Are you on a holiday near Saint-Raphaёl on the Côte d’Azur and would you like to know which beach to go to? Here’s our selection of 5 best beaches near Saint-Raphael for you to try out!

1. Calanque du Petit Canereit, Antheor

Calanque du Petit Canereit, Antheor, Estérel Cote d'Azur. One of the best beaches near Saint-Raphael

A beautiful, natural spot away from the crowds, without facilities. This beach is located between Agay and Théoule-sur-Mer, just after passing Antheor Plage and the train bridge. You will see a small parking lot on the right side of the scenic road. Come early in the morning to have a parking spot, and if you are really lucky, to have the beach all to yourself like we had one morning. Steep stairs lead you down to the beach, do-able with children, bring water, your water shoes, and your picnic! Snorkeling gear is also really good to bring as it is a beach with stones and a lot of fish can be seen! The second time we were there, at around 13 o’clock, at boat stopped to sell drinks and ice-cream, just in time for our dessert after the picnic! The captain of the boat said he came there every day, so do bring some money just in case. This beach is definitely one of our best beaches near Saint-Raphael!

2. Plage du Débarquement, Saint-Raphaёl

Plage du Débarquement, Saint-Raphael, one of the best beaches near Saint-Raphael for snorkeling and view on Ile d'or

This beach is one of our top best beaches in Saint-Raphael for snorkeling! An amazing amount of fish can be seen, even very close to the beach. It’s certainly because this beach has no sand but big rocks, so bring your water shoes and your snorkeling gear! We had never seen so many fish in one place in the Mediterranean before! You will see a lot of people walk around with the Decathlon snorkeling masks that have become so popular 😊. There are lifeguards on this beach, public toilets, and there is a restaurant. The view on the famous landmark of Saint-Raphaёl, l’Ile d’Or, is best from this beach, and we like to bring our stand-up paddles and paddle around the island. Paddling around the island and back to the beach takes about 35 minutes and my husband has done it with our 10 year old. The island is private property, so you cannot go on the island.


3. Tiki plage, or Plage de Camp Long, Agay

Tiki Plage, or Plage de Camp Long in Agay in the south of France

This beach, located between Agay and Saint-Raphaёl, is also known as the ‘Plage de Camp Long’. It is a creek with a nice beach with a mixture of sand and small stones. You can walk around the creek on a small foot path carved into the typical red rocks of the Estérel mountains that end up in the sea. The parking lot is relatively big compared to smaller creeks located along the well-known ‘Route de la Corniche d’Or’. The beach has a restaurant, a snack corner, a small shop, showers, public toilets, and rental of stand-up paddles, kayaks and pedal boats. Children are at ease to swim here as the water does not go steep down immediately. They can of course also search for crabs along the rocks around the creek. Tiki plage is definitely one of our preferred beaches!

4. Calanque des Anglais, Agay

Beautiful Calanque des Anglais in Agay, one of the best beaches near Saint-Raphael

Another beautiful, small beach, with typical red stones from the red rocks of the Estérel mountains. If you go all the way to the ‘official sign’ indicating the ‘Calanque des Anglais’, access to the beach is a bit more difficult then when you park at the stairs just before. From those stairs, the beach is accessible with children as well. Like all the ‘calanques’ beaches, come early and don’t forget water shoes and snorkeling gear!

5. Saint-Aygulf, sand beach near Saint-Raphael

Plage de Saint-Aygulf, one of the best sand beaches near Saint-Raphael

This wide beach is our best spot for real sand and building sand castles! It is also the perfect beach with small children as the water is very shallow for a long while. There are parking lots along the road on both sides (payed parking). Since it is quite a long beach, there are several different beach bars and restaurants. What we like to do after a couple of hours on the beach, is go to the beach front where there are several restaurants and bars right on the beach. Some have really nice terraces! The little center also has a big shop with everything you would need for the beach, inflatable toys, beach towels, they have everything! Just don’t go to the beach near the center, as it tends to get too crowded at the end of the day. The beach is long enough to pick a spot before the town center.

Would you like to see some of the beaches as seen from above? Check out our drone video of the beautiful coast line:

Would you like to know our other tips on visiting Saint-Raphael and Fréjus, then you may be interested in our other articles as well!

Beach cleanup

A walk on the beach in the Netherlands always makes me happy. It clears your head and the surroundings are beautiful. The kids can run in the wind, jump off the dunes and they can play the ‘does the wave wet my shoes or not game’. But still, to make them contribute to a beach cleanup gives them a whole other level of understanding, and if you do a cleanup every once in a while, when you walk in nature, it may just teach them to be responsible themselves later on.

They will transform it into a treasure hunt, and they may oblige you to finally bring a treasure or two home with you (we are the proud owners of a very rusty boat propellor), but it does really teach them something valuable, and they do realize it is ridiculous what people leave in nature… Straws, bottles, plastic bags, bags with dog poo (seriously if you clean up your dog’s poo, and put it in a plastic bag, why do you leave it on the beach afterwards?). We also found a whole box of medicines, and finally, a lost Iphone that we brought back to the beach bar hoping it would then be reunited with its owner.

The children seemed a bit more aware of the trash problem and I think that in summer, when we spend even more time on the beach, they will run after their empty cookie wrapping in case the wind picks it up. Or at least, I hope so!

Röstigraben letters, Swiss culture

Welcome to the The Röstigraben Letters, monthly letters between Kristin from Swiss Family Travel, and Laura from Let’s Explore. Married Swiss, Kristin, an Australian living in german-speaking Zug, and Laura a Dutch, living in french-speaking Geneva, unfold through their letters the cultural differences between both sides of the Röstigraben, learning more about Switzerland along the way. Read their letters (Kristin’s &  Laura’s) and replies, and share your thoughts in the comments. 

My letter is a reply to Kristin’s May letter from the other side of the Röstigraben. You can read her July letter here.

South of France, July 2021

Hello Kristin!

I’m writing you from the South of France today, on the French national holiday, the 14th of July. While I am writing you from my parents in law’s garden, I am surrounded by the sound of the cicadas and the smell of the pine trees. Now, I am not really on vacation. I had the opportunity to have my home office elsewhere, and since the kids are on vacation, the choice between our apartment in Geneva, or their grandparent’s garden, made the choice rather easy. As I work part-time, I can still also enjoy this change of scenery outside of my ‘office hours’. 

