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Breite and the Birs

This article was originally published on 24th November 2004.

Basel Expats is nothing if not a community, and I am very grateful to two of our readers who have provided me with the basis for this article between them. Camilla Flowitt-Hill lives in Breite proper, while David Bergin lives further up the River Birs closer to St Jakob. Read what they think about their neighbourhood here…

Camilla Flowitt-Hill writes:

We have lived in Breite for the past 2 years (3 for my Mum) so I thought I would give you some info on it…

Location and Accommodation

Breite lies comfortably sandwiched between one of Basel’s poshest suburbs, the Gellert, along the south bank of the Rhine. It’s very close to the town centre, yet maintains a life of its own too. It’s a nice place to live – the streets are a mixture of old and new buildings, mostly apartment blocks, with many streets going down to the river. It also feels like you’re quite out-of-town while being only a 10-minute walk to Munsterplatz, as there are a lot of green areas.

There are a lot of non-Swiss people here but you get the feeling its a bit upmarket even though the prices are pretty reasonable. Two room apartments can be had for less than Fr.1,000 per month, while 4 rooms (of which there is little supply) go from about Fr.1,800. Apparently quite a few ISB teachers live around here. There is a Primary school in the area, and the Freies Gymnasium is not far on the bus where Breite becomes St Jacob.


There is one park on the main street, which has swings etc, and another one down beside the Rhine at the Birsfelderkopf (known locally as the Birskopfli) where the River Birs joins the main river. This park is very popular in the summer for sunbathing, swimming in the Rhine etc. There is also a small petting-zoo further up towards the locks, as well as allotments and another playground, with swings etc.

The Rhine-side is also popular, especially in the summer, and people also go there to sunbathe and swim. There is also a swim-platform just at the end of Schauenburgerstrasse.

It is close enough into town, and there are enough trams and buses that most recreational facilities (swimming pools, ice rinks etc) are within easy reach. St.Jakob’s stadium is not far away either.

Shopping and Food

There is a Coop and a Migros, and there are also lots of smaller shops. There is no one nationality that dominates the area, so there aren’t really any specialist shops. There is a 2nd-hand store, a couple of hairdressers, a flower-shop, a cobbler, a scooter-shop, and a few others. Most are on the main street (Zuercherstrasse), although there are a few on the smaller streets.

There is an excellent Thai restaurant (Ban-Thai) on the Rhineweg, at the end of one of the residential streets. Quite expensive though… There is also a pizza place/bar, and a couple of cafes. Deliveries from PizzaBlitz in Birsfelden.


Tram No. 3, in the direction of Birsfelden – stops Waldenburgerstrasse and Breite. Bus No. 36 stop Breite. A taxi home costs about Fr.17.50 on a Saturday night at 3am…

How long does it take to get into the town centre/airport/train station?

On foot:

Barfusserplatz/Freiestrasse – takes about 10-15 minutes along the Rhine. Actually a pleasant walk…

Munsterplatz – about 10 minutes along the Rhine

Bahnhof SBB – 10-15 minutes along the tramlines, through Aeschenplatz

On the tram/bus:

Barfi – Tram – 5 minutes (excluding time to wait for the tram!)

Bahnhof SBB – Tram – you have to change tram at Aeschenplatz, so about 5-10 minutes

Airport – Tram – time to get to Bahnhof + 20-30 minutes on the bus.

Badischer Bahnhof – Bus – 5-10 minutes

Meanwhile at the margins of Breite/St Jakob David Bergin writes:

I live in Lehenmattstrasse, which is in the east of the town near St. Jakob, not far from Birsfelden. It’s nice and quiet, and there are quite a few older residents who can be a bit stuffy – so don’t park illegaly! There’s plenty of green, and pleasant river walks along the River Birs.

There are a few restaurants, typical swiss menu’s and swiss prices! We normally order take away from Best Pizza in Birsfelden, they do good Italian and Chinese. We have a local Turkish shop open until 9pm with friendly staff and reasonable prices not far away. Transport is good – I can get Bus 36 to Badische Bahnhof, while tram 14 at St. Jakob gets me into the town centre.

By car the town centre is just 10 mins away. The airport is 20 minutes, and the train station 10 minutes. A taxi from town home costs 20 SFR.

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