Lausanne

July 16, 2016

It was perfect weather this morning, with the Matterhorn standing like a shiny nail. But today we were leaving the mountains and heading down to Lausanne to meet Caroline for the weekend. We were both awake early, so we finished packing and headed down to make our breakfast. Yesterday we had met an American couple who were taking a year off to travel the world, so we chatted to them for a while about their plans.

We caught the train at 9:30 am and headed down to Visp, where we connected to the Lausanne train. The trip took about three hours and once in Lausanne we found the hostel (Lausanne Guesthouse) with only a bit of guesswork. Caroline arrived shortly after us, having just gone shopping at the Coop, so we had some lunch there at the hostel.

Lake Geneva view

Lake Geneva view

Caroline had read a magazine article about a walking route through the Lavaux wine area near here, so our plan for the afternoon was to take the train to Saint-Saphorin and do that walk. We had a bit of trouble finding Saint-Saphorin on the ticket machines at the train station, but buying them from the office worked out well. It was only a short trip, after which we got off and headed steeply up the hill. There were some signs but it was easy to miss them, which we did. But it didn’t matter because there weren’t that many roads through the vineyards and they all went in the same direction.

Lavaux vineyards

Lavaux vineyards

The views were spectacular looking down over the vineyards and across Lake Geneva to the French Alps. It was sunny and warm, but not too hot so it was a comfortable walk. At Domain Bovy in the village of Chexbres we stopped to taste some of their wine, buying glasses of rosé for Caroline and Rosemary and a white wine for Paul. We sat out on their terrace enjoying the wine, views, and sunshine and it was hard to make ourselves get up and carry on.

Wine break in Chexbres

Wine break in Chexbres

But carry on we did, eventually. We stopped at another place, just a little hut at a corner, and tasted some other white wines but decided we liked the first wines better. The roads continued to lead us through the vineyards until we arrived in Cully; it was a good walk, but it might have been better to do it on a bicycle and Caroline observed it would have been better after 5 pm when the caveaux du vin would have been open.

Caveau sign

Caveau sign

From Cully we took the train along the lake to Montreux, where the Jazz Festival was on. Our plan was to buy some street food from the vendors there and check out free acts and street performers. Unfortunately the food booths were unappealing and there were no free acts, so we walked along the lake shore to see what else was available. Once again nothing appealed to us so we ended up at a restaurant called Café Très. Dinner was very good and nicely presented and the décor of the place was interesting, combining very modern with old traditional ceiling decorations to good effect.

Montreux

Montreux

After dinner we took the train back to Lausanne, checked into our room, and we headed to bed fairly early because we were all tired.

July 17, 2017

It was another beautiful day today, but our last day at the Lausanne Guesthouse so after breakfast we packed up our bags and stored them in the luggage room. Our plan today was to take the train to Gruyères and visit the cheese factory and the castle. A few years ago Gruyères was named the most beautiful village in Western Switzerland, so we were intrigued to see what it would be like.

The trip involved three trains: first we travelled along the lakeshore to Montreux (again) and then we changed to the train which serves the “Montreux Oberland”. It wound uphill through the back yards of Montreux, with ever-expanding scenery, before arriving in an upland agricultural area. After one more short connection we arrived at Gruyères.

Montreux Oberland train

Montreux Oberland train

Once there we walked across the street from the station to the cheese factory. We were a bit early for the scheduled demonstrations so we spent some time in the gift shop. The factory tour was self-guided using a hand-held audio guide; the narrative was told by “Cherry the cow” and it was very informative. We watched as the cheese technician stirred the milk in a huge shiny copper vat, the first stage in making it into Gruyère cheese. There’s a lot more to the cheese-making process, mostly involving sitting in a dark cave. There was probably more to the demonstration than what we saw but it was getting later in the afternoon and we hadn’t had our lunch.

Gruyère cheese factory

Gruyère cheese factory

Cheese technician at work

Cheese technician at work

From the dairy we walked up a trail to the actual hamlet of Gruyères. The village is an 800-year-old medieval hamlet complete with a castle, and you enter through a stone archway into the main square lined with beautiful buildings. Caroline had done some research and knew where we should eat—Restaurant le Chalet—but it was very busy and we couldn’t get in until 2 pm, so we went for a walk around the castle.

Gruyères village site

Gruyères village site

When we finally did get in, Paul and Caroline had the cheese fondue and Rosemary had macaroni and cheese. Our meals were really good and very filling, so no dessert was needed, or even dinner!

Gruyères town square

Gruyères town square

We took a different route back to Lausanne, where we collected our bags from the hostel and then carried on to Geneva, checking into the hostel there. Caroline needed to be at work the next morning so she had booked an extremely early flight back to London, so that was why we weren’t staying in Lausanne tonight.

Mont Blanc from Geneva

Mont Blanc from Geneva

Buildings on Geneva waterfront

Buildings on Geneva waterfront

After a while the two of us went for a walk, along the main road to a large park and then down to the shores of Lake Geneva. When we had arrived in Geneva a month ago we hadn’t realized that you can see Mont Blanc from there, so we were surprised at just how prominent it actually was. Back at the hostel we wrote up our journals and then headed to bed, realizing that this was the end of our holiday.

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