Switzerland is landlocked by France, Germany, Italy, Austria, and Liechtenstein.
However, it’s not difficult to enter and exit the euro zone by boat when staying in the Lake Geneva area. In fact, during our trip, my parents were disappointed that there was no checkpoint in France to add another stamp in their passports.
Lake Geneva (locally, Lac Léman) is surrounded by the Alps and Jura mountain ranges. While we were able to admire the mountains high atop Berneuse and at the overlook of the Cathedral of Notre-Dame in Old Town Lausanne, we gained a different perspective of how vast and glorious the jagged and snow-capped mountains were by boat.
Lake cruises can be expensive especially when you factor in the luxury lines that serve meals. I say this not to suggest that you shouldn’t take a cruise along the lake. There is a cheaper alternative for your journey.
The CGN’s Navimobilité runs passenger ferries to points in Yvoire, Évian-les-Bains, (yes, that Évian), Thonon-les-Bains, and Chens-sur-Léman, France, and Nyon and Lausanne in Switzerland. The CGN Mobilité is a public transportation system that operates ferries year round via the N1, N2, N3, and N4 lines.
Some things to remember:
- Take your passport. While we didn’t encounter checkpoints, we also didn’t want our excursion ruined if stopped.
- Pay careful attention to the line you want to use for your destination across the lake. Each line only connects to one destination. For example, if you are in Lausanne, and want to get to Yvoire, France, you may want to consider taking the train to Nyon and crossing the lake on the N3.
- Beware that although the ferries run year round, schedules may be reduced or cut on the weekends during low season.
- Save some money and skip the first-class ticket, which runs about CHF32 to CHF77 depending on the destination. Second-class tickets (CHF 32 to roughly CHF55) still offer comfortable seating and chances are, you’ll want to move around and take pictures during the cruise.
- Want to hop through France during the day? Trains from Thonon-les-Bains to Évian-les-Bains, for example, run frequently and only cost roughly €12-15. Be sure you don’t miss Yvoire, a medieval city that is said to be one of the prettiest destinations in the Rhône-Alpes region.
- Regarding currency, remember that crossing in and out of the euro zone means that you’ll be using different currency. While some proprietors in France, for example, may accept Swiss francs, many do not. You should have some Euros on hand for shopping or grabbing food.
Above all, be sure to look out and up at your surroundings. Your journey to either country offers a picturesque landscape at sea and on land.
Interested in snaps from Switzerland and the Lake Geneva area? Visit the photo gallery.