Dwight Peck's personal website

Nyon, Switzerland

A walk through town

If presently you wish not to see photographs of a walk through beautiful Nyon, Switzerland, then this is certainly the wrong webpage for you. You'll only grow angry and threaten your health. But you're welcome anyway.

Nice former-Roman outpost Nyon, equidistant between Geneva and Lausanne on Lac Léman, seen from the little waterfront park Rive-Est ('east side of the waterfront'), where former professor D. Peck meditated and munched his sandwiches at lunchtime most nearly every day for 15 years (alternating with the lakefront at Rolle), basking on the little park benches in the summer, huddling in his auto with the heater and BBC news on in winter. This pre-digital photo was taken in 1998, before . . .

. . . they started fixing up the castle and painting it all white for some reason. In August 2002, the scaffolding was still all over one of the towers, and the crane's still up, but the outside's nearly done -- with two years remaining for the strengthening of the interior. But here's the problem: having floated a taxpayer bond to renovate the castle, they discovered a Roman amphitheatre in the course of new apartment construction, right behind that large building in the right of this photo, and now have to go back to the chary taxpayers for a little more financing for that one.

And here's the Nyon castle, January 2003, scaffolding down and worth every sou.

The circus in March 2003

Now it's June 2004 and the ubiquitous floral displays are just getting organized. Let's walk from the waterfront at Rive-Est towards the Rive lower-village part of Nyon and pause to view the floral display. There are a lot of parking lots like this, and nearly all of them have very encouraging floral displays.

We've left the waterfront proper and we're entering the Rive, the lower waterfront district of Nyon -- the castle and the rest of the town are way up there on top of the hill.

The kiosk or newsstand on the right is owned and operated by some of the narrator's favorite Iranian immigrants, boasting more English-language computer and popular science magazines than any kiosk this side of downtown Geneva, as well as, of course, the incomparable International Herald Tribune, which we continue to pay list price for (rather than subscribing by mail at half price), lest our lives be the poorer by the loss of our daily greetings with our news agents.

[Resplendent news agent in April 2008.]

Directly across the Route du Lac -- the Lake Road from Geneva to Lausanne -- is the steamship pier, with . . . .

. . . the lunchtime lake steamer just pulling in. The next one's due in an hour, so we have just time for a quick tour of the venue before the patron starts buzzing us on the intercom to learn if we're back from lunch yet.

Farther along the Rue de Rive [photo April 2008]

We continue walking through the Rive district, looking back towards the lake.

Walking further into the Rive, we note the arcades with shops underneath (left) and the cafés on the right, and the Martin Droeshout Eye of Shakespeare peering from the wall. (Caution: The Nyonaise wouldn't recognize the Droeshout allusion, I made that up.)

All this trompe l'oeil Nyon Rive wall painting brings to mind the fine exemplum on the Rive in Québec City, Canada, which however illustrates the city's history and doesn't just show Shakespeare glaring down disapprovingly. (August 2000)

Here, from the Rive, just outside Ammy's slum apartment in fact, is a glance up the alley to the castle square and the main parts of Nyon. Let's walk up to the upper town.

Having viewed former Roman outpost Nyon, Switzerland, from the Rive (waterfront), at about 375 meters above sea level, now we're trotting up exuberantly to the main part of the old town, 25 meters higher. Here's the newly whitewashed castle in June 2004.

A quick look back down the steps at the Rive from the castle stairs.

Here we are now in the castle square, viewing the municipal administration buildings (right) and, behind the restaurant terrace, some shops with genuinely strange women's underwear at 300 Swiss francs a pop.

An old house and new sculpture in the castle square.

The Roman Museum (left), with the plan of the Forum (center), and a cute (original) statue of Julius Caesar. Nyon was founded in about 45 B.C. as Noviodunum and Roman remains are strewn underfoot. The Museum and its Web site are both fascinating.

An art and photography galerie in the castle square

The castle square with the lake peeking through the trees. The police station's just behind us on the right, so moderate your behavior.

The hotel Seizième Siécle ("16th century") on the left. A neat expanse of the pedestrian Old Town extends northward from here, but we need to get back to work after lunchtime, so we'll have to come back tomorrow for the rest.

Okay, we're back. Here's the Seizième Siécle from the other side. We'll walk up to the train station and then circle back through some of the lovely pedestrian zones.

This is the rail station at the north edge of the old town; farther north from here one finds mostly high-rise workers' residential neighborhoods. The train station of Nyon is one of only two fulltime intercity express stops between Lausanne and Geneva (the other is Morges). Recent renovations have given us one of the best sandwich shops around (just right of centre), and in 2004 a new station is still being built just behind the main rail line for the little red train to St Cergue.

We saunter back down the main street towards the lake, with McDonalds on the right -- the kebab street vendor will be setting up just next door as the lunch hour approaches, and the high school kids who fill this street at lunchtime in good weather seem to divide their trade nearly equally among the bakery/sandwich shop on the left, the McDonalds, and the kebab and falafel vendor.

