You will need plenty of Swiss Francs for Herbstmesse!
This is the second of my Switzerland based blogs. As many of you may know Switzerland is a cash based society and you will end up paying for almost everything in Swiss Francs using notes and coins.
We were in Basel for Herbstmesse or Autumn Fair. Herbstmesse is a combination of Craft Markets, similar to many of the Swiss and German Christmas markets but in addition there are fair ground rides scattered all round the city’s squares. In the city plan below the blue panels represent fun fairs and the red is for the craft market that also overflows into Petersplatz and the main approach roads.
Herbstmesse is great for the whole family and all ages with traditional (and gentler) rides for younger family members to more extreme rides for the bravest and not so brave! One of the most amazing things is the way that they manage to squeeze the rides into spaces you would not think they could possibly fit. In the video here you can see one of the bigger freefall towers. If you watch background as the ride comes down you can see that this is situated in a courtyard within a building (Messehalle 2) where they normally hold trade shows!
Everything is done on a cash basis, rides in the fairs cost 3CHF to 7CHF, the market stalls normally do not have electricity so there are no card readers and most people eat street food.
The traditional street food is Sausage with bread and mustard but at Messeplatz and Petersplatz almost any street food from Noodles to Bretzels and from Crepes to waffles are on offer.
Swiss Francs (CHF) come as notes (10, 20, 50 and 100 are most common) and coins (half franc, one Franc, two Franc and five Franc plus the 5, 10 and 20 Rappen). Because everything is set up right across the country for cash there is never a problem with paying for even the cheapest things with large denomination notes and I even paid for a 2CHF bottle of Unser Beir with a 50CHF note and no one bats and eyelid!
The typical order we see placed for Swiss Francs through CompareHolidayMoney.com is for about £800 worth of currency and I would have said that was about right for a weeks stay. A bottle of beer is just 2CHF and a Pizza in a restaurant is about 20CHF so you can see how far your money would go. Of course the real expense for most people going to Switzerland is your ski pass but that is a completely different subject!
Well, that is Herbstmesse, it may not feature in the guidebooks but it is well worth a visit if you are looking for a break next Autumn!