Lake Geneva weekend events a great success (update)

Crowds for EPFL open house, Geneva wines Open Day and CGN party to celebrate steamboat’s 100 years

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Hands-on science lessons during EPFL open house in Lausanne

Update 18:20  Geneva / Lausanne, Switzerland (GenevaLunch) – The first weekend after the two long spring holiday weekends are always filled with events in the Lake Geneva region, and 2010 was no exception. The crowds turned out again for the Geneva wines Open Day Saturday 29 May, with English-speakers taking part (Ed. note: the Tribune de Geneve carries an article about the number of expats present and interviews one who after eight years in the city speaks two words of French, which has prompted negative comments).

It is hard to calculate how many people turned out, says Denis Beausoleil, director of the Geneva cantonal wine office, but clearly it was in the thousands, and this year the weather was perfect, not too warm, and the small amount of overcrowding and drunkeness that marred a couple previous Open Days seems to have disappeared. “It was a day that reflected the vintage, the excellent 2009 wine!” says Beausoleil. The 2009 harvest is generally reckoned to be one of the best in years, and the Open Day provided consumers a chance to sample the goods.

This is the first year wine producers have tried a system where visitors pay CHF5 for their glass, but they can keep the same glass for the day. The feedback from wineries is that the system worked well.

EPFL packs in visitors

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La Suisse, queen of the Belle Epoque fleet on Lake Geneva, celebrates her 100th birthday in style

Two out of the ordinary events took place that also attracted crowds. EPFL, the polytechnic institute near Lausanne, held its first open  house in seven years to give the public an opportunity to visit its new Rolex Learning Center, but also to see firsthand the multitude of physical changes taking place on the campus, and to explore its growing number of programmes. The university estimates that some 25,000 people visited during the two days, Saturday and Sunday. Sixteen centres, with 1,200 staff and student volunteers explained some of EPFL’s strong points, such as its nanotechnology work, the Blue Brain project, work on robots and architecture. The open  house brought to an end a week-long official inauguration for the Rolex Learning Center.

Nearby, in Lausanne, La Suisse, a beautiful old steamboat and one of the gems of the CGN Belle Epoque fleet that is the world’s largest, celebrated her 100th birthday Sunday, after a colourful Saturday in Geneva and an evening cruise up to the other end of the lake. Hundreds took advantage of the celebrations for short tours on the boat, which was dressed up in the outfit it wore its first day out in 1910: flags from all the cantons and 30 masts.

La Suisse will operate on the upper end of the lake from 13 June to 12 September, stopping at: Lausanne, Pully, Lutry, Cully, Rivaz, Vevey, Clarens, Montreux, Chillon, Villeneuve, Le Bouveret and St Gingolph.