I can't believe it's taken me so long to visit Morges! Even when I lived in nearby Nyon for a year and pretty much visited all the picturesque villages around Lake Geneva, I thoroughly managed to overlook this handsome small town with its gorgeous lakeside promenade. Shame on me!
And I have to admit that when I finally visited, it was by accident. To kill time between two meetings I hopped on a train that took me in 15 minutes from Lausanne to this attractive town on Lake Geneva.
The video also shows a little about Audrey Hepburn who lived in nearby Tolochenaz
for 30 years and is buried there too. At the end of the video you catch
a glimpse of Lausanne (min. 2:16).
From the train station I meandered down toward the lake and into the heart of the old town. Grand-Rue is car free and a joy to wander along, drop in and out of small boutiques, artisan stores and galleries or just window shop.
Chocoholics find handmade chocolate delicacies with the finest ingredients at the Confectionery Fornerod L'Arlequin (Grand-Rue 58 - right next to the Alexis-Forel museum.) Locals come here to buy their croissants, to have their morning coffee and read the newspaper or even meet for lunch in the tearoom or on the terrace.
Morges was a prehistoric settlement with pile-dwellings dating back to the Neolithic period. Then, in 1286 Luois de Savoy built the four tower castle and founded the city of Morges. During the Middle Ages it was the seasonal residence of the court of Savoy and the seat of the Bernese bailiff until the Canton Vaud (VD) became independent of Bern in 1803.
Some of its remarkable facades are reminders of the early modern era, like the Hôtel de ville. The Town Hall is the oldest public building of its type in the Canton Vaud and was built between 1515 and 1520. Audrey Hepburn married here in 1969.
Then, walking down toward the Tourist Office and the Castle Morges, the lovely window display and the little table pulled into "La Bôite a Thé" (Grand-Rue 97), a charming little store chock full with tea from all around the world as well as an impressive display of tea cups and théières (tea pots), and candles. Chairs and tables in the back of the store invite to linger and try some tea and maybe a gelato.
Morges Castle is a typical example of the Savoyard quadrangular building style with four hefty towers at each corner, one of them lager than the rest. It was the seat of the Bernese bailiff in the middle ages and now houses four military museums, one of them featuring over 10,000 pewter figurines.
The lake promenade exudes an air of elegance and sweet idleness. You can walk from here practically without interruption along Lake Geneva to Lausanne. The pretty, flower-filled town has a privileged location on Lake Geneva.
The long quay directly on the lake from the marina all the way to the "Parc de Vertou" at the east end of Morges is dedicated to the Russian composer Igor Stravinsky who lived here with his family between 1915 and 1917 in a stately villa close by the lake, now transformed into a beautiful high-end B&B, the "Maison d'Igor".
Every year, thousands of Dahlias - approximately 100 varieties - decorate the scenic shoreline from July to October between the "Temple de Morges" and the "Parc de Vertou".
On this sunny mid-October day, flowers were still blooming, the trees had not yet changed their colour, the lake was sparkling, and the mooring boats were slightly swaying in the wind. The Savoy Alps and Mont-Blanc massif glistening in the distance beyond the lake. People were wandering along the quays, playing chess on a grand checkered board in the park or sitting on benches and soaking up the rays of the warm sun. Teenagers were sitting on the sidewalk, enjoying themselves and exchanging their secrets.
The Belle-Époque building of the Casino Morges dates back to 1900 and is a mixture of neo-Baroque, neo-Louis XV and neo-modernism. It's a bit of a hotchpotch of building styles but it does exude great charm with its richly decorated façade and the iron balustrades. It houses restaurant, bar, stage, and a gallery. Being in Morges for lunch, I had to have "Filet de Perche", and the terrace of the Casino was the perfect place to enjoy it.
Opposite the Casino is the pier, once a very important transshipment point before the time of train freight transport. These days it's the pit stop for leisure boats on Lake Geneva.
The large white sails of the galley "La Liberté" which anchors off Morges were already stored away for the season (you can see it in the picture above in the distance behind the girls). The imposing 55m long wooden vessel is a master piece in shipbuilding. It was built in 1992 by unemployed craftsmen and fashioned after a 17th century model under the guidance of architect Jean-Pierre Hirt. It is the only seafaring galley in the world and the biggest sailing boat on European lakes. It's in service between May and October.
I sat down on a bench, my eyes gazing dreamily over the peaceful deep blue lake to the Savoy Alps, and I daydreamed of eras gone by. The atmosphere along the quays was such that I easily could imagine myself saunter along the quays in the early 20th century, wearing something fancy with an elaborate hat, and a sun umbrella in my hand. After an 'exhausting walk' along the shore I'd sit myself down in the garden of the Mont Blanc Hotel for afternoon tea.
I felt far removed from the everyday hustle and bustle, and I almost missed my train back to Lausanne for my evening appointment.
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The "City of Flowers" lies on the shore of Lake Geneva between Lausanne and Geneva in the French speaking part of Switzerland.
The Tulip Festival is celebrated each spring between end of March and mid-May. A sea of flowers - approximately 150,000 tulips and 300 varieties - spread out like a carpet in the "Parc de l'Indépendence" just west of Castle Morges.
Small potters market and a number of events, including brunch, take place each weekend. At the end of the festival, people flock to the tulip market to buy up all tulip bulbs since there are many varieties only found there.
Tip: The best time to see the myriad of tulips in full bloom is probably mid to end of April but it always depends a little on the weather. If winter was mild and spring early, most likely it is best to visit before mid-April. And if winter was hard and long, you might visit after mid-April. Do contact the tourism office to check for best times and planned activities.
The Tulip Festival starts with a brunch in the "Parc de l'Indépendance" (March 28, 2016). CHF 38.- per person, children 6 to 12 CHF 22.-, children up to the age of 5 are free. For reservations call until 21 March: +41 (0)21 811 51 71.
Admission: Entrance to the park and the festival itself is free.
Wine lovers meet at the Arvinis, the wine exhibition in the "Halles CFF" (train station) to taste the regional wine specialties. April 13 to 18, 2016
The Nautical Club of Morges hosts the Swiss Dragon Championship regatta from June 1 to 5, 2016;
Place de l'Eglise, on two Saturdays in July and August;
You won't get hungry in Morges. From local fairs to fabulous Chinese cuisine, from a quick tasty kebab at the Turkish take-out to tarts, sandwiches and chocolates, no tummy will have a reason to growl. Many restaurants have terraces or outdoor seating on the streets.
For the chocoholics - Chocolatier Fornerod, Grand-Rue 58
And by the way, the canton Vaud is one of the top gastronomic areas in Switzerland. Two of the most prestigious gourmet temples are found nearby:
Morges makes a great base for exploring the Lake Geneva region and the La Cote vineyards between Morges and Nyon, the Lavaux Vineyards between Lausanne and Montreux (Swiss Riviera) and even the Valais vineyards - particularly between Sion and Sierre.
The town is easy to navigate on foot and by car and nice hotels and B&Bs are close enough to the train station for visitors arriving by public transport.
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