Around Lake Geneva, Switzerland

What to see and do on Lake Geneva: what to see and what sights to see

Summer is the best time to go to Lake Geneva, because it is the right time to combine swimming and waltzing with a very interesting cultural experience.

By the way, beach lovers! If you got used to rest at sea, it’s time to reconsider your views, because lakes are no less suitable for swimming. Yes, the water – not the sea, but for many this fact works more as a plus, because, as we know, everyone’s skin reacts differently to the salt. Beaches on Lake Geneva – a great many.

The locals simply go there after or before work to swim, refresh themselves and then go about their business. On my last trip to the Vaud region, I met Anna, a pleasant lady from a family of winemakers in every way.

She told me that for the past 40 years she had been swimming in Lake Geneva every summer for at least half an hour in order to keep her body in shape. I looked at the trim figure of Anne, admired and sincerely envied the fact that she had the opportunity to enjoy such a pleasant form of fitness all summer long for free.

WHERE TO LIVE AT LAKE GENEVA?

In my personal opinion, the best place to live on Lake Geneva is the town of Vevey. First of all, it is conveniently located. You can walk to Montreux or the Chaplin Museum, plus it is close to the Lavaux wine terraces, and the whole place is charming.

The town not only stands on the shores of the lake, but it is also surrounded by hills, so even in July and August it is not hot here. In short, the ideal location in all respects.

WHAT TO DO ON LAKE GENEVA

1. TAKE A RIDE ON AN OLD STEAMBOAT

“Larisa Dmitrieva! Dove! Let’s go for a ride on the “Swallow!” Well, shall we go?” – During our vacation at Lake Geneva, this phrase, uttered in the ingratiating voice of Nikita Mikhalkov, who played Paratov in “Cruel Romance,” never left my mind.

The reason of such associations is a local flotilla of historical steamboats from the Belle Epoque period, the early 20th century, when street lamps were still lit by gas and the horrors of the next two world wars were beyond imagination of the local people.

At that time there were steamers on the seas and lakes, just like in the movie “Cruel Romance”, today Lake Geneva is the only place in Europe, where the old ships are not on the piers, and are used for their intended purpose.

There are 8 steamboats in the historic flotilla. The oldest is the Montreux, launched in 1904, and the newest is the Rhône from 1927. Cruising the steamboats on the lake – it is, of course, charman at its highest expression. You sit on the deck with a glass of Chassla and imagine yourself as a heroine of Scott Fitzgerald’s novel, the only things you need for the full enjoyment are white gloves and a lace umbrella against the sun.

Most of the steamships, for example the Italie, which made its maiden voyage in 1908, have restaurants, again in the recognizable early twentieth-century style. Here you will find old chairs on thick, curved legs, carved wooden railings and heavy suspended chandeliers on the ceilings. Not for nothing, the same Mikhalkov filmed his film “Sunny Blow” at Lake Geneva.

There, according to the plot, vintage steamboats were needed, and he didn’t find any more suitable ones anywhere. In short, since Mikhalkov found no alternative to the local flotilla, you shouldn’t neglect a trip on a vintage steamboat either.

2. CHÂTEAU DE CHILLON

Château de Chillon, aka – Château de Chillon is considered the most visited place of interest in Switzerland. And, I say at once, even if your knowledge about the era of knighthood is limited to watching “The Ballad of the Valiant Knight Ivanhoe” as a child and knowing “Game of Thrones” as an adult, it is still worth seeing the fortification structure, towering on the lake shore.

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Well, if you know how to distinguish a two-handed sword from a hunting sword, you won’t be able to get out of the castle that easily – you’ll inevitably want to explore every corner of it.

The castle is gigantic, a monumental complex of 25 buildings from different times, and the local collection of weapons and armor is so impressive that any museum would envy it.

Construction of the castle began in the ninth century, and in 1160 it is already mentioned in written sources. The castle was built to control the trade road that connected modern Switzerland with Italy.

Until the XV century the castle was the residence of the Counts of Savoy and was actively rebuilt, when it lost its strategic importance, the powerful fortress was reformatted into a prison – it happened everywhere in Europe. Meanwhile, the castle is considered a romantic place.

