Saint-Prex, Canton of Vaud, Switzerland

Saint-Prex is a Swiss municipality in the canton of Vaud, located in the district of Morges. This is located on the shores of Lake Geneva. Composed of 5.5 km of shores, Saint-Prex benefits from a landing stage, a port and four beaches. Two emblematic constructions can be seen on the lake: the diving board at the beach of Chauchy and the radio beacon, commonly called “La Balise”, which is located a little further offshore on the Coulet side. The Saint-Prex peninsula is located equidistant from Bouveret and Geneva or Lausanne and Thonon. The banks of Saint-Prex have gradually lost their rural and wine-growing character in favor of many luxury houses or residences.

Saint-Prex, whose small medieval town sprawls over a peninsula in Lake Geneva, is located at an average altitude of 377 meters, 4.5 kilometers southwest of Morges, capital of the eponymous district. The area of the municipality of about 5.5 km (549 hectares) is located on a portion of the north shore of the lake, on the Swiss plateau. From there, the municipal territory extends towards the Jura in a plain bordering the lake, up to a prominence some 50 meters higher than the average. The northern border is formed by the wooded valley of the Le Boiron de Morges stream. Towards the place called Bois-Billens, we reach the highest point in the town (455 meters). To the east, the border follows the course of the Chenaux stream and to the west, it is Le Boiron de Morges which acts as a limit, up to its mouth in Lake Geneva.. The river formed here a small alluvial beach which has remained in its natural state. North of the town is still the Bézières stream.

Saint-Prex is part of a magnificent region called La Côte, which stretches from Morges to Nyon and which only asks to receive and satisfy the people it inspires to. stop there. The town of Saint-Prex also has the hamlets of Beaufort (410 m), not far from the highest point of the town, and Les Iles (425 m) south of Boiron, as well as a few isolated farms. The neighboring municipalities of Saint-Prex are Buchillon, Étoy, Villars-sous-Yens, Lussy-sur-Morges, Lully and Tolochenaz.

1234 is the year which the Bourg was built on its current site, under the direction of the Bishopric of Lausanne, in order to protect the population against the frequent attacks from Savoy, by making it possible to communicate by fire with the lookouts at Lausanne Cathedral in the event of an attack. The town was surrounded by a wooden palisade with a gate and a drawbridge lowering over a ditch connecting the lake from side to side. Currently, the remains of the wall built in the 16th century after the fire in the wooden ramparts, as well as the Clock Tower, proudly adorn the entrance to the Bourg.

Lacustrine, Romans, Burgundians and other peoples have all left traces, vestiges or names attesting to their presence in the Saint-Preyard lands. The temple, for example, rebuilt at the end of the 12th century, was based on structures dating from the Carolingian era, themselves erected on the foundations of a Roman place of prayer. Thus, for more than 2000 years, the mound, from which one enjoys a superb view of the Old Town, has served as a place of worship. Right next to and as far as the Vieux-Moulin site, Burgundian burials attest to their presence and the use of this place as a cemetery. Finally, axes in polished stone and other jewelry of the same material, needles, punches and hooks in bronze and iron bear witness to the evolution from the Lacustrine established in the year 5000 before Jesus-Christ until the ages of bronze and the iron, the latter being around the year 750 BC.

The name of the village from the popular deformation Sanctus Prothasius, is attested since the XVI century. From the XVIII century, scholars have made the semi-scientific form St. Prothais. This patron saint was Bishop of Lausanne the middle of the VII century, during the reign of the Frankish king Clovis II. Its name ended up replacing the old name of the village, Basuges (from the Latin ad basilicas), when his remains were buried in the choir of the church.

The place was occupied from the Neolithic era by two lakeside villages at a place called “en Fraid’Aigue”, then by the Helvetians and later by the Romans: the village was on an important strategic road, the via strata which went from the Col du Grand-Saint-Bernard to Lyon. It thus put Rome in communication with the Rhine valley and the Rhône valley. Finally, toward the beginning of the V century, settled in the area tribes Burgundian, as evidenced by a series of tombs, the oldest Gallo-Roman tombs found in the church seem to have been the center.Kingdom of Burgundy until 1032, then incorporated into the Holy Roman Empire.

