“La Suisse” Steamboat sailing from Lavaux vineyards. Image courtesy of Dominique Schreckling
But for a serious beach experience of soaking up the vitamin D after an icy winter, there is nothing in the Lausanne area that compares to Pully Plage. “Plage” is French for beach. But it doesn’t stop there. There are 3 pools to accommodate all ages and levels of motivation of swimmers along with the clean waters of the largest lake in Western Europe. One pool is for toddlers (and their parents!) with a very cute elephant “waterslide”. A large pool (30 m) is nearby that is for older children but not very deep so kids can splash and jump around without going over their heads. And then for those serious swimmers who want to do laps there is an Olympic size pool with marked lap lanes (and no pool-jumping children or adults). In addition, there is ping pong, badminton, beach volley ball (on grass, not sand), and a Frisbee (or “whatever”) field.
A huge expanse of grass with an appropriate number of trees surrounds the pools. The shoreline is rocky but it is still easy to access the lake for those who also enjoy swimming there. The views from the beach are gorgeous looking in any direction; the French Alps, the Swiss Alps, the sailboats, the ducks…or even uphill to the vineyards tucked in between the medieval church and village houses.
Because of the design of the beach and the manner in which the pools are arranged, groups of harmonious beachgoers seem to voluntarily find each other and everyone knows the best spot for themselves. Families group near the toddler and children’s pools which are also near the restaurant and other necessary facilities. Far away on the other side of the 3 pools is where you find adults with no children (at least not on that day). You also find tranquility except for the occasional paddle steamer or ferry boat passing very closely by blowing their horns for the awaiting passengers in the port of Pully. Everyone becomes alert for this beautiful sight and waves back to the passengers like old friends and family (which they well could be as these boats are not just for tourists).
In the adult area you will find a sunbathing terrace with wooden deck chairs on the shore for serious sun-seekers who want to be near the water. It is also the place to see and be seen, especially if one has a rather perfect body. The rest of us with a number of slight imperfections tend to sit further back in the grassy tree section. Since this area of Switzerland is called the “Riviera”, don’t be surprised if you encounter some “bikini bottoms only” sunbathers of the female gender such as those prevalent in the French Riviera.
Pully Plage is operated by the commune of Pully which is also a village located adjacent to Lausanne and full of old world charm. The Pully Plage is open from the beginning of May (depending on the weather) until the beginning of September (regardless of the weather because the summer vacation is officially over and that’s that!). Because it’s a public pool the entrance fees are very affordable. There are several lifeguards and excellent changing facilities with lockers (rent a padlock when you pay). Of course, it is impeccably clean everywhere and when you go to swim in order to get to the water you walk through disinfectant solution and are required to show before diving in.
It’s less crowded in the morning and easier to park if you have a car. There is bus service to the Port of Pully from the center of Lausanne. Then you simply walk straight ahead through a charming small port for 3 minutes until you reach the beach entrance.
You may bring a picnic or eat something in the beach bistro or kiosk. I usually try not to spoil my appetite and then after a few hours of relaxing as well as doing laps, my friends and I go to a nearby lakeside restaurant for some fresh “filet de perches”. And yes, I order it with the fries! After all, I did exercise and that is the traditional way it is served but you could order a salad if you want to be a purist. Besides, I’m not one of the perfect bodies on the sun bathing terrace so I don’t feel so much pressure!
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[Image courtesy of the Lake Geneva Region Tourist Office]