13 September 2008
Saturday Market in Murten
Early on Saturday morning, after lingering over coffee and croissants, my husband and I took the train to Murten. Murten, known in French as Morat, straddles the edge between French and German speaking Switzerland. It is situated in the canton of Fribourg above the shore of Lake Murten.
This small medieval town has a rich history and a generous climate. Nearby the Vully vineyards provide the region with good wine while the area between Murten and Neuchâtel is known as the Vegetable Garden of Switzerland. This area has long been recognized, from the time of the Romans and no doubt even earlier, for its fine temperate attributes and so this small town in Switzerland has a long and interesting history.
The Old Town of Murten itself is well worth just seeing. It's castle still stands at the entrance to the town. Though it is closed to the public it adds greatly to the atmosphere of the place rising above the other rooftops. Beyond the castle is a picturesque medieval town of three streets encircled by its 15th century town walls. Most of the ramparts and towers of this once heavily fortified town are still intact, reminding visitors of the strength and courage of the residents of the town and the Swiss Confederates in defeating the Burgundians and Charles the Bold back in 1476. In fact the ramparts are open to the public and tourists are encouraged to walk there and soak in the history as well as to admire some spectacular views of the town and surrounding countryside.
Besides the ramparts and towers the town of Murten boasts a beautiful gate, the Berntor, as you exit the Old Town on the medieval road to Bern. Just outside the Bern Gate, within view of Lake Murten, stalls were set up selling fruits and vegetables, fresh baked goods, meats, cheeses, olives and other market day fare. Of course I had to take a look around.
First I went to look over the vegetables. One vendor sold three types of aubergine. She showed me one long variety that I didn't know was an eggplant. Then she explained that her best selling item is her heirloom tomatoes. She lamented that she had nearly sold out of them then gave me several cherry tomatoes to sample. I have to say, they were delicious.
At the baked goods stand we bought several rolls, one shaped like a dove, one like a pretzel and another round roll sprinkled with pumpkin seeds. They were fresh and delicious. This vendor also sold small pies with happy faces cut into the top crusts. They looked so exuberant and friendly it was hard not to smile back.
The olive vendor had more types of olives than I have ever seen all attractively arranged in wooden barrels and offered samples of everything. As we were beginning to think of lunch we couldn't resist buying several kinds and a little bit of his herbed feta cheese to eat with our bread.
Further along we looked over the meats and sausages as well as the cheeses but decided we had enough for a small lunch, so we gathered our purchases and retreated within the Old Town walls.
There we found an inviting church yard beside the German church in the corner of the town. We sat on the stone wall of the yard and spread out our cheese, rolls and olives. A friendly tabby cat approached. Free of any language barrier, he assumed the role of a self appointed ambassador. He introduced himself by purring and rubbing against our ankles, sharing our company for a short while until duty called as other visitors approached.
After lunch we walked along the ramparts and looked over the pretty rolling hills of the surrounding area.
Then we walked through another church yard and took photos of Bumblebees grooming some pretty sunflowers.
Before we left town we checked out an awesome chessboard in the park outside the town gate where we had entered. The board and pieces were huge. Such chessboards are common in the parks in Switzerland. I saw a number of people playing quite seriously in Ouchy and Bern, but today this board was open for photographs.
What a surprise to find that these great looking pieces are made of a hollow plastic. For some reason I didn’t expect that.
On our way back to the train station we stopped at a Coop grocery and bought ice cream cups to eat while we waited on the platform. The weather was warm and the ice cream melted into a perfect soft pool. Just as we finished the train arrived and we rolled on to our next destination.