The reason for this is not only the view of the azure lake, opening from its towers. It’s all the writers who have done their best. Alexander Dumas, Percy Shelley, Rousseau and Hugo, as they say, were here, and each of them was so impressed by the impregnable citadel that he immediately imprisoned a character of his new work within its walls.

But the main “PR man of the castle” was, of course, Lord Byron. After a visit here, he wrote the romantic poem The Prisoner of Chillon in which he described the sufferings of the unhappy Bonivar: a Genevan citizen imprisoned in Chillon from 1530 to 1537. Before visiting the castle I recommend everyone to read Byron’s poem translated by Zhukovsky: firstly, it will help you to feel the place and will add to your visit a special mood, and secondly, you will understand how strong the influence of Byron’s works was on Mikhail Yurievich Lermontov.

3. GO TO THE CHARLIE CHAPLIN MUSEUM

Actually the Charlie Chaplin Museum, appropriately named Chaplin’s World, is in the suburb of Vevey, Corset-sur-Vevey, but you can get there in 15 minutes by bus from the center. I personally advise everyone to walk back: it’s a great walk along the vineyards and the lake shore.

It’s worth spending two hours on a visit to Chaplin’s World, because it’s not exactly a museum in the usual sense. The first thing you’ll do is visit the Manoir de Ban mansion built in 1840 where the comedian, actor, director, composer and screenwriter lived from the 1950s until his death in 1977.

Then walk through the huge park by the lake, which is also part of the estate. For dessert, you’ll have the studio, a separate building with sets of his most famous films from The Kid to Big City Lights and wax figures of Chaplin himself, as well as Pollett Goddard, Michael Jackson and Winston Churchill.

Charlie Chaplin moved to Corset-sur-Veve in the ’50s with his fourth wife Una, who was 36 years younger than her husband and gave him eight children. He did this not out of a desire to retire. In 1952, Chaplin traveled to England, and when he decided to return to the United States, the government did not renew his visa, accusing the director of sympathizing with the Communists. At first the family lived in Lausanne, in the Beau-Rivage Palace hotel, and then moved to Manoir-de-Bahn, where Chaplin’s World is set up today.

By the way, in Switzerland Charlie Chaplin did not indulge in idleness: he wrote his autobiography and continued to work. In his house, not only has his lifetime furnishings been preserved, but also video recordings are broadcast via projectors: his wife Una constantly filmed her husband and children with her home movie camera.

Dining room in Charlie Chaplin’s house

And again, wax figures are everywhere. There’s Einstein sticking his tongue out in the bathroom and the beautiful Sophia Loren is standing by the stairs leading to the second floor. Look for her near the room with the map on the wall, where all Charlie Chaplin’s trips are marked.

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I should say straight away that if you have heard of Chaplin rather than know him very well then that’s not a reason to avoid visiting the museum. On the contrary! After visiting this museum, everyone without exception has an irresistible desire to download all Chaplin movies and watch them with the utmost attention, because touching the creator’s inner world inevitably provokes if not a burning desire to see his works, then a fit of healthy curiosity.

4. MONTREUX: GETTING INTO THE SPIRIT OF THE QUEEN

You can easily reach Montreux from Vevey on foot or by the aforementioned old steamer. The first place you can’t miss is the statue of Freddie Mercury on the seafront. It has been surrounded by throngs of Queen fans before, and after the release of Bohemian Rhapsody, it’s a sight to behold.

In short, if you want to get a good shot with Freddy in that recognizable pose with the microphone held up to the sky, head to the quay at 8am. By the way, the statue was erected in Montreux on November 25, 1996, five years after Queen’s death.

Originally the monument was planned to be erected in London, but for four years they could not find a suitable place for it. As a result, the authorities of the British capital offered the musicians wishing to perpetuate the memory of their friend to erect it in the backyard of the art college where Mercury studied. The members of Queen considered such an insult, and the statue was moved to a Swiss town, where Freddie loved to rest and work. The second fact is evidenced by another iconic attraction in Montreux, the Queen Studio Experience Band Museum.