Saint Raphael Beach
Saint Raphael

Our children do not have 6, but 8 weeks of school holiday in Geneva. But next year this will be different, as the Canton has voted to have a longer Easter break starting next year, which they then will deduct from the summer break. I am happy with that, because in some years, the time between Easter and the summer break can be quite long for the kids. 

Oh, I haven’t been to the Swiss National Park yet, but would really love to go there once! We, like you, have very fond memories of our holiday in Flims – Laax last year in summer, and like you, I adore eating Capuns in Graubünden. Good choice to go back to Flims! We especially liked the Trutg dil Flem hike there. I think you did a part of that one too last year didn’t you?

Funny that you speak about Edelweiss flowers. I had the goal to grow them from seeds myself this year, and also posted seeds to my mom. They grew way better at my mom’s in the Netherlands than they did at my place in Geneva. 

I personally don’t know Globi that well. It could be that the character is a bit more popular in the German speaking part, but I’m not sure about that. 

I’m super happy to have inspired you for future visits in the French speaking part of Switzerland! Yes, the Narcissi fields are a wonderful add to your bucket list, and spending a night in Geneva to make your stay a bit longer really is a good choice too! 

I of course have lots of tips on visiting Geneva. The best Badi would be the Bains des Paquis I spoke about. Then, you should definitely hop on one of the yellow bus boats and visit the Old Town, and the area Carouge, which is a bit the Italian quarter of Geneva. 

La Cabuche
Terrace place in the vineyards near Geneva

In the meanwhile, we have spent 2 weeks in the company of my mom, which was a real blessing after such a long time separated. Like in most areas, the weather wasn’t that good unfortunately, but we did enjoy Geneva, and I’ve spent one afternoon enjoying some mom and daughter time with an afternoon tea in a hotel by the lake, and we went to a gorgeous terrace in the middle of the vineyards in a nearby village. 

We also went all together on a great excursion in Switzerland, the Chocolate Train! Have you heard of that train? It is a beautiful Belle Epoque train that runs on the Goldenpass line from Montreux. The train itself makes the trip so special. A bit like I would imagine the Orient Express train to be like. We first went to Gruyères, and then on to Maison Cailler in Broc for the Chocolate experience. I’m happy my mom was with us on this trip!

Less than a week later, we were on another train trip, but going to France that time. From Geneva, it takes 6 hours to get to Saint-Raphael, the coastal town where my husband’s family lives. Yes, he is French and Swiss, a bi-national. We just had to change trains once in Marseille, so it is really easy to come here by train. It seems we are luckily escaping to horrible weather in Geneva for a week already, and the children are happy to spend some time with their grandparents.

On Monday, my after-work activity was snorkeling with my son in front of Ile d’Or island. One of our favorite beaches in Saint-Raphael. Since it is a rocky beach, and no sand, there is always an incredible amount of fish swimming there. 

This weekend, my husband will come to pick us up, and we will go back to Geneva. We will be there a few days before our real family holiday starts. I will of course be washing and packing during those days. 

Can’t wait to see your photos from the Swiss National Park and Flims! Enjoy your holiday dear Kristin!

Sending you sunshine from the south,

Laura

Make sure you read Kristin’s July letter here.

And you can find all our letters here. 

Röstigraben letters
Chocolate Train Montreux

The Chocolate Train in Switzerland from Montreux!

Montreux – Gruyères – Broc – Montreux

A scenic train route on a Belle Époque train, combined with cheese and chocolate tastings. Who wouldn’t love that? The Chocolate Train runs on the Goldenpass line and takes you in a dreamy train carriage in 1930’s style from Montreux to Gruyères and Broc. The train gently rolls through different Swiss landscape sceneries. From the majestic view on Lac Léman (Geneva lake) right when you leave Montreux, and through the green hills in Canton Fribourg. 

Train and chocolate lovers, this bucket list trip in Switzerland is for you!

The Chocolate Train

Not just any train, but possibly one of the most beautiful trains in Switzerland. This train, which will remind you of the Orient Express, instantly turns every passenger into a traveler! It is all about the journey itself. The Chocolate Train gently pulls its 1st class and 2nd class carriages through the Swiss postcard landscapes. The seats, the wooden ceiling, and the details will transport you right back in history, to the 1930’s.

In first class, a coffee and ‘pain au chocolat’ is served when you leave Montreux. A view on the lake is visible from both sides, so there is not really a ‘best side of the train to sit on’. Just make yourself comfortable in the Belle Epoque train seats and enjoy the view. 

First Stop: Gruyères

The MOB Goldenpass bus will take you onwards from the trainstation Montbovon to ‘La Maison du Gruyère’, where you can learn all about cheesemaking and buy some of the world famous Gruyère cheese right from the factory amidst the fields where the cows graze. 

Then, in a few minutes time, the bus will take you to the medieval village Gruyères. You will have plenty of time to have lunch, or to visit the Castle of Gruyères or the Museum of H.R. Giger, the creator of the movie ‘Alien’. If you would like to sit down for lunch, we would recommend that you reserve your spot at one of the restaurants in advance. Of course, most restaurants serve cheese fondue and raclette, and the Swiss dessert Meringues with double cream from Gruyères, but also other local specialties! More information for your visit in our article on Gruyères

More information on La Maison du Gruyère : https://www.lamaisondugruyere.ch/homepage-en/

Second Stop: All about chocolate at Maison Cailler in Broc!

From Gruyères, the bus will take you in 10 minutes to Maison Cailler in Broc. Maison Cailler of Nestlé is a nice multi-sensorial chocolate learning experience. You will see an interactive explanation on the history of the oldest Swiss chocolate brand and on how the Swiss became famous for chocolate making. You will see how chocolate is made, including some of the signature chocolates like the ‘Branches’. A visit is not complete without tasting the delicious result! At the end of the Chocolate experience, you will be able to taste samples of Cailler’s different chocolates, yum! 

