Ski resorts in the Canton of Vaud; Leysin

Marie-Madeleine & Giuseppe Renauld | Live the World

November 23, 2022

Mountains occupy over 60% of Switzerland; Swiss ski resorts are well-known for their thousands of kilometers of slopes, next to several additional entertainment opportunities for sport or nature lovers. Picturesque looking villages add to this inspiring picture. Stretching from the Jura Mountains in the West to the Alps in the East, the Canton of Vaud is a state in the French-speaking part of Switzerland. It counts numerous ski resorts where you can enjoy the snow and some fresh air! If you consider a stay at a Swiss ski resort, Leysin will certainly be a great choice. You will find plenty of ways to enjoy the mountains all year round!

A mountain village with a long history

On the east of the Canton of Vaud, just above the town of Aigle, Leysin stands in the Alps at an altitude of 1263 meters. Despite its relatively low altitude for an Alpine ski resort, it is, however, one of the highest villages in the Canton. Leysin is well-known as a winter and summer sports station, which hosted over time international personalities such as Charles-Ferdinand Ramuz, Auguste Piccard, Mahatma Gandhi, french singer Claude François, and the Belgian Queen Fabiola.

Yet, evidence of human occupation in this location dates back to the Bronze Age. During the Middle Ages, the village, which was first known as “Leissins,” counted a few hundred inhabitants, and this did not change until the 19th Century.

© Wikimedia/unknown author

A popular curative tourism destination

From the 1870s onwards, the village that was now known as Leysin became a popular destination for people affected by several diseases. An impressive number of 18 sanatoria were built to host people suffering from rickets, cretinism, and tuberculosis. At the time, clean air was considered crucial for recovery; a successful advertising campaign yielded to a huge flow of incoming health vacationists. A route was opened to access easily to the fast-growing village. A train service connecting Leysin to the main lines in Aigle started in 1897. This rack railway still exists today. Taking the small carriages in Aigle for a steep ascent represents a great way to access Leysin while enjoying breathtaking views over the mountain.

© iStock/Andrew1012

During WWI, ill prisoners coming from either French or German camps went to neutral Switzerland for their treatments. Leysin was one of the villages welcoming them. The village continued to grow during the interwar period as a cure destination. 3,500 patients were hosted in 80 sanatoria in 1946.

From cure tourism to winter and summer resort

Sanatoria closed gradually in the 1950s and 1960s: An effective antibiotic treatment was lastly found to cure tuberculosis. Leysin had to reinvent itself. There was a boom in winter and summer resorts at the time and the village joined the emergent ski resorts. In 1956, the first cable car was built. Old sanatoria made perfect buildings to be converted into hotels. Some of them became renowned international schools.

© Marie-Madeleine & Giuseppe

Today Leysin is a modest resort with a picturesque old village centre and access to a variety of winter and summer sports facilities: the ideal place for those looking for a family-friendly and human-sized destination.

Leysin ski area is connected to Les Mosses and La Lécherette via a 9-minute ski bus. The 100 kilometres of sunny south-facing ski slopes stretch between 1,250 and 2,331 metres of altitude. In winter you can enjoy plenty of snow and sun. Right below the village a plateau (flat extent), is perfect for cross-country ski lovers.

© Marie-Madeleine & Giuseppe

If you spend a day or more in Leysin, be sure to head over to the Kuklos restaurant. This unique revolving restaurant is set on the summit of the Berneuse mountain (2048 m.), with 360-degree views of the surrounding mountains and Lake Geneva region with its famous vineyards. You can enjoy those views while eating as the rotation is completed in an hour and a half. The restaurant is accessible via the cable car departing from the village centre.

If you fancy a stay in a ski resort of the Canton of Vaud, Leysin is surely an attractive option. There are plenty of ways to enjoy the mountains and fresh air in all seasons!

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