It is located in the casino building, but don’t let this embarrass you: the entrance there is separate, from the street, not from the promenade. The museum is small and free. Inside, you’ll find Freddy stage costumes, musical instruments and even an interactive console for audio recordings.

A movie about the band is shown in a separate room and it is worth watching for all fans of “Bohemian Rhapsody” to see the difference and understand what Mercury was really like. And, yes, Queen did record here, they first came to Montreux to work on the Jazz album in 1978. When you realize this fact, goosebumps run down your spine.

5. WALK ON VLADIMIR NABOKOV’S PLACES IN MONTREUX

Few writers, in their late years, get the opportunity to live the life they always dreamed of. Vladimir Nabokov is a happy exception to the rule. After the publication of Lolita, which was a worldwide success, the writer could no longer think about his daily bread. Together with his wife Vera he moved to Montreux, where he lived for 16 years in the Hotel Montreux Palace, built in 1837.

Their home was a suite under the roof of the hotel with a balcony overlooking the lake. Today it is called The Nabokov Suite, and the atmosphere is the same as in the writer’s lifetime. The room is available for guests, and as the owners of Montreux Palace admit, it is their main hit.

You can go to the hotel itself to wander in the ballrooms, where Nijinsky and Diaghilev have been in addition to Nabokov. In Switzerland, the writer lived a secluded life: he got up at seven in the morning, wrote, walked the promenade, bathed and often went to the Alps to hunt butterflies – the collection he collected is now in the storerooms of the Zoological Museum in Lausanne.

In Montreux you can see a monument to the writer – he’s sitting on a chair next to the hotel. And there’s also the Confiserie Zurcher, a confectionery that Nabokov loved to visit. Go there for coffee and chocolate or cakes, they are, as in the old days, excellent.

6. WANDER THROUGH LAVAUX VINEYARDS AND TASTE SWISS WINE

Walkers and wine lovers should head to Lavaux Vineyards. Simply take the train to Lausanne early in the morning, get off at the Saint-Saphorin stop, walk up through the village and you’ll be on terraced stone vineyards that look like an ancient amphitheatre.

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They’re protected by UNESCO and are considered to be a historical treasure, because they were planted on the shores of Lake Geneva back in the XII century by the monks who came here from Burgundy. Curiously enough, for the past nine centuries the Lavaux terraces have never been used for anything else: it has always been a grape-growing area.

However, even if you’re not interested in history, the local scenery is a dream for an artist or photographer, as the green vines in summer and red in autumn look so poetic against the azure blue sky and the lake.

Today the terraces are shared by various family wineries. Some of them have been making wine for the past 18 generations. The main local grape variety is chassla, which makes white wines with a recognizable mineral flavor. It is autochthonous and was formed after the end of the last Ice Age, when the sea which had occupied this part of the land disappeared and was replaced by a lake and the hills and mountains surrounding it.

It is only possible to taste chalice in Switzerland – it is practically impossible to export it. The best place to do it is Lavaux Vinorama tasting room located at the foot of the vineyards in the center of Lavaux, if you look at the map.

Go down there and don’t hesitate to be curious: its owners have a collection of the best examples of chassla. I especially recommend tasting the creations of the winemakers from the Calamin zone, one of the best in Lavaux. They are not only exceptional wines, but also very rare, and restaurant sommeliers are lining up for them, so even in the Lake Geneva region stores you won’t find them at all.

The walk around the lake will take two to three hours, depending on your fitness. There are benches in the vineyards where you can rest, and there are even terraces for picnics. Don’t forget, your shoes should be comfortable, ideally boots or sandals for trekking. And one more extremely important point! Grapes from vines should never be torn, because the wine producers take care of each bunch of grapes like a mother takes care of her child.

And at the end there is a useful tip. To travel comfortably through the Lake Geneva region, buy a Swiss Pass at this link beforehand. It gives unlimited travel on all forms of public transport, including trains and vintage steamships mentioned in this article, and, in addition, with it you can visit the famous Chillon Castle for free.

