AUTHORED BY JOKGEN
Seeing as we are all ‘staycationning’ this year, here is an idea for an overnight trip with lots of variety.
Day 1: Start early and drive from Geneva along the highway towards Montreux – turn off at Chexbres – just before Vevey. Park at the station – just CHF 3 for 5 hours! Pop into the Tourist Information centre for a map and take one of the Lavaux trails through the UNESCO World Heritage site’s famous vineyards. The trails are buggy and wheelchair-friendly, but can be quite hilly. There are options from 2 kms to 10 kms. Plenty of charming coffee and lunch spots line the route. Legs getting tired? You can catch a train back to the gare if it all becomes too much or too hot! And don’t forget: You are passing through working vineyards, so there is ample opportunity to sample the local wines. Beware of purchasing too many for your backpack.
Hop back into the car and return to the highway – drive on to Montagny and leave the motorway. Take the road to Italy and the amazing 40-minute drive to the top of the Col du Grand Saint Bernard. The journey is just incredible – a new and even more incredible view lies around every corner. And when you get to the top (2473 meters), you’ll find the lake and the hospice. Built originally in the 11th century, the hospice is still managed by monks today. You can stay overnight in the neighbouring auberge – simple, lovely and clean rooms with an available set-menu dinner. The Col is famous for Napoleon’s crossing in 1800 with his army of 40,000 men and 500 horses.
Day 2: Plenty to see up here. Beautiful strolls abound, so remember to bring good walking shoes and poles. There is often a lot of snow still on the ground, even in the warmer months. You can walk to the other end of the lake into Italy and have a great (and cheap) coffee. There is the hospice itself to explore – the highest church in Europe – as well as a museum telling of its history. Each summer, the hospice houses the world famous Saint Bernard dogs, so keep an eye out for the 15 or so dogs there (often seen on the mountain having their daily walks.)
From the Col, it is about a two-hour drive back to Geneva. Driving lakeside at dusk means you often get an amazing ‘cloud show’ as you drive home. Enjoy!
We are a group of international women living in Geneva, Switzerland. If you would like to join the AIWC, please visit our website at http://www.aiwcgeneva.org/.