Travel guide Romandy: Hiking in the beautiful nature of French Switzerland!

In this travel guide, you can read everything you need to know about the French-speaking part of Switzerland! Do you enjoy walking and being outside with nature? Then this travel blog, full of (free) activities to do in Romandy, is something for you! You can also read everything about Swiss cuisine and the best restaurants to visit here!

Last September we spent three days in the French part of Switzerland together with our friends and locals Marie and Cédric. We met Marie and Cédric in New Zealand and now they showed us the most beautiful places and shared their best (non-touristic) tips! In this blog, I will tell you about all the fun things to do in, Romandy, the French-speaking part of Switzerland!

 Travel guide to French-speaking Switzerland: Hiking and sightseeing tips!

Switzerland is known for its beautiful nature and beautiful mountain scenery. This country is great for outdoor living. Skiing in the winter, hiking and cycling in the summer months. The best part is, Switzerland doesn’t have to be expensive at all! Therefore, especially for you, this travel guide with five (free) activities to enjoy your holiday in this beautiful country! But first, a short lesson, geography! What is Romandy and what is the French-speaking part of Switzerland?

Where is French Switzerland or Romandy in Switzerland?!

Switzerland can roughly be divided into four areas: A large area where people speak German, a part where one speaks Italian, a piece where one speaks Romansh (a language that descends from the Roman) and an area where people speaks French. This blog is about this last region, also called Romandy and the most western part of Switzerland.

Romandy is located close to the border of France and in the south by Italy. In the French part, you will find the famous cities of Geneva and Lausanne. Below are all kinds of tips with fun activities to do when you spend a weekend getaway in Romandy.

Map of French-speaking Switzerland (i.e. Romandy)

Are you keen on hiking and nature? Consider hiking in New Zealand! This hiking-paradise is amazing. Read here our most beautiful hikes of New Zealand!

Five cool and free activities in French-speaking Zwitserland

Curious about what you can do in the French-speaking part of Switzerland? Then read our 5 free things to do in Romandy. In this way, you fully enjoy all the beauty that nature in Switzerland has to offer.

1. Hike through the Swiss Alps, for example to the summit Le Grammont!

The southern part of Switzerland is covered by the Swiss Alps. These start roughly under Lac Léman and from there go to the west of France, towards the south to Italy and towards the east to Austria. You can hike in the Swiss Alps, for example, we climbed Le Grammont, from where we had a beautiful view of Lac Léman. The La Grande Jumelle is another nearby and beautiful hike.

Hiking on Le Grammont in Switzerland

Do you want to climb Le Grammont? It is easiest to start in the village of Miex and from there first to Lac de Taney to hike. Here you can take a rest and then start on the second part of this hike. The second part first runs through a forest and then you come above the tree line. You can hear the cows grazing with characteristic cowbells from afar.

Once you have arrived at the last part, you have to climb the steep summit, quite tough but definitely worth it because of the view! This hike takes about 6 to 7 hours in total, you will rise over 1200 meters and will cover about 14 kilometres. For a detailed description and additional information about this hike, click here.

2. Visit the Jura mountains on the border with France!

The Alps are not the only mountains in Switzerland, in the north, on the border with France, you will find the Jura mountains These old mountains are much less rocky than the Alps. On top of them grow forests which makes them very green and lush. We visited  La Dent de Vaulion, a beautiful mountain from where you have a view of all three lakes: Lac Léman, Lac du Neuchâtel and Lac du Joux. Other beautiful mountain tops to visit in the Jura is the Mont Grêle.

Hiking on the mountain peak of Dent de Vallon in Switzerland!

Do you also want to climb the summit Dent de Vaulon? We drove up by car and only hiked the last piece because of a knee injury from Marie. You can also go up from Lac du Joux. This hike takes about three hours and you go up by 400 meters. For a detailed description and additional information about this hike, click here.

3. Be amazed by the dizzying height of Creux du Van

Well how can I describe Creux du Van best … it looks like a natural amphitheatre: huge rock walls in a U shape, from where you can see more than 160 meters down into the depths. The valley at the bottom of the rock is created by decades of erosion. You can walk along the entire line of the cliff, about 4 kilometres long.

This is not without risk: there are no fences or deposits anywhere that prevent you from falling down. And that makes a visit to Creux du Van perhaps even more spectacular!

We drove to Creux du Van by car and first ate a snack at the alpine restaurant Le Soliat. You can also make beautiful hikes where you hike all the way up. You start in the village of Noiraigue and walk in a circuit of about 14 kilometres in five hours. This is not an easy hike. For a detailed description and additional information about this hike, click here.

4. Relax at one of the clear blue lakes!

In Romandy, you will find several large lakes. The most famous ones are Lac Léman, Lac du Neuchâtel and Lac du Joux. The first, Lac Léman, is often mistakenly called Geneva Lake because Geneva is on this lake. Don’t call this lake Geneva Lake in the presence of Swiss who aren’t from Geneva, or get ready for a reprimand! All three lakes are clear blue and contain freshwater where you can take a refreshing dive. When we were in Switzerland in early September, it was pretty hot. To cool down we jumped in Lac du Neuchâtel, which turned out to be very cold.

Visit the Swiss lakes Lac Léman and Lac de Joux

Lac Léman we visited from Lausanne and from the village of Montreux. The southern part of the banana-shaped lake is in France, while the northern part is in Switzerland. I really think Lac Léman is one of the most beautiful lakes I have seen, surrounded by beautiful mountains, idyllic villages and of course the vineyards of Lavaux!

The smallest lake of these three, Lac du Joux, is located in the middle of the Jura mountains. In the winter the lake freezes and you can skate on it!

