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 With the hot sunny days upon us and school holidays already started, what better time to get out and about and sample the soothing delights of some of our gorgeous Swiss lakes. Remarkably clean water, a multitude of different fish and some very interesting lakeside walks should all help to keep even the most demanding of bathers of any age and size happy.
Living here in the heart of Switzerland, Lake Aegeri (Canton Zug)immediately springs to mind. At present a refreshing 22 degrees warm, the temperature of the water will rise steadily as the summer progresses and can reach a balmy 25 degrees by the time the leaves begin to fall. Take your tent or campervan if you want to make a weekend of your trip and check out the super clean, super friendly camp-site on the far side of the lake in Morgarten. With a little shop down the road selling ice-creams and chilled white wine what more could you ask for?
Down on the Lake of Zug (Canton Zug), the public bathing area is a delight. Beautifully clean and very spacious, it provides an oasis of calm for town and country dwellers alike. A diving platform and water-ski school enhance its charms and the harbour restaurant just next door makes the perfect place to enjoy your sun-downers before heading home.
The Vierwaldstattersee (Lake of Lucerne, Canton Lucerne) is noticeably larger and therefore has a much wider range of entertainments to offer. With a whole fleet of steamboats plus various other crafts of differing sizes you can happily spend a day on the water without so much as getting your toes even close to that chilly, wet stuff! However, for those dedicated lake-lovers amongst us, there is nothing more refreshing than a dip in the cool blue waters – whether it be right outside the Traffic Museum at the Lucerne end of the lake or from the shores running in front of Brunnen at the other.
A busy place for visitors and locals alike has to be Lake Maggiore. With a true holiday atmosphere and a chance to practice your Italian, the area around Ascona has much to offer. If you are in need of a weekend of luxury and pampering then the Hotel Eden Lac must be top of your list. With gardens leading right into the lake, you can bathe morning, noon and night without ever having to dress in more than your swimsuit. Further along the lakeshore is a wonderful campsite for a more rustic break and the breathtaking views down the length of the lake must really be enjoyed at least once in a lifetime.
The Blausee (Blue Lake) Nature Park in the heart of the Bernese Oberland between Kandersteg and Frutigen is, as its name suggests, a crystal-clear blue lake nestling deep in the Bernese Alps. This jewel is situated within a beautifully maintained park covering around 20 hectares. If you tire of dipping your toes, you might want to follow one of the many walks around the park, take a boat ride or visit the unique alpine trout breeding farm. If you haven’t brought a picnic you could treat yourself to delicious lake-fish dish in one of the various restaurants – and before you know it you will think you are really on holiday!
If you want to get right off the beaten track take a trip out to Canton Jura and the Saignelégier (High Moors) at the Etang de la Gruère. This deep and very peaceful lake attracts many different species of birds and other wildlife. A carefully prepared trail through the area and around the lake is dotted with informative boards which enable you to learn about the flora and fauna of the area. An educational day-out in a breath-taking setting. Picnickers are kindly requested to ensure they take all their rubbish with them to ensure the area is kept pristine.
If you fancy something a little more dramatic, the Saut-du-Doubs Waterfalls on Lake Brenets also in Canton Jura might fit the bill. Best visited after heavy rain, the 27m high waterfalls are sure to make you want to stop and stare. With thousands of gallons of water pouring over the edge every minute, the noise is remarkable and the constant movement of water somehow very absorbing and relaxing. Take a guided tour on one of the boats which cruise on the lake between April and October and round-off your day with a mouth-watering fresh fish dinner at any one of the lakeside restaurants and you will want for nothing more!
Perhaps your week has been highly stressful and you just need to get away for a while? Where better than the hidden lake and valley of Derborence in Canton Valais? Located not far away from Sion, this rather well hidden valley really is a paradise on earth for anyone interested in nature and in particular the geological changes which have taken place over the years. It has been the site of inspiration and contemplation for many a writer and poet who, once tired of drinking in the scenery, have stepped into one of the lakeside restaurants or cafes for more substantial nourishment. I really know of nowhere better to unwind!
Perhaps one of the most life’s most enchanting combinations is to sit with a glass of something chilled whilst looking out over a stunning landscape – or in this case lakescape! The Lac de Bienne (St. Peter’s Lake) fringed as it is by vineyards, offers many such opportunities. From St. Peter's Isle which is situated in the middle of the lake, you can cast your eye over the many wine-growing villages dotted along the banks of the lake and choose whichever takes your fancy for an aperitif or perhaps a little more serious wine-tasting. Previously a monastery and home to the philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau, the St. Peterinsel restaurant is a stop you will not want to miss.
And finally … I remember being stopped in my tracks as I walked along the banks of the Rhine last year in Basel. I was sure I could see people literally jumping into the river and being carried away by the current. This turned out to be absolutely correct and I later found out that this is a favourite summer pastime of Basel visitors and residents alike! Luckily the current is not so strong that they are in danger of being swept away and there are many places along the river banks to climb out, walk back along the edge and do it all again! If you fancy something a little more leisurely there are any number of Rhine cruises which you can do ranging from a trip through the many locks, to dinner and fondue cruises.
So wherever you find yourself in Switzerland this summer, just slip off your shoes and socks and dip your toes in the clear, cool waters of one of Switzerland’s many lakes and waterways and let your thoughts just drift away.
Complied by: Nicki Auf der Maur of Le Concierge Expatriate Services GmbH