Dwight Peck's personal website

Views of Aubonne, Switzerland, in autumn 2013

Beautiful autumn afternoons in a beautiful Swiss town

Aubonne is a charming village overlooking Lake Geneva (Lac Léman), population about 3,000, located between Lausanne and Nyon. Here are some views of the town on a walkabout on 31 October 2013.

You may not find this terribly rewarding unless you're included here, so this is a good time for casual and random browsers to turn back before they get too caught up in the sweep and majesty of the proceedings and can't let go.

We're out the front door of our flat in lovely Féchy-Dessus, bound for Aubonne just over the horizon on the right.

We've got vineyards, recently harvested, to walk through for a while.

A look back (into the sun) at Féchy-Dessus, the small upper part of Féchy proper, which is farther down the hill

A shortcut up the driveway of the château de Bougy St Martin

The château, dating from the early 18th century, is enormous and apparently still in private hands.

We're walking into Aubonne from the side, so to speak, on the Rue de Chaffard, at about 530m.

The city of Aubonne, perched defensively fairly high on the side of the ravine of the Aubonne river, has Bronze Age remains and the foundations of villas from the Roman era. The town itself is attested from the late 12th century, and the city wall was built round it in the early-mid 13th. It was sold to the Counts of Savoie (based across the lake) and governed by a local family, with its own license for a weekly market.

Aubonne seen from the far side of the ravine of the Aubonne river, mid-June 2013

Back to today's walkabout . . .

A city gate.
As part of the Savoyard "Barony of Vaud", the region was a semi-independent fief of the French-alpine house of Savoie from 1234 to 1359, after which it was bought up and integrated into the Savoy state until it was conquered by Bern in 1536, during the chaotic running-all-about of the Protestant Reformation.

The back side of the buildings along the Grande-Rue, along the line of the old city wall.
By the late 15th century, Aubonne is reckoned to have been the most important city between Lausanne and Geneva, a distinction it maintained until the railway was put through in 1858 down the hill closer to the lakeside, with a station in nearby Allaman. Aubonne was no longer an economic growth engine.

A small place on the Grande-Rue

A fountain from 1799

The Rue du Moulin (the Mill)

Kristin sneaking out onto the Rue de Bourg-du-Four (that's the road that sneaks up out of town up towards Gimel and St-George, and over the Jura mountains at the Col du Marchaiuz)

Approaching the château down the Rue du Moulin


"Dig we must"
(that's a folksy public-services slogan from New York City half a century ago)

Street scene

The village swimming pool ('la piscine')

Up the back way to the esplanade of the Château d'Aubonne

The esplanade of the castle

The château was begun in the 12th century and passed through the hands of the original Lord of Aubonne, then of the Counts of Savoy on the French side of the lake, and later of the important medieval warrior families of Grandson and Gruyère.

The view over Aubonne from the esplanade

The same, with Lake Geneva barely visible in the background.
In the 17th century the castle was acquired by important courtiers of the crown of France and developed from a medieval fortification into a nobleman's residence.

Throughout the 18th century the château was the residence of the bailiffs or local officials of the government in Berne, but then passed to the canton of Vaud in the revolutionary upheavals of 1798-1803, and subsequently to the city of Aubonne, which employed it mainly as a prison.

The front door. It's no longer technically a prison, but rather . . .

. . . it's the town's secondary school.

The local "temple", or Protestant church

Down the castle's approach road

The Rue du Soleil Levant, of "the rising sun"

The Grande-Rue, alongside the city hall and looking at the main chokepoint, sorry, central intersection of the city

An old market place and part of the Maison de Commune complex

Kristin bearing the Informations Officielles

The Hotel du Lion d'Or, or Golden Lion, in the town centre

The Rue du Général Boinod

At the central intersection, with the Route Neuve on the right, running down into the ravine and on to points northeast toward Neuchâtel

We're looking for the Temple; up the Rue Tavernier (Jean-Baptiste Tavernier was the 17th century gem merchant to the kings of France, and a famous traveler, who bought the barony of Aubonne in 1670 and renovated the château).

Up the Rue Tavernier, with a good view of the castle tower . . .

. . . Lumix-zoomed.

The Protestant church or "temple", the back of it hanging out over the road down through the ravine

The street cleaners on their appointed rounds

Retracing our steps

We're trying to sneak into the city hall, but it might not be this easy.

A little courtyard, and the convivial back-end of a night club called Le Club

Street scene

The central intersection, and the bakery

The central intersection again

Towns with an appealing, authentic medieval layout all suffer from the same problem -- the roads were made for horse-carts. In Aubonne, all traffic through town heading towards Nyon and Geneva must go that way and head off to the right, whilst all traffic bound for the rest of Switzerland must come this way out of the Rue du Chêne, in front of Kristin on the left. So they need to be considerate and take turns. "Fair-Play s.v.p."

The city hall again

A young employee of the town getting close-ups of the fountain outside the Hôtel de la Couronne

Just down the street, the school kids bursting out of their own prison and racing for the bus station

Kids bustling noisily everywhere, and Kristin

Floral displays. We're walking home via the Rue de Trévelin, which becomes the Route de Féchy (our town) and there becomes the Route de l'Etraz.

Vineyards and the Lake of Geneva on the way home. The Route de l'Etraz (a corruption of the Latin via strata, related to the military roads built during the Roman Empire) was the main road above the lakeside leading from Nyon up to the army posts, like Aventicum, in the Lake Neuchâtel area. At Féchy, the original l'Etraz ran along a farm road in the vineyards just down the hill a bit and crossed the Aubonne ravine lower down, then wound up on the other side and rejoined the present road in Lavigny on the farther side.

The annual vendange, or grape harvest, has just come in, very late this year for various climate- and pest-related reasons.

In any case, we're home now in Féchy-Dessus.

from SwitzerlandMobility (http://map.schweizmobil.ch/?lang=en)

The château zoomed from the north, near the village of St-Livres

Feedback and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative, . All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Posted 11 November 2013.

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