VIDEO: Landing at EuroAirport Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg

Located within France, about a mile from the Swiss border and not far from Germany either is the EuroAirport which serves Basel (in Switzerland), Mulhouse (in France) and Freiburg (in Germany).

Despite being in France, the closest town to the Airport is in fact Basel. The Airport has two sectors: a Swiss part and a French part. Passport control gives you the option of going through either Swiss or French customs.

Its no different to a normal passport control, its just that in each booth (of two desks) there is one officer from each country. You end up in the same baggage reclaim hall either way.

At the same time as our flight, a flight from a French/Arabic speaking country had also arrived and passengers from there were taking an age to clear French passport control. So naturally I joined the Swiss queue which was moving quicker!

It was slightly disconcerting to go through Swiss security then walk in to baggage reclaim hall full of French police and French soldiers with guns.

When you leave the baggage hall there are two exits. One is signed France/Germany. The other is signed Switzerland. The exits lead to two completely seperate arrivals halls (a French one and a Swiss one).

In the French sector, everything is in French first and the cashpoints despense Euros. In the Swiss sector, everything’s in German first and the cashpoints despense Swiss Francs.

If you want to move from one sector of the Airport to the other, you need to go upstairs to Departures to do so. You can not cross from France in to Switzerland or vice versa from outside the terminal building, or from Arrivals.

Prior to Switzerland joining Schengen in the mid 2000s, there was full-scale Passport Control to get between the two sectors but these days you can move between the two as often as you like.

As I left the baggage reclaim hall, I took the exit in to Switzerland, from where I would travel by bus to the Badischer Bahnhof (the German railway station of the city).

It occurred to me that I’d be paying for the train in Euros, but that the cashpoints in the Swiss sector did not despense Euros. I went upstairs to Departures and crossed in to the French sector to withdraw some Euros from my Euro account. Then, I crossed back in to the Swiss sector and withdrew a small amount of Swiss Francs – enough to cover the bus fare and possibly grab a snack on the way. So to put it another way, I effectively crossed an international border just to go to a cashpoint. What is the world coming to!?!

Before long, I had plenty of money in two currencies, and boarded the bus in to Basel.

Fred Hart

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