Zurich, a city of contrasts

Zurich © T.Joly
Zurich will host three Euro 2008 games. The occasion to get to know this dynamic city that allies tradition and modernity, quietness and busy night life. It is today one of Europe’s greatest place for culture and contemporary art.

[ Practical ]

- Getting there
Swiss and Air France have 6 flights per day. Duration of the journey : 1 h 15.
TGV Lyria : three trains per day from Paris Gare de l’Est. Duration of the journey : 4 h 20. It’s cheaper than plane and marginally longer if you take into account the time spent to reach the airport and get through check-in procedures.
- Lodging
Hôtel Alexander
Hotel Adler
Hotel Altstadt
For low budget : Hotel City Backpacker Biber
- Restaurants
Zunfthaus zur Schmiden
Zunfthaus zur Zimmerleuten
Bierhalle Kropf
Café Bar Odeon
- Going out
Opera : www.opernhaus.ch
Concert : www.tonhalle.ch
Disco / bars / live music : Rote Fabrik, Indochine, Labor Bar, Rohstofflager, Nietturn Bar, Moods, Jules Verne
- Getting around
Zurich is not a very big city and most of the museums and monuments can be easily reached by foot.
A systme of tram make it easy to get around town.
- Currency
Swiss Franc (CHF). 1 Euro = 1,60 Swiss Franc
- Cost of Life
Slightly higher than in Paris.
- Good to know
The ZurichCard is a very good bargain. For 17 Swiss Francs it gives unlimited use of the public transports for 24 hours and free access to more than 40 museums.
- Information
Suisse Tourisme
11 bis rue Scribe, 75009 Paris
Tel : 080010020030
The Zurich tourism office is located within the railway station.
Important financial place and first gold market of the world, Zurich is not only the richest and the most populated of the Swiss cities. Counting only 350 000 inhabitants, it keeps a human size and is also a place where it is enjoyable, to live, party and become enlightened. Besides, it is regularly quoted as one of the cities of the world offering the best quality of life.

Zurich railway station © T.Joly
 Luxury shopping
Praises to which it is rare to subscribe at once because the first contact with Zurich is generally made through its railway station where arrive both international trains and shuttles from the airport. Now this monumental 19th century neo-Renaissance building rises on the edge of the business district and, carried by the crowd, it is common to make its first steps in town on Bahnhofstrasse, its main trading thoroughfare. Shaded by lime trees and almost completely reserved for pedestrians and trams, this wide avenue is, at first, the domain of department stores and prêt a porter shops. But, as we go away from the station these businesses give way to headquarters of insurance companies and big Helvetian banks such UBS and the Credit Suisse. There also come one after the other all the luxury brands, Chanel, Dior, Prada, Armani, Louis Vuitton,… and of course all Swiss watchmakers big names. A rich district, that is at the origin of the reputation of coolness, and seriousness, that sometimes still sticks to Zurich.

Limmat's banks © T.Joly
 Floating baths
However, it is enough to reach the end of Bahnhofstrasse to understand what means Zurichan quality of life. This avenue indeed open to the crystal clear and not polluted waters of the lake of Zurich with the snow capped summits of the Alps as a background.
A magnificent panorama to be appreciated from floating baths and saunas set up few meters off the bank and which, for some, become trendy bars in the evening. A rare pleasure in a city of this size
On its banks, where Euro 2008 games will be broadcast on giant screens, are elegant villas, large neo-baroque buildings and numerous parks. The most pleasant is Zurichhorn, which shelters modern sculptures, a real Chinese garden and is next by two interesting houses. The first one from Swiss sculptor Hermann Haller, made of wood on Bauhaus style. The second one from Le Corbusier.

