[This article was written in partnership with Stiftung Ferien im Baudenkmal.]
For my new book about Swiss bread, I knew right away where I wanted to hold the photo shoot – at one of the properties maintained by the Stiftung Ferien im Baudenkmal. This Swiss foundation renovates historic, and sometimes abandoned properties, reinventing them as vacation rentals. Combining tourism with preservation, the foundation currently manages the rental of over 30 properties. These range from apartments in urban locations to modest farmhouses in small mountain villages and more.
My family and I had previously stayed in three of the foundation’s properties in different regions of Switzerland. Each time, we enjoyed the opportunity to learn about these unique homes, their history and the surrounding communities. Some of my best Swiss food discoveries have occurred while on vacation at these properties. For example, I tasted the Brischtner Nytlä (a dried pear dessert) in Unterschächen, when we rented the Stüssihofstatt.
With many located in rural corners of the country, a number of these homes sit outside the more typical tourist destinations. For me, that’s part of their charm. I want to try and experience life in these communities from the perspective of someone who actually lives there.
In response to my request, the foundation generously agreed to let us use the Du Bourg apartment in the canton of Bern as the backdrop for our Swiss bread photos.
Du Bourg Apartment
In the heart of the old city center of Biel / Bienne, the Du Bourg apartment is privately owned, but managed by the Stiftung Ferien im Baudenkmal. I knew this spacious attic apartment would be the perfect location because it blends historical features with modern design elements. Plus, its fully-equipped kitchen has nearly everything you need for cooking and baking. Joined by photographer Dorian Rollin and food stylist Camille Stoos, I baked dozens of Swiss breads from all over Switzerland in this apartment over the course of about four days.
Built in the 16th century, the Maison Du Bourg received its Baroque facade during its reconstruction in 1720. Nearly three centuries later, its current owners renovated the property in 2018. Throughout the apartment, you’ll find furnishings of the highest quality, carefully positioned to highlight the architectural features of the building. We had a wealth of interesting corners and spaces to choose from for our photos in this historic atmosphere.
The Altstadt neighborhood around the Du Bourg apartment has a number of great shops and restaurants to visit.
- In the same building as the apartment you can eat at the Restaurant du Bourg, a cozy, friendly tapas bar. (Burggasse 12, 2502 Biel)
- I went to Batavia almost daily to pick up Swiss bread ingredients. This nearby shop sells cheese, butter, flour and fresh produce, among other provisions. (Kirchgässli 1, 2502 Biel)
- You should visit the local butcher, Altstadtmetzg Häberli. I bought some dried meats there that we used in our photos. (Untergasse 1, 2502 Biel)
- A farmers’ market in the square just below the apartment takes place on Tuesdays and Saturdays (and on Thursdays too, depending on the season).
Stiftung Ferien im Baudenkmal
Based in Zürich, the Stiftung Ferien im Baudenkmal (German) / Fondation vacances au coeur du patrimoine (French) / Fondazione Vacanze in edifici storici (Italian) was founded in 2005. Whenever I plan a vacation in Switzerland, this is one of the first places I go to look for accommodations. Their one-of-a-kind vacation rentals offer a glimpse into the daily lives of earlier generations.
For more information about the Du Bourg Apartment, go to:
To see the other historic properties available as vacation rentals, go to:
You can also support this foundation by making an annual contribution, which entitles you to a discount on bookings.
Stiftung Ferien im Baudenkmal, Villa Patumbah, Zollikerstrasse 128, 8008 Zürich, +41 (0) 44 252 28 72, firstname.lastname@example.org