A tour of Niône, Switzerland – a historic town on Lake Geneva

We had a great trip to Switzerland with a lot of experiences.

A visit to the unusually cozy and charming spa town of Nyon, located on the shores of Lake Geneva, I considered exclusively as a dessert after the main “tourist meal” of the day, ie after getting acquainted with Lausanne. I did not pay much attention to the tasting of such a dessert: if we do not get tired of the steepness (literally) of Lausanne and the abundance of impressions received there, then we will stop in Nyon for a while. And if we get tired or “united” by what we’ve seen, we can do without Nyon.

Since we were staying in an apart-hotel in Geneva, and we were going on a tour of Lausanne from there, Nyon would have been on our way in any case. With great regret having parted with the beautiful Lausanne, my husband and I decided that in spite of tired legs, strained on the hills of this picturesque city, we will make a stop in Nyon – not for nothing in the guidebooks vied with promises of a fabulous castle!

Switzerland, Nyon

After a noisy Lausanne it seemed to us that we’ve got in a provincial dacha place. In fact, Nyon is not a backwater, and the old resort, known since the Victorian era. It is also the capital of several film and music festivals, and (men and all soccer fans take note!) the place where the headquarters of UEFA is located. However, as people who are totally indifferent to soccer (in Lithuania, where we live, the No. 1 sport is basketball), my husband and I were too lazy to look for the office of this organization.

At one time this area was also “noted” by Gaius Julius Caesar. He founded there the colony of Julius Equestris, whose capital, Noviodunum, occupied the territory of present-day Nyon.

Nyon

Our first urge after getting out of the car was to get a map of the city as quickly as possible, since the guidebooks gave only a brief description of it. Guided by the signs we quickly went to the tourist information center, but it was out of order. Therefore, we had to rely on the knowledge gained about Nyon from books.

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Nyon

Nyon

Nyon

Nyon is a neat, clean, well-groomed Swiss small town, in the architecture of which there are notes of Bernese, Geneva, Lausanne, and Parisian – such as this house, built in the style of Art Nouveau:

Nyon

On rue de Rive (see bottom photo), we saw a signature Swiss vintage fountain with a figure on top. It is the figure of a certain Maître Jacques, the former Bernese viceroy. The restaurant next to it also bears his name.

Nyon

We love to look at the narrow old streets, and Nyon gave us that pleasure. There were quite a few postcard views in Nyon:

Nyon

Nyon

Nyon

Nyon

An old watchtower called Caesar’s Tower is preserved in a block near Lake Geneva. The tower was built in the 11th century and is the only thing that survived from the medieval city fortifications. Not far from the tower is a replica of the Hotel Beau Rivage, built the century before last, where Goethe once passed through.

Nyon, Caesar's Tower and Beau Rivage

This is what one of the main promenades of the city of Nyon looks like: Market Square:

Nyon, Market Square

Another walking, entertainment, and shopping spot is Promenade du Jura:

Nyon, Promenade du Jura

As you can see, Nyon is also not without modern glass, but it’s all built quite carefully and respectfully in relation to its ancient “neighbors.”

Nyon

We never found out what the purpose of this “mushroom” looming over the summer café was:

Nyon

And here we see the main attraction of Nyon – a beautiful snow-white castle:

Chateau of Nyon

As for the “age” of this fabulous structure, books are in trouble with it. Some guidebooks state that the oldest parts of this building date back to the 11th century, others to the 12th, and still others to the 13th. But even if you take the third version as truth, it turns out that the castle is about 800 years old. The only thing the authors of books agree is that it was rebuilt from the 16th to the 18th century.

Chateau of Nyon

The masters of the castle were the Bishop of Besançon, the Dukes of Savoy (who decorated it with round pointed towers), and Bernese viceroys, from whom a “square” tower was left. Nowadays the castle has a history museum and a porcelain exhibition.

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Since before our trip to Switzerland I had read, that we shouldn’t count on interesting interiors and recreation of life of dukes who lived there, we decided not to buy entrance tickets to the castle. If to speak about porcelain it is the production of local manufactory which products had a success in the XVIII-XIX centuries. Ware from Nyon, seen in photos on the Internet, of course, elegant, but not so much to run to the exhibition with all the legs.

Nyon

From the platform near the castle you can enjoy great views of Lake Geneva and, of course, of Nyon itself:

Nyon

Nyon

Nyon

Near the castle there is a panoramic elevator that leads to an underground parking lot. What are the prices there, I can’t say, but the parking lot at the entrance to the city, where we put our car, cost us 1.70 CHF.

From here you can see how nice it is to live surrounded by such greenery:

Nyon

Another feature of Nyon is the many vineyards. The town is surrounded by vineyards and literally drowns in them. One of the terraces planted with grapes can be seen on the slope below the castle:

Nyon

We descend to the promenade of Lake Geneva (French-speaking Swiss call it Lake Leman). Both the promenade and the debarker are decorated with bright colors:

Nyon

Nyon

On the way, we found an old nineteenth-century “bathtub” fountain:

Nyon

From Nyon, by the way, you can also sail to France – to the picturesque town of Yvoire with preserved medieval buildings. I really wish we had done that. Judging by the “parked” yachts and boats, fans of water sports in Nyon is quite comfortable.

Nyon

Nyon

Nyon

On the seafront we bought an ice cream for 1.75 CHF per serving. It does not taste, of course, Florentine, but, nevertheless, of high quality.

