Lake Geneva - © LT/mano

Lake Geneva

Lausanne and Lake Geneva

Lake Geneva, the biggest in Western Europe, constitutes a tremendous asset for the Lausanne region and its visitors. Leisure, water sports, gastronomy, regattas and cruises: this crescent of fresh water provides enjoyment in winter and summer alike.

This romantic scenery has inspired many artists and celebrities, with some having settled here permanently. It is an immense stretch of water that changes colour with the passing of each hour, the sky and the water sometimes appearing to merge into one. Surrounded by the terraced vineyards of Lavaux and La Côte on one side and by the majestically towering snow-coated Alps on the other, Lake Geneva (known locally as Lac Léman) never ceases to captivate local residents, whether they live on the French or the Swiss side (the frontier cuts through the middle of the lake), and visiting tourists.

Nearly 20,000 marine crafts ranging from pedalos to luxury yachts ply the waters of the lake, whether for fishing, enjoyment or trips. Thanks to its wide and varied range of cruises, the Compagnie générale de navigation (CGN), which boasts the biggest Belle Epoque fleet in the world with 8 boats, 5 of which are paddle steamers, sails between Switzerland and France all year round. Over 2 million passengers a year embark and disembark at numerous ports, travelling by boat to discover the shores of the lake and its unmissable sites or to go to work. It is also possible to enjoy fine food prepared by top chefs or a fondue in a cosy atmosphere on board these lake-going vessels.

Other marine craft allow Lake Geneva to be admired. As well as pleasure boating, the operators of the Aquarel solar-powered boats arrange trips close to the banks of the lake to observe the fauna and flora in complete tranquillity. Outings are organised from Morges on “La Liberté”, a replica of a 17th-century galley built in 5 years and launched for the first time in 2002. It is also possible to sail the old-fashioned way on restored barges, the most famous of which is called “La Vaudoise” and is situated in Ouchy.

Once the fine weather arrives, the shores of Lake Geneva come alive with walkers and aficionados of the wheel (skates, skateboards, scooters) sharing the floral quays of Ouchy. The lake offers heaps of activities in and on the water. Alongside the hirers of pedalos, kayaks, rowing boats and motorboats, several water sports clubs offer introductory courses in water skiing, wakeboarding, rowing, windsurfing and sailing.

For those who prefer to relax in the sunshine, the urban area of Lausanne boasts around fifty beaches with a range of amenities. Once the fine weather arrives, couples, families, singles and groups of teenagers share the expanses of grass and sand until late into the evening, with some places allowing barbecues to be held. In summer, several refreshment stands take up residence on the shores to serve fast food. Many restaurants open up their terraces to offer freshly caught fillets of perch, fera, pike and char, as Lake Geneva is the habitat of around thirty species of fish.

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