on November 24, 2001
This is my second-favorite activity here, just after the Promenade Fleuri. Take the train from Vevey, then take the "wine train" to Chexbres. Chexbres is a typical Swiss village of cozy stone, red-roofed houses and narrow, winding streets. After passing small buildings with blooming flower boxes and one small village square, I headed down toward the lake. I was prepared to see the magnificent blue of Lac Leman and the snow-capped mountains beyond, but I was unprepared for the vineyards immediately in front of me. Soon the village was behind me, and I was standing next to a low stone wall with a signpost pointing toward the vast fields of vineyards. The parallel rows of vines ran down the hillside leading to the lake, and the rows were interrupted by a low stone wall border next to a narrow paved road wide enough for one car. These views stretched out as far as I could see to my left and right, from Montreux in the east to Lausanne in the west. The green field seemed to be a gracious, verdant carpet bordering the icy blue of the lake. As I meandered down between the vineyards and the stone walls with the lake in front of me, I could see a small sea of red-tiled roofs ahead and below butting next to the blue Leman, the village as Rivaz. If you visit during the winter, the mountains beyond the village steeples and the lake are covered with snow, and the lake itself has a mist of haze on its surface. The mix of white snow, blue water, red roofs, and green/yellow vineyards -- all covered in mist -- is inescapably magical. Because the wine festival was going on at the time, several of the houses displayed long red banners with pictures of historic vintners, but most of the old white and stone walled houses had flower boxes overflowing with red geraniums. Down at the lake, I walked to the left, east, toward St. Saphorin. There is a footpath linking Rivaz and St Saphorin above the lake, but I wanted to walk right at the lakeside, which may have been a mistake. In addition to a sidewalk, there is a major road and train tracks that line the lake. But I found the Auberge du Rivaz at the edge of the village just where it meets the lake, and had a great meal of white asparagus and crisp white wine sitting on the outdoor, canopied terrace overlooking the lake. Then I continued east to St. Saphorin. This village is a bit larger than Rivaz, and there is a Café du Raisin on the outskirts. Walking next to the lake, I ignored the fast cars whizzing by on my left and the slow trains whizzing by on my right as I gazed over the lake toward Vevey and Montreux. It’s a very long walk to Vevey, so the next time I visited the Lavaux, I took the ferry from St. Saphorin to Montreux.
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