Biel Travel Guide, Switzerland
Biel, Switzerland - Overview
Biel/Bienne is a city in Berne, Switzerland. Since the town is situated at the language border, the residents here are bilingual. The town’s German name is Biel while it is Bienne in French. On January 1, 2005, the city’s official name became Biel/Bienne since the two names have become interchangeable, referring to just one town.
The town’s coordinates are 47°08′ N and 7°15′ E, with an area of 21.20 square kilometers. The city is nestled at the base of the Jura Mountains’ first mountain range and it shares the eastern point of Lake Biel with Nidau, which is considered as Biel’s sister city.
Approximately 60% of Biel’s people speak German and the other 40% converse in French. This town is recognized as Switzerland’s largest bilingual city. Moreover, around 150 various nationalities can be found here. Over the years, Biel/Bienne has made use of its linguistic advantage so as to propel the town into becoming the Swiss City of Communication. There are quite a number of call centers that have been put up within and around the city and there are numerous businesses who are exporting a lot of their products around the globe.
The town takes pride in the manufacturing of some specialized machineries as well as tools that are exported throughout the world. Of course, the production of Swiss-made watches has always been part of the city. For instance, Rolex has launched and run their business here and the production site for its technical parts is also found in Biel. The Swatch Group’s headquarters like for its subsidiary Omega SA & Swatch is also located in the city just like the head office of The Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry FH
Culture and Festivals
Journal du Jura and Bieler Tagblatt are the only two entirely bilingual newspapers in Biel/Bienne, using both German and French in their papers. Beginning 1959, the town played host to a 100 kilometer Ultramarathon race every June. This is one of the greatest races in the world and it is also a part of the European Ultramarathon Cup.
Biel also has plenty of festivals and other topnotch events. It is famous for its yearly International Chess Festival. The Braderie is the biggest and most colorful festival in town complete with a market and several concerts. Lake Biel Festival is a joyous event in the city and one would be able to find bars, snack stands, and there is a massive firework exhibit. There are other fairs in Biel that are also sure to delight everyone and attending a festival here is one way to become part of this charming town in Switzerland.
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