The vast Basuges funeral basilica (652), originally dedicated to the Virgin Mary, and his field seem to have belonged to the church early Cathedral of Our Lady Mary of Lausanne (from the VI century) and were a time confiscated by some Carolingian king who handed them over to a line of local lords, in exchange for their loyal services. The last of them, a certain Réginold, ended up returning them to the cathedral church of Lausanne on6 Aug 885to ensure his eternal rest and the prayers of the Lausanne clergy. In 968, the domain was enlarged by the domain of Marcy, bequeathed by the deacon Amico, and in 972, by a mill and a vineyard between the rivers Aubonne and Venoge.

Early in the XI century, the area of Saint-Prex, among other properties, matures in Chapter Lausanne: a group of thirty canons now exercises his manorial rights over the area. He thus gives four “colonists” land (“colonges”) which must be developed and cultivated. By 1200, we learned Cartulaire Lausanne written by Conon d’Estavayer (XIII century), the field also includes two “lunages”, two dimensions of such land must be a lunar month to plow and twenty-four “Cheseaux”, that is to say twenty-four plots containing a house (casa) and a garden or a place, so in any case, twenty-four families.

These dwellings, of which no trace has been found due to the fact that they were not built permanently, were to be grouped together in agglomeration, with a sort of barricade around, organized from one of the large Roman estates (villa) Dracy or Marcy. The order and the protection of these subjects are ensured by knights that the Chapter appoints and maintains in place by putting them for the benefit of a fief, a land, a house, with some income in exchange for their services. military. For temporal matters, more particularly justice and the police, the Chapter has a permanent representative in Saint-Prex called Villicus,, which belongs to the military class. In 1224, the Chapter finally appointed a chaplain in Saint-Prex, who was to accomplish all the religious acts of the parish and assist the pastor in place in his ministry.

In 1234, the Chapter of Lausanne decides to transfer the three hamlets (close to the current station) into a single village by the lake on the peninsula, then to fortify it using “piles on the lake side (chafaz), brought from Jorat and Vernand, and a moat on the land side. According to Béatrice Dufour, there is also a space by the lake to build a tower, a chapel, a building, a courtyard, a stable. and an oven for the Chapter. It will be the castle of Saint-Prex ” whose construction will be ensured by the architect Jean Cotereel, master builder of the cathedral of Lausanne and future lord, helped by two canons, Jean de Cossonay and Nicolas de Chavornay.

This transfer and the construction ofcastle had been planned for some time. In fact, the growing pressure, both political and military, from the House of Savoy, which caused insecurity to reign in the countryside dependent on the Church of Lausanne, forced the Chapter to review its defense system. On his arrival in Saint-Prex, Bishop Boniface pronounced the prohibition and the deprivation of ecclesiastical burial against anyone “by reckless audacity and diabolical suggestion, would still dare to molest the town of Saint-Prex.” The prohibition extending to the descendants of the aggressor up to the fourth generation, one can measure the importance which the clergy attached to the new work.

From the end of XIII century, when the firearms appeared, the wooden ramparts were replaced by stone walls with battlements. Jean Bergier, Othon I de Grandson (1240), the hero of the crusades buried in Notre-Dame cathedral in Lausanne, Guillaume de La Sarraz (1267), Othon de Champvent (1282), Hugues de Champvent (1318), Etienne Patruaul (1339), Gui de Prangins (1371) were the successive lords of the town. However, fearing to be gradually dispossessed of St-Prex, the Chapter took it back under its administration on the death of Hugues de Champvent in 1340. In 1351, the Lord Jean d’Aubonne plundered Saint-Prex, of which he accused the inhabitants of having helped those of Evian to attack it.

In April 1358, however, Saint-Prex came under the authority of the Duke of Savoy. The canons of Lausanne, excommunicated from 1384 to 1387, found refuge in the castle. In the following century, Amédée VIII of Savoy, the future Pope Felix V, lived there with his court for four months (1427). That same year, in a written act, the Counts of Savoy were finally declared deprived of their right to this place. The Pettignys then owned it for a long time; a member of this family was condemned to death, then pardoned, for having, in collusion with his mother and brother, murdered the notary Pilantin de Saint-Prex in 1406. In 1506, the town and the castle were taken temporarily by the count of Gruyère, Baron d’Aubonne and vassal of the House of Savoy.

