Lavaux

Lavaux, Switzerland

Now that summer has officially arrived, I can no longer hold myself back from telling you about one of my favorite places in the World (and no, I do not mean that my number one swiss cheese shop in Switzerland) – The Vineyards of Lavaux.

Thinking of Switzerland as a wine producer might seem odd to you, but the fact is, Switzerland is one of the World’s top wine consumers (and I’m a proud contributor to these statistics). Living less than a 10 minutes train ride from this picturesque terraces, it’s no wonder that walking across its vineyards has become one of my favorite activities for a sunny sunday afternoon. And while I move along small paths between the family-owned vineyards, I dream about living in one of those beautiful mansions…

Someday I will.

The 2 and a half hours walk starts in Grandvaux, a small village of around 2,000 habitants at about 500m height above sea level. Directions are always easily recognizable – one only has to follow the yellow arrows (or, alternatively, a green sign that reads Terrasses de Lavaux).

Lavaux, Switzerland

Although most of the walk is through vineyards, you get the chance to walk through the tiny villages in the region – such as Riex, Epesses or Rivaz. All of them are loaded with cozy wine cellars offering a different local wine each week or month.

I made a quick stop in Riex to do some wine tasting. What would be a sunday without wine anyway?

I even spotted some premature grapes on the way! Harvesting will take place in September (I can’t believe I’ll miss it!).

Lavaux, Switzerland

Each village is special and unique. Each of them have their own wine production, which proudly differentiates them from their neighbors. Not to visit at least of of the many wine cellars that lie on the way would be a crime (or a lot of self-control).

Lavaux, Switzerland

Lavaux, Switzerland

Lavaux, Switzerland Lavaux, Switzerland

Isn’t this the most beautiful place you’ve ever seen?

Practical Information

Route: From Grandvaux to St. Saphorin (Canton Vaud, Switzerland)
Elevation gain uphill: none, really – it only goes downhill
Elevation gain downhill: 180m
Length: approx. 10 km
Duration: 3.5 hrs (including a stop for a glass of white wine!)
Difficulty: Super Easy
Map: The closest I could find was this route From La Conversion to Vevey (I took a shorter walk in between these two points).

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We all have preconceptions about a country (even if we don’t admit to have them). When I accepted the job in Switzerland, I pictured the Alps, fondues, chocolate – and lots of bankers. Sure, Switzerland does have all this – but it has so much more that is less known to the World.

The Lakes

View from Vevey, Switzerland

Switzerland encompasses a huge diversity of landscapes on only little more than 41,200 km2, ranging from 195 m to 4,634m above sea level. No wonder that, besides for having some of the greatest mountain scenery Worldwide it also houses a surprising amount of lakes. There are more than 1,500 lakes spread across the country, although only 16 of them are larger than 10 km2 (being Lac Léman the largest one).

Wherever you are, you will surely not be far from a lake. During summer, Switzerland’s lakes are painted with sailing boats that go out to enjoy the late afternoon and watch the sunset on the quiet water. When I first moved here, I wondered why someone would own a boat in Switzerland when you couldn’t get anywhere with it. The truth is – the point is not to go somewhere, but to enhance the quality of life by allowing beautiful day trips with family and friends.

The Vineyards

Lavaux, Switzerland

Lying in the shadow of its neighbors, France and Italy, swiss wine is almost inexistent outside of the country. Although annual production can reach 150 million bottles, only about 2/100 are exported. Putting this into perspective: with a population of 7 million people, each person would consume 21 bottles of swiss wine per year. This turns Switzerland one of the top wine consuming countries Worldwide!

The country houses around 20,000 winegrowers, many of which have small productions that serve personal use. It’s not rare to meet people who own a little vineyard in the back of their house, specially in Canton Vaud. Switzerland may have several wine growing areas, but my favorite one is Lavaux, which aside from producing high quality white wine offers one of the greatest views over Lac Leman.

The Cheese

Cheese (London Borough Market)

Cheese might be nothing new about Switzerland – But if you google swiss cheese, you will get more than 3 million images, out of which most of them depict the cheese with the holes in it. Yes, that’s a swiss cheese. It’s called Emmentaler. But this is only one of the more than 450 varieties of cheese the country has to offer. Other swiss cheese you may have come across in supermarkets worldwide are Raclette cheese, Gruyère and Appenzeller. Most of the cheese is made out of cow milk, but you can also find it made of goat milk or sheep milk. Every region has its own local cheese. Swiss cheese range all prices imaginable and can be filled or topped with fine herbs, mushroom mousse, pepper, or truffles (among many others). In fact, one of my favorites from the Canton Vaud is Tomme Fleurette, which is made out of raw milk (a real speciality!).

What qualities does your home country have that aren’t well-known?