Dreiländereck – walk across 3 countries in 10 minutes

A friend of mine turned 40 recently and for his birthday he wanted to fly into Basel, head to the Black Forest to watch some snowboarding cross, and then watch FC Freiburg in a Bundesliga game. The perfect opportunity to walk from one country, into another, into another then!

The Dreiländereck monument on Swiss soil. Not much to do there but it was a dreary day

The Dreiländereck monument on Swiss soil. Not much to do there but it was a dreary day

Dreiländereck (also spelt Dreilaendereck) is a tripoint just outside of Basel where France, Germany and Switzerland’s borders all meet. This tripoint is one of the only ones within a major city (Basel) and an iron pylon monument shaped like a rocket celebrates the fact … even though the actual tripoint is 150m NW of it in the middle of the River Rhine (the Dreiländereck scuplture is therefore 150m to the SE on Swiss soil). Ever the stickler for detail I wanted to walk across the two actual borders. I had my passport with me as I’d just arrived from the airport but never needed to show it once as everything’s open for you to walk “to and fro” as you please.

In total from my starting point in France, across the bridge into Germany and then down into Switzerland it’s a 9 minute, 700m walk. From the French starting point to the actual Dreiländereck monument it’s a 32 minutes and 2.6km walk.

Walking from France into Germany into Switzerland

Walking from France into Germany into Switzerland

 

To get there you will most likely arrive from Basel-Freiburg airport. Ask for a taxi outside to the ‘Passerelle des Trois Pays bridge’ (Dreiländereck bridge), or Huningen on the French side of the river, or just point on Google Maps on your phone like I did. The taxi cost from the airport was approximately €12.50 and was a 10 minutes drive. Exiting the airport from the French side “may” be cheaper unless both the French and Swiss sides share the same taxi rank?

The Dreiländereck Bridge outside the La Huninguoise bar in French Huningue

The Dreiländereck Bridge outside the La Huninguoise bar in French Huningue

Once you get dropped off you walk across the bridge from France (Huningen) into Germany (Friedlingen) with the actual border on the floor being unmarked (instead there’s a plaque on the railings in the middle of the bridge). The ideal time to post a social media status of “I’m in France”, followed by one 15 seconds later “I’m in Germany”!” I walked to and fro a few times before realising It was probably a bit strange-looking, especially as I still had my wheelie case hand luggage with me.

Walking across the Dreiländereck Bridge from France into Germany

Walking across the Dreiländereck Bridge from France into Germany

 

rhine-from-the-german-french-border

On the border between France and Germany looking out over The Rhine. France right, Switzerland left

From there walk down the bridge into Germany and you’ll see a bench to match the one on the French side with “Gemeinsam über Grenzen wachsen” written on the side (Grow together across borders). Quite apt in the current times what with the USA/Mexico situation.

“Gemeinsam uber Grenzen wachsen” – grow together over borders

From the foot of the bridge I walked onto German soil, past the Rheincenter shopping centre before turning right at the roundabout into Zollstraße. There, 150 m along near the German/Swiss border is a tram stop which looks like it’s a border control but is actually just a ticket booth for the tram. The border line is level with the centre of the spaceship-like building in the middle of the road marked with a 10cm wide line of stones in the ground.

Approaching the German/Swiss border level with those red/white barriers

Approaching the German/Swiss border level with those red/white barriers

 

The Dreiländereck monument on the left and bridge separating France and Germany on the right

The Dreiländereck monument on the left and bridge separating France and Germany on the right

 

Getting closer! 500m to go to the monument

Getting closer! 500m to go to the monument

I chose to walk along the main road, across the bridge into Switzerland, but according to Google Maps there is a slightly shorter footpath just across the Swiss border (taking 1.5km instead of 1.8km to the Dreiländereck monument). However up on the bridge it’s a nicer/safer walk and you get a good view of the Dreiländereck that you’re heading towards, which is on a long spit of land, jutting out along an industrial road. A scenic route it is certainly not, but it’s a destination to aim for so you can least say you’ve been there.

