Switzerland – short trips to Geneva, Gruyères & Lausanne
Switzerland – a lavish dream destination.
Think Switzerland, think luxury , the Swiss Alps, green countryside villages, exotic movie shooting locations, expensive brand houses, the banks and not forgetting the country’s cheese and chocolates.
So, if you’re on a budget to visit this country, it sure does take a lot of research, planning and saving up to get the holiday you want. My advice is, in the end, prioritise and have a goal in mind of that one memorable experience that you wouldn’t regret spending those francs (CHF) on; it could be paragliding off a mountain top or taking the cablecar upto the snowcapped mountains, walking through an ice cave to see glaciers or simply to experience the snow up in the mountains.
After you’ve decided what to splurge on, you’ll be wiser with your other spendings.
Here are 4 tips that’ll help make the trip a little easier on the pocket.
1. If you stay at any one of these places in the country – Bern, Lucerne, Basel, Geneva or Lausanne, your hotel or hostel accommodation provides you with a ticket that offers FREE PUBLIC TRANSPORT in the city, for the time of your stay.
2. You could search for BUDGET hotels, hostels or airbnb room ACCOMMODATIONS for under 100 chf a night. If you’re as lucky as us, stay with a relative or friend in the city or if you’re the adventurous backpacker type, you could opt to stay at a campsite outside the city.
3. If you’re staying at a hostel or a rented out room or home, you can shop at the local store and COOK meals for yourself. If you’re at a hotel and there aren’t facilities to cook, try out a reasonably priced lunch BUFFET in the city (ask for recommendations). Carry along a reusable bottle for water and keep refilling it with free drinking water when possible.
4. Explore the city by taking a free walking tour – find out more at your hotel reception or the local tourism office for such FREE GUIDED TOURS.
Welcome to my photo diary of 3 beautiful places we visited in Switzerland.
Panoramic view of the city.
We took the below snapshot from Mont Salève. About less than an hour away from the main city by bus and then a cable ride up, we were at the top of the mountain looking at this splendid view of Geneva.
The next day, it was refreshing taking a walk in the garden on the banks of the Lake Geneva. Below are the snapshots of summer time at Jardin Anglais or the English Garden and the view of the famous symbol of Geneva – the Jet d’eau. This is a water fountain that’s pumped up 140 metres straight up in the air. Go anywhere in a radius of upto half a kilometre near the Jet d’eau and you can get totally drenched. There’s 500 litres of water passed through this fountain per second at a jet speed of 200km per hour. So it’s safest to enjoy the view from a distance.
August is a great time to visit Geneva. This is the month when the Geneva Festival takes places every year, for about 10 days. It is a time of merriment for the entire city. There are musical concerts, street art performances and 100 plus food stalls all laid out at the lake promenade. Kids will love riding the carrousels, playing on the slides and the entire family can enjoy Ferris wheel rides.
Look closely to the bottom left corner of the snapshot above. Those sculptures are more than 200 years old and considered a national monument. It is of two women each carrying a sword and a shield, symbolising Geneva’s integration into the Swiss Confederation.
Above is a pretty picture of a small fountain in the English garden, around which my kids ran about and splashed water before playing on the green grass and finally taking some rest.
Below is the famous Mont Blanc up close as seen by my darling husband. There are regular bus trips available from Geneva to Mont Blanc. Here’s where we applied the advice of splurging on that one thing that makes it totally worth it. Since I am anyways a summer person, I happily sat this one out along with my twin toddlers. Also, taking them up that altitude wouldn’t have been possible.
I recommend Gruyères as a perfect day trip destination from Lake Geneva.
This town is enchantingly charming.
A picturesque medieval town, that appears as though straight out of a fairy tale, with an 800 year old castle on its hill top, a cute township below, cheese in abundance with the famous Gruyères cheese originating here and to make the kids trip complete a chocolate factory.
Hill top picture above : The 13th-century Château de Gruyères fortress is today a museum depicting the history of its regional architecture and culture.
Foot of the hill picture below: An old chapel with a wedding setup just in its backyard.
Driving around this scenic Swiss countryside was an experience in itself. We chose the chocolate factory visit over the cheese one. For more information on the cheese factory visit lamaisondugruyere.ch and you could plan a visit. The Gruyère cheese making has been handed down over many generations and is quite famous.
Next we visited the most awaited part of our trip to Gruyères – Nestle’s Cailler chocolate factory.
My husband and I were more excited about this visit than our under 3 years, twin toddlers. Although it was a fun filled time for them as they got their little mouths stuffed with chocolates at every corner around here. Ah! what’s a holiday without a little indulgence.
La Maison Cailler is in a small town called Broc, near Gruyères. It was a less than 2 hours drive from Geneva. Cailler is one of the oldest and largest Swiss chocolate manufacturers. It claims to be the first producer of chocolate slabs in the world.
Nestled in the lap of nature , this factory has an ideal location among green hills and golden wheat fields and attracts plenty visitors. In its front yard, there are park benches for people to wait their turn to enter in, a little fountain around which kids always enjoy playing, a little play area with slides, mirrors, swings etc so children don’t get bored while waiting for the tour.
The tour inside the chocolate factory costs CHF 12 for adults and kids below 16 years have free admission but must be accompanied by adults. There are audio guides provided to all visitors before the tour begins. So we put on our earplugs and walked into a dark room to be welcomed by an animation show displayed on different screens that showed the origins of chocolate and how it was brought through trade to Europe. We walked along from one room to another guided by sound and lights as one informative show ended and the next began.
After about half an hour, we were led into the light literally into a room where there was on display various cocoa and and a little description about the sourcing of the same and chocolates to sample. We used the audio guides to explore the rest of the factory. Next we went on to see, smell and taste chocolate at different stages and saw through glass windows, a fully automated production line of Cailler chocolates. After they are wrapped , unlimited sampling of these chocolates are freshly available for visitors.
We exited the tour and entered the Cailler chocolate shop that sells locally produced chocolates and there’s a small café indoors that sells few snacks and chocolate drinks.
Perfect place for a delightful summer’s evening !
Lausanne is another pretty city located on the shores of the gleaming Lake Geneva. We had a scenic drive from Geneva to Gruyères, to visit the chocolate factory. On our return, Port Ouchy at Lausanne served as the perfect mid way stopover.
We spent a short part of the day here at the lakeside promenade. Walking around the cobblestone streets casually admiring the grandeur of the architecture all around us, be it a castle or a hotel, was indeed charming.
If you make it here for a day or longer, you can visit the Olympic museum, the famous Château in the region and stroll about in the gardens and parks near the lake. There are a host of lake activities in summer and also cruises for the perfect relaxation and getaway. Since we were just passing by, we relaxed, sitting by the lakeside bench, enjoying our snacks and taking in the views of the lake with ducks quacking at the quay and the Alps serving as a distant dreamy background.
The experience was surreal.