Explore the region that inspired Mary Shelley

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by Conrad - 22 October 2015

In the summer of 1816, Mary Shelley, along with her future husband Percy Shelley and Lord Byron, visited Lake Geneva.

Due to a volcanic eruption the previous year, their holiday was spoiled by foul weather. They spent the dreary days and rainy nights telling each other ghost stories and challenged one another to invent their own.

From that seed of inspiration Mary Shelley, drawing on the surrounding scenery, spun her tale of a young scientist and his abominable creation. Here’s your chance to explore Lake Geneva through the lens of Frankenstein’s famous monster.

Your journey begins in Geneva, the Swiss city that gives the lake its name. From its picturesque streets and soaring architecture, one would never guess the city inspired a work of dark fantasy known throughout the world.

The fictional Frankenstein family called Geneva home and it is here that young Victor returned after his medical studies. (Note: Frankenstein is the name of the doctor who created the monster, not the monster itself).

Nestled between the shore of Lake Geneva and the base of the Alps, Geneva stands as a symbol of natural beauty and cultural diversity.

Geneva is also the home of the United Nations and has a large number of outstanding hotels and restaurants. You do not need to be a giant or have super human strength to get around town as Geneva has excellent transportation.

From Geneva, head east for 26 kilometres to Nyon, a quaint little town that dates back to Celtic and Roman times. It is easy to imagine creatures neither alive nor dead in the quiet countryside, so perhaps you should skip the cemetery visits for the next stop.

The area between Nyon and Morges is called the La Cote region, and is one of the biggest wine-growing areas in Switzerland. Morges is another small town and a great leaping off point for exploring the La Cote vineyards. Sample the local wines and perhaps you will be inspired to pen your own adventure tale.

Lausanne, Switzerland’s fourth largest city, is located just 15 kilometres from Morges and sits on the southern-sloping hills above the lake.

Once the site of an ancient military camp, the medieval centre is dominated by a grand Gothic cathedral. Lausanne has a great many art events year-round in addition to lakeside activities during the spring and summer months. It is a dynamic city with much to recommend it.

Leaving Lausanne you will take the Route de la Corniche, which leads straight through a lovely network of terraced vineyards.

Though the road is narrow there is plenty to see and do along the way. It is the perfect pastoral escape before you arrive at what many regard as the Swiss Riviera.

Vevey has attracted artists and writers for centuries. Henry James’s Daisy Miller is set here and Charlie Chaplin lived nearby. It is also the home of Nestlé, so if you have a monstrous appetite for sweets, this is the place to indulge it.

From Vevey, continue to the town of Montreux, known for its international jazz festival. Montreux is the most picturesque of the stops along the lakefront due to its exceptionally mild Mediterranean climate and breathtaking backdrop of snow-covered Alps.

The flower-bordered promenade attracts people from all over the world, so you will never know whom you might see. But if you happen to encounter Frankenstein’s monster during your stroll, watch out for the pitchfork-wielding mob on its heels.

It took Mary Shelley two years to complete Frankenstein - she was just 18 when she began the novel - but at fewer than 100 kilometres it will take you far less time to complete your tour of Lake Geneva.

While the weather probably won’t be as gloomy as it was during Mary Shelley’s visit, your trip is sure to leave you with many lasting memories.