We’re taking you on a scenic Swiss rail journey, from Bern to Lausanne. We've left that steep alpine terrain for the rolling hills and pasture lands. The journey can be done in as little as one hour and six minutes. No connections necessary, it's a direct shot.
Once you're on the train you'll be zipping through some more beautiful Swiss countryside in the western part of Switzerland. We’re entering the French-speaking part of the nation, and you'll notice even the architecture of the homes bears a certain resemblance to France as well as Switzerland.
Well, the scenery is quite lovely especially on a sunny day like this, but it is kind of standard, it's the usual nice view you'll get out the window, until you reach the shores of Lake Geneva, and then something very special happens.
You’re entering a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Lavaux Vineyard Terraces, which is the largest vineyard region in all of Switzerland. It stretches for about 30 km along the northern shores of Lake Geneva, from the Castle of Chillon to the eastern outskirts of Lausanne.
It's a beautiful sight to see, and it's also a very productive land, growing the Chasselas grape which is used in the production of white wine, a dry and fruity popular wine here in Switzerland. And these vineyards are an outstanding ecological example of a thousand-year interaction between people and their environment in which the local resources were optimized to produce this highly-valued wine.
These wine terraces have been in continuous use and cultivation ever since the eleventh century when Benedictine and Cistercian monasteries controlled the area and began the farming.
It's believed the wine cultivation here actually goes further back to the Roman days. It demonstrates how with proper control and protection a sensitive environmental area can continue to be productive for thousands of years.
However, in recent times, there has been some threat in the face of fast-growing urban settlements of Lausanne and this vulnerability has prompted protection measures strongly supported by local communities and reinforced by the UNESCO World Heritage designation.
It truly is one of the most beautiful stretches of vineyards that you'll ever see from a train, especially when you get to look at it for about 5 to 10 minutes as you’re rolling along. So this is not a place to be taking a nap on the train. You want to be glued to the window, taking your pictures and soaking up the vista.
The historic terraced vineyards of the Lavaux wine-producing region are some of the most spectacular sights on the shores of Lake Geneva (Lac Léman) in Switzerland. The Lavaux is a great day-trip destination for hiking and wine tasting.
Soon enough you’ll be arriving at the main train station of Lausanne, and here you generally get off and connect with the TGV that will take you on directly north into France. But if you have enough time between your train connections, it's worth having a quick look at Lausanne. Of course, if you have the time, the city and surroundings are worth visiting for several days.
You can hop on the funicular in the train station which quickly brings you down to the lakeshore in 7 minutes, a delightful spot for a leisurely stroll. On such a warm sunny day with lush flowers and foliage in the park it almost seems like you're on the shores of the Mediterranean. But we’re on the Swiss shores of Lake Geneva, also called Lac Leman by the French, who own the southern shore.
In the nineteenth century Ouchy was a separate fishing village and then became incorporated as the harbor of Lausanne, and now it's purely a pleasure center. If you had time for a few days, there are some deluxe hotels here: the Beau Rivage Palace and the Angleterre, and the deluxe four-star Chateau d’Ouchy, along with some impressive gourmet restaurants.
The Tourist Information Office by the waterfront can fix you up with a place to stay or give you some free brochures and maps with information about the area. Or just walk around on your own and soak up the sights.
One of the nicest ways to spend an afternoon anywhere is to take a boat from the port of Ouchy on the Lakefront of Lausanne or from Vevey or Montreux. Enjoy the terraces which produced it roll by at a leisurely steam-powered pace.