On Sunday 24 May 2015 around 10,000 people turned up in the village of Rolle on the shore of Lake Geneva, Switzerland to see a parade of the world’s largest fleet of operating paddle boats. This was the 20th parade of these beautiful boats. Six boats, all from the early 20th century, took part: Montreux (1904); Vevey (1907); Savoie (1914); Simplon (1920); Rhône (1927); La Suisse (1910). When La Suisse (pictured below) went into service in 1910 it was the largest steamship in Switzerland. Today it is considered the fleet’s lead ship or bateau amiral.
2,000 lucky attendees found a place aboard one of the six graceful vessels while the rest watched from the shore.
In total the Lake Geneva navigation company, CGN owns eight of these historic beauties, which were classified as historic monuments in 2011. The CGN’s history started 192 years ago when boating enthusiast Edward Church, US consul to France, launched Switzerland’s first steam ship, the ‘Guillaume Tell’, on Lake Geneva in 1823.
Sunday’s lively event included aquatic ballet and sword wielding pirates, who were apparently quite aggressive at one point.
The end of the event saw the skyward release of 2,600 biodegradable balloons, freed at the sounding of the fleet’s whistles.
If you missed this year’s parade all is not lost. Click here for information on lake crossings and cruises throughout the year.