Visit Nyon, Geneva's quaint cousin on Lac Leman
Situated south of Lausanne and north of Geneva, Nyon is definitely worth a visit. Boasting it’s very own castle, Roman ruins, as well as a museum dedicated to Lac Leman the cobbled old town streets will immediately transport you back to a more romantic time. During the summer, I can imagine it is a sparkling and bustling area along the lake, with amazing views of Mont Blanc in the distance and plenty of water sports and activities.
We stayed over one night in the fall and enjoyed the crisp air and changing leaves. This area is full of vineyards of the Nyon Appellation and the castle even has a “Caveau” in the basement, perfect for wine tasting with your travel partner.
Location, Location, Location
We chose to stay at the Hotel Le Rive, where you can either enjoy views of the lake or the town’s rambling cobbled streets. Tip: Ask for Room 306 or any one that will have windows opening onto the lakeside, to take in the stunning mountains as well. Simple rooms start from 158 CHF per night. The hotel is in a beautiful building that also houses a Brasserie, bar, and fine dining restaurant. Even thought it was only an extra 16 CHF, we chose not to indulge in the hotel breakfast because we wanted to wander the streets in search of pastries and coffee on our own. The hotel is conveniently located near a public parking lot and as a special bonus also faces the CGN Ferry, which has a direct route to Yvoire, France across the lake.
Friday Night Lights
We arrived later in the afternoon on a Friday and decided to have a night on the town in Geneva. It only took about ten minutes to walk from the hotel to the train station in Nyon and in less than 20 minutes, the train took us from the Gare de Nyon right into central Geneva.
We were on a mission to try a restaurant recommended by a Swiss friend. It’s a bustling place not far from the station, called Chez Boubier Café de Paris. This is the origin of the famous entrecote steak in rich sauce. There is only one menu at this restaurant and the tables are packed closely to one another. You get a green salad with a tangy dressing and then the entrecote is brought to your table swimming in a fragrant, creamy (and secret recipe) sauce, and remains heated at the table on top of a rechaud. Unlimited alumette frittes are a plus. You have some choice with the wine and can expect to pay CFH 42.50 per person without drinks and desserts. We sat next to an elderly couple celebrating their anniversary, which they told us, they almost forgot about! The atmosphere is distinctively Parisian. Wait staff is efficient and pleasant. The restaurant is open from 11 am to 11 pm every day and has been serving the same famous dish since 1930. They don’t take reservations, but that is part of the fun.
After our delicious meal and lively conversation with the neighboring lovebirds, we decided to look for a place to have a drink and a listen to a little live music. We had no particular direction or recommendations, but walking along the lake and through the city did indeed make for a romantic evening. We finally decided to check out a stylish bar full of pretty people with prime real estate along the Rhône. I wish I could tell you that it was the best gin and tonic I’ve ever had, because for what we paid, it should have been (48 CFH for two G&Ts). Unfortunately it seems that a pretty place and people are worth a premium price in Geneva. It’s fashionable and chic, but expect to pay at Arthur’s rivegauche!.
We took the train back to Nyon after our drinks and easily walked back down the hill from the station to our hotel. While there is a distinctly different atmosphere in this area of Switzerland, we felt safe along the well-lit streets, even late at night.
Saturday market and stroll
We decided to be industrious and run together before heading to our son’s tournament. We started our run from in front of the hotel and down by the lake and along the harbor and beach areas before heading back up into town and through the streets to see Nyon during the day.
On Saturdays Nyon has a market that winds its way through the old town streets. There are fruit and veggie vendors, as well as vendors selling meats, cheeses and artisanal gourmet products.
Afterwards, we stepped across the street to a local café for a quick cup of coffee and croissant, before taking off to see the Nyon Castle and walk along the upper edge of the city to find the Esplanade des Marronniers, where three columns still stand, haling from the time of Julius Ceasar between 45 and 27 BC. If you’ve got time, visit the Musee Romain Nyon to find out more about Nyon’s connection with the distant past.
And there’s nothing more romantic than a city with a castle. Perfect for selfies and imagining a different time, Chateau de Nyon Castle is well preserved and beautiful, with incredible lake, mountain and town vistas. However, because we visited in November, the museum was closed in the morning. No matter, we still enjoyed strolling along the grounds and taking in what seemed like endless breathtaking views.
Whether you head to Nyon as a stop before Geneva or as a destination on its own, I would recommend a visit. I’ve been there twice now and can’t wait to return during the summer months and to check out the inviting Le Côte vineyards that are in the region.
Hotel Le Rive: Rue de Rive 15, 1260 Nyon ,Telephone: 022 552 20 80
Restaurant Café de Paris: Rue du Mont-Blanc 26
1201 Geneva, Telephone 022 732 84 50
Castle de Nyon Caveau: Closed Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays. Open Wednesday-Saturday from 17:00, Telephone: 022 361 95 25