Lake Geneva

Largest lake in Switzerland, the second largest lake in Central Europe, deepest lake in France

The Lake Geneva (French Lac Léman, Le Léman, Lac de Genève; spelling in Germany Lake Geneva) is the largest French-Swiss lake, and is on the border between the French-speaking Switzerland in the southwestern part of Switzerland and the Rhone-Alpes region in eastern France. The south-western tip of the lake belongs to the Swiss Canton of Geneva, the North Shore to the Swiss Canton of Vaud and the south bank largely to the French department of Haute- Savoie. In addition, the Canton of Valais has a small share in the eastern south shore. The lake is divided into skin Lac, Grand Lac and Petit Lac.

  • 2.1 origin of the name
  • 2.2 settlement
  • 2.3 use
  • 4.1 Water Quality
  • 6.1 Meaning as a traffic
  • 6.2 fisheries



Lake Geneva is on the Balaton ( Balaton ), Hungary has the second largest lake in Central Europe. It lies 372 m above sea level. M., is 580.03 km ² large ( of which 345.29 km ² [ 59.53 %] on Swiss and 234.74 km ² [ 40.47% ] attributable to French territory ) and 310 m deep at the deepest point. It is therefore also the deepest lake in France. Its average water content is about 89 cubic kilometers, making it the most water lake in Central Europe.

Inlet and outlet

Lake Geneva is fed primarily by the Rhone, which opens via a delta in Le Bouveret in the lake. The second most important tributary is the Dranse, followed by the Venoge and Aubonne. The Rhone flows in Geneva back from Lake Geneva addition, the water an average of 11.4 years required for flow. The water level of the lake is regulated in Geneva with the Barrage du Seujet. The mean annual flow is thus about 270 cubic meters per second.

Main towns on the lake

Two major Swiss cities are located on the shores of Lake Geneva: On the southwest tip is the capital of the canton of Geneva, on the north shore of Lausanne, the capital of the canton Waadt / Vaud (VD ). Other internationally famous cities are Montreux and Vevey, on the northeastern shore. Largest French city on the Lac Léman, Thonon -les- Bains, the most famous Evian- les- Bains.


Six small islands are located in Lake Geneva:

The Pierres du Niton, near Geneva are not islands, but boulders.

Outline of the lake

The lake is divided (sedimentation, tectonic folding, glacial erosion) in three Seeteile due to different origins:

The Federal Office of Topography, Swisstopo indicates that part of the Petit Lac as Lac de Genève, which within the limits of Canton of Geneva ( cantonal exclusive enclave Céligny ), ie about of Versoix - Hermance until Rhone discharge in Geneva.

South shore

Links from the Rhone mouth comes a short Valais shore zone of Lake Geneva Le Bouveret to Saint- Gingolph. The border town comprises two electrodes separated by a creek political communes of Saint -Gingolph VS in the Swiss canton of Valais and the municipality of Saint -Gingolph (Haute- Savoie) in the French department Haute-Savoie/Hoch-Savoyen.

A large section of the south shore belongs to France ( Haute- Savoie). Largest French city of Thonon- les -Bains. Better known is Evian -les- Bains, since water is sold internationally under the name Evian.

At the southern tip of the south shore to a part of the canton of Geneva Capital, with its suburbs.

On August 28, 1910 Armand Dufaux started at 05.45 clock with the device built by him and his brother Henri biplane " Dufaux 4» in Noville / St. Gingolph and flew close to the south shore to Geneva - the approximately 66 -kilometer route he mastered in 56 minutes and 5 seconds. Armand Dufaux had ventured so far the world's longest flight over open water and won the tender of the automotive pioneers Perrot Duval prize money for the crossing of Lake Geneva over its entire length.

North Shore

Lausanne, Nyon and Rolle in the canton of Vaud and Canton of Geneva Versoix lie along the northwest coast.

Other internationally famous cities on the northeastern shore are Montreux and Vevey. Here, the Vaud Riviera (French Riviera vaudoise ) lies with the Chillon Castle southeast of Montreux.

In Vevey is the headquarters of Nestlé, in Nyon, the seat of the European Football Association UEFA and Montreux is a popular tourist resort with famous Film Festival. In Lausanne, the League of Nations once had its headquarters here today, the IOC, the International Olympic Committee, its headquarters.


