On a sunny day, as if mesmerized, my sister remains frozen at our window seat held spellbound by Switzerland’s splendor. “It’s amazing,” she exclaims. “In Switzerland every mile is beautiful.”
Visitors tend to agree; we have arguably one of the best views in the world. Our house above Lake Geneva overlooks the Alps rising up from behind purple-blue waters dotted with sailboats. Puffy, white clouds hover over the mountain range where Mont Blanc, the highest peak in Europe, sticks its head out like an apparition of my imagination. On a clear day I can see as far as the 450 foot water jet refracting light in Geneva as well as the craggy, ashen tips of the Alps, sixty miles away. The mountains, in different shades of gray, appear to bow down to Mont Blanc, the queen known as the “white lady” for its snow-covered peak, sparkling as a frosted crown.
Our village is nestled in the basin of Lake Geneva, where the land gently slopes downward from the Jura Mountains on the north side and upward toward the Alps from across the lake on the south side. Though lesser known, the Jura, round, rolling and covered in thick forest, are beautiful in their own right whereas the Alps are all sharp angles and rocky mountain faces.
We live on a strip of fertile land between Geneva at one end of the lake and Montreux at the other. Montreux and its neighboring cities and towns constitute a gorgeous, opulent region often referred to as the Swiss Riviera.
In my yard, forsythia transforms into a sunburst. Across the street, yellow fields of rapeseed contrast with green wheat fields while further on grape vines reach toward the light like gnarled, old arthritic hands. In orchards white blossoms erupt on the rows of apple, pear and cherry trees promising sweet nectars of succulent fruits.
A John Deere tractor creeps along the slope turning the soil like a giant green snail. Migrant workers hunch over vineyards on small tricycles to prune the vines by hand to ensure a successful vintage. These human laborers are never alone; the loud humming of bee colonies can be heard. Animals too are omnipresent; a dappled grey horse trots across the countryside bearing a rider, bypassing herons perched one-legged in the fields while overhead, falcons circle in search of prey.
Light changes the perspective every second on this richly colored panorama. A ray of sunshine breaks through the clouds, casting a spotlight on a mountain flank creating a new picture.
Meanwhile, the quaint Swiss and French architecture can be seen clustered across the landscape. Below the fields and vineyards, the rust-colored rooftops of villages peek above a ribbon of green trees. On the far side of the lake, milk chocolate colored chalets lace the mountainsides. To the west, the tips of the buildings in Geneva can be seen on clear days.
Ah, all that beauty to behold without even leaving my home, imagine the grandeur that waits when we hit the road. In windy lanes that weave through the countryside wooden shuttered shops line villages so pristine, my niece declares, “The are streets that look clean enough to eat off of.”
One of the biggest perks of living in a small country with such contrasting landscapes, is that only a short drive away, you can enter another universe.
We are 2 miles from the French border, only a 2 hour drive from Germany and Italy, 5 hours from Austria, and 7 hours from Spain and Belgium and a mere 10 minutes from an international airport, even though we live in a village in the countryside.