Visiting Lac Leman – or is it Lake Geneva?

Hello and welcome to the latest blog from The Olivia Rose Diaries on November 25th 2022.

We had been waiting for better weather before driving down to Lac Léman but, as it didn’t materialize, we went down anyway. The cloud inversion was still hanging over the valley as we left and a French friend told me how they describe this natural weather phenomenon, calling it la mer des nuages, or the sea of clouds, far more evocative and pleasing than our clinical English phrase. Driving through it was like pushing through a thick, dripping bank of fog, and then suddenly we were beneath it and, as the pictures below show, it was indeed a grey start to the day.

This is a huge lake – 72 km long and 14 km wide, with an average depth of 154 metres and an impressive maximum depth of 310 metres. The shoreline stretches for approx 160 km and we were intending to do just a short stretch of it, starting in Yvoire on the south-western side and cycling to Thonon-les-Bains and back, a round trip of around 40km. The lake is bordered by two countries, France and Switzerland, and they have different names for it. The French call it Lac Léman, whilst to the Swiss it is Lake Geneva.

We had our picnic lunch sitting on a bench, looking at an expanse of water as grey as the sky above, the one merging into the other, but by early afternoon the cloud disappeared, the sky turned blue and it felt like a different world. In summer, this is a lake for swimming in and as I gazed at the wonderfully clear waters I could imagine it would be quite an experience.

From this….
…to this.

We put the bikes back into the van on our return and explored Yvoire and its pretty harbour on foot. It was a Sunday and we weren’t the only ones taking advantage of the good weather. The town car park was full and the cafés were busy. A surprising number were shut with signs saying they were on holiday, but this is the shoulder season, the summer is over and the winter season is yet to start.

A view of Yvoire from the marina.
I’ve included this shot so you can see how clear the water is.
I’m not sure if these ladies are supposed to attract you to this shop selling beautiful glassworks, or send you screaming in the other direction, but they certainly catch the eye.
Lovely hotel on the shore, but it was shut for the annual holiday.

On another day we drove to les Châteaux des Allinges, not far from Thonon-les-Bains and an area offering beautiful forest walks, the trees resplendent in their autumn colours.

Of course, no walk in the French countryside is complete without la chasse lurking in the bushes, ready to pounce on unwary walkers and cyclists as much as the wildlife.

One of the hunters was standing by the road close to this sign and we asked if it was safe for us to continue. Apparently two wild boar had been chased by the dogs into the woods on the far left, the opposite direction that we intended to go, so we would hopefully be ok, although I don’t know if the same could be said for the wild boar.

The landscape has changed again in the last few days as we have had the first snowfall of the year at this altitude.

Looking up the hill from our front door.
Looking down on the house from the road above. You can just see our van parked by the front door.

However, it is expected to be short-lived and that is good news as the narrow, precipitous road that snakes from the valley floor up to our house-sit is treacherous in black ice or snow. We leave on Monday, heading back to Le Shack after an absence of five months. We are really looking forward to it, and don’t want the weather delaying us.

I’ll leave you with a final picture of one of the cats, up in the rafters inside the house. They are like a pair of naughty boys, always looking for trouble, but also very affectionate and we have enjoyed looking after them.

This is Pomme the Intrepid

Pictures of Le Shack coming your way in next week’s blog – prepare yourself for a wilderness. We certainly are – and hoping there have been no disasters in our absence!

Hope all is well and see you soon.


8 thoughts on “Visiting Lac Leman – or is it Lake Geneva?

  1. What a glorious selection of photographs, and as ever illustratively described. I think the clear water in your photograph is more than offset by the rather lovely yacht – why did the photograph not include it all!!?


  2. It looks like a beautiful area, and not one I know at all. In fact, I’ll admit that in my ignorance, I used to think Lac Léman and Lake Geneva were two different lakes! But then geography was never my strong point at school. Bon courage for your return to The Shack. I hope all is in order there.


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