Frequently Asked Questions
Employers in the area, Accommodation, Where shall I live? To rent or to buy? Health questions, Education, Shopping, Public transport, Child care, Renting a Car, Retail Stuff, TV/Radio, Sports, Culture, Leisure.
Employment and Employers
Nyon is home to many companies and organisations that employ expatriate staff who live in the area. UEFA the European football governing body, has their head office along the lakeside. There are pharmaceutical and healthcare companies here too such as Novartis and Beckman Coulter and many other international companies based in the region. There are two main business parks, firstly, the Terre Bonne Business Park in Eysins (just outside Nyon). See Living in Nyon interview here with the commercial director of this park. Since these photos were taken, some businesses are due to move out of the Terre Bonne Business Park: Shire, Kraft Foods and Lloyds TSB private banking, however they will probably be replaced by other companies. The second business park is the A1 Business Centre in Rolle. See photos and short article here Photos taken in 2010. There have also been some changes to the line up of companies that are situated here.
In Nyon itself there are a surprising amount of small companies either trading in pulp or trading in money and WWF (The World Wide Fund for Nature) and IUCN the (The International Union for the Conservation of Nature) have their International Headquarters in the nearby town of Gland. There are a considerable number of people who live in Nyon and commute to one of the many acronymed organisations such as WHO, WIPO, the UN, and UNICEF in Geneva.
If you want to rent a place close to the town, it’s perfectly possible to live near the centre, walk everywhere and get by without a car as the train station is close by. Most people live in apartments near the centre (you have to be on a big budget to live centrally in a house). But if it’s a house with a garden that you want, then you will probably need to move to any of the outlying villages such as Prangins, Crans, Duillier or the nearby towns of Gland or Rolle (both of these towns are on the main train line).
There are many apartment blocks in Nyon, some brand new with fabulous views across the lake, some are in large complexes, others in older traditional Swiss buildings, it just depends on your taste and budget. There is a high demand though for good accommodation so my advice would be if you are offered an apartment or house that more or less suits your needs, then take it! If not, there will be a queue of people behind you willing to take it from you.
If you have a medical emergency the number for an ambulance is 144. The doctors on call are (called Médécine de service/ Médecine de Garde) and pharmacies (chemists) take it in turn to be on call too. They are listed in the local Paper “La Cote” or you can call the local police who will give you the information.
There used to be certain rules about having to live in Switzerland for a certain amount of time before you could buy, but as I understand it, things have changed. There are estate agents (realtors) who speak English and will take you through the buying process. Do bear in mind though, that you have to put down a 20 % deposit on the property and property is not cheap here. This of course, is relative, if you are moving from the centre of New York or London, the prices may not surprise you, but if you are coming from other parts of the U.S.A. Canada or the UK, then you may be taken aback by the cost of getting a roof over your head.
Are there any English speaking doctors, dentists etc? What do I do in a medical emergency?
There are English speaking doctors here and the standard of English is usually high. To name them all would take forever but rest assured, until you learn French you won’t have to struggle if you are ill. There are medical specialists in the town too, and a good hospital. There are also private hospitals in the area, in Geneva and Lausanne. Health insurance is compulsory, but average insurance cover lets you go to some private hospitals for treatment, depending on the kind of policy you have. It does pay to shop around.
What about schools? Education?
This is always a tricky one, whether to put your children in the local school system or to send them to the private international schools in the area. Every child has different requirements, and obviously it depends on their needs and for how long you are going to be here.
I can personally vouch for the Swiss secondary school system and although it is undoubtedly different to the British one with which I am familiar, I feel it works well and there is a real argument for a child having local friends and being in a school that is part of the community. The Canton of Vaud is very supportive of non-francophone pupils and it works with them (they do not throw the children at the “deep end” and expect them to get on with it, they work with them).
However, please note I can only speak from our experience in Nyon. It might not be the same in other towns. The fee paying International schools have the advantage of a more recognised and easily transferable exam system and they may be able to cope with special needs more easily. Since they provide completely bilingual lessons this could ease your child’s transition to a new country.
There is an excellent book called Education Guide Switzerland which lists all educational institutions, schools, international schools, universities that offer academic programmes in English in Switzerland.
If you are thinking of putting your child in a local school then “Going Local” by Margaret Oertig is an authoritative guide for parents who wish to gain a better understanding of the Swiss school system. It maps out all the stages of schooling from kindergarten to university in all 26 cantons, providing key facts and useful terminology in German, French, and Italian.
