Why Swiss fondue is better than birthday cake

We arrived in Switzerland a little ragged. Having not slept the night before our early morning flight, we crashed on the short plane ride from Berlin to Basel. We were met by some of Rachel’s cousins, Patricia and Sonia, with bisous (kisses) and croissants. Carbs and kisses would continue to be a theme throughout our stay with them in Switzerland.

After driving through the French and Swiss countryside, we arrived at the home of Gilles and Sonia in Fregiécourt, a small town near the French border of Switzerland. It’s important to note that most of Rachel’s cousins don’t speak much English (and we most certainly do not speak French), but the amazing hospitality and affection we received had us feeling more at home than ever. We were told that there was going to be a party that night, and we soon learned that one of Rachel’s cousins had recently turned 25 and we would be celebrating his birthday. Our first night was an introduction to the local’s zest for life:

What does a birthday party in Switzerland look like?

If you’re thinking lots of wine and fondue in a picturesque pastoral setting with cows mooing in the distance, you’d be right. Our glasses overflowed with sangria, wine, and Aperol spritzes as we celebrated Rachel’s cousin, Quentin's, birthday at their family home. They chastised us when we tried to tried to pair our drinks with water saying, “l’eau ça rouille,” which means something like “the water rusts”. It doesn’t really translate, but we stopped drinking water after that. We mingled with a small group of friends and family and were treated to a late dinner of hot oil fondue (the classiest birthday party we’ve ever been to). Thinking that the party was winding down, and still sleep deprived, we decided to call it a night. 

Fast forward an hour or two later, we were woken up to the sound of someone knocking at our door. Half asleep and not able to interpret Rachel’s cousin’s French, the only thing we could understand was “pool” and “big party.” Admittedly still a little drunk, and not totally awake, we decided to get out of bed and check out the party, lest our “street cred” in Switzerland would be irrevocably damaged. “Big party” was an understatement. We walked into what appeared to us as a wild movie set where the serene countryside of before was replaced with a legion of Swiss boys jumping in the pool in their underwear.

Surely this must have been a strange dream?

As we slowly came out of our sleepy haze, we realized that it was all very real. Not wanting to be branded as the “uncool Americans,” we decided to join in on the festivities, albeit still confused. We jumped into the hot tub with some bubbly water instead of sangria (we somehow just couldn’t get on their level) and had the time of our lives with the other twelve people in the jacuzzi who couldn’t speak a word of English until the early hours of the morning. Needless to say, it was the kind of warm welcome we didn’t know we needed.

The jacuzzi party before full capacity

P.S. The next day we were all a little “sleepy.” We came out to the hot tub to find Quentin filling it back up because half of the water was gone due to its popularity the night before.


  • Kirk Barbieri

    Hey Blondie Blonde: it sounds like you are having a wonderful time. Please tell your cousins Patricia and Sonia that Kirk says: “tu est trés jolie!” They may remember that it is the last thing that I said to them after we had lunch together at Zeughauskeller in Zurich, Switzerland during the 2011 Viette garden tour – and, suddenly, they knew that I spoke French! Enjoy your stay.

  • Jake L

    Glad you guys are having such a great time! Sounds like Switzerland was a blast. Excited to hear how the next stop goes!!