The Riviera of Solothurn
3 September 2020
The town of Solothurn, also the name of the canton, was the seat of the embassy of the French kingdom from 1530 to 1792.
In the alliance (Eidgenossenschaft) of the thirteen mainly German-speaking Orte and cantons, French was the language of diplomacy and the elite in the western cantons of Bern, Solothurn and (bilingual) Freiburg.
The French-speaking canton of Neuchâtel, bilingual Valais (associate member of the Eidgenossenschaft), French-speaking Vaud (occupied by Bern and Fribourg), French-speaking Geneva (independent county) and the French-speaking Jura (part of the Prince-bishopric of Basel) were not a member of this Confederation yet.
Many buildings recall the French (royal) influence in Solothurn. Hotel La Couronne, the baroque St. Ursen cathedral and the many city palaces.
The economic ties with France consisted mainly of the lucrative mercenary contracts Thousands of men from Solothurn fought and died for the French king and his kingdom.
The (Mediterranean) cuisine and the number of restaurants, the savoir vivre and the high level (and subsidies) of culture, museums, theatres bear witness to centuries of French influence and culture.
Solothurn even has a Riviera, at least that’s what the locals call it.
A few hundred meters of quay (Landhausquai) alongside the river Aare.
When the sun shines and with a little bit of phantasy the quay resembles the French Riviera indeed.