Also see this Living in Nyon article giving some practical advice about the first day of term for children going to a Swiss primary school.
Since we first wrote this section on shopping in the area, a few things have changed, shop opening hours are longer, there is a brand new shopping centre at the entrance to Nyon called Portes de Nyon which houses a Migros supermarket and a garden centre. However what still remains the same is that most shops and department stores are not open for business on a Sunday and most of them close at 18:00 -18:30 on a Saturday (although there are few exceptions to the rule). On the one hand this makes the town and roads peaceful and forces you to do other non retail activities on a Sunday, which is a good thing, but it does mean you have a bit more organised!
Late night shopping is on a Friday which helps a little. Alternatively, the two main Migros and Coop supermarkets offer an online ordering and delivery service. If you do run out of basic foodstuffs on a Sunday, all is not lost, the bakeries are open and the law does let petrol (gas) garages and a few shops in tourist areas open for business. There are a couple of shops down by the lake where you can get some fresh produce. The Migros supermarket at Geneva airport is also open on a Sunday and there is a small shop at Nyon railway station which sells the “basics.”
Nyon has its own market on a Saturday ( Wednesday too but smaller) selling fresh fruit and veg and other goods. Stands are set up in the old town selling all manner of produce: cheeses, roasted chicken, meat etc. It seems to be a meeting place for folk to chat and pass the time of day. There is a also a very good food market over in Divonne, France which is open on a Sunday where many people go to shop and to take visitors.
Being a small town Nyon doesn’t have a large retail diversity, but it’s suprising how many small, individual shops there are snuck away down side streets. You can get basic stuff in Manor in Nyon, and there is also H+M, Esprit, Colour me Beautiful, in the centre of town. Promod and other shops can be found in La Combe shopping Centre. There are two Shopping Centres outside the town called Chavannes Centre and Signy Centre which have more choice. There is one shop in Nyon that stocks designer names, but for a bigger choice of “labels”, you will have to go to Geneva.
If you can’t do without your specialised products, there is an American market in Nyon and Jim’s market in Gland sells British tea, HP sauce, sausages and bacon (some of these products are available in the supermarket Champion in Divonne in France). Manor in Nyon and the Co-op do stock some items such as McVities Digestive biscuits.
Manor, InterDiscount, Fust are the main branches near Nyon for electrical goods. If you bring your own electrical equipment over from a different country remember the plugs are different to UK/ U.S so be prepared to either change all of your existing plugs over or don’t bring too much stuff!
Nyon has its own TV station with coverage of local news and events. It’s in French of course but will give you a good idea of what’s happening in the area. If you can’t do without your English speaking programmes Telereseau is available for those who have cable in their home. This enables you to watch BBC1, BBC 2, ITV, CNN and Sky News and many programmes from other countries. If you don’t have cable then a satellite dish is an alternative but it can be expensive.
Swiss channels often show films which are “bi-langue”, all you have to do is press a button on the remote control to switch it into English (if the film is English in origin)
English Books/ Newspapers
Payot in Nyon in La Combe Shopping Centre has a section of English books and it also stocks the Living in Nyon book called Living along Lac Léman. More details here
There is children’s book shop in the old town of Nyon called “The Reading Duck”. Nyon Library has a small English section too. The Library in English in Geneva has a comprehensive and large lending reference section. Membership alone will cover the cost of buying a few books a year from a shop. The library runs a children’s story hour every Wednesday afternoon, they also have a massive second hand book sale twice a year. To treat yourself or to buy books for presents then I can recommend Off the Shelf Bookshop in Geneva, they will order books for you.
You don’t have to miss out on your favourite newspapers here. At least four newsagents in Nyon stock The Times, The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Express, The Economist and more for the British market. U.S.A Today, Time, Newsweek, The International Herald Tribune are also available. The UK Sunday papers make it over here (although sometimes they come without the colour supplements)! You might want to make a start on your French though and find out about local issues and events by buying a copy of La Côte which is the local paper covering the news of the area. Living in Nyon has a weekly Friday column in this newspaper (in English!) Check it out!
Public Transport/Commuting to work: by train or boat
If you are contemplating partaking in train travel then do think about buying a “Demi Tariff” pass. This means “half price” and entitles you to half price on trains, buses and the boats. I once kept all my train tickets for a year once to see how much I had saved and wrote about it on GenevaLunch. Here’s the link to read it.
Train travel is very good here and lives up to its well- deserved reputation of being efficent, punctual and clean. It can get busy at rush hour, but one of the great advantages of living in Nyon is that you can travel to the airport on the train in only 23 minutes. There is absolutely no need to take the car. The Swiss Train Website has an English section and good explanations of the train passes that are available.
