Canton Vaud was elected in 2016 by the New York Times as one of the 52 best places to visit. This French-speaking region extends from the Jura Mountains up to the Alps and along lakes which provide charming and picturesque landscape onto which are dotted many interesting cities and villages.
Below are listed some visits and discoveries in this area.
Craft: Farmers from the Jura mountains and the Alps are generally under-occupied during the winter season. In order to earn money when the snow kept them at home, the Jurassians started to build parts for watches for factories mainly located in Geneva. The famous luxury watchmaker, Patek Philippe, offers a beautiful museum of their creations as well as a tour of the watch factory. Another winter occupation was the creation of musical boxes and automatons. You can find impressive examples of this craftsmanship at the International Centre for Art Mechanics in Sainte-Croix. In the Alps, a traditional activity of paper cutting design emerged during the 19th century and is still practiced today.
Hike: Numerous hiking possibilities are offered in the area of Leman lake , ranging from hikes for well trained walkers as well as those for the Sunday stroller. Several of the hiking trails depart from Morges and different paths are offered for those who wish to journey by foot, by bike, by skate or by canoe.
Not far is a path named the Toblerone trail, yes, like the chocolate bar, the link explains the origin of this name.
The Canton of Vaud harbors two parks of « national importance » on its two mountains massifs: one in the Jura and the other in the Alps.
Art: In 1976, Jean Dubuffet, inventor of the concept of “Art Brut “ gave his collection to the city of Lausanne which funded the Art Brut Museum. This is a very unique and interesting collection of artworks made by autodidactic creators, including inmates of various psychiatric hospitals and prisons, who are not influenced by any tradition or market or school.
In Lausanne, there is also l’Hermitage: a beautiful 19th-century manor residence surrounded by a magnificent park which has been dedicated to housing temporary art exhibitions on the fine arts. During the Pupil Colloquium, l’Hermitage will present the Impressionist and post-Impressionist treasures of the E. G. Bührle collection: Bonnard, Braque, Degas, Gauguin, Manet, Modigliani, Monet, Picasso, Pissarro, Renoir, Van Gogh…
A train ride away (1.5 hour) from the Pupil Colloquium is the museum, Gianadda Foundation. In the Rhone river valley, surrounded by the high peaks of the Alps, this museum will be exhibiting several paintings of Cezanne (June 16th to November 19th) in addition to its permanent collections. Additionally, the museum garden permanently hosts sculptures from Niki de Saint Phalle, Alexander Calder, Auguste Rodin, Marc Chagall, Joan Miró, Antoni Tapiès…
Heritage: Lavaux is a region of terraced vineyards that stretch for 30 km along the south-facing northern shores of Leman Lake, just 25 kilometers east of Morges. In the 12th century cistercian monks built dry stone walls to cultivate the vine in this very steep area. Since July 2007, Lavaux is one of the UNESCO world heritage sites.
Half an hour from Morges is the Prangins castle whose architecture originates from the 18th century. It is home to one part of the Swiss National Museum whose main focus is representation of daily life in castle and the region during the 18th century. The surrounding garden has a stunning view of the lake and the French Alps give shelter to types and sorts of fruits and vegetables that were cultivated and eaten some two and half centuries ago.
Transportations: Just a few steps from the hotel are historical boats like paddle steamers from the early 20th century which navigate passengers to Lausanne or to Geneva. From the Lausanne harbor, you can take a connecting boat to Evian.
The BAM where the M stands for Morges is a private railway company that allows you to discover the back country.
The MOB, another railway company, offers several railway lines climbing the Lemanic slopes to go to the Alps, starting from Montreux.
Music: The song describing the life of Jimmy Brown paced by three bells was originally composed by Jean Villard who spent most of his life on the shores of the Leman lake where he was born. In his original French lyrics Jimmy Brown is named Jean-Francois Nicot.
In 1971, Deep Purple created the song « Smoke on the water » and recorded an album in Montreux after witnessing the fire of the Montreux casino. The water in the title refers to the Leman Lake called Lake Geneva in the lyrics.
English celebrities: Sir Charlie Chaplin lived the last 25 years of his life on the shore of the Leman lake, a museum opened in 2016 in his residence : the Manoir de Ban in Corsier-sur-Vevey. Audrey Hepburn lived her last 30 years just beside Morges in the town of Tolochenaz ; the Morges’ tourist office has edited a flyer about the places often frequented by Audrey Hepburn in this area. Peter Ustinov lived in Bursins (18 kilometers west of Morges) for 57 years and was able, in perfect French, to imitate the local accent. The list of famous British artists who have lived or had residences on the Leman Lake shore is long and include James Mason, Graham Greene, David Bowie…