I go to Basel quite regularly; my brother lives there. I went at this time a year ago. I was overwhelmed and didn't get round to posting these pictures last year, so now I do so as it's Chrismas again. Basel sits on the Rhine, a majestic and imposing river. You are metres away from both France and Germany, which border this corner of Switzerland.
Looking at the town hall you could be forgiven for assuming it is a bright colourful city.
But in fact, what I like about it are the understated tones, textures and styles. I feel I am in a place of taste and discretion, where the brash 'buy me' 'see me' flavour of many cities is thankfully absent. This is the case, too, when it comes to Christmas. England is so vulgar in comparison to this simple adornment of an undecorated tree outside so many of the houses.
They are simply tied to the wall. Quite earthy and the ubiquity of it suggests this is tradition rather than minimalist affectation.
I think this was a kind of open house art show. So charming.
I loved how this jeweller made her tiny window display bring Christmas alive, but in such a subtle way. It was like a fairy tale.
The Christmas decorations are simple, and made from natural materials mostly.
There is so much to say about Art, in Basel, but that for another time. For colour, my delightful discovery was this trimmings shop. Proper old fashioned choice and display. I still have my purchases at home; I did start using some braid to make a nightie. Maybe I shall manage it in this time of hibernation.
The choice was vast, or was it just the lovely old fashioned display that captivated?
I do like to think that there are enough people making pretty things to keep this shop in business.
I recommend visiting all the wonderful art galleries, in particular, my favourite is The Bayeler, which is in Riehen, just outside Basel. The building itself is by Renzo Piano and the collection of post-impressionist work is quite superb. There are very regular, international exhibitions. I am going for the New Year so am most looking forward to the Vienna 1900 exhibition.
I strongly recommend going to Basel by train. Not least for the carbon impact, but it's just the most civilised way of travelling. You leave London by Eurostar at lunchtime, get to Paris a couple of hours later and then walk a few blocks to the Gare de l'Est and take the a fast train to Basel which takes just over three hours. With the extra hour and the cautionary hour to change in Paris (it's really a 10 minute walk), you get there for 9pm. Very little intrusive security checks and passport control, a seemingly dignified set of fellow passengers and all that wonderful time to read your favourite book and watch yourself descend deeper into central Europe. It's the right pace for me. For lots of info on this and any other long-distance train journeys, the man in seat 61 is the place to go.