Sunday, May 27, 2018

Lac Leman

During our first week in Switzerland, my wife and I will be staying in Nyon, on the north shore of Lac Leman, more commonly known as Lake Geneva throughout the English-speaking world.  Created by glacial erosion during the last glaciation of the Pleistocene, this crescent shaped lake is one of the largest in western Europe, 45 miles in length and up to 8 miles wide.

Near Nyon, the deeper Grand Lac portion (to the east and southeast) gives way to the Petit Lac, a shallower and narrower section that extends westward to Geneva.  This latter portion of Lac Leman was subjected to the serial deposition of terminal moraines as the glacier melted back toward the Alps as well as sedimentation from glacial streams that entered from its north and south.  The Rhone River, now rising from its residual mountain glacier in the Alps, flows through Lac Leman and then drains it through southern France before entering the Mediterranean Sea.

This afternoon, we enjoyed a spectacular view of Lac Leman from the city of Nyon.  Backed by the Alps, the lake shimmered in the late spring sunshine and was studded with numerous sailboats.  Once threatened by pollution, the lake has since recovered and remains the natural jewel of western Switzerland, sandwiched between the Alps, to its south, and the Jura Mountains to its north.