This summer, Vaud celebrates the water that defines the Swiss Canton in Western Switzerland, from the majestic Lake Geneva (lac Léman) that stretches along its southern shore to smaller lakes and rivers. Water has historically been celebrated in the region, from the classic Fontaine de la Justice in the heart of Lausanne to the Fontaine Saint-Martin in Vevey. It’s a summer to reconnect with the water by swimming on the sandy beaches, boating, and enjoying the area’s swimming pools. Lakeside beaches in cities like Lausanne, Vevey, and Montreux are how locals and visitors stay cool in summer. Built in 1937, the Bellerive-Plage swimming pool has an ideal location by the lake, with three large pools, one with a ten-meter diving board. Préverenges, near Morges, has a pedal boat, boat, canoe, kayak hire, and the “L’Oued” refreshment bar. You can also head to Les Marines in Villeneuve, Le Pierrier in Clarens, or Rivaz Plage in Lavaux. Kayaking, canoeing, stand-up paddling, and fishing are great ways to enjoy the area.
There are also lakeside parks, like Jardin Doret in Vevey, with its playground, beach volleyball court, and ping-pong tables. Enjoy a trip on a paddlewheel steamer on Lake Geneva, or head for Lavey-les-Bains or Yvedon-les-Bains, which both feature outdoor thermal spa pools. In Villars-Gryon, there’s Frience, with three pools and a giant zipline. There’s also canyoning on the l’Hongrin Gorges for those with a daredevil spirit. Further afield, Vallée de Joux offers Lake Joux, the largest expanse of water in the entire Jura massif, and Lake Brenet. On rainy days, water is still the main attraction. The Musée du Léman in Nyon reveals the secrets of Europe’s largest lake, with five aquariums and a display of the journeys of the Piccard family. Near Morges is La Maison de la Rivière, which has the F.A. Forel submarine built by the team of Jacques Piccard. In Lausanne, Aquatis is a significant attraction, the largest freshwater aquarium in Europe. Visit MyVaud for more details.
CGN Celebrates 150 Years of Paddle Wheel Steamers
One of the most distinctive features of lac Léman (Lake Geneva) is the vintage paddle-wheel steamers crisscrossing the deep blue waters. They have romantic names like La Suisse, Vevey, Simplon, and Italie, large, comfortable boats ideal for sightseeing, an elegant lunch, or a sunset cruise. This year marks the 150th anniversary of the company that owns them, the Compagnie Générale de Navigation. Known as CGN, the General Navigation Company of Lake Geneva, it was born in 1873, and it currently has five paddle wheel steamboats and three paddle wheel diesel electric paddle wheel boats.
Montreux Jazz Festival
The 57th Montreux Jazz Festival will bring jazz virtuosos, pop stars, and legendary rock groups to the shores of Lake Geneva during the first two weeks of July. There will be some 400 concerts, DJ sets, and other activities, and the roster of this year’s performers is impressive, including Bob Dylan, Simply Red, Chris Isaak, Lil Nas X, Lionel Richie, Sam Smith, Iggy Pop, Gilberto Gil, Mavis Staples, Norah Jones, Seal, Buddy Guy, Joe Bonamassa, Janelle Monáe and Nile Rogers & Chic. From June 30 to July 15, 2023, the 16 days of concerts will feature as many free events as ticketed ones in the Auditorium Stravinsky. Information at Montreux Jazz Festival.
The Olympic Museum Celebrates 30 Years
This year marks the 30th anniversary of The Olympic Museum (Le Musée Olympique) on the shores of Lake Geneva in Lausanne. This city has been home to the IOC (International Olympic Committee) for 100 years. The Olympic Museum was completely renovated in 2013 with state-of-the-art facilities and exhibitions depicting the origin of the games, the competitions, and the athletic spirit, utilizing 150 screens and 1,500 objects. They include Olympic torches, medals, and equipment some famous athletes use. The Olympic Museum is currently exhibiting “Free to Run,” a multimedia experience that explores the world of marathon and long-distance running, from the marathon’s first appearance at the Athens 1896 Olympics to next year’s Paris 2024 Mass Participation Marathon. Visit The Olympic Museum.
Cycling & Hiking in the Alpes Vaudoises and Vallée de Joux
Summer is the biking season in Vaud, and its location between lakes and mountains makes it the ideal place to explore on two wheels. The headquarters of the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), the Canton of Vaud, also regularly hosts the Tour de Romandie and the Tour de Suisse. There are three famous mountain passes – Les Mosses, Le Pillon, and Col de La Croix – that serious cyclists can tackle. Mountain biking devotees head to the Vallée de Joux for the Grand Risoud route, a 32 km loop including a section through the largest spruce forest in Europe. In Pays-d’Enhaut, mountain bikers can go on the SwitzerlandMobility mountain biking route “Pays-d’Enhaut Bike” to Jardin des Monts, a 30 km route linking the villages of Rossinière, Château-d’Œx and Rougemont. Details at Vaud Biking.
Vaud has designated a Top 20 Hiking Trails list, with hikes like Tour de La Dôle 116, which offers panoramic views in the Jura region and is relatively easy. Le Tour du Lac de Joux is also reasonably easy and circumnavigates the lake. For those looking for a real challenge, the Caux – Rochers de Naye hike offers dramatic lake views but is only for seasoned and very fit hikers. Details at Vaud Hiking.