5. Visit the vineyards of Lavaux, or join in the harvest season!

One of the most beautiful places along Lac Léman is the Unesco World Heritage Lavaux, an area full of vineyards. These are built up against the hills and running sloping until just on the water. By car you drive straight through this area, perfect to stop for a while. Even though the vineyards are private terrain, we could not resist to step out and walk among the tall vines.

The harvest season will take place at the end of September: Les Vendanges. Our friends, Marie and Cédric, helped with the harvest last year. According to them, it is hard work, but fun to do! Together with the harvest, come the harvest festivals: Fête des Vendanges. Click here for more information about these harvest festivals.

Are you wondering what our time in Switzerland was like? Here you will find the Switzerland diary blog of this trip!

The best cities and villages in French-speaking Switzerland

The following cities or villages are nice to visit when you spend a few days in the French-speaking part of Switzerland. They are great to combine into a self-made Switserland tour. Some villages are so small that you can walk through them within fifteen minutes, others like Lausanne are a lot bigger and here you can spend a whole day. Below, you see the cities and sights of Normandy, the French-speaking part of Switzerland.

Map: interesting places in French-speaking Switzerland

1. Spend a day in the student city  of Switzerland: Lausanne

Lausanne is a beautiful old town at Lac Léman located between three hills. The city has existed for nearly 2000 years and was founded by the Romans who had an army base here. There is not much to see from the Roman settlements, but the Middle Ages are still clearly present in the old city centre. Here you will find, among other things, the Gothic Notre-Dame Cathedral from the twelfth century. The tower projects creamy white above most buildings.

Walk through the charming streets of the old centre and through the trendy Quartier du Flon towards the station. Be sure to visit the southern part where you will find the famous Olympic museum. You are now close to the port of Ouchy, to Lac Léman. Here you will find a lot of terraces and a beautiful park where you can lie in the sun.

Tip: are you looking for a nice hotel in? Hôtel des Patients is located in the North and provides good value for money. From €151 euro a night.

Hotel guide Romandia Hotel des Partients Lausanne
Click here for more information on this hotel!

2. Visit the ancient village of Romainmôtier, where time seems to stand still!

In the middle of the Jura mountains lies the ancient village of Romainmôtier. The village consists of no more than two streets but is certainly worth a (short) visit. There is a beautiful church and every house has red shutters and red geranium: as if time has stood still.

Tip: looking for a good hotel in the neighbourhood of Romainmôtier? Bed & Breakfast La Ferme de la Praz is very cute! From €143 euro a night.

Hotel guide Romandia BB La Praz Hotel
Click here for more information on this hotel!

3. Admire the statue of Freddy Mercury in Montreux, Zwitserland

Montreux is a beautiful, small town at Lac Lémon. Because of its sheltered location, Montreux is often a few degrees warmer than in the rest of the region! It is best known for the annual Jazz Festival in June or July and for the many celebrities who stayed here shorter or longer.

One of the most famous is Freddy Mercury who sang about Montreux in the song “A Winter’s Tale”. On the promenade of Montreux is a statue of the famous singer. The reason so many celebrities came here is that there used to be a big music studio where many artists recorded their music.

Tip: Looking for a nice hotel in Montreux? At La Rouvenaz you already stay for €124 euro a night.

Hotel guide Romandia La Rouvenaz Montreux
Click here for more information on this hotel!

4. Visit the village of Gruyères (early in the day)!

The village of Gruyères lies in the eponymous district of Gruyères in the pre-Alps. The village is exactly as you imagine a Swiss village: it is located on top of a hill, surrounded by greenery and everywhere you can see red canopies and wooden terraces. All in all very cute. It’s a tourist attraction, but if you go early in the day, the selfie sticks or tour bus are not yet here. Because of the view, it’s nice to walk in the direction of the castle that is at the top of the hill.

Tip: spending the night in Gruyères? Perhaps Gruyere Rooms is a nice hotel for you! Starting at €92 euro a night.

Hotel guide Zwitslerand Hotel Gruyere Gruyere

Click here for more information on this hotel!

Food you must try when in Switzerland

This section covers the best dishes of Swiss cuisine! Besides, we recommend a few very good restaurants which are worth checking out! I was under the impression that typical Swiss food was always some sort of cheese dish, but there is so much more! After a long day of hiking or being active, there is nothing better than enjoying your Swiss wine in combination with local cheese!

Cheese fondue

A visit to Switzerland is not complete without a real cheese fondue. We ate cheese fondue in the alpine restaurant Le Soliat, near Creux du Van. Very nice to sit together and dip vegetables and bread in the creamy cheese and afterwards scrape the hard pieces out of the pan!

Gruyere cheese, chocolate and merengues in Gruyère

The Gruyère district is known for the cheese of the same name, but what is also a famous food from this area, are the delicious merengues and swiss chocolate. If you visit Gruyère, you should definitly try the meringue with fresh red fruit and fresh whipped cream!

Fillets de Perche Meunière

A speciality in the vicinity of Lac Léman is the dish Filets de Perche Meunière. These are soft breaded fish with creamy lemon mayonnaise. We ate this at Le Relais de la Poste, a restaurant that, how could it be otherwise, at Lac Léman!

The best creperie: Crêpes in Lausanne

According to Marie and Cédric, we were not allowed to leave Switzerland without having tasted the crêpes. We ate them at the best creperie in Lausanne: La Creperie D’ouchy. The name says it all: the restaurant is located at the port Ouchy with a view of Lac Léman. Crêpes are richly invested in Switzerland and are eaten as lunch. They are very different from the sweet crêpes in Paris!

Swiss Raclette: a traditional alpine dish!

Also, a real traditional alpine dish is Raclette. Combine Raclette with many small pans full of potatoes and vegetables covered with warm, melted cheese! How tasty! Nice to taste different Swiss cheeses such as Raclette cheese, Gruyere and Appenzeller!

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