More information on Maison Cailler’s chocolate factory visit : https://cailler.ch/en/maison-cailler

Back to Montreux

From Broc, the MOB Goldenpass bus will take you back to Montreux train station, where you started your day. You can still take a stroll by the lake, to digest from your cheese and chocolate experience. 

About the journey:

  • The Chocolate Train runs between May and October and leaves at 9:50 from Montreux. There is a parking lot right by the train station. 
  • In July and August the train runs on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
  • The train trip itself takes about an hour. The rest of the transfers are by luxury bus.
  • You will have plenty of free time in Gruyères
  • The bus from Gruyères to Broc takes about 10 minutes
  • Visit of the Chocolate Factory and possibility to buy chocolate at Maison Cailler
  • Back to Montreux by bus in about 45 minutes

More information and where to reserve your tickets:

Montreux Rivièra website: https://www.montreuxriviera.com/en/P634/chocolate-train

MOB Goldenpass Chocolate Train: https://mob.ch/activity/le-train-du-chocolat/?lang=en

Alternative trips on the Belle Epoque train:

The train part of the Chocolate Train trip stops in Montbovon. If you would like to stay on the beautiful train for longer, it runs all the way Gstaad and Zweisimmen. Gstaad is another place we love to visit in summer. Check out our article on things to do in Gstaad if you would prefer to go there. 

More information about this train line: https://mob.ch/activity/belle-epoque/?lang=en

Our trip on the Chocolate Train was hosted, our views and opinions are our own. 

Did you like this suggestion of a day trip in the Montreux Rivièra region? Then you may also be interested in our article on the vineyards of Lavaux, or the train to the Pleiades to see the Narcissus fields in bloom in spring!

If you would like to stay updated on our family travels as we go, then make sure to check out our Instagram or Facebook page.

Röstigraben letters, Swiss culture

Welcome to the The Röstigraben Letters, monthly letters between Kristin from Swiss Family Travel, and Laura from Let’s Explore. Married Swiss, Kristin, an Australian living in german-speaking Zug, and Laura a Dutch, living in french-speaking Geneva, unfold through their letters the cultural differences between both sides of the Röstigraben, learning more about Switzerland along the way. Read their letters (Kristin’s &  Laura’s) and replies, and share your thoughts in the comments. 

My letter is a reply to Kristin’s May letter from the other side of the Röstigraben. You can read her June letter here.

June 2021

Narcissi Montreux Riviera

Salut Kristin!

Life on the French side of the Röstigraben is going very good! We are all in the summer mood after a few hot days and nice swims, even though some of the summer feelings got washed away by some rain storms here and there. 

Those cherry-ladder races sound really fun! Is there a specific reason why Zug is famous for cherries? I know the Canton Valais is famous for apricots, but not why it is specific to one region or another. I love cherries, but quite honestly, on our end at least, I always find them so expensive… Are they less expensive in Zug? 

In Geneva, we have no fame for a specific fruit I think, but we do have nice wines produced locally. Geneva is however famous as a place for international meetings. A city of peace in a country known for its neutrality. And so, Geneva was chosen for the summit between the American and the Russian Presidents here last week. As I live in the countryside, the major logistics around such a meeting did not affect me that much, and my husband was just put in Home Office that day, so it was fine. We just saw some impressive and loud planes arriving, already on the weekend before the summit. 

Geneva and the yellow boats les fouettés
Geneva and its yellow boats ‘Les Mouettes’

Yes, the vaccine roll out works good in Geneva as well. The vaccines are administered in several locations across town and a big concert hall was transformed into a vaccination center. The only thing which was a pity, is that I got my appointment at the complete opposite side of town, but well, I’m not complaining. What also works well, is the Covid Certificate. As you know our teen had Covid, and we could just request his certificate online and we received it, with his QR code about 5 days later. That means at least one out of four of us now has a certificate which makes travel a bit easier. We will travel this summer, as we plan to go both to France and to the Netherlands.

Talking about travel and vaccines… my mom has arrived!! After a year and a half separated (not counting those 2 days when she came and Switzerland was put on the ‘no travel’ list when she was on the plane, and she had to leave again). Incredible! We went to pick her up from the airport 2 days ago, and I thought: I’ll believe it when I see her! She had her 2 doses of vaccine and was allowed to travel, so we can now enjoy spending 2 weeks together with my mom!

I’m planning to do a lot of local things in Geneva with her. Like breakfast at the Bains des Paquis (one of our Badis), showing her the new beach in Geneva, and go for a walk to a terrace in the vineyards. When summer arrives in Geneva, there are so many options!

Oh, I understand, we all have a bit of allergies as well in our house, some more than others, but luckily less for spring flowers, because we went on a very beautiful spring flower hike above the Montreux Rivièra to see the famous Narcissi fields at Les Pléiades! It really is a remarkable sight to see. They call those fields May Snow, and it is true that is looks a bit like a thin layer of snow on those mountain fields. The blooming of the flowers doesn’t last long, but it’s a good add to anyone’s bucketlist of spring hikes!

Oh, those are important school changes! I understand your little Z will be a proud real school kid, and how amazing that your teen and her friends were able to organize their own camp! 

Your favorite summer drink sounds delicious! Will you share how you make it?

Until our next letter Kristin, which I will probably write from the South of France! Until then, good luck with all the end of the year activities. True that end of June can sometimes be a bit stressful!

Gros bisous,

Laura

Make sure you read Kristin’s June letter here.

And you can find all our letters here. 

Röstigraben letters
Narcissi Fields Pléiades Vevey

Beautiful Spring hike along the Narcissi Fields at Les Pléiades above Vevey

Every year in spring, fields of wild Narcissi start to bloom at several locations in the Montreux Rivièra region in Switzerland. The white carpet of flowers covering the green fields is often called ‘May Snow’. There are several locations to go and see these beautiful flowers. We went on a hike along the Narcissi fields at Les Pléiades, above Vevey in the Canton Vaud. A short hike, but with some steep parts. The breathtaking spring flower fields make it totally worth the hike!

The Spring Hike to the Narcissi Fields needs to be carefully planned. Wild Narcissi bloom between April and May every year, but when exactly depends on the weather and temperatures. They bloom at several locations at different times due to the difference in altitude.