Grossmünster © T.Joly
 Remarkable churches
Other charm of the city, it keeps a very beautiful historic center. Extending over both banks of Limmat, river by where pass by the waters of the lake, it has for cradle the hill of Lindenhof. A strategic position where settled Celts, then Romans. Real haven of peace where chess players face on giant chessboards, it is only in five minutes by walk from the Bahnhofstrasse’s crowd. A striking contrast.
Its summit offers a beautiful viewpoint over the old districts that dominate the impressive Federal Institute of Technology building and the tall and slim silhouettes of several remarkable churches. The Grossmunster cathedral Grossmunster, recognizable from its high twin towers, according to the legend founded by Charlemagne, where the theologian Ulrich Zwingli preached the reformation. The Saint Peter church whose bell tower carries a clock of 8,70 m of diameter, Europe’s largest one. Fraumunster, church of a former women convent, which conceals magnificent stained glasses realized by the painter Marc Chagall in 1970.

Zurich old town © T.Joly
 Artistic profusion
Near by stands an elegant baroque palace of the 17th century, not built for a prince, but for the corporation of the wine merchants. The proof that they did excellent business and Zurichans liked partying !!! And it is always like that, you just have to walk around to be convinced.
Squares set up around medieval fountains and old paved alleys lined with ancient houses indeed abound in restaurants, bars and cafes tastefully fitted out that offer drinks and cooking from Switzerland and the whole world. Particularly on the right bank, all along and around Niederdorfstrasse. But there are also charming hotels, antique dealers, bookshops dealing with old books, craftsmen, art galleries, jewels makers,…
An artistic profusion that is not recent. It’s in this maze of streets and passages that was born the dadaism in 1916, in the café cabaret Voltaire cabaret, still open. At the same time, James Joyce and Lenin too lived in town.

West Zurich © T.Joly
 Top place for contemporary creation
Since about fifteen years the cultural life is more dynamic than ever and today Zurich is considered as one of the top places for contemporary and alternative creation. Thus techno music blooms in the district of West Zurich, a former industrial area that has been rehabilitated where settled down architects, interior decorators, trendy design shops, bars and fashionable clubs. To dance till the end of the night. Moreover, on the second Saturday of August, the city is the theater of a techno "Street Parade" which attracts up to a million persons.
But Zurich also possesses an opera and a concert hall, of international reputations. This eclecticism is found again in the choice of about fifty museums and hundred of art galleries spread all around the city. Ancient or modern works, porcelain or archeological collections, African and Asian sculptures… The city is a cultural and festive destination fitting everyone taste. It also offers the possibility to get a glimpse of the Swiss scenery, even on a short stay. By making one and half hour to half day boat cruises on the lake. Or going by train to the Uetliberg summit. A 20 mn ride through wooden land with, on the arrival, a great panorama over Zurich and the surroundings.

April 23, 2015
Thierry Joly 

[ Museums ]

With about fifty museums and very diverse collections, Zurich has everything to please art lovers.
Considered as the most prestigious Swiss's museum, the Kunsthaus exhibits paintings and sculptures from the Middle Ages to the 20th century. The periods and artists best represented are the Swiss painters, the Impressionists, modern painting, Edvard Munch and Alberto Giacometti.
Famous for its impressionist paintings, the Buhrle Foundation posseses masterpieces from Gauguin, Van Gogh, Pissaro, Monet, Manet and Renoir.
But Dutch and Italian paintings from the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries are also on display as well as 20th century works from Matisse, Vlaeminck Cézanne, Bonnard, Vuillard and few others.
Main contemporary art museums are the Kunsthalle and the Migros Museum, both located in the former Lowenbrau brewery, in the fashionable West Zurich district.
Set up in two villas nested in a park, near by the lake, the Rietberg museum possesses one of the best European collections of artistic and ethnographical objects coming from the entire world. Africa, China, Japan, India and Cambodia are well represented.
The Swiss National Museum deals with the country history from prehistoric to modern times. Housed in a vast neo-gothic building, it possesses among others great archeological and arms collections. Do not miss the ancient pharmacy and the 17th century dining room which have been rebuilt on site.