Switzerland, Lake Geneva
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Ten reasons to love Lake Geneva region in Switzerland

Ann Rickard has returned to Switzerland, a country she loves, this time to Lake Geneva. She has 100 reasons to love this region but has room for just 10 here.

1. Placid lakes, majestic mountains, green fields, alpine houses...it's fairy-tale stuff at every turn. How one small region in such a gorgeous country should contain so much natural beauty seems unfair to the rest of us.

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2. Everything works in Switzerland. You can be guaranteed your transport will arrive and depart exactly on time. A survey of locals revealed they considered punctuality of vital importance and if a train dared to be three minutes late, it was a mighty inconvenience, worthy of the blackest of marks.

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3. Lake Geneva in the canton of Vaud is surrounded by nature, the perfect base to explore, hike or walk, and with 2,500 marked trails there is something to suit everyone. The air is fresher, lighter and purer in Switzerland. All ails and aches are quickly forgotten in this country

4. Cute cogwheel trains will get you up to mountain summits in comfort with the bonus of breath-taking scenery and the thrill of the train stopping almost vertically at tiny villages.

Beautiful Belle-Epoque steam boats will glide you over Lake Geneva in luxe style with all the romance of a bygone era. For an elegant experience, take lunch on board in one of the boat's stylish lounges and look out over the lake to the omnipresent mountains.

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5. The vineyards of Lavaux in this region are ancient and UNESCO listed. They produce some of the finest white wines in the world. Even if you don't take a drop (and you'd be crazy not to), just being amongst the vines on the terraced slopes with views down to the lake will have you giddy with pleasure.

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6. Charlie Chaplin. The comic genius, filmmaker and composer lived in the region for the last 25 years of his productive life and came to love Switzerland for its lush countryside and peace and quiet. His home overlooking Lake Geneva is now a museum, Chaplin's World. Memorabilia, movies and interactive displays give you the full and insightful story of his life as a boy living in poverty in London through his remarkable career and finally his death in Switzerland in 1977.

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7. Montreux Jazz Festival. It's held in July on Lake Geneva's shoreline and is the second biggest jazz festival in the world. When the legendary Freddie Mercury performed there, he loved the town so much, he decided to stay, and it is where he found peace in Montreux's quiet and restful solitude. A bronze statue of him stands on the shores of the lake and attracts fans from all over the world.

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8. Cheese and chocolate. Yes, they are the best in the world, but Switzerland's cuisine is not just about these two luxuries. Breads, pastries and meats are so delicious you could live on these alone. Don't be shy about indulging in a fondue, it's not retro here, very de rigueur. Then there is raclette, cheese melted over a fire pit until gooey and scraped over steamed potatoes, pickles, onions and salad.

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9. Castles and history. Chillon Castle is king in this region and one of the most visited castles in Europe. Sprawling over its own massive rock on the shore of Lake Geneva, it seems to float on the water. A self-guided tour will take you back in time, and then you step outside the castle-grounds into modern day Swiss life.

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10. The Olympic Museum and Olympic Park with its sculpture garden overlooking Lake Geneva houses myriad artefacts, displays and exhibits. You'll need a full day here to explore, and then you'll want to return for more.

More information at: myswitzerland.com and myswitzerland.com/rail and yet more at region-du-leman.ch


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