Lake Geneva – the “great mirror” in the Swiss Alps

The majestic Alps conceal a lot of mysteries, to solve which travelers from around the world come to their feet. One of these mysteries is Lake Geneva, Switzerland. Crystal clear water of this reservoir fascinate by its serenity, and surrounding his bright green hills, behind which hides the snow-white cap of the Alpine Mountains, have a special magic.

Lake Geneva

The lake is often compared to a giant mirror: its surface is so calm that it is able to reflect the surrounding buildings and trees with high precision. No wonder this place has become one of the most visited in Europe, and it is ready to offer its guests resorts and entertainment for all tastes.

Overview

Lake Geneva on the map

Lake Geneva, or Léman as the French call it, is the largest body of water in the Alps and the second largest lake in Central Europe. Its northern shore is in Switzerland, while the southern coast belongs to French waters. The area of Lake Geneva is 582.4 sq km, of which 348.4 sq km belongs to the Swiss State. If you look at a map, you can see that the body of water has the shape of a crescent, with the tips facing south.

The length of Lake Leman is 72 km, and the width in some places reaches 13 km. The deepest point of the lake is fixed between Evian-les-Bains and Lausanne: its value is 310 meters. The lake is of glacier origin, so it is quite cold and suitable for swimming only in the summer months, when the sun warms the water to 21 – 23 ° C.

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Boat routes on Lake Geneva

The lake is the main transport artery linking the towns around it, between which the ships run daily. To ensure navigation around Lake Leman 22 lighthouses were installed, which also give signals to fishermen and sportsmen about the approach of inclement weather.

Nature, flora and fauna

When looking at Lake Geneva in Switzerland, the amazing nature of the region grabs the eye even in photos. There are many parks and nature reserves, as well as botanical gardens, which can be found both in urban resorts and in the mountains.

La Pierrez Mountain Goat.

The largest nature center in Switzerland has become La Pierrez Reserve, whose landscapes change one after another, as if in a kaleidoscope. The park covers 34 square kilometers and is a mixture of valleys, cliffs, meadows and gorges. Mountain goats, chamois, bears, lynxes and marmots live here, while golden eagles, partridges and falcons, owls and woodpeckers are among the birds.

Leman is a real treasure trove for the fisherman, in the depths of which hides a rich underwater world. Among the inhabitants of Lake Geneva you can find pike, perch, trout, crayfish, whitefish and many other fish species.

Note! The laws of Switzerland allow the use of the reservoir for fishing with a single hook without a license. However, fishing with a troll requires a special permit.

Vineyards near Lake Geneva Le Mans

Because Leman is shielded from the northern winds by a chain of Alpine mountains, the region has a peculiar climate. And if in winter Lake Geneva may still give you a dry cold wind, in summer it will reward you only a soft warm breeze. In July and August the temperature may warm up to 30 ° C in the area of Lake Leman, which allows the local population to safely grow grapes. Subalpine vegetation predominates in the region, and palm trees are often found at local resorts.

Cities on the shores of Lake Geneva

Lake Leman is not called the Swiss Riviera by chance. Several picturesque resort towns are concentrated on its shores, each with its own entertainments and attractions.

The city of Geneva

At the south-western tip of Lake Leman is located Geneva – one of the most beautiful cities in Switzerland with a population of 200 thousand people. Its peculiar symbol is a majestic fountain Geo-Do, bursting directly from the reservoir jet 140 meters in height. Steeped in flowers and greenery, Geneva abounds with parks and squares, cultural monuments and historical sights, among which it is worth a visit:

This city of Switzerland can rightly be called a cultural center: because it has about 30 various museums. Geneva is valuable to the international community because many international organizations such as the Red Cross, the WTO and the UN have their headquarters here.

Details about the city’s attractions are collected in this article.

Montreux, surrounded by the Alps and Lake Geneva

Once a small settlement of fishermen and winemakers today has grown into a luxury resort city, which is considered one of the best not only in Switzerland, but also in the whole Europe. Montreux with population of only 26 thousand people is located in the easternmost point of Lehman.

Photos and description of this resort on Lake Geneva make it clear that this place is not for those who are used to saving money: luxurious hotels, elite clinics, high-class restaurants, expensive boutiques meet tourists at every step.