Modern period
With the capture of the country of Vaud by the Bernese in 1536, Saint-Prex came under the administration of the bailiwick of Morges and thus lost its importance under this political and economic dependence. The castle was converted into a salt deposit and many stone walls were reused in the XVII century during the construction of the fortified port of Morges. At the fall of the Ancien Régime, Saint-Prex was part of the canton of Lake Geneva from 1798 to 1803 during the Helvetic Republic: in 1803 the castle became the property of the newly constituted canton of Vaud, which ended up in 1833 by selling it to the Dapple family. The Mediation Act definitively links the municipality of Saint-Prex to the district of Morges.

From 1536 to 1798, Saint-Prex had, as cantonal authority, the capital of today, Bern. Since the construction of the Bourg and until the Bernese occupation, Saint-Prex experienced a certain economic boom through the development of agriculture and crafts. At the end of the 18th century, the Bernese built the road linking Geneva to Lausanne and the railway line was created in the middle of the 19th century.

The beginning of the industrial era in Saint-Prex materialized by the establishment in 1911 of the glassworks north of the railway line and by the increase in the population that it led to the significant immigration of hand work, mainly Friborg, which was housed in a workers’ city including a Catholic church. Saint-Prex then had 1,350 inhabitants. In order to promote relations between the arriving Friborg Catholics and the Saint-Preyards Protestants, a Peace Hall was financed by the glassworks and inaugurated in 1918.

Today, Saint-Prex is a prosperous town of almost 5’900 inhabitants, which has managed to preserve and promote the diversity of its economy and the quality of its site. Agriculture occupies a large part of our territory, including 33 hectares of vines that produce quality wines that will delight our guests. Industry and crafts, as well as service activities find in Saint-Prex areas suitable for their development. Saint-Prex is part with the municipalities of Allaman, Aubonne and Etoy of the cantonal pole of economic development “Littoral Parc”.

Whether you are at the water’s edge, on a bench or on a terrace, Saint-Prex inspires contemplation and meditation. Backed by its rich countryside, Saint-Prex looks towards the South-East and charms the visitor in search of relaxation. A complete infrastructure is offered to visitors: restaurants, shops, pharmacy, post office, bank, gas stations… Walks, discoveries and reflections, warm welcome, modern infrastructures, charming places, beaches, sports, walks and cultures, Saint-Prex combines them pleasantly.

Historical heritage

Medieval City
Medieval Castle (XII century and XIII century) and remains of the wall. The latter were still intact in 1737, because a report of the September 22, 1727points out that several people were fined for having pierced windows and that they were granted until Saint-Martin to “bar those holes”. TheMay 2, 1777nevertheless, the Council decided to sell the site of the ditches to the border owners to transform them into gardens, on condition of keeping the rue Couvaloup clean (Cum Vallum = near the rampart).

Clock tower
In the 13th century, precisely in 1234, the Chapter of Lausanne Cathedral, which owned this territory, decided to transfer the resident population of Dracy to the peninsula by erecting a castle, common premises such as an oven and a mill, the whole surrounded by ramparts of which one can still see today the vestiges represented in particular by the Tower of the Clock. A ditch, dug from east to west, made Bourg an island, connected by day to the mainland by a drawbridge. The hinges on the walls are still visible. On the pediment of the Clock appears in the North the motto of Saint-Prex: “Let us let say and do well”, in the South the sentence: “He who watches sees the hour of his departure”, all surrounded by the escutcheon de Saint-Prex, the fleur-de-lys.

The machicolation door of the clock
The clock was installed in 1726 on the medieval door of the fortified enclosure, which formerly had eight machicolations. M. de Beausobre, who had just bought the bourgeoisie of Saint-Prex, offered to pay it. The fees amounted in 1727 to 660 florins.

High Street
Well-built houses pass by one after another, most often with two floors with interior gardens, barns, stables, wine presses etc. You can admire the old forge (tourist office), at n ° 15 the studio of lithographer Pietro Sarto the painter-engraver, at numbers 6, 8 and 10 houses built in the 20th century by Italian emigrant entrepreneurs. Special mention is made for the various fountains in the city, as well as for the wrought iron signs representing a rooster (on the Foyer), a wreath, bunches of grapes, ears of wheat, Saint-Eloi, patron saint of goldsmiths and blacksmiths, etc.

