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Swiss ramblings with hotels waiting.

Swiss rambling with hotels waiting As a tourist in a foreign country, it's all too easy to end up speeding from one attraction to another with your nose buried in a guidebook. A sure way to avoid this is to forsake motorized transport and set out to explore a limited area by bicycle or on foot. For centuries, Switzerland has been a haven for people who enjoy unfrenzied exploration, though the Alps' high elevations and rugged terrain can initimdate those not accustomed to mountain trekking.

A new program offered by the canton of Fribourg, in the western part of the country, allows hikers a chance to see the mountain pastures and quaint villages for which Switzerland is famous--without having to brave high alpine conditions. The route crosses the relatively low Pre-Alps rane, bordering the country's French- and German-speaking regions. Each day's ramble ends at a comfortable hotel or chalet.

Ranging in elevation from about 2,400 to 5,900 feet, the Fribourg Pre-Alpine Itinerary covers about 60 miles over six days of hiking, with a layover day in the middle. The route is clearly marked by yellow signs bearing a wood grouse symbol.

Your luggage is sent to meet you after your third and seventh days out, lightening the load you need to carry. However, you will need a small backpack for a change of clothes, rain gear, toiletries.

Depending on the class of hotgel you select, the price for the package is 615 or 735 Swiss francs (abaout $446 to $543). You can travel any week between June 25 and October 15.

Sightseeing along the way

Natural delights, such as views of the Alps and the verdant pastures of the Gruyere district, are complemented by cultural attractions you can visit en route or on your rest day.

For an introduction to traditions of the Gruyere district, see locally crafted furniture and other artifacts in the new Musee Gruerien in Bulle, at the foot of a 13th-century castle. Farther afield but still within easy reach of public transport is a fascinating stained-glass museum in the walled town of Romont (this one is inside a medieval castle).

You can also watch two of Switzerland's most famous products being made at stops along the hiking route. Public tours and samples are offered at both the Cailler chocolate factory near Broc and a demonstration cheese dairy just outside Gruyere, where Switzerland's "other" cheese (without the holes) is produced.

And if you haven't had enough of castles, Gruyere has a fine 15th-century hilltop example that's well worth a vist; the village's fair-tale atmosphere is enhanced by its prohibition of motor vehicles.

For a complete description of the hiking program, maps, and other information, write to the Swiss National Tourist Office, 250 Stockton St., San Francisco 94108, or call (415) 362-2260.
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Date:Mar 1, 1988
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