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High above Vevey, nestled between Montreux and Lausanne in the heart of the Lavaux wine-growing region, St-Légier is a charming village with panoramic views of Lake Geneva and the French Alps.

Small herds of sheep and cows still graze peacefully on private land harking back to its former rural origins. St-Légier is a perfect base from which to explore the region. There is a thriving tourism industry, in large part boosted by the stunning Unesco World Heritage site, Lavaux: 30km of terraced vineyards stretching from Vevey to Lausanne.

The so-called “terraces” enjoy a Mediterranean-style climate. There are no less than 8 wine producing areas along their route: Lutry, Villette, Epesses, St-Saphorin, and Chardonne, to name but a few, each one worthy of a detour.

Nestlé, Philip Morris, Kudelski and Logitech also have their headquarters in the region. Between them they employ a sizeable chunk of the local population, as well as numerous expatriates. Naturally, there is an extensive network of buses, trains and boats which makes it easy to get around.

A stone’s throw from St-Légier, the town of Vevey boasts numerous boutiques, shops, eateries and other metropolitan fare: cinemas, theatres, and bars.

The historical old town encourages you to wander and explore the interconnected alleyways and alcoves. You can stroll along the lakefront with an ice-cream in the summer, and sip mulled wine under the awnings of the Market Square in winter.

Montreux Riviera lies a short distance from Vevey. It is breathtakingly rich in natural beauty. Exotic plants and trees seem to spring out of nowhere. Its temperate climate and quality of life attracted the first wave of visitors around 200 years ago.

Wealthy Europeans, especially the English, were seduced by descriptions of Montreux and its castle in Lord Byron’s novel, Le Prisonnier de Chillon (1816). Together with La Nouvelle Héloïse (1761), by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, this caused people to flock to the region.

Today, Montreux still attracts wealthy tourists, many of whom stay at the Montreux Palace, a luxury 5 star hotel built in 1837. Montreux is also host to one of the biggest music gatherings on the Swiss calendar, the annual Montreux Jazz Festival.

The line-up always includes a host of international stars as well as young, up-and-coming artists. During the festival the town comes alive with open-air food stalls, arts and crafts markets, and of course, live music.

G.Patrick Gruhn

Tim Daum