Montreux Jazz Festival

Every year a jazz festival is held here where famous musicians from all over the world come. Among the notable places in Montreux is Chillon Castle, which is located in the suburbs, and a monument to Freddie Mercury, installed on the embankment of Lake Leman. A detailed description of Chillon Castle can be found here.

Spread out on scenic hills and framed by vineyards, Lausanne is nestled on the northeastern shore of Lake Leman in Switzerland. This well-kept, plant-decorated city of 128,000 people is rich in historical sites and museums, and its many parks have become a favorite destination for leisurely strolls. To get to know Lausanne, it is important to visit its unique attractions:

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Travelers love to stroll through the medieval quarter of Ville-Marche and explore the treasured exhibits on display in Lausanne’s art galleries. More information about Lausanne with photos can be found on this page.

Vevey, Switzerland

Vevey, a small town in Switzerland with a population of 19.5 thousand people, is located on the northeastern shore of the lake. The town is world-famous for its fertile vineyards, and the eco-friendly resort is quiet and homelike.

Statue of Charlie Chaplin

Monument to Charlie Chaplin

If you find yourself in Vevey, be sure to stroll through the Grand-Place, visit the old cafe de La Clef, and climb to the summit of Mount Pelerin. This is a renowned destination for celebrities, and the talented actor Charlie Chaplin spent his last years here, for which a monument has been erected in the town square. Like other Swiss cities, Vevey boasts some unique museums, among which the Museum of Viticulture, the Museum of Photography, and the Museum of Nutrition are worthy of particular attention.

One of the oldest European thermal spas Evian-les-Bains is located on the southern shore of Lake Geneva in France. This cozy little place with a population of only 8,600 people is famous for its first-class balneotherapy, for which the British monarchs and aristocracy have long come here for treatment. Today, these procedures can afford any traveler glancing in Evian-les-Bains.

Evian-les-Bains, France

There are surprisingly few tourists, so the atmosphere in the city has a quiet and measured rest. Evian-les-Bains has excellent water links with all cities on the Swiss Riviera so getting here for a spa visit is easy.

Tonon-les-Bains – the largest resort town located on the southern shores of Lake Leman in France. It is very popular among tourists due to its numerous thermal springs. The unique Savoyard architecture of Tonon-les-Bains with its stores and souvenir shops stands out among the other cities of Lake Geneva.

Tonon-les-Bains resort city in France

There are several interesting sights, among which are of particular value:

Tonon-les-Bains is located directly at the foot of Mont Blanc and the mountain massif of Chablais, where you can go up by cable car and enjoy the magnificent views of the surroundings.

Things to do

In addition to walking around the main resorts of Lake Geneva, where there are many attractions, tourists have a great opportunity to visit local events and have a real attraction of water activities.

Kayaking in the Alpine Mountains

  1. Food and wine fairs. Sophisticated travelers who know a lot about gourmet food and good booze will appreciate the gastronomic tours, where everyone has the opportunity to visit the cheese, chocolate, wine and beer fairs and buy your favorite product.
  2. Diving. Lake Geneva is a real find for divers. At the bottom of a seemingly calm body of water lurks a world of wrecks, next to which the outstanding representatives of marine flora and fauna scurry.
  3. Boating and kayaking. A boat trip on the reservoir in the middle of the Alpine mountains is a dream come true for all tourists here at Lake Leman.
  4. Walks on mountain bikes. Swiss resorts are ideal for cycling trips, during which you can immerse yourself in the pristine beauty of nature and enjoy the mountain scenery.
  5. Festivals. Swiss cities often organize a variety of cultural events (jazz festival, tulip festival, grape harvest, carnivals of all kinds), visiting which will be a perfect complement to your vacation in Lake Leman.

Conclusion

If you love the outdoors but are not ready to give up the benefits of civilization, go to Lake Geneva, Switzerland. Its nature, resorts with their parks and cultural monuments, its well-developed tourist infrastructure and plenty of entertainment will help fill your vacation with pleasant impressions and have a first-class vacation.

Video: aerial view of Lake Leman and its shores.

Author: Catherine Unal

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