Via Francigena: St Croix in Switzerland

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Baud Brothers Mechanical Museum

Via Francigena: We arrived in St. Croix which was situated on a terrace sheltered by the slopes of Mont Chasseron. It was an attractive centre for skiers in the winter and hikers in the summer.

While Canterbury and Kent had been shielded from the most uncomfortable weather of this hottest of summers, the rest of Europe hadn’t. A light misty rain fell on the town of St. Croix but the temperature remained mild.

.This did not bode well for the Italian section of our journey later on. A Mediterranean summer was one thing, but a heat wave on the Italian peninsula would be an unwelcome challenge for walkers.

Being Sunday in St. Croix, everything was closed. Luckily we had arrived before 2pm as even our hostess was taking the afternoon off. We found our room, had a coffee and freshened up. It was fascinating to be in Switzerland.

St. Croix’s claim to fame is its 200-year history of making mechanical music boxes. We walked around the wet village, took note of the epicerie’s opening hours (5 – 7.30pm) and tried to locate St. Croix’s three museums. Two of them were in the village itself, whilst the other, the Baud Brother’s museum (Musee Baud) lay about 5km away in the adjoining hamlet of L’Auberson.

We found a mini bus at the railway station which took us there. We were told that we had to book the bus for the return journey to St. Croix.

We had arrived just in time for the 4.00pm tour of the museum which was situated in a small modern building. Although the guide spoke in rapid French we enjoyed the demonstrations of the mechanical devices.

The guide showed us roundabouts, pianos, clocks with pipes and parades of moving figurines. Quite amazing technology for the time (1720-1912), and all run by clock-work gears.

We returned to St. Croix and bought our dinner ingredients from the epicerie: bread rolls, ham, cheese, tomatoes and a small bottle of white wine. In the late afternoon I walked up to the “Temple”, the Protestant church only to find its door firmly bolted. Catholic churches in this Swiss Canton of Vaud were called “Eglises.” The sun briefly appeared from behind the grey clouds, illuminating the mist. St. Croix meant “Holy Cross” and there was a huge cross on a mountain above the town.

Tomorrow we were off to the village of Orbe.

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