Narcissi Fields at Les Pléiades above Vevey

At Les Pléiades above Vevey, you will be able to do a round loop hike that will take you around the flower fields. You can go up by train, or park your car at the parking in Lally. Due to the short blooming, it can get a bit busy so it is best to take the train to avoid the deception of not finding a parking spot. The train ride offers you beautiful views over Lac Léman, the Alps, and lets you spot your first Narcissi on the way up!

We got off the train at Lally, and started our hike from there. You can also go up to the last stop at Les Pléiades and start your hike there.

View from Lally Pléiades
View on the mountains from Lally

From Lally, the first part of the hike was on a wooden pathway. The hike is suitable for families, but not for strollers. A part of the hike has a steep climb (200m elevation gain).

Narcissi Montreux Riviera

The flower fields really are an amazing sight and it is one of the highlights of the region in Spring. Highly recommended to do this hike at least once!

Map of the Narcissi fields hike

Here is our map of the Narcissi Fields Hike at Les Pléiades. You can click here for an interactive version of our map.

Where to eat at Les Pléiades

We had lunch in Restaurant le 1209 in Lally before we started our hike. You can easily reach the restaurant from the small train station and this is also where the parking is for those who prefer to come by car. The restaurant has a beautiful terrace with a view and serves very nice seasonal and regional dishes. What we liked is that the dishes contained local flowers and herbs. For more information, check out their website here. There is another restaurant on top at Les Pléiades, and a small Café-Restaurant about half way along the hike.

How to get to the Narcissi fields at Les Pléiades

By train: it is easy to reach Les Pléiades. The MOB regional train leaves from Vevey and takes you up. If you would like to stop earlier, like we did at Lally, you have to request that stop with the button in the train. Also, it is best to sit in the first part of the train as the stations are so small that you may not be able to exit from the second wagon.

By car: you can park at Lally, which is the start of this hike. It can get busy, so we would recommend you to go by train instead.

Where else can I see Narcissi Fields?

There are several locations above the Montreux Riviera region to see Narcissi Fields, like in Les Avants, Glion, Caux and Mont Pélerin. To see whether they are blooming, you could check information here, and also follow the social media channels and website of the Montreux Riviera region: Montreux Riviera

Our trip to Les Pléiades was hosted, our reviews and opinions are our own. 

If you would like to see more hikes in this region, we would also recommend you to check out our article on a short hike in the Vineyards of Lavaux!

If you would like to stay updated on our family travels as we go, then make sure to check out our Instagram or Facebook page.

Röstigraben letters, Swiss culture

Welcome to the The Röstigraben Letters, monthly letters between Kristin from Swiss Family Travel, and Laura from Let’s Explore. Married Swiss, Kristin, an Australian living in german-speaking Zug, and Laura a Dutch, living in french-speaking Geneva, unfold through their letters the cultural differences between both sides of the Röstigraben, learning more about Switzerland along the way. Read their letters (Kristin’s &  Laura’s) and replies, and share your thoughts in the comments. 

My letter is a reply to Kristin’s May letter from the other side of the Röstigraben. You can read her May letter here.

May 2021

Chère Kristin,

The kitchen burn is well behind us, and all is fine, thank you. We have been a bit out of luck as we also had to spend a large part of May in quarantine. It was such a bummer as our children first had to quarantine because they had been in contact with someone who was tested positive for Covid. Then we were set free and negative, and my son still got Covid literally on his first day out. So then, we all had to quarantine again… 

Luckily, he didn’t have many symptoms, but it took quite some organization as a family, taking care of the kids, working in home office, and trying to not get behind with schoolwork too much. Anyway, he is doing fine now, that’s the most important! He had lots of schooltests to do after his quarantine, because the end of the school year is near and he had missed a lot. We were feeling a bit sorry for him to have this much work right after feeling tired and a bit sick. 

Oh yes, totally green here as well! We had a lot of rain in May and that has done a lot of good to nature! In Geneva, we had the national long weekends with public holidays. During one we were still in quarantine, but we enjoyed the second one even more! We have spent a day in the forest grilling in nature with some friends. It was close to the Rhone River which was a spectacular sight on that particular weekend as they almost emptied the river for a cleanup. They do that every 4 years or so to prevent flooding. They lower the Rhone level to get rid of sediments piled up behind the Verbois Dam. In Geneva, the Arve river comes into the Rhone at some point, and since the source of the Arve is much closer (Mont-Blanc and Haute-Savoie area in France), it has a different color and carries a lot of mud and stones. 

The emptying of the Rhone changes the color of the water for a few days at least as far as in Lyon in France. The part of the river where we sometimes stand-up paddle in summer is almost completely empty, leaving a bit of a strange moon landscape behind, and quite an awkward smell too. 

The next day of that long weekend, we went to the beautiful vineyards of Lavaux. I’m sure you have heard of those. The Lavaux terraced vineyards are a UNESCO World Heritage site in Switzerland. It is located between Lausanne and Vevey and offers many hiking opportunities with a view. We went to the village called Saint-Saphorin to have a nice lunch on a terrace, and then we did an easy and short hike in the vineyards. Super lovely!

Congratulations to your husband for his 50th birthday! Quite a milestone and super fun to have a family BBQ to celebrate it! Do you have a large enough terrace to easily have the family over? I sometimes see on your photos that you have a view on Lake Zug. I can imagine you spend a lot of time just looking at the view then?

A hike with a 600-year tradition sounds really impressive! I hope these things will last as it makes it very special. I love traditions and local history too, and I like to chat about it with the children. They know much more than I do of course because they grow up here and learn about them in school. My amazement as someone who didn’t grew up here also shows them how special traditions are. They are not just ‘normal’. I personally like the ‘Escalade’ in Geneva in December, and specifically that there is that one street in the old town that you can only visit once a year. It’s funny when you think of it, that street is closed off for the whole rest of the year. 

Oh wow, you can actually get the keys to the clock tower of Zug? I would like to visit Zug one day, and am definitely putting this on my list!

