When you think of Switzerland, I bet you don’t think of vineyards or wine. Admit it. You think of snowcapped mountains, wood-timbered houses, neutrality, precise watches, on time trains, Swiss bank accounts and maybe chocolate. I think of those things too. But, I also think of beautiful cities, quaint towns, stunning lakes and vineyards (and chocolate…I can’t stop thinking about how good the chocolate is there).
I have the good fortune of having a wonderful friend who lives in Geneva, the beautiful city on the lake of the same name on the border with France. Geneva is really lovely, with its lakeside location, old town, and international population. The great thing about the city, in my opinion, is the lakeside location with mountains in all directions. Not the real big Swiss Alps, but decent sized peaks. And, along Lake Geneva, just outside of Geneva, is where you’ll find loads of vineyards and walking paths through these vineyards, connecting small lakeside towns and villages. It’s really gorgeous.
The walk I took with my friend took us from Lutry to St Saphorin, wandering through the terraced and prestigious Lavaux vineyards which have been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. These vineyards are visually stunning, having been created over centuries by human hands. Each of the villages we passed through is unique and charming with views out to Lake Geneva. It’s a superb walk without much in the way of steep climbs and is about 11-12km in length (I can’t seem to find agreement on this). Because of the fabulous Swiss train system, you can walk one way and hop the train back to Geneva. My friend had walked this in the opposite direction over the summer, so we decided to start closer in Lutry and end farther away in St Saphorin, leaving us a longer train ride back.
With plenty of water (there’s no shade so be prepared) and yummy lunches in our packs, we took off from Lutry in the morning. Neither of us in a hurry, we stopped often to photograph, look at something more closely or wander about the small villages the trail cut through. We had a hazy morning, but the sun shone brightly through the haze. It got pretty warm, but not hot.
The scenery was awing – terraced vineyards with grapes full on their vines, colorful houses dotting the hillside, clouds hanging over the mountains that slid down into Lake Geneva – I loved it! Each town we passed through – Cully, Epesses, Rivaz – was beautiful and quaint with its own personality.
When my friend and I arrived in St Saphorin, the sun was beginning to drop lower in the sky. We found a place to sit outside and have some wine and a snack, enjoying the local white St Saphorin wine. It was slightly fruity, very crisp and hit the spot after a long day walking in the sunshine. Reluctantly we headed to the small train stop along the lake. Lo and behold, the sun was setting as we waited. The moon had risen, as it was not yet full, and the sky glowed with the warmth of the fading sunlight. We looked westward as the sun sank lower over the mountains and lake, rowers getting the most out of the last bit of daylight. It was the perfect end to a perfect day…