Crossing the Border Cross-border shopping from Basel

Issue: Winter 2013
1 in 4 people living in Switzerland frequently cross the borders to stock up on food, household items and clothes. In Basel, shopping in Germany and France couldn't be easier.

Added to generally lower prices, there is also the opportunity to claim tax refunds depending on what you buy. Information about allowances and customs regulations can be found on the useful website created by the Swiss Confederation.


People living in the Basel region are truly spoilt for choice, and where you decide to go will depend on what you're looking for and what kind of shopping experience you prefer. Here we focus on shops and locations easily accessible by public transport, offering a multitude of possibilities while you're there.

A favourite destination has long been the Rhein-Center in Weil am Rhein. This one-stop shopping centre has a huge Marktkauf supermarket, as well as a range of chain stores and specialty stores. These include H&M, and the German drugstore DM. On busy days it's perhaps not for the faint-hearted, but there are some good restaurants to take a break in.


For cross-border shopping at a more relaxed pace – which could include some sightseeing opportunities – it's worth taking a trip on the S1 from Basel SBB to Rheinfelden. Stroll through this Swiss town, home to Feldschlösschen – the country's most popular beer. Take time to enjoy the historic old town, designated a national heritage site. Cross the bridge overlooking the Inseli, a 150m island – and now you're in Rheinfelden in Baden Württemberg in Germany. From here, it's just a short walk to Hieber's Frische Center, an award-winning supermarket chain renowned for its quality and ambience.


For those wishing to cross into France for their shopping needs, Saint-Louis is the obvious starting point. A bus route beginning at Schifflände serves a number of supermarkets and retail outlets, with Géant and E. Leclerc among those vying for your freshly-exchanged Swiss francs. A little further afield in Sierentz (perhaps best visited by car) is a large health food store, Les Halles Nature, with an extensive range of health-related products.


A personal favourite is the trip to Lorrach. At 20 minutes on the S6 from Basel SBB, this charming border town has a pedestrian- friendly centre. Here you'll find chain chemists and household stores like DM and Mueller, and a short walk away is another Hieber's Frische Center. It can get busy, especially on Saturdays. There's an excellent open-air market, with good quality seasonal fruit and veg, a large organic stall, and a range of local producers selling speciality breads, cheeses, and freshly made tarts and pies.

Cross-border shopping is of course about saving money and a more diverse shopping experience. It's also one of the advantages of living in Basel, being able to step so easily into another country. Just make sure you take your ID!

Author: Toni Davidson

Toni Davidson is the author of the novel Scar Culture and the short story collection The Gradual Gathering of Lust. His most recent novel is My Gun Was As Tall As Me.

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