Fribourg : Auge
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From the cathedral, Grand’Rue and its parallel neighbours channel traffic down to cross the lofty Pont de Zaehringen, leaving the lower quarter of the Basse-Ville (Lower Town) – known as Auge – mostly to pedestrians. This district, absorbed into the city as early as the 1160s, is the oldest in Fribourg outside the Zähringens’ original fortress (which stood on the site of the current Hôtel de Ville). It’s full of atmosphere, with its cobbled streets and crumbling old Gothic houses and inns still very much lived-in; the sense of community surviving in such ancient surroundings is what really marks Fribourg out as being special. The Place du Petit-St-Jean is the local hub, ringed by cafés overlooked from the fountain by St Anne, the patron saint of the tanners who used to live here. A little northwest is the Église des Augustins, part of a monastery founded in the mid-thirteenth century, with impressive later Baroque decoration. The Pont de Milieu beetles southwest from the square to Planche-Supérieure, below the mighty precipices cut by the Sarine.

Northeast from the Place du Petit-St-Jean is the covered wooden Pont de Berne, leading to the ancient Rue des Forgerons (Street of the Blacksmiths) on the east bank of the river. The little bridgehead square, one of Fribourg’s prettiest, holds the celebrated Loyalty Fountain (1553), decorated with angels. To the left (northwest) is the Porte de Berne, a city gate dating from 1270 that has somehow clung on to its original doors. Rue des Forgerons itself – a narrow, medieval track – heads east into the Gottéron gorge, beneath the immensely graceful modern Pont de Gottéron some 60m up. On the south side of the stream, a footpath leads up to the minuscule Chapel de St-Beat hugging the rocky walls of the gorge, but the road itself leads along the northern bank of the stream. You can follow it into the forest for as long as you like, past old mills and cottages. The romantic riverside trail is well marked and maintained, drawing you into the cool, mossy gorge for an hour or so east to a crossing point at Ameismühle; from here, high-level routes to both left and right bring you back to the Pont de Berne in a bit over an hour.

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