Dreaming of June on Lake Geneva

It’s been a while since I’ve shared a Monday Dream, but since I’m starting to plan our summer trip to Switzerland and France, today I find myself dreaming of the waters of Lac Léman (also called Lake Geneva) with views of the Haut-Savoie in the distance and vineyard-covered slopes on the Swiss side. We’ll be visiting in June when the days are longest and the lakeside cities of Lausanne and Vevey and Montreux should be full of flowers.

So what kinds of wonders await us there?

Paddle steamer on Lake Geneva in Switzerland

A boat ride on Lake Geneva. What better way is there to see the lake than to get out on it? The views of the Alps are spectacular, as is the water itself, with its reflections of mountains and sky and it’s ever changing hues. Among the many cruising options are paddle steamers like the kind that used to cross the lake a century ago.

A visit to the Old City in Lausanne. Largely free of cars and full of cobblestones, corners, and cafés, this section of the city is home not only to a gorgeous Gothic cathedral but, on summer Saturdays, to a large farmers market.

A ride on the cogwheel railway up to Rochers-de-Nay. Climbing up the hill away from the lake, this small train arrives at a rock formation above Montreux that’s home to great views of the Alps across the lake as well as an alpine garden and a small zoo called Marmot Paradise. What is that you may ask? Marmots are furry little rodents found in mountains all around the world. How much do you want to bet that Teddy will want to keep one as a pet?

Flowers in Montreux, Switzerland

A stroll along the Promenade Fleuri between Montreux and Vevey. If you are a fan of Little Women than you know that Vevey is where Laurie and Amy fell in love (they got engaged, romantically enough, in a rowboat on the lake). I like to think of them strolling along this lakeside path, and would like to follow in their imaginary footsteps. It’s reputed to be lined with flowers in the early summer and also to be a fun place for people watching.

Going for a hike. While we will basically be visiting the foothills of the Alps, not the mountains themselves, the hills around the lake offer some gorgeous hiking opportunities. Above Montreux is a kid-friendly route called the Chemin de Narcisses that I’d love to try.

Chateau de Chillon in Montreux, Switzerland

Exploring a castle on the shore of the lake. Guarding the lake since the 12th century, the Chateau de Chillon was romantic and dramatic enough to inspire no less than Lord Byron to poetry. If our visit to the Tower of London is any indication, I’m sure the boys will love the exhibit of arms.

Learning about cooking and eating at the Food Museum. Given that the 2012 Olympics will be taking place in London, one of my family’s favorite cities, later in the summer, I was excited to learn that Lausanne is home to both the International Olympic Committee and the world’s largest museum dedicated to the Olympic Games. Unfortunately, however, the museum will be closed for renovation until the end of 2013. But I’ll take consolation in the fact that Vevey is home to a museum that is dedicated to everything to do with food and cooking. Since I’d certainly be a world-class competitor if eating chocolate were an Olympic sport, I figure I can console myself very nicely here.

Best of all is that we will hopefully do some or all of this in the company of my friend Amie O’Shaughnessy and her family who currently live in Switzerland. I’m very excited that our trip to Europe will include a chance to connect with friends – and I’m grateful to Amie for encouraging us to visit this beautiful place, heretofore overlooked in my travel plans.

I know that we won’t get to everything on this list, but it sure is fun to dream that we will. And I love dreams that also double as trip plans – you can bet I’ll be returning to this list and refining it as we get closer to our actual journey.

What are your Monday Dreams? Feel free to share in the comments below.

Photo of Lake Geneva courtesy of Tickle JR via Flickr.

Photo of paddle steamer courtesy of eGuide Travel via Flickr.

Photo of flowers courtesy of cimddwc via Flickr.

Photo of Chateau de Chillon courtesy of Rich Jaccques via Flickr.

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  1. says

    Geneva looks to be a beautiful city with so much to do – I’m sure your family will love it! We’ll be there for one day next month – I know, crazy! – to visit friends that moved back to Switzerland after living here for 5 years. We are going to take the train from Paris and see how much we can see in one day. Should be interesting!!

    • says

      I love your energy. I assume you’re going to take the high-speed train to Geneva? It doesn’t take that long, does it? I think you should be able to make a good day of it. I haven’t been to Geneva in twenty years but spent a weekend there once and it was charming and very “seeable” in a short period of time.

