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switzerland mountain accommodation
switzerland mountain accommodation

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Geneva is a university town situated on the Rhône-outlet of Lake Geneva (Lac Léman), at the southern foot of the Jura mountains. Its popularity is, however, not only due to its excellent surroundings. It owes its cosmopolitan nature to the presence of the United Nations, the International Red Cross and numerous other international organizations. Elegant shops, nightclubs, restaurants, fine museums and art galleries and an extensive calendar of cultural activities make it a favorite with many visitors. The old city center is best explored on foot. One of the finest examples of Romanesque architecture is the Cathedral de St Pierre. The flower clock, with over 6,500 blooms, near the lake in the Jardin Anglais pays homage to Geneva's watch industry. A boat trip on the lake is recommended. Dominated by the Jet d'Eau, a 145m- (476ft-) high fountain, the lake is generally alive with sailing boats. A crisp breeze known as the bise (kiss) blows across the lake and there are facilities for all kinds of watersports, as well as golf and riding nearby. Geneva is also a traditional European center for health and recuperation, and maintains state-of-the-art sanatoria such as the 100-year-old Clinique Générale Beaulieu.

Geneva is the gateway to a variety of ski resorts. One especially extensive area well-suited to families but with excellent skiing for all abilities is Portes du Soleil, a cluster of small resorts forming a massive skiing circuit which straddles the French-Swiss border. Key Swiss resorts here include the pretty traditional village of Champéry, and the tranquil purpose-built mini resorts of Champoussin and Les Crosets.


The capital of the canton of Vaud, Lausanne is situated on the northern shore of Lake Geneva. The symbol of the city is the Cathédrale Notre-Dame in the Cité, the old center, and the Château St Maire (1397-1431). A walk along the promenade of the old Port d'Ouchy reveals a slower pace of life. A funicular can be taken from Ouchy to the inner city of Lausanne.

Several rivulets and rolling hills dominate the canton Vaud, a famous wine-producing region. Other traditional activities in the region include wood sculpture and cheese-making. Vaud also boasts one of the country's most important historic buildings: the Benedictine monastery Church of St Pierre (11th century) in the small town of Romainmotier. Montreux is renowned for its mild climate and the International Jazz Festival in July. At Villars there is an 18-hole golf course, while nearby Château d'Oex, Les Diablerets and Leysin are major sporting centers for climbing, mountain-biking, skiing, paragliding and hiking. Each summer there is a rock festival at Leysin and there is summer skiing on the glacier at Les Diablerets.


This ancient capital (known as 'Berne' by Switzerland's French-speaking citizens) provides opportunities for sightseeing and shopping in the 11th-century arcaded streets. The backdrop is provided by the Jura in the northwest and the south is dominated by the Alps and their foothills. The medieval city center is located on the Aare River between the 13th-century clocktower (Zeitglockenturm) and the striking copper spire of the Nydegg church (Nydeggkirche). Across the Nyddegg bridge are the ancient medieval bear pits (Bärengraben), a reminder of the city's ursine emblem seen throughout the town in the form of flags, statues, stained-glass windows and souvenirs. There are daily vegetable and flower markets here in summer, and a celebrated onion market on the fourth Monday of November.


Luzern (known as 'Lucerne' by the country's French-speaking citizens) is located on the edge of a sizeable lake, the Vierwaldstättersee. Its medieval old town (Altstadt) remains intact; important buildings include the Hofkirche, the old Town Hall (1602-1606) and the famous Löwendenkmal, a memorial to the city mascot the 'dying Lion of Lucerne', carved out of a cliff. Spanning the River Reuss, the 170m- (558ft-) long, covered wooden Chapel Bridge, was the oldest in Switzerland (1333) until it was destroyed by fire in 1993. It has since been reconstructed. Luzern also houses the Richard Wagner Museum and the Swiss Transport Museum. An international music festival is held here every year.

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