One Hour From: Geneva

Say cheese. This is Switzerland

Spectacular scenery, historical hamlets – this can only be Switzerland. Oh yes, and France.

Spectacular scenery, historical hamlets – this can only be Switzerland. Oh yes, and France.

Chillon Castle

Built in the 13th century on Roman foundations, Chillon Castle is the most impressive and most photographed medieval castle in Europe. Saunter along the castle corridors once frequented by emperors, popes and princes and lord it around it around the lavish knights' halls. Descend to the vaulted dungeons and see where François Bonivard, described by Byron in The Prisoner of Chillon, was imprisoned.

By car: take the N1, then N9 and follow signs; journey time approx 1 hour. By train: frequent service from Geneva Main Station; journey time 1 hour.

Lausanne and the Olympic Museum

With its low-key elegance and sense of grace, Lausanne has long been a favourite of high society throughout the centuries. No visit is complete without a trip to the Olympic Museum, which is a living tribute to sport, art and culture, retracing the history of the games from ancient Greece to the present day. Don't miss the Olympic flame, which burns alongside a column that lists the venues where all the games have been held and lunch in the restaurant looking out over the Alps and Lake Geneva.

By car: take the N1 motorway and follow signs; journey time approx 45 minutes. By train: frequent service from Geneva Main Station; journey time 35 minutes.

Gruyères

Known for its castle and its cheese, this quaint medieval hill town is dominated by a castle and enclosed by 12th-century ramparts. Charming hotels, art galleries, craft shops, boutiques and fine restaurants flank the town's cobbled main street and the namesake cheese made in the surrounding countryside, as demonstrated at the model dairy, accounts for the worldwide fame of the Gruyères region.

By car: take the N1, then N9 and N12 motorways and follow signs; journey time approx 1 hour plus.

Yvoire

Follow the left bank of Lake Geneva (Lac Léman in French) into France and visit the medieval town of Yvoire, one of the most picturesque spots in the area. Its castle's former kitchen garden has been renovated to become the Garden of Five Senses, a maze of vegetation inspired by the walled gardens of the Middle Ages.

By car: take the D25 main road towards Hermance, following the left bank of Lake Geneva; journey time approx 30 mins. By boat: frequent service from Quay Geneva Mont Blanc; journey time approx 1 hour plus.

Mont Salève

The Genevans' favourite mountain frequently forms the backdrop of many photos of the city, but is, in fact, just across the border in France. This kingdom for nature lovers is full of fresh air, fauna, flora and has a unique panorama over Geneva and the Jura mountains. Stroll to the southern side and you have incomparable views of the Alps and Mont Blanc. This is a paradise for mountain bikers, paragliders, walkers and, in winter, cross-country skiers.

By car: take the N206 towards Veyrier, follow signs; journey time approx 45 mins.

Chamonix

This premier winter sports and mountaineering centre has ultra-modern transport facilities, allowing visitors to get close to the largest glaciers and the highest summit, Mont Blanc, in Europe. Hop on the Aiguille du Midi, one of the highest cableways in the world, for an unforgettable overview of the French, Italian and Swiss Alps. Or board the cog railway to Montenvers, where you can see the magnificent glacier.

By car: take the N40 and N205 motorway towards Chamonix and follow signs; journey time approx 1 hour.

City Vacations (0870 242 0241; www.cityvacations.co.uk) offers two nights' b&b at the Carlton Hotel from £199 per person, based on two sharing, including flights. Europcar (0870 607 5000; www.europcar.co.uk) offers weekend car hire from £73.

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