The lake was gouged by Alpine glaciers of several ice ages. The deepest point is in front of Lausanne. The southwestern narrower part called "Little Lake ", is the transverse valley of the dammed water masses through previously pushed rubble that remained lying as terminal moraines.


The Lake Geneva affects the climate in its environment, it softens the Swiss winter and summer something " cool ". In autumn, when the water is warmer than the land, local fog may occur.

Water levels

The water levels vary depending on the season by about 60 cm, the low of January to April is reached. This is regulated in Geneva.


Origin of the name

Already Caesar and the geographers of antiquity spoke of the lacus Lemanus. The name comes from the Celtic Lemanus lem and (translated: big water, so lake). Hence the name lacus Lemanus is a pleonasm, because lacus in Latin means also lake. From the 2nd century AD, the name lac de Lausanne has been used increasingly. This name was mentioned among others in the Antonine Itinerary ( lacus lausonnius ) and on the Tabula Peutingeriana ( lacus Losanete ). During the 17th century this name disappeared again.

Léman was used by the humanists and cartographers in the 16th century again as a term - namely, among others, by Sebastian Münster ( 1552) and Gerhard Mercator ( around 1575 ) as well as by the authorities and the authorities of the Canton of Bern during the revolution. It also later the regions of the Canton of Geneva and the former French Département Léman emerged.

The inhabitants of Geneva named early on the lake to their city. François Bonivard mentioned in 1592 as the lake lac Lemanne, but added as a clarification qu'est nostre lac de Genesve ( which is our Lake Geneva ) to. After the city of Geneva had been growing in importance, this toponym was also translated in other languages ​​. In German, the name is now Lake Geneva, the Swiss-German spelling Geneva ( first mentioned in the 15th century ), in the English Lake of Geneva, in the Italian language, the name Lemano Lago and Lago di Ginevra are common.


Lakeshore are now highly sought-after areas for residential development with very high land prices.


The lake is used in many ways economically, given its size.


Tauredunum event

In the year 563, a landslide occurred at the eastern end of the lake with subsequent slippage of the sediment mass in the Rhone delta, which is up to 13 meter high tidal wave ( tsunami ) was triggered. Through the rockfall several villages were destroyed, the tsunami flooded until Lausanne, and Geneva, where among other things, the Rhone bridge was destroyed. Similar inland tsunamis are from Lake Lucerne from the years 1601 and 1687 known as well as from Lauerzersee from the year 1806.


Water quality

The Commission International pour la protection des eaux du Léman ( CIPEL ) is responsible for water quality and observed Lake Geneva.

The water is of good quality, so that each year about 80 million cubic meters of sea water can be treated to drinking water. In the middle of the lake and to the eleven pump stations around the lake, the water meets the required values ​​of metal, pesticide, nitrilotriacetic acid ( NTA) and ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid ( EDTA).

The nitrate content is far below the limit and has been stable for the last 15 years. In contrast, the phosphorus content decreases due to various renovations and has decreased by six percent since 2005. The current average concentration is 27.7 micrograms per liter. In 2005, there were 29.4 micrograms per liter. The aim of the CIPEL is to reduce the phosphorus content of 20 microgram per liter.

The CIPEL observed an ever increasing proliferation of algae, called phytoplankton, and this up to greater depths. These filamentous algae in the summer hinder the fishermen, since thereby the networks are visible to the fish, and even in winter the plant distributed in any further.

Although there was no complete mixing of the lake water during the years 2006 and 2007, still there is enough oxygen in the deep water layers.

Attractions and buildings

As one of the landmarks of the moated castle Chillon Castle near Montreux applies at the eastern end of the lake. It is the most visited historical building in Switzerland and is located on a promontory on the lake.

The city of Geneva characterizes the Jet d'eau - a fountain in the city's harbor. Its water fountain spurts up to 140 meters in height. Between Vevey and Lausanne are the vineyard terraces of Lavaux, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Lake Geneva Museum (French Musée du Léman ) is available in Nyon and presents the history and origins of the lake.

At around 40 to 60 meters below the water surface the wreck of the Hirondell is available La Tour -de- Peilz. The paddle steamer sank after it ran aground on June 10, 1862 a rock formation. Today the wreck is a popular destination for wreck divers. A spectacular, about 100 m high underwater rock wall you can ertauchen in front of the Castle of Chillon. Divers with less experience to visit the five small boat wrecks in Hermance.