We all love strawberries, and my husband too, does not want us to eat them when the season hasn’t started yet. Due to our geographical location (a bit surrounded by France), and the fact my husband is also French, we usually eat the Swiss and the French ones! 

No Elderflower foraging here, or at least not much as I haven’t heard of it. We do know the sirup and love to drink that too! We always have different flavors of sirups at home. Definitely the childhood drink!

Talk to you again next month Kristin!

Hugs from Geneva,

Laura

Make sure you read Kristin’s May letter here.

And you can find all our letters here. 

Lavaux vineyards walk

An easy walk with an amazing view! 

The terraced vineyards of Lavaux, above Lac Léman, is a UNESCO World heritage site in Canton Vaud in Switzerland. The area was shaped by man in the 12th century by building terraces held in place by stone walls. It was the start of winegrowing on the steep hills along the lake. The vineyards of Lavaux were added to the list of Unesco World Heritage sites in 2007. The Lavaux vineyards offer many opportunities for walks with amazing views over the lake.

One of the most scenic roads in the Lavaux area is the Route de la Corniche with its summit in Chexbres. This road has the same name as the famous road in the South of France with a view on the coast. It is a bit comparable, even though in Lavaux, you see the lake and not the sea. 

Saint-Saphorin

There are plenty of hiking possibilities in the area, and you can hike for as long as you would like. If you are looking for an easy walk, with all the best views, this is possible from several villages. We did a short Lavaux vineyard walk starting in Saint-Saphorin.

Saint-Saphorin is a very beautiful small village. The fortified town is located on the lake and at the foot of Mont Pélerin. The town has narrow cobbled streets and a central square with a church with a bell tower. Many walking trails leave from the village. Long hikes, or shorter ones.

Lavaux Vineyards Walk

We walked from Saint-Saphorin to Rivaz. This is a part of the Lavaux area with some of the most beautiful views. You can continue further, to Chexbres if you would like a bit more uphill. We decided to go for the short version after a nice lunch in the town. 

This walk takes you along the ‘Chemin de la vigne à Gilles’ which is named after the chansonnier and poet Jean Villad Gilles who used to live in Saint-Saphorin. He wrote a lot of poems on Saint-Saphorin and you will find information panels about him and his poems along this road. You will also find information about the Lavaux region and the type of grapes along the walk. 

Rivaz and wine tasting

In Rivaz, you can visit the Vinorama. The Vinorama is a space dedicated to learn all about the different wines, and the history of the terraced vineyards of Lavaux. More than 300 wines of the region are presented here, and they have a tasting room to taste the wines.

More information on their website: http://www.lavaux-vinorama.ch/en

Since we didn’t want to take the exact same route back, we went down in the village in Rivaz, and passed by the Chateau de Glerolles. To get back up from there, there was one steep part, but it’s not that long. 

A map of our Lavaux Vineyards Walk can be found here:

Click here for the interactive version of the map

Lavaux Panoramic Train

In the summer season, you could also go on a route along the villages and vineyards on the Lavaux Panoramic Train. All the information about this train can be found here: https://www.lavaux-panoramic.ch/home/

Hike and take a train back

Lavaux vineyards Rivaz

There are many more hiking options in the Lavaux area. We will soon do more hikes there and add them to this article when we do. Some of the options are: 

  • From Cully to Epesses and on to Rivaz, trains are between Cully and Rivaz
  • Saint-Saphorin to Chexbres, possibility to come back by train
  • Grandvaux to Lutry, which takes about 2 hours
  • And many more!

Where to Eat in Saint-Saphorin

Café du Raisin Saint-Saphorin

We had lunch in the small Café du Raisin. They mainly serve fish dishes from the lake, but also have local cheese and meat platters, and something for vegetarians. They have a beautiful terrace with a view on the lake. Make sure you reserve in advance and ask them for a table on the terrace on top of the restaurant. When the weather predictions are good, they are usually fully booked a few days in advance. 

Where to eat in Chexbres

A famous terrace with a view in the Lavaux vineyards area, is ‘Le Deck’ at the hotel – restaurant Baron Le Tavernier. More information about that terrace: le Deck

Did you like this article on a walk in the vineyards in Lavaux? Then you may also like our article on a hike in the vineyards in Ligerz with a view on Lake Biel!

If you would like to stay updated on our family travels as we go, then make sure to check out our Instagram or Facebook page.

A beautiful bike ride through the vineyards in Geneva and along the Allondon river in Geneva’s countryside. Detailed bike trail including a map!

Satigny, Choully, Malval, Les Baillets, Satigny

If you would like to escape the city of Geneva for a bit and enjoy some nice countryside views, then this article is for you! We have pre-tested a nice bike ride in Geneva’s vineyards, in Satigny, in the countryside, and we will share all details, including a map!

Going for a bike ride through Geneva’s vineyards can be super easy, as the train takes you from Geneva Cornavin station to Satigny in little less than 15 minutes. You can either take your own bike on the train with you, or rent a bike right at Satigny train station through the Donkey Republic App. There are 6 rental bikes at the train station in Satigny: 4 normal bikes and 2 electric bikes. Now, there will of course be some uphill involved in this route. We even go uphill straight away, as that is where the beautiful views are! 

I did our suggested route with my own e-bike.

Details on this tour:

Kilometers: 15 kilometers

Biking time with my e-bike: 45 minutes, but lots of possibilities to stop on the way!

Elevation gain: 190 meters

Map:

You can open below map in Komoot to see it interactively, and see where the photos where taken.

Departure from Satigny train station

The bike ride starts with the uphill part. Leave Satigny train station by going on the cycle path which starts to your right, and drive up the ‘Route de la Gare de Satigny’ in direction of the ‘Route du Mandement’. Once up, follow the cycle path to the right passing by the first vineyards. 

At a small cross section, and if you are interested in seeing Street Art, you can turn right, cross the train tracks, and continue until you come to a small bridge over a canal. Peek down, or, even just climb down the ladder you see to admire some of the art works.

Then, go back to the cross section, and continue the road until you get to a roundabout.

