Explore Lausanne

Top 5 Swiss Secret Places to Visit in the Lake Geneva Region

Things to Do — By Sonja Holverson on August 2, 2010 at 10:11 pm

Charlie Chaplin in The Tramp 1915: image public domain and courtesy of Fred J, wikimedia commons

Corsier

Start your visit with the Communal Cemetery of Corsier Village which is located up the hill near Vevey (home of Nestle International and Nestle Swiss Headquarters) which is easy to reach by Swiss Rail.

Visit the grave of Sir Charles Spencer “Charlie” Chaplin, who was denied re-entry into the United States due to his political views during the McCarthy Era (the historical witch hunt for Communists in the 1950s). Charlie Chaplin, born in England in 1889, lived in Corsier from 1953 to 1977 when he died leaving us with his famous words:

Life is a tragedy when seen in close-up, but a comedy in long-shot.

One of 11 children, Chaplin’s daughter, actress Geraldine Chaplin, is now a resident of Miami (and star in my favorite film, Doctor Zhivago, from the 1957 novel by Boris Pasternack ). However, Ms Chaplan has resided occasionally in the Chaplin family home in Corsier and is an active contributor to the community. The Chaplin home is being turned into a museum for honoring the life of Charlie Chaplin and should be finished in 2011. Also in the area is the “Parc Charlie Chaplin” with a stele monument to this legendary man.

Another famous actor interred in the Corsier Communal Cemetery is James Neville Mason (May 15, 1909 –July 27, 1984) who was also English. Mason was in films from 1935 to 1985 and was perhaps best remembered in the role of Brutus in Julius Caesar with Marlon Brando in 1953.

You literary fans may want to pay tribute to Henry Graham Greene, English author, playwright and literary critic (October 2, 1904– April 3, 1991) who is also resting in the Corsier Communal Cemetery. Suffering from a bipolar disorder which impacted his life and his work, Greene was known for his controversial political and ambivalent moral opinions. He left us such treasures as Brighton Rock, The Power and the Glory, The Quiet American, and Our Man in Havana.

After paying homage to these great men and visiting Corsier village, go down the main street a ways to the Funiculaire station Vevey-Plan and take a fantastic climb to Mont Pelerin for the view of a lifetime and a stop at  the elegant Belle Epoque style Le Mirador Kempinski Lake Geneva Hotel . Treat yourselves to a sunset “aperitif” (with a flute of Champagne, of course) or an expensive-but-worth-it dinner overlooking the Swiss and French Alps as well as most of the largest lake in Western Europe, the Lake of Geneva.

Grand Hotel (Caux-Palace) above Montreux in Switzerland. Postcard from 1904: image public domain courtesy Wikimedia.org

Caux

Situated almost straight up from Montreux by cog-wheel train or by car on the hairpin-curved road is the tiny village of Caux with an incredible panoramic view of the Swiss and French Alps and most of the Lake of Geneva (Lac Leman). After you adjust to the impact of the view, you will be struck by the enormous castle that was once a grand hotel and is now a venue for international conferences, a hotel school and the tourist office.

Caux activities include: drinking coffee and/or eating on the restaurant terrace at the Caux train station staring at Lac Leman straight down below your feet; wondering how the 19th century gigantesque Caux Castle could possibly be there; and hiking up to the Dent-de-Jaman or the top of the Rochers-de-Naye. The trailheads are located just up from Caux at “Hauts-de-Caux” (which as no doubt you’ve already figured out, means up from Caux). There is another restaurant terrace here for drinking more coffee before the hike or staying for lunch and the rest of the day after you have just seen (for the first time) the magnitude of the Dent-de-Jaman and the even more intimidating Rochers-de-Naye. But don’t worry, you can do the hike but not in beach sandles; use hiking boots. There are 2 trails to choose from to go to the top of the Rochers-de-Naye: the easy to moderately difficult trail (rocky at the top) through Liboson or the steeper but shorter trail with a small steep cliff to walk up with falling rocks. Guess which one I take now after that first hike up? It’s about 2.5 hours up (or longer if you linger photographing the many different views) and 1 hour back down to Caux. The only risk on this hike is that you may “forget” to get off the cogwheel train at Caux after you find out that it continues on up to the top of the Rochers-de-Naye (6’709 ft.) and you are not really obliged to hike up in order to be on the top!