Economic Importance

Importance as a transport route

The Lake Geneva crosses the major routes between Italy and the North Sea and between Southern France and Central Europe. Therefore, the merchant shipping has been widely used. For transport, especially heavy goods such as wood, blocks from the quarries in Meillerie, sand from the Rhone Delta, but also cereals, wine, salt or cheese suitable. Although the goods had to be reloaded each in Villeneuve, Vevey, Morges and Geneva, the sea was nevertheless as quickly and inexpensively. Between Geneva and Seyssel was due to the infiltration route of the Rhone not be shipped, and the goods therefore had to be transported by land.

An only partly realized project is the 1638-1648 constructed Canal Entreroches that connected the Zihl and the Venoge to Cossonay. The channel should allow a connection to Neuchâtel and further over the lake and the river Aare to the Rhine. The letze section, the channeling of Venoge and construction of the locks between Cossonay and the mouth of the Venoge in Lake Geneva, could not be realized because of the lack of funding. When the railroad took catchment, the transport lost on the water ever more important.

Various boats were already on the Lake Geneva in use. Despite its simple design, the Nauen was to the 18th century, the predominant type of boat. He had a flat bottom, just a square sail and was difficult to maneuver due to the lack of rudder. Only in the 19th century came the big boat with the triangular lateen sail is used, which can be seen on many pictures. Simultaneously, the steamboats were introduced. To defend and assert their sovereign rights the various countries bordering each used a modest military fleets. As of 1288, there is evidence that the counts of Savoy inserting four or five galleys of Genoese shipyards. In the 17th century two still famous ships was used by the Bernese with Grand and Petit -Ours. The city of Geneva possessed a galley with ten guns. The sailing itself is now run only as a hobby and sport. The discharged since 1939 sailing regatta Bol d' Or has been nationally and in each case leads from Geneva to Le Bouveret and back. The police, the customs and the Swiss Army since 1940 have several speedboats. In most communities on the lakeshore rescue organizations exist with volunteer oarsmen, which save shipwrecked.

Go to the top of the 19th century, the tourism demand became greater and therefore required additional liners. For this purpose, the Guillaume Tell introduced at the initiative of the American Edward Church with a capacity for 200 people on 18 June 1823. She was the first steamer, which was used on a Swiss lake. Due to the great success of other steamers were soon needed and also followed. The various shipping companies first competed against each other, but then joined in 1840 a ​​number of agreements among themselves and joined in 1873 the Compagnie Générale de Navigation sur le lac Léman ( CGN ) together. Due to the thriving business during the Belle Époque, the company owned about 1914 a total of 19 units, including eleven cruise boats. The Second World War and various crises brought tourism navigation in great difficulties, although in the meantime, diesel-electric engines were introduced, which reduced the operating costs in 1934 massively. Until the 1960s, business was slow, before it again since then is booming. Currently, the fleet consists of eight Schaufelradschiffe, which thus is the largest European fleet of this type. Next are eight screw -driven ships in the inventory. Small ferries, which are called "mouettes " ( German gulls ), carry passengers in Geneva quickly from one to the other shore.


For the first time the fish were placed regulations on fishing in the lake in the 14th century to protect. Until the year 1880, then the fishing rights was governed by nobles or the cities which this is often leaving a professional man. The nets and the catch was controlled from the 16th century, to prevent over-exploitation of the stock. After the Revolution, an international agreement between Savoie and the Swiss cantons of the fisheries management was signed in 1880 for the first time. At the urging of the Vaud professional fishermen this agreement was again dissolved. Thus again governed each country fishing for itself in 1980, a new agreement between Switzerland and France agreed, which entered into force in 1982, after the French parliament a rubber stamp it. This provides that recreational fishing can move and catch free on the entire lake, the commercial fishermen must, however, be present at the borders. Since 1986, the topic of fishing is regulated by 5 - year plans in concert. A new rule was designed in 1998. This provides for making a change to the agreement, so that it is professional fishermen allowed regardless of nationality, to fish in a common zone. Among the strongest fish species caught the lake were in the late 19th century and early 20th century, the endemic species in the Lake Geneva Coregonus fera and Gravenche. Meanwhile, both species are considered extinct, which is at least partially attributed to overfishing.