Bernese Oberland : the western valleys
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Lake Oeschinen, in the Kander valley. (©_Switzerland Tourism)
The section of the Bernese Oberland west of the Thunersee – which holds the only route through the mountains towards Lake Geneva – stands in sharp contrast to the rock and ice of the Jungfrau region. Broad, leafy valleys reach between the peaks, sheltering a handful of resorts and quiet country towns which see much less tourism than their hectic counterparts around Interlaken. The especially lovely Kander valley runs south from Spiez, climbing to the old-style resort village of Kandersteg, while the forested, picture-pretty gorge of the River Simme heads west through a succession of old villages filled with examples of the local heavy-eaved ornate darkwood chalets, some dating from as early as the 1750s. The valley of the Simmental curves south into the rural, hilly Saanenland, focused around the world-famous ski resort of Gstaad. Continuing west, you cross into an outpost of French-speaking Canton Vaud, whereupon the same rolling hills and broad, quiet valleys are re-titled the Pays d’Enhaut.

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