We're turning a bit westward now, towards the school and the West Gate.

At this point we are passing through the schoolyard on the west of the old town. All the kids are either immersed in their studies or playing hooky.

A church -- there is a spectral aura to it, not visible in photographs.

Through the cozy squares of the west end of town . . .

. . . as we amble along towards the west gate.

And here we are about to leave the old town by the West Gate.

A few years ago, at this very place, we spent 20 minutes watching a wonderful policeman training a school class of seven year olds in how to cross the road at crosswalks. He took them individually to the crosswalk, showed them how to make eye contact with motorists, verify that they'd stopped, wave to them cheerily and then cross the road, where their teacher was waiting to receive them. At one point in the proceedings, some ignorant 22-year-old in a souped-up American Pontiac roared loudly down the old street, and as the little kid made eye contact and smiled and paused at the side of the crosswalk, the dipshit revved it up and blasted on through towards the West Gate.

And then the wonderful policeman drew the class's attention to this, and calmly drew out his cell phone, and kindly, smilingly, called ahead to someone, who would end the Pontiac dipshit's hopes for a career in politics forever. And then, very kindly, he coached the kid to meet the eyes of the next motorist and toddle straight along to his teacher on the other side. This was an endearing experience, even more comforting to the nostalgic moralists amongst us than President George W. Bush's famous "axis of evil" speech.

The church and school are to the right, the West Gate to the left.

Here we're passing out of the west gate (right) into the square of the Roman columns.

Nice Roman columns. Artifacts of past glory. A reminder for Ozymandias and for Mr Bush.

Students in earnest conversation at lunchtime in June 2004.

There's the marina, seen from the Roman columns. Shall we walk on down and see how the folks who buy boats but never seem to have any spare change spend their leisure hours in the summertime?

Festooneries on the walkway down to the marina. Nyon abounds in grace notes.

There's the lake steamer just departing for Yvoire (France) on the far side -- that means we're late getting back to work after lunch, so we'll have to hurry along, lest the patron reach into his lowest desk drawer and fetch out instruments of staff correction.

That's the Rive district as we scurry down through the park for the waterside.

Here, on the west end of the waterfront, lies the marina, or yacht club, or whatever it is. Never having owned a 30-foot sloop myself, I'm not sure if we've got the International Yachting Elite here or just some silly guys with yachting caps and big dreams.

The garden of flags

Here are the boats of our betters in the marina, all tied up snuggly whilst the mariners finish off their cocktails and tug their sailor's caps on, and get ready to "heave to".

There's the castle up on the hill, all gleaming and whitewashy, June 2004. [That grassy slope has now graduated to being an underground parking lot with a huge elevator shaft protruding out of it. That's a gain (more parking) or a loss (less grassy slope) depending upon your definitions of progress. January 2007.]

The Hope Cruise [2008]

Time to get back to work, we're heading back to Rive-Est and our trusty VW station-wagon named Bernard.

And here we are at the embarcadère again, with the little green train that ferries folks all up around the best of the town in summers. It's owned by the very nice couple who operate the boat and pedalos rentals.

The next boat's coming in, we really are late! Let's jog along a bit.

There's our lunchtime park at Rive-Est. The slopey thing in the foreground is where the scullers launch their rowing thingies and all the ducks and swans sit in the sun. The crane-like thing on the breakwater is a crane. It's for getting the boats out for winter hibernation, etc. (You can just make out Mr Hot-Dog Man's beloved little van in the centre (with the orange umbrella).)

Now we're dashing for the parking lot at a nearly breakneck pace, though not really very fast, to locate VW Bernard and get a move on, but here's a glance back up from the circus-ground at the castle. But just one more hot dog would go down really well right now.

Those are the pedalos in the foreground, very sturdy craft, efficient use of energy, and they're very comfortable -- if you could get it past the spillways at Geneva and the île de Rousseau, you could get one down the Rhône pretty easily to the Med. Alas, they're rented by the half-hour or hour, so it would definitely cost you.

The lakeboat is just getting ready to leave -- wish we were on it!, going wherever it may want to go, but we have to get back to work now, lest we find the patron standing out at the head of the stairs, nodding sneeringly, with his finger on his watch.

THERE'S Mr Hot-Dog Man, with the lake-steamer cruising past him out on the lake, centrally located in our lunchtime Rive-Est park, always beckoning, smiling, holding up hot dogs and waving them at us, as if he knows we won't be able to resist. He also sells panini and little pizzas, and he probably waves them about to entice some of his other regular clientele, but for us, he waves hot dogs. Mind you, European hot dogs! -- not what you'd find on nearly every street corner in New York and they're not Nathan's, but a couple of them will never slide down unwelcome, as we're on our way to lunch.


There's the Mighty White Castle and wine museum, seen from my dentist's office.

More photos of Nyon

January 2006

Mr Hot Dog Man, 2007

Roman columns from the marina, April 2008

Feedback and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative, . All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Posted 13 September 2002, revised 21 June 2012.

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