Montreaux, Vivey, Corsier

French Switzerland is a different country. It couldn’t be more different from the Switzerland we came from. It is beyond me, how French and German people manage to unite into one nation. French Switzerland looks and feels likes France. Less than two hours from Zermatt couldn’t bring us to a more different place.
We are on Lake Geneva. Out of all bodies of water, lakes are my favorite. To me, who drowned in one of my previous lives, seeing land on all sides around a lake is reassuring.
This lake in particular is as comforting as the womb, cuddling you in the bosom of the mountains surrounding it.
We are on the Swiss Riviera. The first stop was Montreux, once fashionable, now a resort in recovery. Montreux comes off as the French Riviera’s older cousin who had lost its fortune but not its dignity and good manners, and was still wearing his fine and well tailored suit, now out of style and frayed at the edges.
There was a beautiful lakeside promenade and 19th century grand hotels. There were many glorious buildings, some interesting looking shops and restaurants, all closed on this and every Sunday. The old town was darling but completely devoid of people. I don’t understand why tourists don’t come here in droves with the town so charming, the lake so beautiful, and the weather so glorious. Centuries ago it attracted scores of famous writers, including such giants as Byron, Dostoyevsky, and Hemingway. They came here and to the neighboring town of Vivey, which we visited next. This town also has grand hotels, glorious buildings, and the continuation of the same promenade. The stores and cafes were also closed (Swiss take their Sundays seriously), but this town was teeming with people. The tourists were mostly French-speaking with some Russian and English breaking in. Conspicuously absent were German speakers. Aren’t German Swiss interested in the French corner of their fatherland?
In Vivey, you can take a tour of watering spots and other places of interest that previous illustrious visitors honored with their presence. For example, Cafe de la Clef, still functioning, was once part of the pension where Jean Jacque Rousseau stayed in 1730.
Kenny visited Musee Suisse de l’Appareill Phorographique, the Swiss Camera Museum, while I stayed outside eating my favorite black currant ice-cream and reading about Charlie Chaplin who lived here some 25 years until his death. Actually, Chaplin didn’t live in Vivey but in the village of Corsier above Vivey. I figured that Chaplin would not pick a dump as his residence and decided to check out Corsier.
We drove up to the village. Wow! And wow again! What a totally charming village it was! A true visual delight of old stone and stucco houses with colorful shutters, landscaped gardens, narrow streets, a 16th century church and an inn.
By the time we finished exploring the village and went to our hotel in Lausanne, it was late. We had booked the least expensive room with a garden view (a euphemism for no view at all). We arrived late, and yes, you guessed it, we were upgraded to a junior suite with three windows and a full view of the lake. Thank you Charlie.


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