Hit the road to Nyon!
I live in Nyon, in the canton of Vaud, and am often surprised at how little the “Genevois” really know of the small lakeside town of nearly 20’000 inhabitants. I have, however, heard many exclamations such as: “you live in Nyon? But that’s miles away!” – when it is only 13 minutes by train from Geneva, and about 20 minutes by car. Actually, to be realistic, you easily spend more time trying to cross the centre of Geneva in traffic. And when I worked in Geneva – this realisation definitely put things into perspective and comforted me in my daily commute.
Every so often, even just for half a day, it feels good to get away from Geneva and explore the surroundings. And Nyon has quite a few (hidden) treasures waiting to be discovered – or at least more than the events/activities generally associated with the town by those that claim to be somewhat familiar with Nyon. These generally include Paleo Festival, the huge outdoor music festival that takes place in July every year, Visions du Réel, the International Film Festival – and yes, not to be forgotten of course – Nyon is also home to the UEFA headquarters.
But Nyon also has a rich history and heritage, with remnants that stand tall, as tributes to its past. Have a stroll through Nyon’s old town and cobble-stoned streets, along the Promenade des Marronniers overlooking the lake, to the square where lie remains of the Roman era. Visit the town’s majestic castle, home to the Museum of the History of Porcelain, and head to the castle’s impressive terrace which is open to the public and offers a breathtaking panoramic view overlooking the lake.
Nyon’s picturesque charm, its ideal location and setting on the shores of lake Geneva, make it a great destination to visit during the summer season. And of course, this all kicks off in the spring. When the weather is good, Nyon’s lakeside area has a vibrant atmosphere, filled with people soaking up the sun on the restaurant terraces, or strolling along the lake. Another popular activity is hopping on the boat to Yvoire, a beautiful medieval village located across the lake in France, famous for its stunning flower decorations, and officially selected as one of the most beautiful villages of France.
But let’s return to the shores of Nyon. There are a number of lake side restaurants from which to choose. Three of these restaurants have the same owners, and therefore can conveniently be found on one website (http://restorive-nyon.ch/) – Le Débarcadère, Le Léman and Café des Moulins. The last option is a Wine and Tapas bar, whereas the first two restaurants – which both have large sunny terraces and are located next to each other – offer a range of specialities, including filets de perches (and other fish), great meat dishes, pizzas, great salads, gambas and even fondues.
If you’re more of a pub fan and are just looking for a drink, the fisherman’s pub is located close by:
http://www.fishermenspub.ch/. If the weather is sweltering and you’re longing for something cold, head to the locally famous home-made ice cream and yoghurt shop, Gelateria Venezia. Both options (ice cream and yoghurt are sold separately, in two different shops close to each other) are delicious. The ice cream comes in a huge variety of mouthwatering flavours. As for the healthier option, the tasty frozen yoghurt (a personal favourite), the customer chooses his/her selection of toppings. You may need to be patient, as the queues for both shops can get discouragingly long in the suffocating summer heat.
If you enjoy bustling crowds and lively atmospheres, head to Nyon on Sunday 26 May for the “Puces de Nyon” (Nyon flea market), when 200 to 250 exhibitors take to the lake side road and several inner streets to set up their stands. You will amble past intriguing antiques, creative jewelry pieces, beautiful works of art – and bits and bobs from all over the world. Note that this particular market does not really focus on clothes. The market takes place on the last Sunday of every month, except in August.
Hopefully, something has sparked your interest out of the few (of many more!) options mentioned here – Nyon of course is one of many other alternatives between Geneva and Lausanne… It really is time to get out of Geneva and head up the lake to explore “La Côte”!