A new arts district has opened in the Swiss city of Lausanne, less than an hour by train from Geneva. Built on the site of former rail sheds opposite Lausanne’s central train station, this arts hub, dubbed Plateforme 10, is one of several attractions drawing art and culture lovers to the Lake Geneva region right now.
Start your trip in Geneva with a stay at a majestic lake-view lodging like the Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues Geneva, the city’s first hotel. Relax above the lake in the hotel’s Izumi Lounge or wander the lakeshore as you explore the city. Next, hop on the train for a day trip or weekend of culture beyond the Geneva metro area. Switzerland’s efficient rail network can take you to Lausanne, Vevey or Montreux as you follow this art-filled itinerary through Switzerland’s francophone lake region.
A Unique Art Space in Morges
Between Geneva and Lausanne, stop in the lakeside town of Morges to visit Musée Alexis Forel. Set in a restored 16th-century manor in the town center, the galleries spread across several levels, showing contemporary and classical regional art.
When you’re done at the museum, pause at any of the cafés lining Morges’ pedestrian-only central street. Just make sure to sample the pastries; we’re partial to the brioche au chocolat at Locatelli Pâtissier.
Lausanne’s Arts and Cultural Hub
The Plateforme 10 arts district opened in June and includes three different museums. The region’s fine arts institution, Musée Cantonal des Beaux-Arts (MCBA), relocated to a dramatic new building here. Its high-ceilinged galleries display classical and contemporary works primarily by Swiss artists. At mudac, the Museum of Contemporary Design and Applied Arts, the collections range from graphic arts to ceramics, glass work to jewelry. If photography captivates you, visit Photo Elysée, where the collection of images extends from the art form’s earliest days to au courant digital technologies.
When hunger strikes, head for Le Nabi at MCBA, which serves coffee, pastries, sandwiches and more substantial plates, along with a selection of wine from the surrounding region.
Lausanne is also home to La Collection de l’Art Brut, an intriguing gallery that highlights works created by so-called “outsider artists.” In the town’s historic center, peek into the city’s grand cathedral, which dates to the 1200s. From the cathedral’s tower, the cry of the “nightwatch” marks every hour between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m., ensuring the medieval town’s safety.
When you need a break from your culture crawl, stop into Sleepy Bear for carefully brewed coffee or its sister restaurant, Hungry Bear, for light meals like toast topped with smoked salmon, avocado and zucchini or a mixed salad of local seafood. Both are a short walk from the train station and Plateforme 10. Another excellent coffee spot is Deli Social on Place du Tunnel, not far from the cathedral, while Café du Grütli is a classic choice for fondue and a glass of Chasselas.
A Silent Film Star’s Life in Vevey
Silent film star Charlie Chaplin settled in Switzerland after being blacklisted during the McCarthy era of the 1950s.In the hills above Vevey, east of Lausanne, tour Chaplin’s World, which includes the manor where the actor and his family lived, and a well-designed exhibition center that takes visitors through the movie icon’s life and times.
While in Vevey, check out La Fourchette, an iconic sculpture of a 26-foot-tall stainless-steel fork rising out of the lake. For lunch nearby, take a seat on the patio or under the arched stone ceilings at creative kitchen KJU for a trout and veggie sandwich, a gourmet burger or a bowl of quinoa and quail.
Jazz — and War — on the Montreux Riviera
The town of Montreux, the centerpiece of the lakeside region dubbed the Swiss Riviera, is best known for the annual Montreux Jazz Festival, where since 1967, music greats like Miles Davis, Stevie Wonder and Nina Simone have performed. The 2022 fest takes place July 1 to 16.
But it’s also worth visiting Montreux for a recently opened multimedia attraction in a former World War II bunker under Montreux’s hills. As you explore Fort de Chillon’s underground exhibits, which served as a military bunker during the war, you’ll gain a fascinating insight into what “neutrality” meant — and continues to mean — in Switzerland. Across the road, take a walk through a more traditional attraction, Château de Chillon, where a castle has stood by the lake since the 12th century.
And before you return to Geneva, stop for a drink at the Montreux Jazz Café or Funky Claude’s Bar (named for jazz fest founder Claude Nobs) in the grand Fairmont Montreux Palace hotel. Even if you’re not in town for the jazz festival, you can soak up the musical atmosphere as you wrap up your Lake Geneva cultural adventures.