A votre sante!
In the 11th century, Benedictine and Cistercian monks began planting vines and building retaining walls on the steep sun-drenched hillsides of the Lavaux region on the north shore of Lake Geneva.
Today’s nearly 2000 acres of terraces in this French-speaking southwest is Switzerland’s major wine-producing region and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Some of today’s winegrowers are 17th generation descendants of the lay people to whom the work was delegated.
This breathtaking landscape between Lausanne and Montreux is a gourmet's delight--a perennial magnet for poets, painters, and those who simply wish to enjoy the charming villages, the wine, and the spectacular view.
“The land of three suns” is sun-drenched from the sky, the reflecting lake, and the stone walls that release stored heat when temperatures drop. The steep slopes need a deep rooted grape like the Chassalas that comprises 90% of its foremost vintage, Dézaley.
Hiking and cycling trails with scenic picnic areas run right through the lush, green vineyards. The Lavaux-Express or yellow Train des Vignes let you sit back and enjoy the scenic ride.
Lake Geneva boats connect towns in Switzerland and France, and the classic Belle Epoque paddlewheeler Savoie offers Michelin-starred cuisine with the view.
We drank in the scenery as we sampled regional wines with local specialties like lake perch and char, papet vaudois, (leek and cabbage sausage), gateau á la raisinée (fruity cake), cheeses and chocolate.
stopped in villages like Onnens, where a lunch of hot cabbage, sausage
and rosti at Au Bon Vin included the proprietor and waiter, Herr
Kunst’s rendition of Ain’t She Sweet as he played his vintage
We sampled wines like Cuvée Blanche, shown here, and Cuvée Amandine, delicious with chocolate, in the cellar of Vignoble Cousin in Concise.
For the widest selection of area wines—over 300-- we stopped at Lavaux Vinorama, a contemporary cave-like structure where local winemakers rent cubicles. The proprietor selects eight wines for tastings, or you can try the Enomatic machine that dispenses samples.
That night was spent at the Hotel Prealpina in picturesque Chexbres. We overlooked the vineyards, villages, and lake from high atop the hill.
At sunset, as we prepared for dinner at the hotel, the sky was ablaze with color and the lake reflected the warm glow.
Next was the town of Yverdon-les-Bains, the region’s thermal capital on the south-western tip of Lake Neuchâtel. 14,000 year old springs from 1500’ depths release mineral-rich waters reputed to help the joints, stomach, muscles, and respiratory tract. The springs attracted the Romans, who settled here. Forty-five Neolithic menhirs (upright stones weighing up to 5 tons) have also been found in the area, vestiges of a Celtic presence dating to 5000BC.
The 13th century Chateau d’Yverdon, a medieval castle built by the Peter II of
Also of interest in the area are Maison d’Ailleurs (House from Elsewhere), the first
Oval sign for La Grenette
|For lunch, La Grenette is a popular Old Town restaurant featuring local favorites like Filets de|
Perches (small lake perch),
|and Tomme Dorée sur Craquante (fried cheese), served on salad. There is also a 20SF plate of the day.|
|On the other side of the Chateau, Gerard Roy’s La Ferme offers the finest regional foods and wines of the region --- great for a picnic or for gifts to bring home.|
Our accommodations choice is The Grand Hotel des Bains, a magnificent blend of state-of-the-art architecture and history.
|It links to the Thermal Center ...|
|and offers the finest of dining experiences.|
At the crossroads of Europe and civilizations, Lausanne has a rich medieval past dating to the Romans , who moved their 4th century Roman lakefront settlement Lousonna to the higher and more easily defended inland area, the present Old Town.
Free transportation cards are issued to hotel guests in this hilly city. Lausanne has Switzerland’s only metro, and stops are designated by sounds, such as bells for the Cathedral area.
Lausanne has an international reputation for its hotel industry, inspired by itsprestigious Lausanne Hotel Management School, first in the world.
Capital of the Canton of Vaud,
thanks to Napoleon, and site of the signing of major
international treaties (Peace of Ouchy, Lausanne Treaty, Reparations Conference), it i
an artistic, cultural, educational, conference, banking, corporate and sports
headquarters perhaps best recognized by visitors as the Olympic Capital and a holiday resort.
Creative thinkers like Voltaire, Dickens, Byron, Shelley, Tennyson and TS Eliot, who wrote The Wasteland here, flocked to the area. With exceptional music, theater, and ballet is also a hub of world renowned medical engineering and health clinics and was home to Dr. Tissot “Healer of the Sick of Europe”.
Its shops are showcases of quality Swiss made products—watches and clocks, knives, carved wooden products, and music boxes, to name a few.
Switzerland’s largest cathedral, the Cathedrale Notre-Dame, is its finest example of early Gothic and the most visited monument in Lausanne. It dominates the medieval Vielle Ville( Old Town )shopping and restaurant district. Since 1405, a night watchman calls out the hours between 10pm and 3 am.
|The Olympic Museum, the city’s major attraction, is in an impressive garden with fountains that overlooks the Ouchy area’s tree-lined promenade, the lake, and France’s Alps. It is the second most visited museum in Switzerland.|
Adjacent to the museum, set fashionably in ten acres of gardens, and with a spectacular lake view, is the sophisticated, elegant, and world-renowned 5 star Beau Rivage. Built in 1857, it is known for its impeccable service and exceptional cuisine and is one of the Leading Hotels of the World.
The breakfast room is encircled in glass, and lunch is in the Rotunda Room. The Sandoz Ballroom, shown here, was the site of the signing of the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923. It was also chosen for the wedding receptions of both of Diana Ross and Phil Collins. Neither marriage survived, but the hotel continues, as always, to serve the rich, influential, and famous.
For a sweet ending to your visit to Lausanne, stop by at least one of its three fine and dedicated chocolate shops. Chocolatier Durig learned his craft from his father. His specialty products range from squares of fine chocolate with wildflower petals (at left) to chocolate vinegar, used with olive oil as salad vinaigrette. His favorite? Spice chocolates.
essence of Switzerland must be savored with all the senses. Drink in the
fruits, savor the flavors, and soak it all in. To create your own
peak experience contact:
TRAVEL TIP: Did you know that for a small fee, you can check your bag at your home airport and pick it up at your destination train station, do the reverse at select train stations when returning home, and also send your bags ahead between destinations within Switzerland? See SBB for more information.
All material including photography appearing on these pages is copyrighted and may be used only with written permission from Roger and Linda Fasteson.