Morges

 

Morges. Image courtesy of Dominique Schreckling

The charming port of Morges can be walked or cycled to from Lausanne along the Lake Geneva lakeside path or reached by fast train from Geneva (or also walked to or cycled to if you’re not in

Better than Disneyland, the Chateau de Vufflens above Morges: photo by Chappuis courtesy morges-tourism.ch

a hurry). With the medieval Chateau Vufflens uphill from the town which is set in the vineyards and fields with poppies in season (along with a Michelin restaurant), lakeside Morges is very picturesque but also a constantly growing community with new multi-national companies springing up like mushrooms all the time. The port of Morges is gorgeous anytime but especially in the spring when it is literally overwhelmed with tulips of all colors everywhere. In addition to the Morges Chateau, which is a military museum, you must experience this amazing ship that we could watch being hand built by artisans and unemployed craftsman in Morges during a 5 year period when we had a long recession in Switzerland.

Made in Morges: la galère La Liberte handmade galley ship. Image courtesy of morges-tourisme.ch

Christened in 2002, the ship is called the la galere La Liberte and is a reproduction of a galley ship (which used oarsmen for power) of the XVII century.

Grandvaux

A quaint village with one of the best views of Lac Leman in the region is Grandvaux which originates in centuries past. It is located between Laussane and Montreux within the newly designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, Lavaux Vinyards. With an excellent gastronomic reputation, Grandvaux offers 7 restaurants (many with Lake Geneva and Swiss Alps views) and the village wine cellar of local Swiss wine which is a coop of Grandvaux winemakers called “Caveau Corto”. It is well known for its wines from Chasselas, Pinot-Noir and Gamay grapes.

Hugo Pratt Oversees the Lavaux Vineyards from Grandvaux: image courtesy of Dr. Hilary Murphy, Lausanne

Hugo Pratt (1927 – 1995), Italian-born creator of the comic strip, The Adventures of Corto Maltese along with many other international lifetime achievements, made his final home the village of Grandvaux in 1984. Much beloved by the villagers, they erected a statue of him in the center of the village looking out over the vineyards and the mouth of the Rhone River entering Lac Leman.

Le Bouveret

Although Le Bouveret is a charming small town with a lovely port and canals, as well as the miniature trains which can be ridden at the Swiss Vapeur Parc,  it’s Aquaparc that is the real reason that the locals go there. This is the place for your kids (and for you!) when you are getting tired of fascinating medieval buildings, elegant castles, placid alpine waters dotted with beautiful swans and Swiss Alpine panoramic views that literally take your breath away! In Le Bouveret you and/or your kids can focus on the water slides, the big wave, the many pools, the sauna, the hammam and much more. Even though their website is in French, take a peek at the Aquaparc video which is in the universal language of music!

See my latest GUIDE: Hidden Gems of Lake Geneva for more Swiss Travel Secrets!

For more follow me on Twitter.

Swiss sightseeing kid-style: image courtesy of Vaud-tourisme.ch

Tags: Aquaparc, Caux, Corsier, Grandvaux, Montreux, Morges, Switzerland, Vevey, “Boris Pasternack”, “Charlie Chaplin”, “Chateau Vufflens”, “Corto Maltese”, “Dent-de-Jaman”, “Doctor Zhivago”, “French Alps”, “galley ship”, “Geraldine Chaplin”, “Henry Graham Greene”, “Hugo Pratt”, “James Neville Mason”, “Julius Caesar”, “La Liberte”, “Lac Leman”, “Lake Geneva”, “Lake of Geneva”, “Lavaux Vineyards”, “Le Bouveret”, “Le Mirador Kempinski Lake Geneva Hotel”, “Marlon Brando”, “McCarthy Era”, “Rhone River”, “Rochers-de-Naye”, “Sir Charles Spencer "Charlie" Chaplin”, “Swiss wine”, “The Quiet American”, “UNESCO World Heritage Site”, “winemakers”

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