Lake Geneva is a destination that once visited is never forgotten. In and around Lake Geneva the scenery includes vineyards, residences fit for royalty set against the Alps or Jura, with sun, cloud, and water playing pivotal roles in the spectacle. The shores of Lake Geneva feature steep vineyards - some of them 1,000 years old. Because of the sunshine and climate, they produce a dry white wine that goes perfectly with the fresh fish that come from the lake, fish such as perch and trout. The shores of Lake Geneva are host to numerous lucky towns that have settled around it. They are beautiful concentrations of culture next to nature that you will always remember once you visit there.
Lake Geneva is sometimes called Lake Leman, and it is Europe's largest natural fresh water lake at 582 square kilometers. Volumetrically, it is the largest fresh water body on the European continent. About 60% of the lake is within the Swiss cantons of Vaud, Valais, and Geneva. The other 40% of the lake is under France's jurisdiction - the province of Haute-Savoie specifically. Water levels of 372 meters are controlled by Geneva's Seujet Dam.
Shaped like a crescent, Lake Geneva was formed by a retreating glacier. A narrow offshoot around Yvoire on the southern shore is considered Le Petit Lac (small lake), while Le Grand Lac (the big lake) is formed to the east, though the two are both part of Lake Geneva. At its widest, Lake Geneva is 14 km wide, and it is 73 km long. Located along the course of the Rhone, other tributaries include Veveyse, La Venoge, La Morges, L'Aubonne, and La Dranse. The lake shore between Geneva and the city of Lausanne is La Cote, and is flat, and the area between Lausanne and Vevy is called Lavaux, and is hilly.
The Chablais Alps skirt the southern shore of Lake Geneva,a nd the Bernese Alps loom over its eastern side. There are places on Lake Geneva from which you can see the peaks of Mont Blanc and Grand Combin. The surface of Lake Geneva is the lowest elevation of the cantons of Vaud and Valais.
In the 1960s, pollution in Lake Geneva was so severe that swimming at some of the beaches was dangerous and tourists taking local submarine rides had no visibility whatsoever. By the 1980s almost all the fish in Lake Geneva were dead. Fortunately, today's pollution levels are much lower, and it is once again safe to swim in Lake Geneva. It is also heavily used for sailing, rowing, diving, and wind surfing.
During Roman times, Lake Geneva was called Lacus Lemanus, and later it became Lacus Lausonius, a name which also referred to one of the towns on the lake shores. By the middle ages, it was called Lac de Lausanne. But then after Geneva gained prominence, it became Lac de Geneve, but in the 18th century, Lac Leman made a comeback - at least in France. It is now commonly referred to as Lac de Geneve by the locals.
Lake Geneva's unique combination of Mediterranean vegetation and its Alpine views have drawn several very rich and famous people to live along the lake. They include Gustav Courbet, Oskar Kokoschka, David Bowie, and Charlie Chaplin. The gorgeous little towns and villages filled with vineyards are scattered around the shores of the lake. Indeed it is something straight out of a dream.
In winter, downhill skiing in one of Lake Geneva's cantons, Vaud, and cross country skiing make the ski vacation every avid skier dreams of. There is also glittering city life and other natural beauty like the Vallee de Joux, Ste-Croix / Les Rasses, and St-Cergue.
In autumn, you can walk endlessly in parks decorated with bright autumn leaves, visit museums, walk along quays, go shopping, or attend some of the best cultural offerings in Europe: cinema, opera, concerts, theatre, and caberets give you an embarrassment of choices. You will definitely be well fed if you visit Lake Geneva. Surrounding the lake are five restaurants that are rated by the Michelin Guide. Lake Geneva is one place on planet Earth that comes very close to having everything a person could want.
If shopping is your thing, then the cities of Lausanne, Nyon, Rolle, Mores, Vevey-Montreux, and Yverdon-les Bains will accommodate you nicely. With more than 500 km of downhill ski runs, hot air balloon rides, and other adventures, you would be hard pressed to find any region on earth more suitable for the holiday of a lifetime. The only difficult part is leaving.