The Way of St. James through the French-speaking part of Switzerland leads first through a landscape shaped by agriculture and small-scale industry to Lausanne, then through the wine-growing region along Lake Geneva (“Lac Léman”) to Geneva. Between Lausanne and Geneva, the historical Way of St. James has disappeared on a number of sections, as in the 18th century the original pilgrim route had been extended and widened for the most part, and had to make way for the “Route Suisse”. Today, the pilgrims walk from village to village using access roads, but also field and forestry roads through fields, meadows, woods, across smaller ravines and along rivers, to Lausanne on the shore of Lake Geneva. Then from Lausanne, the route roughly follows the lakeshore on shore-paths or through vineyards to Geneva, the city of Calvin. Along the way are dreamy farmers’ and winegrowers’ villages and small, picturesque towns with well-preserved historical centres, old churches, lordly mansions and castles of the former landed gentry. Old inns and wine taverns invite the traveller to a cosy rest, all the more since the “cuisine romande” and the local wine are especially recommendable. The two cantonal capitals Lausanne and Geneva have, apart from a bourgeois atmosphere typical of French-speaking Switzerland, also an international character as they attract many tourists from all over the world, and give home to business enterprises and organisations that are known worldwide. On the way along Lake Geneva with a breathtaking view across the lake and to the French Alps, the atmosphere gives the pilgrim a presentiment of the vast distance the goal of the pilgrimage is still away. In this region, the “Romandie”, the pilgrims meet with a friendly and cosmopolitan population that treasures its cultural heritage and also likes to show it. When meeting people, the attitude to life moulded by the reformer Calvin leaks out somewhat and can lead to discussions that can be enriching in an ecumenical sense. A glass of good wine will enhance the flow of such discussions and language problems become solvable.
The brief route descriptions had been edited and checked by helpers and association members in voluntary work, after travelling the route themselves, and based on the situation as encountered then. The accuracy of the contents, and especially the concordance with the official markings of the Way of St- James cannot be guaranteed by the association “jakobsweg.ch” and the authors, also in the sense of a product liability. In case of discrepancies, pilgrims are therefore asked to please follow the official Way of St- James markings in each case, and to advise us of possible errors. Thank you.
Texts: Winfried Erbach, Joe Weber and Klaus Augustiny (manuscript reader) Translated from German by Hans Bamert Pictures: Wolfgang Hörer, Winfried Erbach and others.