IF A two, or even three centre holiday is not enough, then how about a three nation afternoon? It’s one of the intriguing possibilities thrown up by a short break in Basel. On a walking tour of the pretty, compact city on our opening morning, our guide explains that Germany is just a couple of miles away (a tram takes you there) and France is equally close. Yet Basel’s many cultural and culinary attractions — plus a significant Jewish heritage — provide the incentive to stay on Swiss territory.
You can fly direct from London, but I had taken the Eurostar to Paris, then a comfy berth on a train bound for a final destination of Zurich.
For a few hours more, it’s a more civilised and less expensive way of making the trip. You can then get to your hotel on one of the trams that stop outside the central station.
Those staying in Basel receive a free pass (it’s the Swiss way) for the super efficient transport system. Though the main sights and shops are within comfortable walking distance.
On foot, it is apparent that Basel loves a museum — there are close to 40 of them in a city with a 200,000 population, from the seriously arty to the fun and quirky, such as a toy museum housing a collection of 4,000 Teddy bears. Or the museum showcasing the endearingly eccentric work of the late Swiss artist, Jean Tinguely, whose mechanical sculptures were made with items salvaged from garbage. If you don’t have time to do the museum, you can enjoy the fountain in his name with some typically wacky pieces, which looks magical in winter with a frosting of ice.
The Jewish museum was closed on the days of our visit but such is the Jewish history of the area that there is a specialist tour (280 CHF, around £200, for a group of up to 20). Jewish traders came to Basel in the e a r l y Mi d - dle Ages and the first Jewish community dates back to the early 13th century. It is also linked indelibly to the founder of political Zionism,Theodor Herzl, who held the first Zionist Congress at the Stadt-Casino in August 1897. “In Basel
Quirky fountain TRAIN: fares from London to Basel start from £116 (standard class return) You can also book a return train journey from Basel to Zurich for £46. www.voyages-sncf.com STAY: Novotel Basel City, room rates from 160 CHF - www.novotel.com More Info: www.basel.com