Ahead of Lausanne’s marathon 2013 (due on 27 October), I thought I would go for a long run on Sunday with the idea of making amends (as it were) for the dearth of such runs in my very patchy marathon training 😉  In addition, I decided that I would run to Villeneuve, the small town which lies at the end of Lac Léman, at the foot of Mont d’Arvel and Rochers-de-Naye, some 32 to 34 kilometres from home. Although I had some reservations about running such a distance only a week before the marathon, I thought I would still go ahead because of the boost in confidence it would give me and also because the weather forecasts had predicted some rain for most of the morning, thus making it even more of a challenge as I had never run for so long under the rain.

While I was doing the first part of my run, i.e. the descent from my place to the lakeside, I decided that I would not take any photographs because I had already done so in the past (for instance, see my entry Is it possible to run a marathon with minimal training?) and as it had started to drizzle about fifteen minutes into my run and I did not feel like taking the camera out of my small rucksack.

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Less than half an hour later and I had reached the shoreline. Unfortunately, it was still drizzling and Lac Léman and the sky seemed to have mingled together to form an indistinct mass of greyness. What a pity as, from this vantage point, I usually get an energy boost from the sight of the mountains in the French, Valaisan and Vaudois sections of the Chablais range. So I carried along Quai d’Ouchy running towards Tour Haldimand, a nineteenth century architectural folly, which marks the end of the promenade.

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After having crossed La Vuachère, I was now on Sentier des Rives du Lac, far from the road and thus far from car exhaust too, at least for a while. As it was raining, I was not expecting to come across many people on this path, which is quite narrow at times. However, I was not the only one out there despite the rain – there were walkers who seemed to be on their Sunday stroll as well as people who seemed to be occasional joggers in addition to other runners moving at a faster tempo (maybe these were runners also putting in a few more miles before the marathon next week).

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Approximately 20 minutes later and I was about to reach the small marina of Lutry, a village with some picturesque old streets and some interesting buildings (some dating back to the medieval ages) and an alignment of stones some 6,000 years old. There was no time, unfortunately, for any sightseeing of Lutry’s distant past as I wanted to get on with my run and I was probably not even a third into the distance I had set myself as the goal of my little outing.


At Lutry’s waste water treatment plant (STEP – STation d’ÉPuration des eaux usées), I had to get back onto the road (route cantonale) as there was no longer a path — even though by law, the shorelines of the lake should be open to the public even on private properties, there are many stretches which are not. Interestingly, a political poster (for an initiative aiming to cap the remuneration of the top executive of a firm to no more than twelve times the wages of the lowest paid employee) adorned the roadside along the villas of the region’s wealthy for a few kilometres.

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At Cully, one of my favourite villages along this part of Lac Léman, I was able to run again along the lakeside. On a clear day, the area around the spot where I shot this photograph allows to enjoy a beautiful, 360 degree panorama of the green (but it is orange from mid-autumn) hills of Lavaux (part of UNESCO’s world heritage sites), the mountains both in Switzerland and in France and, of course, the lake. Anyhow here, too, there was not enough time for me to enjoy the view for too long as Villeneuve, the destination of my run, was still far away in the distance — in fact, I could not see it from this vantage point but I knew that it would lie somewhere at the foot of the mountains in the background on the far right.


After Moratel/Epesses, I was back on the road again, close to the cars and their exhaust fumes, but this time for a stretch that would extend over several kilometres. I was not too happy about that, but the alternative would have been to run along the small roads across the vineyards on the hills of Lavaux, which would have delayed me considerably. To make the matter worse, I was wondering whether the rain would be diffusing into the air any pesticides that may have been spread onto the vines as the grape harvest was late this year and, indeed, later on I saw some people harvesting the grapes in some vineyards.


However, I had set my mind on completing my run so I pressed on, having decided to forget about the pages on air pollution I had read not even two days earlier in Frédéric Denhez’s Les nouvelles pollutions invisibles, ces poisons qui nous entourent (Paris, Delachaux et Niestlé, 2011). Fortunately, I was soon about to reach Saint-Saphorin, which is one of my favourite villages along the whole of Lac Léman. As I saw two runners coming towards me and I thought that it would be nice to have them on the picture of Saint-Saphorin I was about to take, I quickly retraced my steps over a few metres. They did not take any offence and they even gave me an amused smiled when they ran past me.