For long journeys the trains have special compartments for families with play areas for children. There is also a pass you can purchase for 20 chf which entitles children to free train travel for a year (if they are accompanied by parents).
There is a superb system In Switzerland whereby you can rent cars on an hourly basis from Swiss Mobility (after paying a membership charge) to take you to remoter places where the train doesn’t go. If you have teenage children you might want to think about getting them a special pass called the Vois Sept which entitles them to free train travel after 19:00 at night and before 05:00 in the morning.
Child Care/ Maman du Jours/ Au Pairs
If you decide to send your child to a Swiss school be prepared for them to come home for lunch and not go to school on a Wednesday afternoon. There are some villages and communes which make alternative arrangements and lunches are provided, but not all of them. Alternatively you might want to look at the private after school care at La Balle Au Bond and there is a creche called Croqueline for younger children. There are also “Mamans de Jours”. These are registered childminders and they look after children in their own home during the day. There is also an Au Pair Club organised by Westlake Church that gives support to the many au pairs in the area.
Beauty Stuff/ Hairdressers/ Alternative Health
I often get asked for recommendations for hairdressers/salons etc here in Nyon, I of course have my favourites (see section -my personal favourites) but it’s all a matter of personal taste. There are many salons in the town, some of their staff speak English very well, some just a little, so try a few out until you feel comfortable with your choice. Be prepared for high costs, they may be much more than you are used to. There is an excellent publication called Know it all Passport which contains a comprehensive section of consumer advice and listings of addresses and shops. There are beauty therapists, nail salons, homeopaths, reflexologists, galore so you won’t have to miss out an any pampering.
Music/ Classical/Rock/ Jazz/Film
In addition to the two big fabulous summer music festivals here, Paleo and Caribana (see under introduction, “why I like it here”) there is always a wealth of other music events throughout the year and all tastes are covered from Brass Bands to Reggae to Rock, Rap and Heavy Metal.
There are classical music concerts performed in the area and in Nyon itself there is a prestigious Conservatoire of Music on the lakeside (building in photo below). If you or your child are learning to play a musical instrument then you can find private music teachers in the area who speak English.
There are two English speaking churches, one in Nyon, Westlake
(Evangelical) and La Cote (Anglican ) in the pretty village of Gingins just a few miles from Nyon. They both have weekly services. There is also the Scotskirk in Lausanne and the Church of Scotland in Geneva.
Every spring there is a week long documentary film festival here in Nyon called Visions du Reel . In my opinion this festival gets bigger and better each year. It is now one of the major film documentary festivals in Europe. Living in Nyon covers and reviews many of the films at this festival. The festival is open to the public.
If you fancy treading the boards or if you like to go to the theatre, there is plenty here. The Geneva English Drama Society and Geneva Amateur Operatic Society both put on productions thoughout the year for adults and also produce youth shows and plays.
he Village Players (near Lausanne) perform in English with regular productions. Then of course there are lots of theatre productions in French in the area.
Lots here, so for a full listing look under the Nyon tourist site under “Sociétés Sportives”.
The one club it doesn’t mention, is the cricket club, and yes there is one, it’s a bit further away (nearer Lausanne) but Cossonay Cricket Club has its own pitch and club members wear “whites”!
You have a choice of three indoor pools in the winter, Nyon, Bassins and Cheserex, ( the latter are two villages a little bit higher up in the Jura hills.) Come the summer months (usually around May to September) the outdoor pool opens down at Colovray. This public pool (entrance fee) is in a spectacular setting overlooking the lake and onto Mont Blanc. It’s a perfect place for a swim. There are children’s pools, a café /restaurant and it is all kept very clean. It can get very, very busy at the weekend, especially if it is a hot day as the whole world spends the day down there and take picnics with them, but it is a lovely spot.
There is the lake to swim in too, which is free in most areas, provided you don’t mind sharing it with the ducks and swans.
Cinema/ DVD rental
There is a small two screen cinema in Nyon in the centre of town. On a Monday evening they have films in English. Look either in Thursday’s “La Cote” for cinema listings or at the cinema itself. If you see the letters V.O by a film it means “shown in its original language” which is often English, but check as this could also mean another language such as German or Italian etc. If a film is in English and is a new release then don’t leave it till the last minute to get tickets since this is a popular evening out for expats in the area. In the summer there is an outdoor cinema in Nyon.