  2. says

    Sounds like it will be a great summer trip for you! It’s always nice to visit a place where you have friends. We plan our Asia trip this summer to Thailand, Singapore and maybe Hong Kong. I’m less organized than you so our plan is still a rough plan. :)

  3. says

    We added Zurich only as a stop over between Munich and Paris during a 7 week European trip. So glad we did. We were amazed at how beautiful Switzerland is. We were also amazed at how expensive it was. Swiss chocolate…totally the best in Europe. I also found myself spending $5 on a can of Mt Dew. Prepare to spend some money, but it should be an amazing trip. Hope you have a great time.

    • says

      You’re not the first person to warn me of the expense. I think I may do some price checking before we go so we don’t experience sticker shock! Thanks for the tip.

  4. says

    This sounds like a wonderful trip to one of Europe’s best scenic places. I love the idea of the boat ride and a castle by the lake. I look forward to reading your posts and seeing the pictures. My Monday dreams also double as trip planning for a Scandinavia trip in June.

    • says

      Scandinavia in June does sound dreamy! Where will you be going? We had talked about going to Norway this summer but put that trip off until the kids are a bit older.

  5. says

    Dear Mara,

    I’ve been following your blog for some time now and was so pleased to read that you will be visiting Switzerland, where I currently live and the country which I blog about the most!

    Here are some other things you may like to do:

    1.Stop off in Yvoire which is on the French side of the lake during your boat ride and spend the afternoon visiting their little shops.

    2.Visit the Saturday market in Morges (near where I live) on your way to Lausanne.

    3. If you do get a chance stop off with the family in the village of Luins to eat some Malakoff.

    It would have been lovely to have met up but I’m moving to Poland for 4 months for work at the end of this week.

    However, if I can be of any help, please don’t hesitate to email me.

    Have fun with the planning and all the best,


    • says

      Vanessa – thank you SO much for these tips! I’ll be sure to add them to my list. And I’ll certainly let you know if I have any additional questions. Poland is a place that intrigues me – it’ supposed to be really beautiful. Good luck with your move!

  6. says

    That castle on the lake is gorgeous! You are making me want to take a side trip this fall when we visit friends in Bern, Switzerland. I am so excited for your trip and I can’t wait to read more about it. Just before to sneak in lots of food shots so we can all eat vicariously through you.

    • says

      I’m under strict orders from various quarters to provide detailed descriptions of all meals and snacks, so you can bet it will be a focus of my posts. :)

  7. says

    It looks like that will be a wonderful trip. Hiking in the Alps is one of my dreams. I’ve heard that there are cabins scattered throughout the Alps and you can hike between them and stay the night, then continue on the next morning. How great would that be?

    • says

      I’m with you Andi – I’d love to do some serious hiking in the Alps. That’s not going to happen on this trip, but I’m hoping to whet my sons’ appetite for it so that we can return some day when their legs are longer for some hiking and camping.

  8. says

    What a beautiful post – we did a wonderful family tour of Switzerland and France 2 years ago. We loved the region of Lake Geneva and Geneva itself with the Jet Fountain and the beautiful gardens on the waterfront – just did a photo post today – http://bit.ly/wYdg7K. Whatever you do you’ll have fun exploring the region.

  9. Wendy says

    Dearest Mara, good evening! I’m very excited to read so much info from your post. We, family of 4 (our girls 8 & 4) will visit Europe for the 1st time this coming Jun. We will start off in London, Paris and arrive in Geneva via TGV. From Geneva to Lake Geneva to Interlaken (Jungfrajoch) to Lucern to Zurich. We will spend 1 night in each stop except 2 nights in Interlaken. It turns out we have 1 extra night to spend; base on your expertise, any stopover besides the above is ideal for us? Or shall we stay longer in one of the above places?

  10. Wendy says

    Hi again Mara, thanks for the update. Guessed I have confused u; we will spend 1wk each in London and Paris before heading to Switzerland for 10days. Thanks again and if U need any info on Asia Pacific, I will love to share! Happy Easter Sun!

  11. Aurelia says

    Mara, I was thinking as well to make our vacation with my 4 year son on Lake Geneva :-) Do you have any idea on which shore it would be best (most suitable in terms of facilities)?…Someone told me somethin about water pools as well…

    • says

      Aurelia – We stayed on the Swiss side with friends, so I’m not too familiar with the hotel options. But I do think the area around Lausanne is really a great place to stay with kids. The train runs along the lake, so it’s easy to get back and forth between the various towns, you can visit the Chateau de Chillon, swim, take a boat ride, and also (if you rent a car) get easily into the mountains. We didn’t visit the hot pools, which are on the French side, but I have heard they are a lot of fun and you can get there from Switzerland by boat. Hope you have a great time!

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