... nowhere have I felt so truly happy as on St. Peter's Island in the middle of Lake Biel

wrote Jean-Jacques Rousseau shortly before his death, wistfully recalling his all too short stay on the island in the autumn of 1765

Today, you can reach the island on foot from the pretty little town of Erlach along the 4km “Heidenweg” path; on the shuttle from Erlach in summer or by boat from La Neuveville, Ligerz (Lake Biel) or via the Zihl canal from Neuchâtel.

In Rousseau’s time the peninsula was a modest estate with a vineyard section on lease – which gained European significance during the 18th century owing to his description. The island later became a stop on educational tours through Switzerland, followed by a popular excursion point offering tranquility and the beauty of nature. It’s very quiet (at least in winter) and packed with birds. We enjoyed our **walk there. You can stay in the old monastery, or eat there in summer:

We’ve only dipped in to Biel, the adjacent town. It has a funicular, several museums, and some decent architecture – worth another visit. **Café Perroquet Vert is a frequent mention for dining – it’s a converted old house, fine dining 1950s style. The food is quite good.

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