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The Foyer
The Foyer is a magnificent community house located on the right going down in the middle of the Grand’Rue. It now houses a nursery and rooms for rent (25 to 100 people).

The castle
Until 1506, it was owned by the Cathedral Chapter (summer residence). In 1536, their Excellencies occupied the Pays de Vaud, imposed the Reform and nationalized the property. At that time, the castle becomes private property. A plaque sealed in the wall at the base of the dungeon traces its history.

Point Manor
This castle except the medieval tower (XIII century) was rebuilt in the XVIII century. The Manoir Forel, at the tip of the Quai du Suchet, dates from the 13th century. It belonged to a famous family of doctor and psychiatrist. She has contributed a lot to the enrichment, development and beautification of the city. The famous Forel family resided there for many years, before selling it in 1983 to the von Overbeck family.

Fraidaigue (Route de Morges 21)
Country house in the form of a neo-Gothic chapel built in 1831 for the Dutch-born general Hendryk van Oyen, previously owner of La Gordanne near Perroy. This building was replaced in 1904 by an opulent villa by the architects Alphonse Laverrière and Eugène Monod.

House of Warnery-Dessaux
Located about 500 m. of the Castle, it has a carved wooden door in the shape of a tree and a crown, enhanced by a pediment and framed by two columns. It surprises with its large wooden balconies. Two storeys high, it is the most prominent building in the neighborhood.

Old college
In the 18th century, the Old College, which became the Town Hall in 1902, brought together the first public school in the locality.
Restored in (1994) by the Irène Leroy Foundation, this building, managed by the Municipality, houses social housing.

Religious heritage

Romanesque Church (Protestant)
Built on a Gallo-Roman mausoleum belonging to a large villa, the church, which dates from 652, is located on an eminence outside the historic village. It was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, then to Saint-Prothais. It was transformed into a Protestant temple during the Reformation and is listed as a Swiss cultural property of national importance.

The church, located on a flat square, is surrounded to the north and east by the communal cemetery; the view over the medieval village, the lake and the Alps is remarkable. When you step inside, you are struck by the dark, even austere, side of the building. But after a few minutes allowing the eye to adjust, the environment becomes lighter, as if by magic. For more than 15 centuries, the Romanesque church of Saint-Prex has been a regular meeting place for a wide variety of people: pilgrims from Saint Jacques de Compostela, tourists, and faithful of all generations. Since the Reformation of 1536, this church has been a place of Protestant worship in the parish, part of the Evangelical Reformed Church of the Canton of Vaud (EERV).

Glassworks (1911) and Glassmaker Museum: the Saint-Prex glassworks, founded in 1911, took over the equipment and personnel of the so-called Semsales glassworks the following year, which then ceased production. The new industrial establishment initially aimed to produce bottles. He then expanded his production by manufacturing, especially between 1928 and 1964, tableware and a whole range of artistic and decorative objects, in particular small black glass horses (around 1939). The Museum, which is located on the site of the current factory, exhibits a large selection of these creations.
Headquarters of Ferring Pharmaceuticals owned by Frederik Paulsen.
Vale administrative headquarters.

Le Servagnin
By marrying Amédée VIII, future Duke of Savoy, Marie de Bourgogne became the Duchess of the Vaudois in 1393. In 1420, pregnant with her eighth child, and frightened by the plague, she moved temporarily to Saint-Prex where, according to tradition, to thank the inhabitants for their welcome, she would have given them a gift of Servagnin plants, her favorite grape variety, from the Château de Ripaille. Since then, this Burgundian Pinot Noir clone has been cultivated in the region of Morges, a region which thus sees the oldest Pinot noir cultivation in Switzerland. This variety, however, was gradually replaced by varieties with greater yields, the attacks of phylloxera (around 1888) further precipitating its disappearance. In the early sixties, he was considered lost in the region.

However, in 1963, the winemaker Pierre-Alain Tardy was able to find a plant that had survived against the henhouse of an inhabitant of Saint-Prex, Werner Kaiser. He then decided to reconstitute a small vine of a hundred feet obtained by grafting. After a disappointing start, in 1990, several parcels in different terroirs were then replanted, leading to a rebirth of Servagnin de Saint-Prex and the Morges region. Finally, in 2000, the first bottles of Servagnin could finally be put on the market.

