As an international organisation, CERN regularly hosts protocol visits, some of which are particularly memorable. This was certainly the case when the Swiss Ambassador to France came to CERN on Tuesday, 29 March: Roberto Balzaretti rode through the CERN site on an electric bicycle as part of his unique tour of France.
A proponent of sustainable modes of transport, the Ambassador is criss-crossing France by bicycle in 12 stages. He embarked on the first stage – dedicated to the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region – at the end of March. Having set off from Aigle, in the Swiss canton of Vaud, he cycled through Saint-Gingolph, Thonon-les-Bains, Annemasse and Geneva before arriving at CERN.
CERN, which was recently awarded the ecomobility prize by the Ain Energy and Climate Agency, was keen to welcome the Ambassador. Accompanied by the General Consul for Switzerland in Lyon, Pascal Bornoz, the Ambassador was greeted at CERN's Mobility Centre by the CERN Director for International Relations, Charlotte Lindberg Warakaulle, and representatives of the Relations with the Host States service, the Site and Civil Engineering department, the Mobility Centre and the CERN cycling club.
The welcome committee escorted the Ambassador and his entourage by bicycle from Gate A in Switzerland to Gate E in France. Before continuing on their journey to Lyon, the visitors made a symbolic stop at the CERN border crossing.
The visit was an opportunity for the participants to discuss their respective institutions’ commitment to sustainable modes of transport and to underline the importance of cross-border relations for France and Switzerland and for CERN.
The goal of the “En route avec la Suisse” project is to demonstrate the extremely rich and close ties between France and Switzerland by engaging with the Swiss community in France (prominent figures and people with economic, scientific and cultural links to Switzerland) while strengthening bilateral and cross-border relations.
The Ambassador chose to ride an electrically assisted bicycle developed by a Swiss company in order to emphasise the country’s commitment to sustainable transport, sport and innovation.