The feathered inhabitants of Lake Geneva are also quite satisfied with their standard of living:

Lake Geneva

Seeing the crowd gathered on the promenade, the local swans in the company of ducks immediately came ashore. And the Nyon version of the ballet Swan Lake began:

Nyon

Watching the Swiss swans is a great pleasure. You can see that the birds are healthy, well fed, look great and loved by all. And they love to work for the public: we have arrived, and you admire us, follow us on our heels and tell us in every language how beautiful we are.

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Nyon

Nyon

I don’t know whether it’s allowed to feed swans in Nyon (there are signs prohibiting it in some countries), but some visiting ladies threw them pieces of baguette. And the birds didn’t take them too eagerly – mostly just to play with. I think they have enough of the natural food from Lake Geneva, and those who like white bread have had enough of it since the morning: the reception of tourists in Nyon is fine. Buses and expensive cars kept pulling up to the quay.

Nyon

In one of the buses were wheelchair people, most likely patients of some specialized clinic, accompanied by young people, either health workers or volunteers.

Looking at this picture made us think again about life and attitudes toward people in Switzerland. In many countries such a contingent – completely immobile and unresponsive to the world around them – would be walled up in boarding schools, not counting them as people and not trying to please them in any way. What kind of trips to health resorts when there is a lack of food and medicine, not to mention basic amenities in the wards and the presence of human nurses. And none of the public present on the quay cast squeamish glances at the invalids who had arrived. On the contrary, the people parted so that all the people with disabilities who had arrived could look at the birds and the lake in the same way.

Nyon

The swans seem to have become accustomed to photo sessions long ago, and they willingly pose for the cameras:

Nyon

After saying goodbye to the long-necked white-haired Swiss citizens, we got in the car and drove to the apartment hotel in Geneva.

Nyon, Lake Geneva

And I’m still grateful to Nyon for the hours and minutes we spent near its lovely castle built over Swan Lake – this lyrical and sentimental epilogue to our visit to Lausanne.

Nyon (city in Switzerland)

City of Nyon Switzerland

View of Nyon (canton of Vaud).

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The beautiful town of Nyon is located between the two “giants of the Swiss Riviera” – Geneva and Lausanne. The place is by right considered a treasure trove of architectural finds from the Roman Empire.

Population

As of early 2016, 20,088 people live in Nyon. Of these, about three-quarters speak French as their first language; another roughly 5 percent each identified German or English as their first language. The unemployment rate is 4.1 percent.

Attractions

One of the city’s most prominent landmarks is considered the Chateau de Nyon . The first “bricks” of the foundation were laid back in the 13th century AD by order of the counts of the Savoy family. The main feature of the castle are five large towers that form the basis of the fortress.

Today it is also home to the Museum of History and Porcelain, which will introduce visitors to the town of Nyon with the period of flourishing local porcelain production.

Chateau of Nyon

On the photo: Chateau de Nyon. Image: HJPD, CC BY-SA 3.0

Nyon’s eventful past has left its mark on the city’s architecture forever. As you walk around the market square, be sure to take note of the marvelous arched galleries that frame the market. They were built back in the 16th century during the reign of Bern.

Throughout the city of Nyon one finds reminders of the former rule of the Roman Empire. After the seizure of land Julius Caesar founded the colony of Noviodun on the site of the present city. During the excavations of the city archeologists found a lot of artifacts telling about the distant life of the Romans.

Roman monuments in Nyon

On the photo: ruins from Roman times. Image: Odrade123, CC BY-SA 3.0

Museums

Today, historical relics from the Roman era are collected in the Roman Museum in Nyon, which was opened in 1979. Interestingly, every two years the institution holds a documentary film festival. All visitors can learn more about the nuances of archaeology and new Roman findings.

A few kilometers from Nyon is another state landmark – the Castle of Prangen . It is important to note that this is where the main branch of the National Museum of Switzerland is located. During the exhibitions guests are offered a detailed insight into the history of the Confederation for the XVII and XIX centuries.

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However, the most popular museum of the city can rightly be called – the Museum of Lake Geneva. Here visitors can learn everything about the origin and history of the lake, its nature, activities, etc.

Nature

Lovers of beautiful landscapes will not be bored in Nyon either. In search of unique panoramas go to the summit of Mount La Dol, which rises above the city at an altitude of 1’677 kilometers above sea level. From here you can enjoy picturesque views of Lake Geneva and Geneva itself.

Lake Geneva

A view of Lake Geneva. Graphic: swiss-image.ch/Roland Gerth

Events

Every year the largest open-air event in Switzerland is held in Nyon: the Paleo Festival. Party and music lovers will certainly appreciate the local atmosphere, where they can enjoy and relax to the rhythms of the most unique musical genres. The festival is held in July and the number of visitors reaches an average of 200 thousand people.

Paleo Festival in Nyon

At the festival Paleo. Graphic: swiss-image.ch

You can truly call August a musical time in Nyon. It is the time when two events take place: the Performing Arts Festival and the Michel Soni Festival. In the first case you should certainly enjoy the street theater, dance and music performances of the masters of their craft; and in the second case you should definitely visit the castle Coppet to listen to a concert of pianists.

In March, don’t miss the international Visions du Réel documentary film festival; in November, it’s a great time for the traditional jazz festival which has been held for the past 30 years in the Nyon suburb of Cheserex. It’s not without reason that the Swiss are considered some of the happiest people in the world. Maybe that’s their recipe for happiness in the love of life!

Swiss Riviera

The charming town of Nyon is another marvel of Lake Geneva. Our map will help you take a virtual tour of each resort and landmark in Lake Léman:

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