The Riviera of Solothurn
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 of thirteen German-speaking independent Orte or cantons, the Eidgenossenschaft, French was the language of diplomacy and the elite in the western cantons of Bern, Solothurn and Freiburg. The current French-speaking cantons of Neuchâtel (French and Prussian principalities), Valais (associate member of the Eidgenossenschaft), Vaud (occupied by Bern and Fribourg), Geneva (independent county or diocese respectively) and the Jura (bishopric of Basel) were not yet members.
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 with the French king. Thousands of men from Solothurn fought and died for the French king. Not only stone but also the (Mediterranean) cuisine and the high restaurant density, the savoir vivre and the high level (and subsidies) of culture, museums, theatres would bear witness to the centuries of French influence. Solothurn even has a Riviera, at least that’s what the locals call it. A few hundred meters of quay (Landhausquai) along the river Aare, which with good weather and good will looks a bit like the French Riviera.