Top Things to See And Do
Nyon is a charming little town situated directly on Lac Léman (or Lake Geneva as it is known in English) midway between Lausanne and Geneva. It is extremely picturesque with its own castle, charming cobbled streets, a number of interesting little museums and its superb lake views. Its great selection of cafes and restaurants stretch out under a sea of parasols in Summer, which make it an ideal place to visit in the holidays. In addition to Nyon castle, just 5 minutes there is another castle, Chateau de Prangins, which is renowned for its historic and very impressive walled gardens.
Nyon Is A Roman Town and A Fisherman’s Village
What’s more, this little town in Canton Vaud is steeped in history and has some amazing Roman artefacts which you can find dotted all over the town.
It also has a fishermen’s quarter right down on the lake where the fisherman still fish and prepare their goods for market as they have for centuries.
The Nyon Tintin Connection
If you’re a Tintin fan, you will find many connections with the ‘The Calculus Affair’ written by Belgian author Hergé, in the town. Nyon’s very own Professor Auguste Piccard was the inspiration for Professor Calculus in the well-known comic book and you might recognise the rows of trees by the lake and the ‘Maitre-Jacques Fountain’ (above) in Rue de Rive from the book.
Chateau de Prangins – Prangins Castle
We began our tour of Nyon by visiting Chateau de Prangins. Not only is it a very beautiful building but it has a fabulous garden which is said to be the largest walled garden in Switzerland, still in its original design. Here they grow many of the plants which were originally cultivated when it was first created. It is very pleasant to go for a walk through the gardens and there is also a small kitchen garden exhibition there, in addition to the main exhibitions.
The Chateau houses a museum with some very interesting historical collections, the main one, “Noblesse Oblige”, is about life in an 18th Century Chateau. In addition, until 11th October 2020 they have an exhibition called “A Matter of Affinity – Love and Sexuality in the 18th Century“. It is an interesting topic, extremely well done, featuring lots of original artefacts from the archives of the Swiss National Museum.
Afterwards, why not enjoy a coffee on the terrace outside and take a look at the views over the lake? There is parking close to the Chateau and you can also take a bus to get there. You can visit the Chateau de Prangins website here,
Chateau de Nyon – Nyon Castle
Nyon Castle occupies a commanding spot in the centre of town just off a pleasant square called Place du Chateau, full of outdoor cafes and restaurants. You can enjoy stunning views of the lake from its outdoor terrace and inside there is a museum.
Until quite recently the castle was actually a prison! Today you can visit the prison cells on the top floor and see the writing on the walls as well as various interesting artefacts. There are a number of exhibitions running too – take a look at Nyon Castle’s website here.
If you walk along to the square called Esplanade des Marronniers, you will meet a scene reminiscent of Ancient Rome or Greece! There are three Roman columns standing proudly overlooking the lake. They hark back to the time from between 45 and 27 BC when Nyon, (then known as Noviodunum), belonged to Julius Caesar’s “Colonia Iulia Equestris».
The columns were originally discovered under the Rue Delafléchère and in 1958 they were moved to this square for the city’s 2000 year celebration. It’s now a popular place for free concerts and a wonderful reminder of Nyon’s Roman history.
Nyon is of course steeped in Roman history and just along from the Esplanade des Marronniers you can find the Roman Museum. Bearing testament to the importance of Nyon in Roman times, there are many Roman treasures on display which have been discovered by archeologists all over the town. We watched an interesting film about the town’s Roman past and there are some impressive boulders and artefacts to admire.
Musée du Léman
Another interesting museum if the Musée du Léman which is all about Lake Geneva. It is really interesting and as well as many old boats, a submarine, nautical equipment and original artefacts and costumes, it has a very interesting section on the Piccard family.
It also has some aquariums with fish and when we visited there was a temporary exhibition of paintings. Please note that on the first Sunday of the month you get free entrance at this museum.
On The Lake
We visited the Fishermen’s area of Nyon where the fishermen fish the lake as they have for hundreds of years. We met with a fisherman and his wife who demonstrated to us how they prepare the fish for the restaurants and the market. Down by the lake there is also a small beach area which is popular on sunny days.
Nyon Flea Maket
If you’re in Nyon on the last Sunday of the month the chances are you will be able to browse through the flea market along the lake. Do check before hand though due to any Covid restrictions.
The views across the lake form Nyon are amazing but if you really want to experience Lac Léman why not take a boat trip? There are a number of boat trips you can choose from in Nyon and you can even take a boat across the lake to Yvoire in France. Don’t forget your passport!
Where to Eat
There are plenty of lovely cafés and restaurants all over the town especially around the old market place area. We had a delicious lunch at Hotel Restaurant Du XIVeme Siecle (see photo above). Their speciality is roast chicken with rosemary and their famous “pommes allumette” chips which are very slim and crispy and delightfully moreish. If you go for lunch they have a selection of good value set menus and their “café gourmand plate” with a number of mini desserts and coffee is definitely worth trying – or on a hot day the ice creams are always a treat!
Nyon is located in a wine growing region so there are plenty of wine trails you can explore. The local grape Chasselas is much in evidence – so do make sure to give it a try! Visit the Nyon Tourism website for some recommendations on wine trails.
If you fancy an ice cream, then join the queues round the block for Venezia in Rue du Rive 44, an artisanal Italian gelateria.
Hotel Lausanne Palace in Lausanne
We were visiting both Lausanne and Nyon during our trip so we stayed at the Hotel Lausanne Palace and had a wonderful time there. Just half an hour away from Nyon, the Lausanne Palace is a luxury hotel with a very central location in the city.
It has plenty of facilities including a swimming pool and spa and an underground car park and an amazing restaurant. You can visit the Hotel Lausanne Palace website here.
Hotel Ambassador in Nyon
The Ambassador is a chic, bright and modern boutique hotel, close to the station and with views towards the castle and the lake. You can visit the Hotel Ambassador website here.
Where To Stay – Summer 2020 Special Offers
This Summer Nyon Tourism has instigated a number of great offers on hotels, restaurants and more. Take a look at the offers on their website here.
Nyon Tourism App
Nyon Tourism also have an App for Nyon too.You can find out all about it here.
Nyon is a very charming town and extremely interesting with its Roman past, its maritime history, its castles and its fabulous position on Lake Geneva. I definitely can’t wait to go back and explore this beautiful town a little more! If you haven’t visited yet, do consider visiting.
Due to possible Covid restrictions, please always check the location websites before setting off. This information was accurate at time of writing but things can change at short notice. Please be sure to confirm details before planning your trip.
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