One of the most amazing lakes in the world straddles the border of two European countries. It’s one of the magnificent Alpine lakes that is located just north of the most famous mountain range in Europe.
In this article, you’ll discover some of the most interesting facts about Lake Geneva, an incredible feat of nature on the European continent.
1. It’s located on the border of Switzerland and France
Lake Geneva is named after the second-most populous city in Switzerland which is located in the utmost southwestern corner of this magnificent lake.
The city of Geneva borders France and the same applies to the lake, making it one of the most famous lakes in France as well. This is in the western part of Switzerland and just east of the second-most populous metropolitan area in France, Lyon.
60% of the lake is located in Switzerland, within the cantons of Vaud, Geneva, and Valais, while the other 40% is located in France, in the department of Haute-Savoie. It borders the Alps in the eastern part.
2. The French name for the lake was already used during the times of Julius Caesar
The French name of Lake Geneva is “Lac Léman,” a name that was derived from the Latin name of the lake “Lacus Lemanus.” The exact origins of this name remain unknown.
We do know that this large body of water was already referred to as such during the time of Julius Caesar in the 1st century B.C. That’s quite an extensive history.
The name transitioned to “Lacus Lausonius” during the Roman Empire, the same name given to a town in the region. This eventually became Lac de Lausanne in the Middle Ages which is the French name of the English name of the lake.
3. It’s the largest lake on an important river in Europe
The lake has a surface area of 580.03 square kilometers (224 square miles) which makes it the largest lake in Switzerland.
The approximately 60% of the lake’s surface area in Switzerland is 345.31 square kilometers (133.32 square miles) while the remaining in France covers 234.71 square kilometers (90.62 square miles).
It’s also the largest lake that is situated on one of the most important rivers in Europe, the Rhône River.
This river emerges from the amazing glacier fittingly called the Rhône Glacier and flows west and south through Switzerland and France. It eventually releases into the Mediterranean Sea near the city of Arles in southern France.
4. The lake is divided into 3 geographical regions
The crescent-shaped lake is located within 3 distinctively different geographical locations. That’s why it’s divided into 3 regions as well:
- Upper Lake (Haut Lac) – The eastern part of the lake that borders the Alps.
- Large Lake (Grand Lac) – The central part of the lake that is the deepest and covers the biggest area.
- Small Lake (Petit Lac) – The utmost southwestern part of the lake near the city of Geneva.
5. Which part of the lake is the most beautiful to visit?
The lake is situated within a mountainous region, but some parts of the lake are simply more beautiful than others. The southern shore borders the Chablais Alps, one of the multiple mountain ranges in the Western parts of this magnificent range.
Some parts of the lake allow views of the highest peaks in the region, including the Mont Blanc. This is the highest mountain in Western Europe with an elevation of 4,807.81 meters (15,774 feet) above sea level.
It’s fair to conclude that the eastern part of the lake, which borders the Western Bernese Alps, is the most beautiful because here you can admire the lake with the true Alpine landscape as its background. This is reminiscent of the Alpine lakes in Italy such as Lake Garda.
More interesting facts about Lake Geneva
6. The crescent-shaped Lake Geneva has a maximum length of 73 kilometers (45 miles) and a maximum width of 14 kilometers (8.7 miles). The shore length of the lake is 156 kilometers (97 miles).
7. It’s one of the deepest lakes in Europe with a maximum depth of 310 meters (1,020 feet). The average depth is 154.4 meters (507 feet) which means it’s within the top 30 f deepest lakes in the world based on mean depth.
8. The lake holds a total volume of 89 cubic kilometers of water (21 cubic miles). The residence time of this water is relatively short at just 11.4 years.
9. The surface elevation of the lake is 372 meters (1,220 feet) above sea level. This elevation remains constant because it’s controlled by the Seujet Dam in the city of Geneva.
10. The most notable towns and cities on the lake apart from Geneva are Lausanne and Vevey in Switzerland and Thonon-les-Bains and Évian in France. The latter two are popular spa resorts that have been visited by important people for over 2 centuries.
11. Climate change has a serious effect on the temperature of the water of Lake Geneva. The temperature at the deepest levels of the lake has risen from 4.4 °C (39.9 °F) in 1963 to 5.5 °C (41.9 °F) in 2016. ON the surface the water temperature has risen from 10.9 °C (51.6 °F) in 1970 to 12.9 °C (55.2 °F) in 2016
12. Despite being one of the most amazing sceneries imaginable, the area around the lake can be quite cold. This is because of the so-called “Bise,” a northeastern wind that is especially felt during the winter months in the city of Geneva.
13. One of the most stunning man-made features of Lake Geneva can be found in the Lavaux Region in the canton of Vaux of Switzerland.
Here you can find 830 hectares of terraced vineyards stretched out for approximately 30 kilometers along the shoreline of the lake. Lavaux has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 2007 and it’s understandable why this region was added to the list.
14. The lake is the venue of many popular sporting events, including Yacht racing and a famous rowing event called the “Tour du Lac.” Yearly swimming events are organized as well, including a 13-kilometer (8-mile) crossing between Lausanne and Évian.
15. One of the most astounding features of Lake Geneva is that it only features one natural island, and that island only covers an area of a few dozen square meters (20 to 77 square meters (220 to 830 square feet).
The so-called “Île de Peilz” is the home of one remarkable plane tree, an incredible sight on the lake. It can be found near the town of Villeneuve in the utmost eastern part of the lake and not too far south of Chillon Castle, another popular tourist attraction in the area.