August 26, 2010
The lake lies on the course of the Rhone. The river has its source at the Rhone Glacier near the Grimsel Pass to the east of the lake and flows down through the Canton of Valais, entering the lake between Villeneuve and Le Bouveret, before flowing slowly towards its egress at Geneva. Other tributaries are La Dranse, L'Aubonne, La Morges, La Venoge, and La Veveyse.
Lake Geneva is the largest body of water in Switzerland, and greatly exceeds in size all others that are connected with the main valleys of the Alps. It is in the shape of a crescent, with the horns pointing south, the northern shore being 95 km., the southern shore 72 km. in length. The crescent form was more regular in a recent geological period, when the lake extended to Bex, about 18 km. south of Villeneuve. The detritus of the Rhone has filled up this portion of the bed of the lake, and it appears that within the historical period the waters extended about 2 km. beyond the present eastern margin of the lake. The greatest depth of the lake, in the broad portion between Evian and Lausanne, where it is just 13 km. in width, has been measured as 310 metres, making the bottom of the lake 62 metres higher than the level of the sea. The lake's surface is the lowest point of the cantons of Valais and Vaud.
The beauty of the shores of the lake and of the sites of many of the places near its banks has long been celebrated. However it is only from the eastern end of the lake, between Vevey and Villeneuve, that the scenery assumes an Alpine character. On the south side the mountains of Savoy and Valais are for the most part rugged and sombre, while those of the northern shore fall in gentle vine-covered slopes, thickly set with villages and castles.
The snowy peaks of the Mont Blanc are shut out from the western end of the lake by the ridge of the Voirons, and from its eastern end by the bolder summits of the Grammont, Cornettes de Bise and Dent d'Oche, but are seen from Geneva, and between Nyon and Morges. From Vevey to Bex, where the lake originally extended, the shores are enclosed by comparatively high and bold mountains, and the vista terminates in the grand portal of the defile of St. Maurice, cleft to a depth of nearly 9,000 ft. between the opposite peaks of the Dents du Midi and the Dent de Morcles.
The shore between Nyon and Lausanne is called La Côte because it is "flatter". Between Lausanne and Vevey it is called Lavaux and is famous for its hilly vineyards.