I am always so excited to find the next charming and beautiful place in Switzerland and I think I succeeded when I accidentally found and paid a visit to Saint Ursanne. I found it when I was looking for information about Jura mountains and what to do over there, as I have already visited few places over there, some mountains, some small cities; but Saint Ursanne and pictures from the web completely raised my curiosity to visit it.
So I started to write my article about Jura mountains, Jura canton, hoped into my car and drove to this small, cute, medieval village in Jura canton and explored it. I wasn’t disappointed at all and I really recommend it to anyone who is looking for some not very well known hidden treasures in Switzerland.
Facts about Saint Ursanne
First of all, Saint Ursanne is a small village in Jura canton just with over 800 people living there.
Once you drive into it, you feel like you drove into a medieval times as most of the houses in old town are very old and the streets are surrounded by big houses, so all you see is just old buildings and and old big church in the middle of the city. There’s abbey, chapel, hermitage and many other interesting things.
The name of the village comes from the monk who built a monestary over there in the 7th century. So it is actually a very old settlement in Switzerland (even though back then it was not Switzerland at all).
The village is not big and if you just would keep walking and rush through it, you would walk around all old town in 10-15 minutes. But let us explore a bit more.
How to get to Saint Ursanne
You can reach this village by car or by train.
Have a look at all the latest time schedules and prices right here: Swiss trains. The whole trip from Zürich would take you around 2 hours.
From Basel it is much closer, just 55 kilometers and got there by car in less than an hour.
Once you get closer to the destination, you will have to go down some mountains/hills and the views to the valley where Saint Ursanne is based looks amazing, I was lucky enough to take a picture when it was all covered in fog.
Once you get to Saint Ursanne, you can go straight into the old town and park next to the church (it is maybe the biggest building in the village, you won’t miss it). You will need to pay for parking cash, so have some Swiss coins. There was no possibility to pay by card. There are as well one more parking place next to Coop shop and outside the old town next to 18th century bridge.
What to do in Saint Ursanne
First of all I really recommend visiting the tourism center. It is right in the old town, the address is here: Place Roger-Schaffter, 2882 Saint-Ursanne.
It is a very nice tourism center with a lot of information about Jura canton, hiking paths, all the places you can visit, all buildings, all museums, everything is right there. As well, people are very helpful in the local tourism center and advised me where to go and what to see. They gave me some leaflets with maps and touristic places. That was very helpful to explore this charming village.
Saint Ursanne bridge
First thing you should do right out from the tourism center is to visit the old 18th century bridge. It is dated back to 1728.
It leads out of old town or back to old town, depending where you walk from. From the bridge you can see the whole city’s old houses facades which is a spectacle itself. Walk out from the old town to the parking place next to it and enjoy all the view to the river, old buildings and the bridge.
There is a statue of Saint Jean Nepomucene (John of Nepomuk) on the bridge.
From the bridge on the left you can see some old buildings, the old roofs look really medieval. I personally love such places. It is sometimes hard to comprehend how many such places Switzerland has, Swiss are so lucky!
Tour through Saint Ursanne
Then you walk back into the Saint Ursanne old town (via bridge), you can take a turn to the left, through narrow street and after 50-60 meters there’s a very nice public toilet with metal boxes to keep your luggage if you have some. To be honest, this is the first time I saw something like that in a such small village and it is free. You put your stuff, lock it with a key and take the key with you, no questions asked.
Right next to the boxes are the toilets. Even though they are public, they are very clean and nice.
Afterwards the path takes you the next gates of the city and I suggest to walk out and go a little bit up to the hermitage (there are directions shown). On the top there’s a nice little chapel and a locked cave behind it. There is a legend that the first monk who established the abbey in Saint Ursanne lived there.
The path takes you up, but no worries, it’s not that much to walk up.
The chapel was locked, so I could not get into.
From the chapel you can see quite good views of Saint Ursanne and all the roofs are beautifully exposed.
Actually as I was approaching the cave I suddenly was startled as I saw the man inside. For a second I thought there is a man inside 🙂 Not very funny.
As you leave the chapel, do not walk back the stairs, but walk on the path which is over the village. It will take you back to the village in 5 minutes, but the views and the path itself is very nice.
You will walk down these stairs afterwards.
As you walked down back to the village, you see a bit more of its old town and the old houses. On the other side, you see the new part of Saint Ursanne.
I wonder how much history these stairs saw 🙂
Very beautiful and old church (Collégiale Saint-Ursanne). The inner yard is very well maintained, simply continue back to the village and explore a bit more of its medieval looks.
Although village is very small just with 800 people living there, there are shops, restaurants, hotels, antique shop, all you would wish.
One of Saint Ursanne hotels.
The look to the church from the other side. It kind of reminds me a bit of spanish architecture, I wonder if it was influenced by that.
When you walk through Saint Ursanne, and once you walk by the Coop shop, head to the river, there’s a very nice little walking path with nice views.
The photos are taken in November so it is one second very cloudy, another second some sun and it is always changing, but here you can see how nice it is up there.
The view to the bridge from the other side. It is a really lovely small village in Jura canton.
Conclusion and suggestions
Saint Ursanne is a very small hidden treasure in Switzerland in Jura canton which you should definitely check out if you are looking for another great destination in Jura or all Switzerland.
Be aware that people speak french there and say Bonjour! in the streets of Saint Ursanne.
I would like to suggest to spend 2-3 hours in Saint Ursanne and explore these things:
- Most important point of Saint Ursanne is definitely the old bridge with all the views to the old medieval houses on the river banks.
- Visit the hermitage on the hill and enjoy the views to Saint Ursanne from the top.
- If you have more time, walk by the river to Waterfalls Saint-Ursanne Clos du Doubs. There’s small waterfall in the river.
- Visit the Lapidaire Museum in Saint Ursanne. It has the biggest collection of Merovingian and Carolingian monolithic sarcophags in Switzerland .
- If you can, walk to the other side of the village, on Route Cantonale (it’s a car road, so be careful), but from there you can see all the village. Looks very nice from there. Or you can take Rue de la Cousterie (it is the street which leads to hermitage), go up till you see Saint Ursanne from the top as well.
After all these attractions have a lunch or dinner in local restaurant and enjoy the old historical Swiss village. One more treasure revealed 🙂
I really hope you enjoy your time in this small Jura canton village.
If you have any more questions to me about Saint Ursanne visit, just let me know, I will do my best to help you.
If you fall in love with Jura and its surroundings, I would like to offer you to visit more places in Jura mountains.
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