The Gros de Vaud
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Discover the magnificent sceneries of the Gros de Vaud. (©_Switzerland Tourism)
The peaceful country between Lausanne and Yverdon is known as the Gros de Vaud , rural heart of the canton and breadbasket for the region. ECHALLENS , some 20km north of Lausanne, is the main centre, formerly an important market town which earned the right to be called a city in the fourteenth century but has now metamorphosed into a popular retreat for young families looking to escape big-city life. Despite its sometimes twee touches of renovation, it’s still a picturesque place, with a thirteenth-century château and many eighteenth-century buildings testifying to past grandeur. Arrive on a Thursday in high summer and you might run into one of the regular crafts markets held in the town centre. The tourist office , 5 Place de la Gare (021/881 11 15), has details of the dozens of especially good walking and cycling routes through the fields round about.

The ancient LEB narrow-gauge railway – Switzerland’s oldest, opened in 1873 – runs from Lausanne’s Place Chauderon station north to Echallens and, in summer especially, is one of the more scenic rides in the country. One or two steam trains a day make the run, for no supplement above the ordinary fare.

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