Wisteria blooms in abundance in villages and towns along Lac Leman (Lake Geneva), but this particular pedestrian street, steep and cobblestoned and stretching from Vevey's St Martin church down to quite near its train station, is special. The length of this lane blooms, during the month of May, with flowers, and may be one of the most remarkable displays of purple and lavender wisteria you will ever experience. Wisteria hangs from structures creating natural awnings, and it clings to old stone walls. Pedestrians are sheltered by a canopy of the hanging flowers, while bicyclists trundle up and down the lane surrounded by the beauty of blooms mixed with ivy. All around, a light and beautiful fragrance fills the air.
Below to the left, just out of sight, is an ornate Russian Orthodox church and perpendicular to this lane, many old shopfronts and flats, some shuttered, most covered in graffiti.
But here, enveloped by a sea of flowers, all else seems worlds away. Otherworldly.
There are many steep roads in Vevey, Switzerland, as one would expect from an Alpine country. This one is no different. At certain times of day this lane is buzzing with activity, but at other times it is like this, silent, peaceful, save for a lone woman making her way to town, undoubtedly soaking in the serenity.
Vevey is situated on Lac Leman (Lake Geneva), facing the French Alps, surrounded by the steeply terraced and ancient Lavaux Vineyards, and a short drive from the start of the Swiss Alps and the mouth of the Rhone River, where it empties into the lake (it exits near Geneva to continue its trek to the Mediterranean). Vevey is an artistic town, hosting an outdoor-indoor juried international photography exhibition every three years ("Images") and welcoming street performers from around the world each summer during its annual Street Artists Festival, among other events. Vevey is also home to the world headquarters of global giant Nestle.
It's a worthy town to visit, but I recommend coming in May. It's not a particularly large town, so pass by the train station and keep going. Perhaps follow the scent. You will find this magical street and never forget it.
May 23rd, 2013
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