GMT +1 hour
An intoxicating mix of snow-capped mountains, lush vineyards, a sublime balmy climate and heady jazz nights, Montreux is an idyllic lakeside destination of dreamy inspiration.
Bask in the beauty of a Mediterranean climate, a sedate atmosphere and pretty promenade walks. Ascend stupendous mountain peaks from which you can hike and walk. Visit whimsical castles, cruise Lake Geneva, enjoy wine tasting and delectable cheese… Montreux has a magical charm that captures the heart of all which visit.
Cypresses, magnolias, mulberry and palm trees bloom in this exquisite Edwardian town that stretches along the shores of a soothing bay on Lake Geneva and oozes an air of seductive French spirit and an indomitable love affair with Jazz, architecture and ‘Riviera’ style living.
On the shores of Lake Geneva just south of Montreux sits the bewitching medieval Castle Chillon, one of the most exquisitely preserved in Switzerland. Walk along the pretty promenade from Montreux to reach this 13th century architectural gem, visiting the stupendous underground rooms, chambers, chapel, defenses and great halls. The vineyards along the side of the castle are famed for their Chasselas grape and the wine is certainly worth a taste. From this fairy-tale castle you can walk a further half an hour to charming and traditional Villeneuve, where Byron wrote his poem, The Prisoner of Chillon in 1816. The small village is a bird lover’s paradise and also a great stop for a bite to eat and a tempting glass of wine.
Alongside Byron, other famous past residents and lovers of Montreux include Tolstoy, Hemmingway, Tchaikovsky and Freddie Mercury. The latter even has a bronze statue on the banks of the Covered Market. Visit the beautiful park of Clarens and its cemetery, where renowned author Vladimir Nabokov is buried, and slightly further afield in Lausanne visit the striking Bois de Vaux cemetery, resting place of Coco Chanel, Lord Byron and Napoleon.
Take the cogwheel train through forests and cliffs up to Rochers-de-Naye and the spectacular peak of the mountain, all in just under an hour. The views of Lake Geneva from the summit are unequivocally exceptional and the area boasts walking and hiking trails, the multicoloured, sweetly scented La Rambertia Alpine Flower Garden and an enchanting vista of the Savoy Alps, including Mont Blanc and the Jura Alps. North of the Rochers-de-Naye, Dent de Jaman is another summit of note, with a collection of stunning hiking trails. The train can also be taken to the medieval town of Gruyères – land of cheese – and then on to Broc and the Nestle chocolate factory. In Gruyères make sure to enjoy a melt-in-the-mouth traditional Swiss Raclette lunch. Other day trips from Montreux include Geneva, Zermatt, Lausanne and Gstaad.
Back in Montreux, walk up the cobblestoned street of Rue de Marche to wander the Old Town and its church, saunter along the pretty flower decked promenade from Montreux to Vevey, and between Vevey and Lausanne spend a day strolling the sublime terraced vineyards of Lavaux.
Make sure you are in Montreux for the first two weeks of July to experience the internationally iconic Montreux Jazz Festival that now extends its line up to not only jazz, but also rock, pop and blues. The likes of Nina Simone, Ella Fitzgerald, Miles Davis, Prince, Bob Dylan and Charlie Mingus have all played on the shores of Lake Geneva and it’s a truly spectacular event, with many of the concerts held alfresco on captivating lakeside settings.