Nyon is one the many delightful towns that occupy the northern shore of Lake Geneva (or Lac Léman if you speak French). Perfectly placed facing both the sun and the French Alps, with the peaceful water in the foreground. No wonder so many visitors stop off on their way between Geneva and Lausanne. And no surprise that so many expats choose to live there. But what is it that life like? Since I’m not about to move (I love Bern too much and my French is terrible), the best way to find that out is ask someone who’s already there. Someone like Catherine Nelson-Pollard, who has been writing about Léman life for years in the local paper and her popular blog Living in Nyon – and now also in book form.
The book contains a varied selection of Catherine’s columns from La Côté newspaper over the past three years, so it makes for perfect dip-in-and-out reading. Short pieces about life along the lakeshore, fitting in as an expat, Swiss foibles and learning French. And that’s what I loved most about it. There’s such a mix of subjects, you don’t have to know the area that well to enjoy it. For sure, some of the articles have a distinctly local flavour – not just the Paléo festival in Nyon but street names in Geneva or tourist howlers in Morges – but most are about something anyone in Switzerland can relate to: eating fondue, getting to know your neighbours, talking about the weather and kissing friends hello. All crucial subjects for every expat who has been here more than a few weeks or even years.
Adding more than a touch of depth are Catherine’s photos (such as the one above) alongside each text. They cover, of course, the gorgeous views and festival revellers but also more mundane things like fresh bread, football crowds and spring flowers. Not every book has the luxury of great colour photos, as I know all too well, but this one makes the most of that by using them to add some real local colour to the already engaging text. Of such things, I can but dream.
The book is available in local shops, if you live in the area, or direct from Catherine if you don’t. If you want to put a voice to her words, she also has a regular spot on WRS Radio, which is always worth a listen online. All of her hard work hasn’t gone unnoticed – she is a finalist at this year’s British-Swiss Business Awards. The winners will be announced on November 30 in Geneva, so good luck, Catherine!