Choully, a village in the vineyards

Once you get to the roundabout, take a left to go up to Bourdigny. You will see a sign that says: ‘Route du Vignoble’. Once up, follow the road and then turn left right where you see the cute building in the vineyards like in the first photo of Choully. Pass by that building and continue the bike ride in the vineyards, and then turn left. You are now in Choully. Admire the vineyards and already the views over Geneva. Continue onwards through the little center of Choully, until you get to an old water tower. Just passed this tower, on your right hand side, there are spots for a picnic. 

There also is a restaurant in Choully, called l’Auberge de Choully. They have a large terrace at the back for sunny days.

There are plenty of water fountains along the way where you could fill up your water bottle.

Peissy

From Choully, we will continue our bike ride in Geneva’s vineyards in the direction of Peissy. In Peissy, you will pass a façade of a church, with only the façade still standing, and lovely wineries. 

Malval and the Allondon river

When you get out of Peissy, you will arrive at a cross section, to the left is back to Satigny, to the right is in the direction of Malval. I took a right, because Malval and the Allondon valley is just such a beautiful part of Geneva! The road will lead you into the forest, and down towards the river. You will pass the Restaurant Les Granges, which has a beautiful terrace in summer. You can stop to walk along the river, or even go into the water in warm summer days (I will not say swim, because it’s not very deep, but refreshing anyway). If you continue to follow the road, you will again get to a cross section. I took a left there to get back to Satigny. 

(In case you would like to stop for a nice hike, if you go straight on instead of to the left, you will reach one of the hikes described in our Family Hikes around Geneva article, the Roulave hike).

Now, since you went down to the river, this is the part where you must climb up again, in the direction of ‘Les Baillets’. Pass ‘Les Baillets’ and la Chaumaz. In case the climb made you thirsty, there is again a terrace in La Chaumaz. 

Back to Satigny

Bike ride Geneva vineyards. Biking in the countryside of Geneva

From here, just follow the road down in direction of Satigny, until you get to the main road between Satigny and Russin. Take a left, and then a right at the first opportunity, so that you will not be cycling along a busy road. 

This road to the right will get you crossing the train tracks, and reach a part where you will have a view on the Rhone river and the Verbois dam. Then, turn left down, follow the road until you get through a tunnel and take a right, which will lead you back to Satigny train station to complete this loop bike ride!

How to get to Satigny from Geneva

From Geneva, you take the Leman Express line in the direction of La Plaine. 

You can bring your on bike on the train in Switzerland, but space is limited. There often is a bike sign on the doors of the train where you will find space to park your bike in the train. You will have to get a half price train ticket for the transport of your bike. 

How to rent a bike in Satigny

Bike rental in Satigny
Bike rental at the train station

Bike rental in Satigny is available through the Donkey Republic app. You should download the app in advance and allow the Bluetooth connection to lock and unlock the bike in case you choose an e-bike. The rental cost is per hour, with the first hour for free. The price looks reasonable, under CHF 10 for 2 hours of e-bike. 

Make sure you bring your own helmet, a water bottle, and maybe some snacks for on the road.

Did you try this bike ride in the vineyards in Geneva? We would love to hear what you think of it, and feel free to tag us in your Instagram stories, we would be happy to see that. 

If you would like to stay updated on our family travels as we go, then make sure to check out our Instagram or Facebook page.

Château-d’Oex in the Pays d’en Haut region in Canton Vaud in Switzerland with its green hills and mountainscape is a great place for a weekend break! Château-d’Oex is known for the annual hot air ballooning festival in January and has its own museum on balloon flights which can be visited year-round. Chateau d’Oex has a multitude of options for excursions, like the surrounding villages of Rougemont and Rossinière, but is also close to Gstaad in the Bernese Oberland which is a great area for hikes!

We went to Château-d’Oex twice. Once on a camping trip in summer, and once to a lovely Bed & Breakfast in spring. We love the beautiful view in this area, and especially the amazing green of the fields in the landscape. Here are our tips on things to do around Chateau-d’Oex:

Espace Ballon in Chateau-d’Oex

The Espace Ballon in Château-d’Oex has a permanent exhibition on ballooning adventures, and amongst others tells the the story of the first non-stop balloon flight which is very interesting to learn about! More information on this museum can be found here: https://www.espace-ballon.ch/copie-de-accueil

Your own balloon flight in Chateau-d’Oex

Chateau d’Oex is the alpine ballooning capital, and so, if you are not afraid of heights and have always dreamt of a balloon flight to take in the Alpine views, this would be the place to go! More information on booking your own flight can be found here: https://ballonschateaudoex.ch/en/

Walk along the Sarine stream and crossing of the Turrian suspension bridge

If you follow the balloon path from the main square in Chateau-d’Oex, towards the forest and the small river, this will lead you to a leisurely walk along the Sarine. The path will take you to the Turrian suspension bridge, which dates from 1883, and which is not really high, but very nice to cross. If you continue to follow the path to the left after the bridge, it will take you to the Ramaclé waterfall. 

Rougemont

Rougemont is noted as one of the ‘most beautiful villages of Switzerland’. It’s a village with an authentic Swiss feel, and it has beautiful wooden chalet buildings with decorated facades. The village is important in the history of paper cutting art and it is possible to book a workshop with a paper cutting artist. 

Restaurant tip: we had a lovely lunch at Café du Cerf in Rougemont. I had one of the best ‘soupe de Chalet’ here! Website: http://lecerfrougemont.ch. In case you would like to know more on typical Swiss dishes, you can find that in our article on Swiss Food.

Rossinière

Another small and authentic Swiss village to visit and have a stroll through. Rossinière is not very big, but worth the stop. The most remarkable wooden chalet is probably the ‘Grand Chalet’ which was once home to the painter Balthus. It still is a private house, so it can not really be visited, but the façade of the building is impressive to see, even just from the street. 

Gstaad and Saanen

Gstaad is only 20 minutes by car from Chateau d’Oex and offers lots of hiking options! We personally prefer the village Saanen to Gstaad, in case you would like to visit another village, or have lunch. 

You can head to Lauenen, and hike around the lake Lauenensee. But the best thing to do in Gstaad, according to us, is to get yourself a cheese fondue hiking backpack and head to one of the outdoor Fondue Pot picnic tables. More information about that in our article on ‘Gstaad in Summer’. 

