North Bank, Lake Geneva
For centuries the beauty of the northern shores of Lake Geneva has been lauded (e.g. by Byron, Voltaire and Rousseau), the luxuriantly fertile slopes rising gently above the lake, the picturesque towns and old castles, the magnificent backdrop of the Savoy and Valais Alps to the south and east. The climate has a southern mildness in which the vine flourishes. The road along the shore of the lake from Geneva runs through Genthod (restaurant on lake) and the little town of Versoix, enters the canton of Vaud (8km/5mi) and comes to Coppet.
From Coppet the road along the northern shore of Lake Geneva continues via the interesting little town of Nyon and Prangins (château of 1748) to reach the stretch of land along the lake known as La Côte, the fertile slopes descending from the Vaudois plateau, with flourishing fruit orchards and farming land: a gentle prosperous landscape with many old castles and country houses.
Rolle (alt. 376 m/1,234ft: pop. 3,600) is a long straggling little town, with a 13th C. castle (four towers) and old burghers' and vintners' houses lining the main street. On a small island in the harbor is an obelisk commemorating General de la Harpe (1754-1838), who played a part in securing the separation of Vaud from the canton of Berne in 1798. The local specialty is "petits pains au sucre" (sugar rolls).
The road along Lake Geneva's north bank continues to Allaman (425 m/1,394ft): 16th C. castle with two towers) and St-Prex (373 m/1,224ft: pop. 2,000), an old market town with a church which first appears in the records in 885. Cobbled streets; old street signs; Tour de l'Horloge (Clock Tower), the only gate-tower with loopholes in the canton of Vaud. Glassworks; beautiful lakeside gardens and villas.
Morges (381 m/1,250ft: pop. 12,700), on a site once occupied by a large village of pile-dwellings, is a town of fishermen, with the headquarters of the World Wildlife Fund. It was once the home of Paderevski and Stravinsky. There are handsome 18th C. burghers' houses, a church (1776) and 16th-17th C. Town Hall.
The Morges castle with its four round corner towers, typical of the "carré savoyard" style, (13th C.; alterations in 16th and 17th C.; restored 1948), today it houses the Vaudois arsenal containing a historical weapons collection and 10,000 lead soldiers.
Alexis Forel Museum
Collections of art, furniture (15th-19th C), tapestries (16th-18th C), Chinese and French porcelains, 18-20th C puppets and toys plus a collection of prints of Alexis Forel.
Address: 54, Grand-Rue, CP 160, CH-1110 Morges, Switzerland
Opening hours: Mar 1 to Dec 15: 2pm-5:30pm
Always closed on: January 2nd Holiday - Switzerland (Jan 2), New Year's Day (Jan 1), Christmas - Christian (Dec 25), Day after Christmas, St Stephen's Day, Boxing Day (Dec 26), Good Friday - Christian, Easter Monday - Christian, Easter - Christian
Entrance fee in CHF: Adult CHF5.00, Group discounts CHF4.00
Collection devoted to Ignace-Jean Paderewski (1860-1941) Polish composer and pianist. Original photographs, letters, documents, personal objects are included.
This annual month-long festival runs from mid-April to mid-May.
From Morges an excursion can be made (10km/6mi) to L'Isle (666 m/2,185ft), with the little late 17th C. château of Chandieu, set in parkland. A visit to the Tine gorge on the southern slopes of La Sarraz is worthwhile.
Near Morges are the châteaux of Chardonney (18th C.) and Vufflens-le-Château (14th-15th C.). The latter, of North Italian design, was built by Heinrich von Colombier (1395-1430) with a large cemetery and four towers which are characteristic of Savoy.
The road along the north bank of Lake Geneva continues through the select residential suburb of St-Sulpice (Romanesque conventual church, 12th C.) to enter Lausanne, capital of the canton of Vaud.Lausanne, the lively capital of the canton of Vaud, is picturesquely situated on the north shore of Lake Geneva, on terraces rising above the lake which are broken by gorges. It ranks with Geneva as a focus of intellectual life in French-speaking Switzerland (Federal Court, University, College of Technology, Hotel School and many other technical colleges), and is also a popular convention and conference center and the venue of important trade fairs (Comptoir Suisse in Autumn, International Tourism Fair in March).
Corniche de Lavaux
To the east of Lausanne is one of the most beautiful parts of Switzerland, with many features of interest. Between Lutry (380 m/1,247ft) and Vevey the road runs past the Monts de Lavaux. There is a magnificent stretch of road on the Corniche de Lavaux (Corniche Vaudoise), running high above the lake through the vineyards and affording views of the mighty peaks around the upper end of the lake.
Signal de Chexbres and Charlie Chaplin's Grave
The road along the north bank of Lake Geneva runs via Grandvaux (565 m/1,845ft) and the villages of Riex (450 m/1,476ft) and Epesses to a superb viewpoint, the Signal de Chexbres (655 m/2,149ft), and the health resort of Chexbres (559 m/1,834ft; pop. 1,700) to the vine-growing village of Corsier (445 m/1,460ft; pop. 3,030), which has a fine 12th C. church with a Romanesque tower, the device of the House of Savoy and old bells (1427, 1523). Charlie Chaplin (Sir Charles Spencer Chaplin, 1889-1977) is buried here.
From Lutry the Geneva lakeside road runs via Villette to Cully (380 m/1,247ft), a vine-growing village with picturesque old streets. Near the landing-stage is a monument to Major Davel, a native of the village, who made an unsuccessful attempt (1723) to free Vaud from Bernese rule.
Rivaz - Castle of Glérolles
The main Lake Geneva runs continues to Rivaz, the castle of Glérolles (12th C., rebuilt in the Gothic period).
The vine-growing village of St-Saphorin (376 m/1,234ft: pop. 300), has beautiful old houses and a 16th C. church. This was originally a country seat of the bishops of Lausanne. In a house of 1705 opposite the church is the restaurant A l'Onde (old inn sign, 1750). The "traffic regulations for coaches" written on a "Pierre à sabot" (1812) in the Place du Peuplier make interesting reading.From here the road then traverses the celebrated resorts of Vevey and Montreux.
After passing through Montreux and Villeneuve the Lake Geneva road comes to Villeneuve (378 m/1,240ft; pop. 4,500), a little harbor town at the end of the lake which was founded in the 13th C. on the site of earlier Celtic and Roman settlements. The triple-naved Romanesque parish church (St-Paul) is of 12th C. origin.