The Compagnie générale de navigation sur le lac Léman (CGN) is an emblematic company that has shaped river transport in the Lake Geneva region since it was founded in 1873. Find out more about the history and practical details of this company, which plays a key role in Swiss transport.
History of CGN
CGN was created by the merger of three shipping companies in 1873.
The Société du bateau à vapeur sur le lac Léman, the Compagnie genevoise des vapeurs réunis and the Compagnie de l’Helvétie decided to join forces to create a company capable of meeting the growing demand for transport on Lake Geneva.
Over the years, the CGN fleet has grown considerably, from eight vessels at the time of the merger in 1873 to a total of nineteen today.
Some of these ships are particularly famous, such as the Aigle*, inaugurated in 1837 and upgraded several times over the years, and the Helvétie*, commissioned in 1926. These boats are living witnesses to a bygone era when steamships reigned supreme on Lake Geneva.
The CGN developed around luxury tourism in the last century, but it went through a number of crises, depending on international events: wars, world wars, oil crises…
It is thanks to the intervention of the public authorities that the private company has been able to maintain its activity, in particular by offering more daily transport.
Today, CGN is run by two separate companies, one for transport and the other for the conservation of the boats from the Belle Epoque.
- Video of the Belle Epoque boat “La Suisse“
CGN on Lake Geneva
Since its inception, CGN has offered a variety of services to meet the needs of the local population and tourists alike. In addition to regular public transport between the various towns on the lake, the company also offers themed cruises, allowing passengers to discover the beauty of Lake Geneva while enjoying a unique experience on board the magnificent Belle Époque boats.
CGN plays a major economic and cultural role in the Lake Geneva region. By providing a link between the main towns on the lake, it contributes to the development of tourism and encourages exchanges of all kinds.
What’s more, its historic ships are true ambassadors of Swiss heritage, testifying to the importance of maritime transport on Lake Geneva for almost two centuries.
With 19 boats and a capacity of over 1,000 passengers, CGN is the largest shipping company operating on an inland lake.
Over the years, the destinations served by CGN have diversified, to the delight of its 2.5 million annual passengers (2019 figure), whether local, Swiss or international.
Montreux, Nyon, Villeneuve, Le Bouveret, Thonon, Evian… travel without a car, connecting with trains and buses, on the lake between Savoie, Geneva and the Vaudois region, or enjoy an express cruise!
The CGN offer helps you organise your mobility around Lake Geneva while minimising your carbon impact thanks to public river transport.
Today, the company provides crossings between several Swiss towns such as Geneva, Lausanne, Vevey and Morges, as well as French towns such as Évian-les-Bains and Yvoire. In this way, it plays an active part in the cross-border economy and strengthens the links between the two countries.
CGN and tourism
To attract more visitors and diversify its activities, CGN regularly organises special events on board its ships, such as gastronomic cruises and open-air concerts.
The Lake Geneva company is also forging partnerships with other tourism operators, such as the Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) and local tourist offices, to offer combined packages and facilitate access to its services.
Practical information and mobility
For your daily or occasional travels, here are some useful links to take advantage of city-to-city connections on the lake between France and Switzerland:
Lines and stops on Lake Geneva
Looking for your line or your CGN landing stage? Here is a simplified map of the routes:
Map of Lake Geneva and landing stages
And for more practical information, here’s the interactive map of CGN towns, ports, landing stages and boat stops around Lake Geneva:
Other maps along the Rhône
- Presentation (French) of the group and the fleet
- History of CGN, official website
- The boats Aigle 1, 2 and 3, Notre Histoire (French)
- The boat Helvetie, Wikipedia (French)
- Léman Express trains (French)
- Map of the Rhône river
- Where to sleep (French) in the Rhône valley?
- Weather along the Rhône
- Taking the train in Switzerland and France
- Rhône road by bike
- Activities and leisure in Switzerland