Another area with beautiful hiking paths is Schönried. It was the place where the glass mirror house ‘Mirage Gstaad’ was located. We did visit the mirror house, on one of the very last days it was there, but it is gone now. The area is still a beautiful place to hike, with gorgeous views. 

Lovely family friendly Bed & Breakfast and a hot tub with a view! 

There is a lovely Bed & Breakfast in Chateau d’Oex, which used to be a school for girls. The Bed & Breakfast is very family friendly and has plenty of place for kids to play. It has a garden, a terrace, a multi-sports field to play basketball or soccer, and an indoor playroom with table-tennis, table football, and a pool table. There is a large lounge deck in the garden, and, a hot tub with a view on the surrounding mountains! We had a lovely time in this bed and breakfast! A part from rooms in the chalet, they also rent out apartments, and sometimes hold yoga retreats there. More information on this bed & breakfast: https://www.vieuxchalet.ch

Camping in Chateau d’Oex

There also is a small public camp site in Chateau d’Oex. It has a field to pitch your tent close to the river stream, and the absolute advantage of this campsite is that it is right next to the public swimming pool of Chateau d’Oex! 

Information on this campsite.

Have you been to Chateau-d’Oex?

Röstigraben letters, Swiss culture

Welcome to the The Röstigraben Letters, monthly letters between Kristin from Swiss Family Travel, and Laura from Let’s Explore. Married Swiss, Kristin, an Australian living in german-speaking Zug, and Laura a Dutch, living in french-speaking Geneva, unfold through their letters the cultural differences between both sides of the Röstigraben, learning more about Switzerland along the way. Read their letters (Kristin’s &  Laura’s) and replies, and share your thoughts in the comments. 

My letter is a reply to Kristin’s April letter from the other side of the Röstigraben. You can read her April letter here.

April 2021

Salut Kristin!

‘Avril, ne te découvre pas d’un fil!’. Haha, this means, in April… don’t take off your warm clothes just yet, or literally, don’t take off a thread (of clothes). April indeed comes in many facets, doesn’t it? Like you, we had apéro in the sun with friends, fresh snow on the surrounding mountains, and days and days of that terrible wind, la Bise. It’s been here for about 11 days, while usually they say a Bise lasts 1, 3, 6, or 9 days. Luckily it is behind us now!

The snow swan got very thin on the Jura mountains, at some point we thought we saw a break, but then it snowed again…

The cherry blossoms around Zug seem super lovely! I’ve seen quite some photos of it over the years on Instagram. Being quite allergic to them, I will unfortunately not venture out too close to them. We have that with Spring, we love to see the flowers on all the trees, but we are honestly too allergic! I really hope the frost will not have affected the cherries too much, as I love cherries!

Ah, yes, I saw that in the Married Swiss series, that one or two duvets was a question. We only have one duvet, and I wouldn’t even have thought two duvets was an option, but when sometimes in a hotel we do have two duvets, I admit it avoids secretly pulling the duvet towards you at night. 

I have not heard of the Spring festival in Zug, but I did hear about the burning of the Böögg! We don’t really have that here, although on a small scale, they do it in some Kindergartens on the French side as well, ‘bruler le bonhomme d’hiver’. We do always check afterwards to see how long it took for the Böögg to explode, and we too keep our fingers crossed for a warm Summer ahead!

Ligerz

Yesterday, we had a small incident at home where one of us hurt his hand on the hot stove. It had me thinking of a common thing on this side of the Röstrigraben called a ‘coupe-feu’? Do you have that in the German speaking part as well? A coupe-feu is a person who has a gift of ending the feeling when you burn yourself (and the burning feeling that lasts for a while, even though you, for instance, took your hand away quickly). This practice, which happens by talking on the phone, is quite common on the French side, and a lot of French-Swiss have a phone number of a Coupe-feu in their phones. There are a lot of hospitals on the French side where they even have a list of these ‘people with the coupe-feu gift’ at their emergency unit, as a complimentary suggestion to help someone after their first aid. Luckily, our incident was not bad and quickly resolved, so we didn’t need it, but I know people who did, and who say it helped. I had never heard of the existence of such a thing before moving to Switzerland!

I know how you feel about not being able to go home, even though my home country is obviously closer. Technically, I can go. But since a quarantine is required in both directions, and well, our kids have to go to school, it’s not really possible anyway. 

Oh, great if you would come to Geneva to renew the Teen’s passport! I realize it is a long trip for you, but I would sure be happy to meet you in person! 

We did have our Spring break already, and since we waited until the very last moment to see if any travel restrictions would be eased towards our family (the Netherlands, and the South of France), we ended up with no plans and all restrictions still in place. 

Life sometimes goes as it goes, and we had a super nice surprise as on Friday just before Easter, we actually won a giveaway to go to lovely BNB Le Vieux Chalet in Chateau d’Oex! We were all super excited and left the next day for a 2-nights stay. The BNB was wonderful with lots of things to do for the kids, so they played basketball, table soccer, table tennis, and we could all use the outdoor jacuzzi with a mountain view! A real treat!! 

From Chateau d’Oex we visited a bit of the surrounding villages, while doing an Easter egg hunt, and we went to Gstaad to finally see the Mirage mirror house, just before it was taken away. We were happy we went to see it as I wanted to go for a while, but somehow never got around to do it. 

Apart from our trip to Chateau d’Oex, we also went along some villages on the Lakes of Neuchatel and Biel. The villages Le Landeron and La Neuveville which are very picturesque with their colored houses, and then on to Ligerz on Lake Biel. What was funny was that we took a funicular in Ligerz to go up on the vineyards hills, and that funicular actually crossed the Röstigraben! At the bottom, in Ligerz, they speak German, and on top, in Preles, French. From Preles we walked back down to Ligerz and enjoyed the view on beautiful Lake Biel, an area we actually know less, but which is really very close to our Swiss town of origin, Heimatort. Maybe only a half an hour by car actually, but we decided we wanted to save that for a full weekend to visit our origin town and its surroundings. 

