Avenches & Payerne

Lake Geneva Region





The two little towns of Avenches and Payerne are set on the wide Broye Plain in the canton of Vaud, near its border with Fribourg. The gentle rolling hills between the Lakes of Murten and Neuchâtel, the vineyards and the nature reserves are ideal for walking and cycling. Avenches, formerly Aventicum, the capital of Roman Helvetia, boasts a unique heritage from Roman times.

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Avenches exudes unmistakeable Swiss-French charm. In the centre of the little town, with its arcades and many striking facades in Gothic and Renaissance style invite you to pause for a while.

2000 years ago, Aventicum was the capital of Roman Helvetia. The Emperor Augustus founded the Roman city of Aventicum on the site of the Helvetian capital and it was to be in its heyday in the 2nd century when it had over 20,000 inhabitants.

There is a tour starting from the amphitheatre and including the main Roman sites and excavations. The Roman museum houses a precious Gallo-Roman collection, including a valuable copy of the famous gold bust of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius.

Every year, the Amphitheater of Avenches is the setting for an Opera Festival and an Openair-Rock Festival as well as the Avenches Tattoo, the only military Tattoo in Western Switzerland. Nearby, a museum can be visited in one of the most beautiful Renaissance palaces in Vaud, built by the Bishop of Lausanne in the 13th century.

The region by the little River Broye, with its many nature reserves and terraced vineyards, offers many opportunities for walking, cycling and water sports. On the way, it is worth sampling some wine from one of the region's growers of the sparkling white wine from Mont Vully.

The centre of the little town of Payerne includes a former Benedictine abbey which was founded in the 10th century. The impressive abbey church is the largest Romanesque building in Switzerland and, with its decorated columns and early frescoes, is considered one of the finest examples of Romanesque architecture in Europe.

If you enjoy holidaying in the countryside, then Payerne and the surrounding area is the place for you. The region is famous for its natural beauty and friendliness, its farmhouse accommodation and the opportunity to discover fine local produce. On the Granary Trail ("Chemin des Blés"), 80 km of signposted paths with information boards for hikers and cyclists, you can discover all the charm of this rural area.


  • Roman amphitheatre in Avenches – Switzerland's best preserved amphitheatre, with the Museum, housing a precious collection of Gallo-Roman antiquities, including the famous gold bust of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius.
  • Abbey church in Payerne – one of the most impressive Romanesque churches in Switzerland, dating from the 11th century, a reminder of the former Cluniac priory which was of European importance.
  • IETA National Riding Institute in Avenches – national stud, nationally and internationally recognised centre of excellence in horse-breeding, organising many events to do with horses.
  • Neolithic farm at Gletterens – this reconstruction, on the site of a former Neolithic village dating from about 3000 years BC, on the south bank of Lake Neuchâtel, really brings prehistoric times to life for us.
  • Menhir in Essertes-Auboranges near Oron – the largest menhir from prehistoric times in Switzerland: 6.7 m high and weighing 25 tonnes.
  • Payerneland – entertainment for young and old, including Europe's largest indoor karting track, Switzerland's largest indoor minigolf course and many attractions for young children.
  • Murten - 800-year-old medieval Zähringer town in a beautiful location near Lake Murten, with picturesque arcades and virtually fully preserved town walls that you can walk round.
  • Time travel by bike – set off in modern Lausanne, pass through the Middle Ages at Payerne (Romanesque abbey), and arrive in the ancient world – at the amphitheatre of Avenches. SwitzerlandMobility

Top Events

  • Carnaval des Brandons in Payerne – largest Shrove Tuesday celebration in western Switzerland (February).
  • Slow-up – car-free adventure day around Lake Murten for all kinds of muscle-powered transport (April).
  • Avenches Opera Festival – open-air performances in the Roman amphitheatre with artists of international importance (July).
  • Steelband-Festival Cudrefin – Caribbean Night with Latin, Pop, Jazz & Evergreens and firy Calypsos on the shore of Lake Neuchâtel (July).
  • Rock Oz'Arènes – Rock Festival in the Arena, well-known artists from all genres of popular music regularly find their way into the small Roman town (August).
  • Aventicum Tattoo – Military music show in Western Switzerland, high-profile military bands march in the Roman Arena (September)

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