Only vines containing only Pinot Noir plants cloned from plants from these first parcels, located in the Morges appellation area, obtain the right to the Servagnin appellation. Production is limited to 50 hectoliters per hectare and a minimum of 82 degrees Oechsle. Vinified in oak barrels, it must be aged for at least sixteen months.

Natural space

Water Source
The water of Saint-Prex finds its origin in the glaciers of the Mont-Blanc massif, and not in the waters of Lake Geneva. This water would infiltrate into the soil and pass under the lake to finally rise by a siphon phenomenon near the surface, near Saint-Prex. It is collected in a filter well located about 20 meters below the surface, at the football field of the Vieux-Moulin. Regular tests indicate excellent results which make any treatment unnecessary. This spring water is then pumped to be conducted in the Epine reservoir, located on the heights of the town at about 3 km, for an altitude difference of 87 meters.

Since the construction of the Bourg and until the Bernese occupation, Saint-Prex experienced a certain economic boom through the development of agriculture and crafts. At the end of the 18th century, the Bernese built the road linking Geneva to Lausanne and the railway line was created in the middle of the 19th century. During walks on the shores of Lake Geneva, in the vineyards or across fields, you can admire the charm of old trees and the breathtaking view of Lausanne and Geneva, not to mention Haute-Savoie, including Evian and Thonon-Les- Baths.

Saint-Prex does not only offer magnificent views: the footpath along the shores of Lake Geneva, the biotope of the “Fontaines”, the “Cherrat” pond, the forests, the “Boiron” stream with its path didactic take you to discover nature! In addition, immediately in our medieval village, strolling is a discovery. Around the old stones, many details force admiration! Each proposed circuit allows you to compose your day with the means of transport available to you (boat, train, car).

Red and white heritage trail
While strolling, you are offered to discover the history of Saint-Prex and its activities, the local fauna and flora, etc. in connection with each of the places visited. You will travel from the lakeside to the agricultural area, passing through the center and the forest. The total distance of the walk is approximately 10 km.

Quai and Pointe du Suchet
The quay and the tip of Suchet. Suchet, from the Latin “suc” meaning “butte promontory”, is the southernmost point of the village, equidistant from Villeneuve and Geneva (45 km). There is a panorama stretching over more than 120 km from Moléson (2’006 m) on the far left, to Dôle (1610 m) passing through the Friborg Prealps, the Vaudois, Valaisan and French Alps., the Salève, the Lock of the Fort de Bellegarde and the French Jura (Reculet, Crêt-de-la-Neige). The landing stage, where there are strong currents due to the breeze and the wind, was built in 1884. The rapidity of the railroads, built around 1860, soon got the better of the cheaper, but slower, lake transport.

Armes beach
The Place d’Armes served as a gathering place for our compatriots. Now, swimmers indulge in the pleasures of water sports. The beach is well known to windsurfers for its perfect exposure during the wind. It is also used by divers for the quality of its herbarium and its interesting aquatic topography. The Rescue Society has also established its quarters there. Shops and restaurants are nearby.

The 19th century baths
The ladies’ bath located at the end of the rue du Vieux-Collège and the men’s bath, located to the west of the Collège du Chauchy, date from the 19th century. At that time, workers, naked or in shirts, came to wash in the lake at dusk. Out of modesty, separate bathing places were set up, so as not to mix men and women in the same place.

Chauchy Beach (Men’s Bath)
In a more fun setting, the beach, located on the outskirts of the medieval village, offers the possibility of playing table tennis, ball games, etc. A children’s play area, picnic tables, as well as a diving board with a height of 7 meters are available there. A refreshment bar and stand up paddle rentals are available on the beach. Shops and restaurants are nearby. Punctual shade thanks to the trees.

Ladies Bath
In an idyllic and romantic setting, this small beach, located on the south shore of the village, has the advantage of being totally protected from the wind. On the gravel or on the wooden platform, there is happiness. Shops and restaurants are nearby. Shading in the morning and at the end of the afternoon.

Coulet Beach
On the edge of a forest, this beach close to nature allows you to bask in the sun as well as to play ball. The sailing and recreational rowing clubs present at the boat park will entertain you. A playground for children is at their disposal. To the south, you can observe the “Coulet” stone from the Ice Age.

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