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Digital Subscriptions > Lonely Planet Traveller (UK) > September 2015 > Vineyards, castles and Freddie Mercury are all part of the Lake Geneva picture

Vineyards, castles and Freddie Mercury are all part of the Lake Geneva picture

The greatest Swiss lake

When the snow melts in the ski resorts of the Swiss Valais, all that water has to go somewhere, and that somewhere is Lake Geneva. The largest Alpine lake is a summer scene-stealer: stately paddle-steamers ply the waters of what’s been dubbed the Swiss Riviera, while on land the World Heritage-listed vineyards of the Lavaux region are busy soaking in every ray of sun that comes their way in the last weeks before harvest. A trip of just over 50 miles along the northern, Swiss shore of this banana-shaped body of water (called lac Léman in French) takes in everything from Geneva at the western end to Montreux at the eastern tip. The latter town has several musical strings to its bow (Queen’s former recording studio, annual jazz festival), and just beyond it, guarding the approaches to the Alps, is the waterside Château de Chillon – one of Europe’s most evocative castles. The city of Lausanne, in between, spills down the hillsides from its cathedral-crowned medieval centre to the shoreside stretch of Ouchy, home to the offcial Olympic Museum and all kinds of watercraft: pedalos, kayaks, sailboats. East of here, vineyard-wrapped villages such as Lutry and Cully make the ideal spot for a sundowner on a lake-view terrace.

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