The Savoie (1914) is famous for its elegance and rightly considered to be one of the jewels in the Belle Epoque fleet which have been plying the lake’s deep-blue waters for 100 years. It was entirely renovated in 2006, retaining its original steam engine, but fitted with a new, particularly cost-efficient boiler. I was fortunate to get a ride on this beautiful boat back to Geneva after my visit to Yvoire, a medieval town on the French side of the lake.
A beautiful old boat full of curves: its wooden ceilings painted white, smooth worn wooden decks, the colour of steel where the varnish has been worn away by the constant passage of thousands of feet. 1st class tickets only are allowed on the upper deck where royal blue deckchairs face the mountain views. Benches here have plump foam cushions to make them more comfortable.
Tables in the restaurant are set with white cloths and linen, silver cutlery and sparkling glasses, anthuriums (flamingo flower) with red spathes is the flower of choice. I presume this is for the evening dinner cruise ‘The Chef’s Table’ and I am almost tempted to stay.
Tall ferns stand guard by the curved banister of the stairway sweeping up to the upper deck
where its glitzy bar is just waiting for the cocktail hour to begin.
What a beauty! A truly wonderful and nostalgic way to end to my day.
“It was hot. Unusually so for Switzerland in late September. The lake was covered in a hazy fog as the boat (Henri Dunant) left Geneva at 09:15 and sailed from one quay to another along the Swiss shore before zigzagging across the lake to the French side.
After coffee and a croissant in the restaurant I took myself up onto the deck so I could absorb the scenery. As we approached each town, buildings appeared and disappeared through the mist: church towers and romantic turrets, quays adorned with flowers and queues of people patiently waiting in the soft sunshine, shuttered windows and petite balconies overlooked the lake.
Sleepy boats tied to wooden jettys belonging to millionaire’s houses on the shoreline. Autumnal tints in the trees. A white swan at Coppet. Straight lines of vineyards on the hillside.
The sun broke through as we left Nyon. A yacht lazily passed by, not much wind in its sails. As we approached Nernier on the French shore, the mist revealed a quiet harbour. Covered boats, closed parasols, empty chairs on the terrace of the café, odd pollarded trees.
Departing we got our first glimpse of Yvoire. My destination. The marina and the chateau and the shiny silver-topped church steeple.
I had read about this medieval town famous for its flowers and ‘Le Jardin des Cinq Sens’ (The Garden of Five Senses) and knew that during my brief visit to Geneva I had to try to get there. As the boat left the dock I was eager to depart and start photographing the floral town.”
It is rare that I choose to travel by water. I am not a good sailor, but a lake is generally calm and it is not usually a problem plus on this occasion I was drawn a place that I couldn’t easily reach any other way. On the journey back to Geneva I managed to catch one of the jewels in the Belle Epoque fleet – the Savoie – an elegant paddle steamboat which deserves its own post.
~wander.essence~ On Journey