Philippe Cerf, Embassy of France

When Philippe Cerf is not busy delivering a message from his authorities to his Swiss colleagues, he finds time to marvel at the turquoise waters of Lake Thun or watch the activities that take place at Parliament Square.

Article published in the info letter September 2021.

Philippe Cerf

Philippe Cerf...

… is a French diplomat, born in Luxembourg.

... arrived in Bern in 2018 and holds the position of First Counsellor, Deputy and Representative of the Ambassador, at the French Embassy. Prior to coming to Bern, Philippe Cerf served as the Counselor of the Ambassador for Climate at the French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs.

... has a great passion for mountain hiking, indoor sports and is fond of cultural activities such as cinema, music and theater.

10 Questions to Philippe Cerf

What does a normal working day look like?

Like my friend and colleague Bill Longhurst (portrait July 2021) said, there is never a typical day for me. If I am carrying out my own responsibilities, it involves responding to requests from the Paris administration, making presentations to colleagues at the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, explaining the French point of view and gathering Swiss perspectives, and establishing or maintaining contacts with colleagues, but I am often called upon to deal with human resource management issues as well...

When I am asked to represent the Ambassador, I attend events on his behalf, such as the Mayor's reception on 1 August or the Locarno International Film Festival.

Which projects are you most excited about right now?

The upcoming Franco-Swiss cultural collaborations.

When you arrived in Bern, what were you most surprised by?

The fact that professional life often ends at 6 p.m. and there is not much of a work-related social life in the evening.

What do you appreciate about Bern?

The buildings of the old town, the historical houses and religious structures, the squares and streets and the banks of the Aare river.

Is there anything you would change about Bern?

The opening and closing times of restaurants, which could be a bit more flexible, and Sundays, which could be livelier, as my Filipino colleague (portrait April 2021) said... However, that is also part of Bern’s charm.

Tell us about your favourite place in Bern.

The banks of the Aare between Bern and Muri, a route I like to walk at the weekend, either starting from home or on my way back. I also love the Matte district, where my favourite restaurant is located, and, of course, the Bärenplatz, which is the heart of the city and even of the country itself, since the federal institutions are located there.

How would you describe the "Bernese attitude to life"?

It is an ode to calm, relaxation and, above all, a refusal to get worked up about things.

What do you already know you will miss when you leave Bern?

The mountains, the Bernese Oberland in general, the Jungfrau and the Stockhorn in particular, but also the majestic Matterhorn. I will also miss Lake Thun, it is so beautiful, close to Bern and has so much to offer, and it is where I found a wonderful lakeshore hotel that we visited very often.

What is on your “to-do list” before you move on?

Ride the Glacier Express and the Bernina Express...

Do you know words in Swiss German and if yes, which is your favourite one?

“Guutsooo?”... but it is not me who uses it, it is the waiters in restaurants, usually with an Italian or Balkan accent, to ask me if I enjoyed my food!

Who would you like to hear from in the next info letter?

Ambassador Doris Frick, Embassy of Liechtenstein

(Editor's note: The portrait of Ambassador Frick will be published in an info letter later in the year. The info letter February 2022 portrays Rim El Memmi).