The monument has the 3 flags on its side but there’s little to actually do when you get there and little to read. For me walking across the borders was the enjoyable and novelty part, especially walking over the bridge from France into Germany. On a sunny, Summer’s day I’m sure it’s a lot nicer and you could sit by the river watching the world go by, with the nearby restaurants most likely being fully open. I imagine there wil be some pleasure boat rides too? Maybe you can boat from Germany into Switzerland instead 🙂

The Dreiländereck monument on a dreary February afternoon

The Dreiländereck monument on a dreary February afternoon

Trying the French Open instead of Wimbledon

Here in the UK we love watching a bit of tennis in the Summer! Well … normally just those two weeks at Wimbledon and then most of us go back to not knowing that much about tennis for the rest of the year. However during that Wimbledon fortnight we talk fondly about ‘Murray Mound’, whether they’ll need to put up the roof on Center Court due to the imminent rain, and of course the delights of sampling strawberries & cream. But as with most ticketed sporting events in the UK it’s usually difficult to get actual tickets unless you plan well in advance .. or get lucky.

the-view-from-row-34-of-the-suzanne-lenglen-west-stand

However there is an alternative. Back in 2015 my mum and I decided to apply for May’s French Open at Roland Garros instead, sourcing the tickets through  https://tickets.rolandgarros.com/. Compared to Wimbledon buying tickets seemed somewhat easier with no need to enter a “ballot”. We simply registered at Rolandgarros.com and then followed the advice for oversees visitors from their timely emails. We purchased two tickets for the Suzanne Lenglen court west stand at €55 each (their equivalent of Wimbledon number 1 court) and then two €30 ground pass tickets for two days later giving us a day inbetween to explore the Palais de Versailles closeby. VIP style package deals were available too but we were happy settling for the standard ticket options.

Visiting the actual event seemed far easier too with the whole experience coming across as far more relaxed and chilled out. It was strange though seeing the orange clay rather than Wimbledon’s luscious green grass.

Martina Hingis practising on an outside court

Martina Hingis practising on an outside court

the-view-from-the-top-of-the-suzanne-lenglen-west-stand

The view from the top of the Suzanne Lenglen stadium

We travelled to Paris on the Eurostar from St Pancras to Paris Gare de Nord and stayed in the two star Hotel B Paris Boulogne in the Boulogne Billancourt district which is just a 20 minutes (1.7km) walk from the Roland Garros ground. We chose this hotel specifically for its location.

There isn’t a “Murray Mound” grassy bank as I’m so used to seeing at Wimbledon but a circular area called “Place des Mousquetaires” that sits sandwiched inbetween Philippe-Chatrier Court and No 1 courts, and this appeared to be the epicenter with a big TV screen and was a nice place to gather.

The onsite gift shops were just as busy as Wimbledon’s but overall I liked the laid back atmosphere, smaller scale to proceedings and it made me incredibly happy that it was this event that completed my mum’s ‘Grand Slam’, having visited Wimbledon, Melbourne Park, Flushing Meadow, and now Roland Garros.

Wimbledon 365km away. Flushing Meadow 5,839km and Melbourne Park 16,950km

Wimbledon 365km away. Flushing Meadow 5,839km and Melbourne Park 16,950km

The Rene Lacoste statue at the Place des Mousquetaires

The Rene Lacoste statue at the Place des Mousquetaires

On day 1 of our visit we purchased some Lavazza coffee (my favourite) from one of the food courts  and then sauntered into the almost empty Suzanne Lenglen stadium (we were early). There we watched Richard Gasquet in a men’s singles game and Bouchard in the ladies before heading to court 7 to see British hopeful Heather Watson in round 2. Being British we were much in the minority which is never the case at “Union Jack waving” Wimbledon. After Heather’s game has finished we then got lucky while taking photos of the empty court as we realised that number 7 seed David Ferrer had just had his game rescheduled from one of the bigger courts. At which point we were already sat right behind the players in row 1. Of course everybody else then piled back in but we already had the box seats!

The front row of Roland Garros court 7

The front row of Roland Garros court 7

David Ferrer serving on court 7

David Ferrer serving on court 7

As is the case with Wimbledon I found ambling around the grounds and stepping in on the odd outdoor court match was far more enjoyable than being sat on one of the show courts. I guess the proximity to the players is the main reason for that. So if you’ve ever tried to get tickets for Wimbledon but never been successful then give the French Open a try as you’ll get a little 2-3 holiday out of it too. Public tickets for The French Open are announced on 22nd March at https://tickets.rolandgarros.com/en/public/information#purchase-limits. If you are a member or are able to sign up in advance you might be offered tickets sooner 🙂