Soon I reached the hotel that marks the point where I had turned and run back towards Lausanne on my previous two 42-kilometre runs along the lake. This time I was running at a much slower pace as I was two hours and twenty-five minutes into my run! So I decided to try and run a little faster, especially since I was not that far from Vevey, where I would be again able to leave the main road and run along more congenial surroundings.


The Y-shaped headquarters of Nestlé (the Swiss food multinational), which was completed in 1960 by the Genevese architect Jean Tschumi, is recognised as in important post-WWII architectural landmark of French-speaking Switzerland (in fact, the building is listed: grade II). To me, it is usually something more prosaic, namely a reminder that the train is about to either stop at or pass through Vevey 😉

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I was scandalised when I saw this in a park near Vevey: the litter left by vandals who had been partying the previous night.

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There is no excuse for such gratuitous misbehaviour;  there can only be one answer: catch the vandals and put them on a week of community service. This would teach them not to deface public parks by spreading litter around, some of which must have ended in the lake. No wonder the pollution of Lake Léman caused by plastic is on the rise! [Microplastic pollution prevalent in lakes too, Lausanne Institute of Technology (EPFL),  3 June 2013]

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Opposite Alimentarium, Nestlé’s food museum, I saw this huge fork.  Apparently, as I read today in an article that was published earlier this year in 24 Heures, the museum does not attract enough visitors and the curator would like to boost the number of visitors by enticing people to move onto the premises of the museum (whose appearance they believe is a little too austere – but there is not a great deal they can do about that as the museum is housed in a listed building). So I guess the purpose of this huge piece of cutlery was to act as a kind of attention grabber. Notice, however, that the coating seems to be coming off where it is in contact with the water, thereby adding (I suppose) to the pollution of the lake caused by the litter left by the highly misbehaved revellers seen on the previous photographs.

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The marina at La Tour de Peilz, a charming small town which dates back to pre-Roman times and is the home of Switzerland’s museum of games (which is housed in a pretty castle whose walls end with a turret on the far right of this panorama).

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The marina at Clarens, a village before Montreux (which can be seen on this photo – see the white tower in the middle). The village became famous after another Genevese, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, had used it as one of the settings for his epistolary novel ‘Julie ou La Nouvelle Héloïse’, a bestseller of the eighteenth century. This engraving (« Vue du village de Clarens, près de Vevay sur le Lac de Geneve, cet endroit est célébré dans l’Heloïse de Rousseau ») will give you a rough idea of how beautiful the scenery must have looked from this vantage point approximately two hundred and fifty years ago …

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Finally, Montreux was now in full sight, even though it still seemed so far away, and Villeneuve was barely visible, but I could see the castle of Chillon (under the motorway).

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Montreux is said to have a kind of micro climate – hence the palm trees. The lushness of this promenade makes it particularly attractive for Sunday strolls. Even long before the palms trees were first planted, this walk had been made famous by Jean-Jacques Rousseau (as I explained earlier), so that nineteenth century visitors would stroll along this part of the lake in the hope that they would recognise features the Geneva-born author had used (freely) for the setting of his bestselling love novel.

Some items from the Montreux biennale 2013[Click to enlarge]

Some items from the Montreux biennale 2013 on display along the promenade. Unfortunately, I did not have the time to take shots of all of the sculptures – I stopped at the third 😉 In addition, I did not take any pictures of the nicer stretches further along the promenade, partly because of the rain, partly because of the fact that I was running a little behind schedule.

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At last, the castle of Chillon and Villeneuve were visible. Approximately 5 kilometres and I would be at Villeneuve, the town at the end of Lake Geneva (or Lac Léman as we call it here).

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Château de Chillon, probably the most photographed castle in the whole of Switzerland. However, I did not have the time to capture the perfect shot …


… as I was in a hurry: the sign just before the castle stated that it would take 35 minutes on foot to reach Villeneuve and I had only 14 minutes left to catch the 2:24 train back to Lausanne. As I was soaked, I did not particularly want to delay my return home by even as little as 30 minutes …


… so I made a dash for it … and I even got there a few minutes early.

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An aerial view of Lac Léman showing the route I followed yesterday when I ran from Lausanne to Villeneuve.