Delémont/Delsberg is the capital of the canton Jura. Founded in 1979, the Jura is the youngest canton of Switzerland. At Delémont, the friends of the castles of both Basel held their general assembly in April 2022. I decided to attend the assembly and benefit from the opportunity to visit Delémont..
So far I had never visited Delémont, except the train station (a terminal station, Sackbahnhof) and the ring road (to get to the Franches Montagnes for hiking or for cross country skiing). Now, I discovered the charm of Delémont:
- the welcoming atmosphere with enticing shops, a small market, traditional restaurants, all mirrored in Renaissance fountains,
- the medieval city centre with reminiscences of the prince-bishopric of Basel,
- the jurassic museum (Musée Jurassien d’Art et d’Histoire), curated with a twinkle in the eye.
I will start with my first impressions of the welcoming atmosphere of Delémont.
Delémont belongs to the French speaking part of Switzerland – more easy-going – parking is free of cost…
It is only a good half hour’s car trip from Basel to Delémont.
Along the town wall, I find lots of parking spaces and a parking meter. I enter four francs. The meter accepts the first three francs and rejects my fourth franc. The meter does not accept more coins nor does it return the coins already entered. Why? – Ah, three francs is the maximum I can pay, which allows me to stay here for four hours (or was it three hours?); not enough to attend the assembly and the visits planned by the Burgenfreunde.
I take my car and drive to Place de l’Étang nearby that has a large parking space. The gate is open and the parking meter is out of service. I leave my car here; now I am in the French speaking part of Switzerland, where life is somewhat more easy-going, where parking meters may work or not, where parking may cost some coins or not… today it is free, unexpectedly. I am happy to have contributed three francs to the city before.
Delémont remembers Mr. Loup from the 14th century
I enter the city centre from the north, through the “Wolf’s Gate” or Porte au Loup.
No, this was not the gate “for” the wolfs. It is named after Monsieur Loup: Rouelin Loup owned the neighbouring house in 1392. Enough reason, to call the city gate “Porte au Loup”, still today, some 700 years later.
Above the gate, two wild men are holding the coat of arms of Delémont. It shows the bishop’s crook above the mountains of the Jura (see heraldry of the world).
We will see more of these wild men later; they are called “sauvages” in French.
A charming small market in the Rue de l’Hôpital
A small market is going on. A Tibetan stand sells a choice of steamed dumplings. Enticing, but I cannot buy dumplings now. The assembly might not like the smell.
Another stand sells food from Tunisia, praised by the owner with enthusiasm. Delémont seems to be an international place.
The market stretches along the Rue de l’Hôpital.
I stand in front of the Fontaine de la Boule, the “ball fountain”, a Renaissance fountain from 1596. “Boule” (ball or globe) describes it well.
The houses reflect in the water of this fountain.
Spring flowers bring colour to the streets
I stroll through the streets and enjoy the flowers decorating them, such as these tulips in la Rue de la Grange (Barn Street)…
… and these daffodils in the Rue du Fer (Iron Street).
Inviting places for shopping and reading
Nathalie sells wool behind her nicely decorated window. I believe, all the charming shops selling just wool have disappeared in Basel, unfortunately.
I come across the Bibliothèque des Jeunes (library for the young). Inside, children are reading books.
I frown a bit at the “Pharmacie du Tilleul”. “Tilleul” means “lime blossom”. This pharmacy seems to sell a choice of rather “soft” medicine.
Well, may be, they make a careful selection of medicine, considering traditional knowledge about plants as well.
Delémont – multilingual
This restaurant is multilingual mixing German, French and English.
As a matter of fact, in 1880 the percentage of German speaking inhabitants was about 45%, and now it is down to 3% (see Historisches Lexikon der Schweiz). The once bilingual town still announces its “Weinhandlung”, which is a coffee bar today, the “Café d’Espagne”.
We have dinner at the Restaurant de la Croix Blanche. The atmosphere is cosy, the walls are painted.
This painting with the coat of arms of the young canton Jura has been made after 1979. The restaurant owner tells me that they have enlarged the restaurant; the paintings in the front part are older than the ones at the back. We enjoy a lovely meal; the portions of the menu are enormously large – and good.
Yes, Delémont has a welcoming atmosphere with enticing shops, a small market, traditional restaurants, all mirrored in Renaissance fountains.
Let us discover details of the medieval city centre with the traces of the Prince-Bishops in the following blog.
- Website http://www.delemont.ch/fr/Tourisme-culture-et-loisirs/Curiosites-naturelles-et-historiques/Vieille-Ville/Vieille-Ville.html
- Historisches Lexikon der Schweiz https://hls-dhs-dss.ch/de/articles/002938/2020-06-15/
- Heraldry of the world https://www.heraldry-wiki.com/heraldrywiki/wiki/Del%C3%A9mont