The French-speaking canton of Vaud is home to some of Switzerland’s most beautiful and productive vineyards. Extending some 30 kilometers along the picturesque shores of Lake Geneva, the wine-producing region of Lavaux is one of Vaud’s most appreciated appellations. The remarkable architecture of these terraced vineyards, not to mention the chance to relax along the lake with a refreshing glass of wine, make the Lavaux a must-see when visiting the area.
Wine, Wine and More Wine
There are eleven villages making up the Lavaux and each village possesses its own caveau des vignerons, a special wine cellar open to the public where winemakers from that village offer tastings of their carefully crafted wines.
Not to mention the numerous private cellars that can be found by simply strolling through the twisty, cobblestone streets of each village.
The Lavaux is famous for its white grape variety called Chasselas.
This grape makes a full, dry and fruity white wine and is an excellent accompaniment to raclette and fondue.
It is also often paired with another regional specialty – perch filets. But there are plenty of wine varieties available – pinot noir, riesling, Gamay, Viognier and many more.
Where to Eat
The Lavaux region is particularly well-endowed with a wide range of restaurants.
From small village bistros to spectacular gastronomic restaurants, the Lavaux has something for travelers of every taste preference.
Most restaurants overhang the vineyards with a splendid view of Lake Geneva and the not-too-distant Alps.
Of particular note:
• the Café de Riex in the village of the same name, a family-owned bistro with delicious home-style fare
• the Café de la Poste in Cully for its excellent perch filets
• Auberge La Crochettaz in Epesses, this unique hotel/restaurant offers Swiss, Indian and Chinese food as well as one of the most delightful lake views of any establishment in the region
• the Guillaume Tell in Aran, an exquisite gastronomic experience in an elegant setting
The Montreux-Riviera Tourism website provides a list of restaurants found in Lavaux.
Where to Stay
For those wishing to spend a few days exploring its delights, the Lavaux has numerous accommodations available.
There are several winemaking estates that offer apartments for rent, as well as a selection of traditional hotels.
Select one of the centrally-located villages like Grandvaux or Epesses for easy access to the others, or stay right on the lake in Cully, Lutry or St. Semaphorin.
This last village was voted one of Switzerland’s 10 most beautiful villages in 2005!
Welcome Lavaux lists all available hotels and furnished apartments.
Activities for Visitors
The Lavaux Express is a small train that winds its way through the vineyards, offering two different tours each about one hour long.
On weekend evenings in the summertime, take the Caveau Train and visit the different wine cellars.
The Lavaux is host to several music festivals throughout the year: the Cully Jazz festival, the Offenbach festival in St. Saphorin, and the famous Montreux Jazz Festival, which is only a few minutes away.
Not to mention each village throws a harvest party in the fall when the grapes are ripe!
One of the more visitor-friendly aspects of Switzerland is its Walking Tourism network.
The entire country is crisscrossed by a system of pedestrian footpaths that are well-marked and worth following.
The Lavaux is no exception and you can cross from one end of the region to the other on foot, winding your way through each spectacular village. Just follow the yellow signs!