Swiss Tour II – Brunnen and Créasphère

After a fascinating visit to the open-air museum in Ballenberg, the next stop on the tour was to see another geographical feature Switzerland is famous for, lakes. Apparently, Switzerland has a total of 103 lakes of varying sizes, impressive given the total area of the country only amounts to 41 285 km2 (15 940 sq mi) with a lot of mountains to squeeze in that area too.

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Of these lakes, Lake Geneva (or lac Léman – what you should call it when talking to anyone who is not from Geneva) is the biggest. There are plenty of other lakes though with different claims to fame, from Muttsee in Glarus, which has the honour of being the highest lake in Europe, and the Lac des Quatre-Cantons, which is an impressive expanse of water that manages of border four different cantons.

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It would be a bit hard to recommend just one area in Switzerland for the lake-viewing, but having passed through the area many times on the train, the lakes around Lucern (or Luzern if you’re feeling more Germanic) were something I had always wanted to see. The region around Interlaken and Lucerne on the train routes is so beautiful that you realise that it really would be a waste for Switzerland to have incredibly high speed train routes in this area!

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So it was off for a day trip to Brunnen, a tiny little place on the shores of Lake Lucerne or the Lac des Quatre-Cantons. It’s a bit of a strangely shaped lake but is so incredibly beautiful as it is one of the places where you really see the mountains falling straight into the water. I am fond of Lac Léman where, as long as the weather is kind, you always have the water framed by the distant mountains, but near Brunnen the scenery is very different indeed and much more dramatic.

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I would be lying to say that Brunnen itself is an overwhelming hub of activity but it is home to the Victorinox museum, the iconic Swiss army knife brand, and, Créasphère, a rather expansive haberdashery. I’d really recommend going on a boat tour of the lake here – the boat makes lots of stops at other small places around the lake but you can just do the whole round trip to enjoy the scenery from start to finish. I like that in Switzerland, as many of the boats are part of the same travel network as the buses and trains, you can just easily book your tickets on the same app.

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After that, it’s about a 15 minute walk to Créasphère which is a rather unconvincing looking building in a mini-industrial park. It’s not trivial to figure out how to get in (look for the doors in the photo with the lift!) but it’s worth making an attempt to. Créasphère is a Swiss chain with a couple of stores dotted all over the country and it’s quite hard to define exactly what they specialise in.

They have wool, fabrics for both dressmaking, upholstery and interiors, and all the little bits and bobs you might need from zips to knitting needles and buttons. They even have a few cheap sewing machines in stock. The store in Brunnen also has a selection of weird and wonderful home décor items, and in fact, it seems like weird and wonderful extends to the selection of fabrics on offer too.

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Given this is a large chain store, I was quite surprised by how outlandish some of the fabrics were, from fluffy monstrosities to the perfect pieces for your new jester’s outfit. There were some awesome bling glittery stretch fabrics too. Prices vary a lot depending on the material. If you’re visiting from outside Switzerland then you will probably just be horrified, but if you’re living and working there it’ll feel quite reasonable.

The wool selection is large but a bit dull. There’s plenty of big brands with staple block colours but not too many variegated and, in comparison to the fabrics, nothing with a particularly outlandish colour palate. It’s all good, sensible wool but there was nothing particularly unusual to tempt me. The quilting cottons are few in number but there are some very cute Swiss fabrics, and if you’re after a really cheesy souvenir, they do edelweiss buttons to do a matching project.

I was impressed with the range of notions, zips and interfacings they had. This would be a wonderful shop to have as a local haberdashery as the clothing fabrics are really quite nice and the range of bias bindings, zips and everything else is sufficiently extensive that I think unless you needed something very outlandish you’d be alright.

One of the benefits of being in a warehouse-style building is that it’s a really spacious store that you can pace around at your leisure without worrying about being in the way or blocking an aisle. This is great as they have a really amazing collection of dressmaking and project patterns which might take you a few hours to browser through. They have a few handy catalogue of what they have to help.

This was a very nice surprise in a place I wasn’t entirely expecting to find a craft shop with plenty of interesting fabrics to peruse. It’s not always easy to find good craft stores in Switzerland – the local department stores all have their own haberdasheries for the essentials and a lot of places have Bernina stores (which I have the impression are mostly franchises?) too, so Créasphère is a welcome change!

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