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How shall we spend Sept 6-14 traveling around Lake Geneva?

Greetings friends! My husband and I will be celebrating our 10 year anniversary by traveling around Lake Geneva. We will be landing in Geneva then driving through France into Italy for 3 nights (Aosta Valley perhaps?) before we come back up and travel around the north side of Lake Geneva. We will be flying from from Geneva as well.

We enjoy small towns, wineries/vineyards, hiking, and cultural "must sees" and natural beauty. We tend to prefer less densely populated areas to large cities, but will stay in Geneva the last night of our trip for convenience before we fly back to the US. I would love to hear your recommendations on towns/cities/villages to stay in and things to do during our trip our trip.

Posted by
4011 posts

On your last night in Geneva, consider having dinner at Les Armures in the Rive Gauche on top of the hill. It is our favorite restaurant in Geneva.

Posted by
3984 posts

When you start along the French section of the lakeshore, if your timing could take you to Evian-les-Bains on a market day you'll be rewarded with a colorful glimpse of the French market life. At the end of the lake, Montreux is a beautiful city with a castle. When you get to Vevey, a 30 minute drive inland takes you to beautiful Gruyeres and chocolaty Broc where you can tour the factory. Lausanne has a great museum of the Olympics and is a nice place to stop and do a boat cruise. There are nice stretches of vineyards on the north shore of the lake as you approach Lausanne. Have a great anniversary trip.

Posted by
58 posts

Another question for you fine folks... We want to stay in nice places on the countryside, but at at affordable price, say $225/night. What site shall we use to book? Airbnb? Booking.com? Other ideas?

Thank you for those of you who have replied already and to those of you who plan to jump on in :).

Posted by
1443 posts

FYI, the towns along Lake Geneva have commuter trains that connect to the Geneva airport. Lausanne, for example, is less than an hour to the airport by rail. Don't feel obligated to spend the last night in Geneva just for airport reasons.

Posted by
698 posts

Are you going to stop on the French side at Chamonix or Italian side at Courmayer? You have a choice of lifts -- if the weather cooperates, it can be quite nice. The surrounding lifts near Chamonix, like Les Houches, take you up in elevation to several great trailheads. At Aosta, there is a cut through road over the Alps to Martigny, if you are driving and don't want to take one of the tunnels. I'd only tackle it in the mid to late summer, as it's really a two lane road, in cloud free weather so you can get the big view. Yes, it's the Great St. Bernard Pass and there are many great hiking choices there. I've stayed in ski-towns like Verbier during the summer as launching points for hikes as well.... there are several nice towns in the Valais that lose their ski-crowds and become quite pleasant. You can also continue up the Valais to Zermatt, of course.

I think the others have you covered on the stays in Vevey, and visits to Montreux and Ouchy (my former 'hood in Lausanne). I prefer Vevey to Montreux. I do recommend the ferry for a day trip, as the view is great. You can also get to Evian and other points along the lake. There is a cog wheel train to the peak at Rocher des Nayes -- there is also a hike that originates in Montreux, or less steep variants in/around the lookout, which offers superb views over Lac Leman. The wine area in this area is call Lavaux, and it's possible to do tastings and to walk along the terraced vineyards. It's best to stick to the whites here. There are even smaller towns here, like charming San Saphorin -- you can do the vineyard walk between Chexbres and San Saphorin.

The famous castle is Chateau du Chillon.

Some of the hikes and refuges have restaurants nearby -- the mountain cheese fondue is a must-not miss.

For bookings, consider searching a mega-search engine like HotelsCombined.com and/or Kayak.com. I'd also look for rentals via booking.com, Flipkey/TripAdvisor or Homeaway.

Posted by
1379 posts

We spent 2 nights in Montreux in July 2017 and enjoyed our visit. Beautiful waterfront promenade and Chateau de Chillon were a few highlights.

Posted by
58 posts

I cannot thank you all enough for your advice! We are going to the library tomorrow to rent books to research some more. Planning is so exciting! Please feel free to give us the names of any other towns that you recommend.

Gooser, thank you so much for sharing your in depth experience and advice! Very appreciated.

Posted by
58 posts

I believe that we've narrowed down that we are going to stay for 2 nights in Chaminoix, France, 3 nights in the Aosta Valley, Italy and 3 nights in Vevay, Switzerland. Are we missing the boat? Should we consider other cities as our "bases". Our whole driving loop will only be 221 miles, so it's very doable. We love nature, good food and places that we can take our 4 year old son.

Also Is there a good navigation app that we could download? GPS systems seem very expensive to rent. What is the wifi availability while on the highways? We plan to rent a car and drive.

Posted by
29 posts

As a side note, it has been our experience to rent our car across the airport on the French side. The price difference is significant. You may, however, already know this tip. Enjoy.

Posted by
20333 posts

But if it is for driving in Switzerland, it may or may not come with a Swiss vignette. If it does not have one, buy one for 40 CHF. A car rented on the Swiss side will have one automatically.

Posted by
29 posts

My pleasure, Chelsea. Good point, Sam. Even with the extra 40 CHF, the rental savings is still significant.

Posted by
58 posts

We have changed our plans a bit and have booked an Airbnb in Les Houches near Chamonix for almost our entire trip and will be taking day-trips from there. We will have a rental car and would like to possibly take a ferry across Lac Leman to Switzerland to enjoy a day. Recommendations are appreciated on where to go and if there is a ferry available. Thank you!