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Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Biking the La Côte Region on the Outskirts of Nyon

With rows of grapes clinging to the steep mountainside overlooking Lake Geneva, the vineyards of the Lavaux Region certainly deserves its recognition as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Yet, with that distinction comes an increase in tourism. If you want to bike through vineyards with only locals on charming hillside towns reminiscent of Burgundy, follow in my footsteps and head to the La Côte vineyards just outside the town of Nyon. We rented bikes at the Nyon train station and biked on a paved trail through the neighboring community of Prangins, staring in awe at 15,781-foot Mont Blanc, the highest peak in Europe, rising mightily from the French side of Lake Geneva. In the town of Gland, we filled up our water bottles in one of the many public fountains, where water comes from the same reservoir that supplies the nearby homes. We passed the Toblerone Hiking Trail that leads from the lakeshore high into the mountains, named after the concrete structures that line the trail that are the exact same shape as Toblerone chocolate.

Then we headed for the hills and were instantly enchanted by the town of Luins. We met Laurent Vigneron, the winemaker and owner of the picturesque Chateau de Luins, ready to start his fall harvest in less than a week. He took us into rooms holding immense oak barrels, some dating from as far back as 1922. We sampled his wines, a smooth pinot noir and a dry white created from the region’s favored grape, Chasselas, realizing instantly why the Swiss keep most of their wine for themselves. From Luins, we biked on a trail through the vineyards into the storybook town of Bursins, where a Medieval Cluny church still stands with requisite watchtower in the town center. A historic whitewashed chateau, now an upscale lodging called Chateau Le Rosey, peered down from the hillside. Across the street was a house straight out of a French countryside movie set with a wooden tile roof covered in moss. 
We had lunch at Café de L’Union, known for its deep-fried gruyere cheese puff they call the Malakoff. Another specialty was the blue trout caught at a nearby river, which did arrive on our plate the colored blue. It was served with cornichons and French fries. Perfect. After lunch, we headed downhill through cornfields waiting to be reaped and apple trees bending over with the latest crop. We past a horseback rider and soon took Route 1 along the lake to the town of Rolle. Quickly changing into swimwear, we had a paddleboard lesson from Jason at the Paddle Center. Soon we were gliding out on the placid blue waters of the small harbor, again mesmerized by the mountain panorama. Another memorable day in the Lake Geneva Region!

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 10/01/14 at 04:00 AM
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Longtime Boston Globe travel writer, Steve Jermanok, dishes out his favorite travel locales and provides topical travel information that comes across his desk. is an Austin-Lehman Adventure's Top 125 Best Travel Blog Semi-Finalist

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