July 28, 2020

      Absolutely that! 😊Hope you make it back before too long.

  2. midihideaways · July 27, 2020

    Wow, what a picture perfect view indeed!! I love churchbells – ours chime through the night, but only on the hour and half hour. I find them quite reassuring, and if I wake up in the middle of the night, and lie awake for long enough I get to find out what time it is!! 🙂 Good luck with the packing up and the moving!!

    • MELewis · July 28, 2020

      There is that…I found myself awake in the early morning waiting for the bell to chime and give me a hint as to the time. It’s reassuring to know that you do get used to them. I will surely adapt to all kinds of new noises in our new place once the stress of the move is behind us. Thanks for your wishes!

  3. margaret21 · July 27, 2020

    This looks too wonderful to be true. We’re seeing a friend off to Switzerland today, so between you and him, we may be getting very tempted … except that as we aren’t working, I guess we wouldn’t be able to afford it.

    Good luck as you enter this period of hard work and doubtless very mixed feelings, and I look forward to ‘seeing’ you at the other side, one day soon.

    • MELewis · July 28, 2020

      Thank you so much, Margaret! Switzerland is beautiful but expensive for tourism, although there are lots of places to camp which are more affordable. I hope your friend has a lovely time and that you are able to enjoy their experiences vicariously at least. See you soon! 😊

      • margaret21 · July 28, 2020

        He has a partner there, so I think gets to enjoy it from an untouristy point of view!

  4. pedmar10 · July 27, 2020

    Indeed the plus is the mountain views, and do take the train!

    • MELewis · July 28, 2020

      Thanks, Pedmar. Swiss trains are the best! I took the Jungfrau many years ago and it was memorable. This time we used the train only to go to nearby Wengen and down to Interlaken, but the views were still amazing. Plus a cable car ride down the mountain after a steep hike up.

  5. acflory · July 27, 2020

    Gorgeous view, awful bells. I’m sure you’d get used to them after 10 years or so, but until then, wouldn’t you want to pull the pull on them? lol sorry, I’m a light sleeper /and/ a philistine. 😀

    • MELewis · July 28, 2020

      I get it Meeks — I am a terribly light sleeper too. We joked about sending our mountain climber son up the church tower to disable the bells… they were so loud they even woke up the younger generation! 😆

      • acflory · July 28, 2020

        lmao! Now that’s saying a lot. 😀

  6. The Pink Agendist · July 27, 2020

    Are you going to have to change FranceSays?

    • MELewis · July 28, 2020

      Am thinking about that…may keep the name or similar but adapt some other elements to reflect the change of country. Still, I sense an identity crisis coming. I sometimes feel quite French but never entirely.

  7. Ally Bean · July 27, 2020

    Beautiful views, but sorry about the noise. There’s always something! I look forward to reading about your move, but I don’t envy you the process. Fingers crossed it all goes smoothly– or more realistically, smoothly enough.

    • MELewis · July 28, 2020

      Thanks for your wishes! I will happily settle for smoothly enough. There is always something, as you say. The nicest holidays, the dreamiest places to live. I am working on trying to enjoy the process part. It’s a constant battle not to freak out over so many details.

  8. Susanne · July 27, 2020

    And to think you are moving to Switzerland. From here, it’s a remote and unlikely dream. Good luck to you!

    • MELewis · July 28, 2020

      Thanks for reminding me, Susanne. I do realize that between Canada, France and Switzerland as home bases, I am incredibly blessed. Yet I’ll need a bit of luck at least for the move and the myriad moving parts around settling in a new place. 🤞

  9. Becky Ross Michael · July 27, 2020

    So lovely! Good luck with your move.

    • MELewis · July 28, 2020

      Thanks Becky! Glad you enjoyed.

  10. Suzanne et Pierre · July 27, 2020

    Looks like you still had a good time despite the “noise”. Good luck with the to do list for the move. Not always fun but it will be so rewarding once it is done…(Suzanne)

    • MELewis · July 28, 2020

      Those words are music to my ears: “once it is done.” Eyes on the prize as they say. 😎The holiday was great despite the nocturnal bells as it forced me not to think about anything but the beautiful surroundings for a few days. Thanks for your good wishes.

  11. Katherine Wikoff · July 28, 2020

    Beautiful scenery, and I love the sounds of the waterfall and bells!

    • MELewis · July 28, 2020

      They do sound pretty from afar, especially the bells when they chimed on the weekend. The sound of the waterfall was actually like white noise after a while. When it started to rain later in the week we had to look out the window to be sure. All in all a welcome break!

  12. Kiki · July 29, 2020

    Mel, I seem to have missed quite a few important updates on your life over the past weeks…. why’s that? Because I moved from F to Switzerland …… yep! Are we creating a new wave of ‘dissidents’? I don’t think so, as we are ‘simply’ returning to our home country whereas you…. I have no idea what will bring you nearer to me, but welcome you shall be 😉
    I was attracted to your Carte Postale – I agree that Lauterbrunnen is a charming village and I also totally agree to your feelings re the bells of the church. When we lived in Lutry (only the most beautiful wintner vintage village at Lac Léman!!!!!) we had the church roughly 15m from our bedroom window and on the same height too!!!!! We only had that tiny house from the 15th century for 2 1/2yrs before moving to France, but I think I didn’t sleep one night through from eve to morning….. On the other hand, you shouldn’t live in such a place if you can’t stand the bells ringing at all times; we had many a discussion and heard many advices. We KNEW that we were as close as you can possibly be to that church, so no need to complain. It’s part of the charm of the village, same as the water falls….. I bet you’d never complain about those 😉 – I can just about feel the fresh feeling of the air close by to those falls and it’s one of the most charming ‘noises’ I ever had the privilege to experience.
    Tell me (us) more – I wish you a great transition and I welcome you in my home country with wide open arms. As soon as you’ll be installed, you’ll send me your Swiss mobile no and we can chat on WhatsApp whenever you’ll have questions or incertitudes. I’ll be happy to be of help.
    Love, Kiki

    • MELewis · July 30, 2020

      Hi Kiki, how lovely to hear from you! I had no idea you’d returned to Switzerland. Our move is not a protest against France in any way, but one that makes sense as we both work there. We’ll be moving to Brunnen in September. Do you know it? Anywhere near you? No idea how to send a personal message on WP but will try to find you through Flickr! I am pretty sure the transition will not be without challenges for me as I speak no German and we’re moving to canton Schwyz! Right now my biggest headache is looking to rehome our two senior cats as we’ll be in an apartment with no garden and they are used to going outside. Plus, we have the two Frenchies and that’s more than enough to keep us busy. Do let me know you if you have any ideas. 😺 Looking forward to staying in touch!

      • Kiki · July 30, 2020

        Mel, you should add an Email address to your blog – home ‘about me’ page….. it would be easy from then on!

  13. Joanne Sisco · August 4, 2020

    I’ve endured many a restless night in various places in France thanks to church bells. I’m a horribly light sleeper and it doesn’t take much to throw me off my game.
    But being in the mountains? Bliss 🙂 I can only dream of it!

    Good luck on the move. Looking forward to your stories about the experience 🙂

    • MELewis · August 6, 2020

      Light sleeper? My family used to joke that I would wake every time I heard a fly fart. 😆 Lauterbrunnen was inspiring and we enjoyed the change of scene. It’s the sea I miss at the moment but it will have to wait until after the move. Thanks for your kind wishes. Hope you get out and enjoy a change of scenery soon!

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