On the last day of our Spring break, we went on a day trip to Lausanne. When my husband and I met, he was a student in Lausanne, and I sometimes went after work to see him, but we never went as a family. We climbed the steps of Lausanne’s Cathedral and learned about a tradition they kept alive since the Middle Ages: a Cathedral’s Night Watch actually calls out every hour from on top of the Cathedral between 22:00 and 2AM every night, 365 nights a year! I love these kind of traditions that are kept alive. Are there any traditions like this in Zug?

Oh Ticino, you are so lucky! Yes, this is also a popular holiday destination for the Genevois. As warm weather destinations, I would say Ticino, but also France and Italy in non Covid times, to get to the beach and warm weather. The closest beach breaks are at a 5 hours drive from Geneva approximately, so if you have a few days off, this is very possible, but not so much this year of course.

Enjoy the pizza and gelato Kristin! We have fond memories of Lugano, Gandria, and Monte Bré!

Bonnes vacances,

Laura

Make sure you read Kristin’s April letter here.

And you can find all our letters here. 

Things to do in Lausanne

Lausanne is the capital of the Canton Vaud in Switzerland and is located on the beautiful Lac Léman. It is a lively city with plenty to offer for students, families, and visitors. Lausanne has an old town center, a brand-new museum hub, Plateforme10, many parks, playgrounds, and a lake area, called Ouchy, who’s natural setting invites joggers and people enjoying their Sunday afternoon stroll. 

We loved visiting Lausanne, and since we do not live far away, we will definitely go more often. Here are our Top Things to do in Lausanne! 

Lausanne’s Old Town and Cathedral

Lausanne has a lovely old town center and a beautiful Cathedral. It has an interesting tradition which is kept alive since the Middle Ages. The Cathedral’s night watch (guet in French) calls out every hour from 22:00 until 2AM every day, 365 days a year. Incredible right? This means someone in Lausanne actually has the job of being the ‘guet’, and climbs up the Cathedral every evening to still tell the people in Lausanne during the night what time it is. When you climb the 224 steps of the Cathedral, you will see a door that says: ‘Loge du Guet’. This is where the night watch spends his evening. Once on top, you are rewarded with a very beautiful view on the rooftops of the city, the lake, and the mountains afar. If you go to Lausanne, climbing the Cathedral should definitely not be missed!

In front of the Cathedral, there is a small square with benches for a picnic or a coffee date with a view. Very nice spot!

Things to do in Lausanne for kids!

Since April 2021 the city of Lausanne created a Travel Journal specially for their young visitors. The travel journal definitely makes a city trip to Lausanne fun for kids and allows them to read some interesting information about the sites they visit. They can check out the map to see where they are, and it has quite a few goodies to pick up at several spots while exploring the city! How about picking up a cupcake in the center of town? Or a hot or cold chocolate at the chocolate shop? Or why not an ice-cream in Ouchy on a sunny day? The Travel Journal also gives them something special at some of the city’s top attractions for children, like Aquatis and the Olympic Museum. We had fun exploring Lausanne through the Travel Journal! We visited the Tour de Sauvabelin observation tower, the Cathedral, Ouchy, and a Museum. 

You can pick up the Travel Journal for free at the Lausanne Tourism Offices. The information in the journal is in French, English and German. It comes with a pencil, an eraser, and glue for kids to craft, draw, write, and customize their own journal!

More information on Lausanne’s Kids Travel Journal: https://www.lausanne-tourisme.ch/en/travel-journal/

Tour de Sauvabelin and park

Sauvabelin park in the north of the city is a lovely park for families. It has a small lake, a petting zoo, playgrounds, and a wooden observation tour, Tour de Sauvabelin. The tower was described by our children as a big Kapla tower, and we definitely saw why. From on top of the tower you have a lovely view over the park and the city. From the Tour de Sauvabelin, you can easily stroll back down to the center of town. To get there with young kids, I would suggest taking public transport as the climb up can be a bit exhausting. 

How to get to Tour de Sauvabelin: we took the metro from Ouchy to Bessières station, and then bus 16 to the Lac de Sauvabelin (direction Vennes). 

Museums in Lausanne

Plateforme10 is a modern new art district, very close to the train station, and located where the former train halls were. The fact that it is located at a former train hall, is nicely integrated on the esplanade in front of the building. The art district is more than a museum hub. It will also be a place to meet friends as there will be restaurants, and we already saw some shops. At the moment the Musée Cantonal des Beaux-Arts is already located at Plateforme10, and two more museums will follow soon: MUDAC (Museum of Contemporary Design and Applied Arts) and Musée de l’Elysée (photography).

The Olympic Museum in Lausanne

This modern, one-of-a-kind museum tells you the history of the Olympic Games, shows you what life in the Olympic village is like and how the athletes prepare themselves. It took us a while to put our stuff away in the cloakroom since all the lockers have the names of athletes on it and our children wanted to choose the locker of some specific athletes.

Inside the museum there are several beautiful movies shown, about concentration, happiness or the sadness of a defeat. There is a nice movie about the opening ceremonies through time which we loved watching. You will be able to see all the different torches that carried the Olympic flame and of course all the medals.

On the -1 level there are also some interactive games to be played. You can for instance test your balance on different balance boards.

The museum is located by the lake and the outdoor area has some nice art representing sports and athletes. You will see the Olympic flame and you can test who of your family is the fastest on a 100-meters athletics track.

Aquatis

Aquatis is the big aquarium in Lausanne. We haven’t been yet, but more information on Aquatis can be found here: https://www.aquatis.ch/en/

Trampoline park in Lausanne

There is a brand-new Trampoline Park in Lausanne called The Jump Spot. It’s located in a former Swiss Railway hall and they opened on March 29th 2021. Our youngest son went to test it with his friends and loved it. Make sure you reserve your spot online in advance to avoid disappointment. Their website: https://thejumpspot.ch

Excursions from Lausanne

Lausanne’s location makes it easy to go on many excursions and day trips. The closest by are of course a walk in the beautiful vineyards of Lavaux. That area is UNESCO World heritage site and has a breathtaking view on the lake. Montreux and Chateau Chillon are also close by. And the small town , Nyon, is also a nice place to visit. 

If you would like to stay updated on our family travels as we go, then make sure to check out our Instagram or Facebook page.