What’s Doing in the Lake Geneva Region
The Lake Geneva Region, known in French as Région lémanique, is a region in Switzerland located mostly within the French-speaking canton of Vaud in western Switzerland, but also incorporates the cantons of Geneva and Valais. It is to the city of Geneva as appetizers are to the main course: the small towns and villages here are in many ways an extension of Geneva’s provincial charm, but at the same time are smaller, quieter, and offer their own quirks and attractions that appeal to visitors.
The region is home to the towns of Lausanne, Montreux, and Vevey, as well as many hamlets in the Lavaux wine-growing region. Popular tourist attractions in the area include the magnificent Chillon Castle in Montreux, the world-famous Lavaux vineyards, and various charming small museums including the Olympic Museum in Lausanne and Vevey’s Alimentarium Museum.
The canton of Vaud came into existence as an ancient Roman settlement in 58 B.C. After the fall of the Roman Empire, the area was occupied by various tribes before falling under the rule of the Counts of Savoy, who helped unify the canton and establish the Barony of Vaud. Following the Bernese invasion of 1536, the territory was occupied by the city-state of Bern until 1798, when it was liberated by Napoleon I. The canton officially became part of the Swiss Confederation in 1803.
Like Geneva, the towns of Lausanne and Montreux were important locations in the Protestant Reformation of the mid-16th century and popular places of refuge for Protestants escaping persecution in other parts of Europe after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685. Italian Huguenots in particular contributed greatly to the cultural and economic development of Montreux.
As one ventures through the Lake Geneva area, one shouldtake note of its scenic small towns, its renowned vineyards and wine cellars, and its many memorable cultural and historical attractions.
WHAT TO DO
Lausanne, the capital of Vaud, is situated on the northern bank of the lake and is a must-visit location in the region.
Begin your journey at the Lausanne Cathedral, or Cathedral of Notre Dame, an evangelical church dating to the Middle Ages. The church, which was consecrated in 1275, features a Gothic architectural design, a belfry with seven bells dating back as far as 1493, and a 7,000-pipe organ. A collection of tapestries that was taken from the church by the Bernese army during the 1536 invasion is currently housed in a museum in Bern, despite the town’s requests for their return.