In my last post about Switzerland I wrote about Lausanne and Lavaux. But our Christmas trip is far from its end and this is why today I’m going to talk about another magic place around Geneva lake.
Our next stop, after walking around Lavaux, was Chillon. This place has its kind of magic : the lake, the mountain chain and the beautiful white summits are adding to this place some sort of mystery and uniqueness. I have visited too many places and I’m kind of picky and not easily impressed, and this place became one of my favorite spots in Switzerland, so far.
Chillon is located in Veytaux. Veytaux is one of the five villages that are part of Lavaux. This place is world famous for its beautiful castle by the lake. If you’re in Montreux and want to have a very nice walk, then you should just follow the shore line and go to this castle. From Montreux to Chillon are only 3km distance!
The history of this castle says that it was build around 11th-12th Century (the oldest parts of the castle haven’t been definitively dated). This castle was home to the Counts of Savoy and later (in the 19th Century) Chillon became one of the settings in Henry James’s novella Daisy Miller, but the work that made it popular was Lord Byron’s poem “The prisoner of Chillon”.
This castle is open to the public for visits and tours. The castle is open every day of the year, except the 1st of January and the 25th of December .
|April to September||from 9:00 to 19:00 (last entry at 18:00)|
|October||from 9:30 to 18:00 (last entry at 17:00)|
|November to February||from 10:00 to 17:00 (last entry at 16:00)|
|March||from 9:30 to 18:00 (last entry at 17:00)|
- The castle closes its doors at the latest 1 hour after the ticket office closes.
- For visits without a guide there is an explanatory brochure available for individual visitors in the following languages: Czech, Dutch, English, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish.
- Tickets may be paid in cash: CHF, EUR or USD or by credit cards or with REKA travel cheques.
RATES (except events)
|Child (6 and up to 16 years old)||CHF 6.00|
|Family (couple + children 6-16 years old)||CHF 29.00|
|Reduced tariff (student, apprentice, pensioner, disability insurance, Swiss military in uniform, local visitors’ card, miscellaneous promotions)presentation of a valid card or voucher required||CHF 10.50|
|Club 24, presentation of the card required (1 card valid for 2 people)||CHF 8.50|
|Riviera Card Adult, presentation of the card required||CHF 6.25|
|Riviera Card Child, presentation of the card required||CHF 3.00|
In Montreux you can find one of the most beautiful walks along the Geneva lake, stretching from Villeneuve all the way towards Vevey. The main square of the town, Place du Marché, features a statue of Freddie Mercury facing Lake Geneva. We drove there and had some nice walks in this kind of fancy mountain city. The streets are nice and buildings reminded me a bit of France, Italy and Austria. The 5* hotel – Fairmont Montreux Palace – nearby the lake a very nice building to see and for those who want to experience Swiss luxurious life, stop in it 🙂 In front of this hotel is a small park and some famous people’s busts – residents of Montreux are placed here. Apparently this hotel has 3 buildings, one of which is behind the big one on the main road.
If this information seems scarce and you need some more “juice” to it, then you should read the following curiosities about this place:
- Montreux is the Xmas market. If you want to see a truly big one, then pack you backpack around 20th of December!
- Montreux hosts several noteworthy festivals:
- The September musical de Montreux.
- Freddie Mercury’s Montreux Memorial Day, in the first week-end of September.
- The Montreux Jazz Festival. It is held at the Montreux Music & Convention Centre, in July.
- The Golden Award of Montreux, annually in April, is the first international advertising and multimedia Competition in Europe – starting the global season for awarding creative excellence.
- Some famous residents
- Barbara Hendricks – American-born opera singer
- Patrick Juvet – Swiss singer-songwriter
- Tony Lewis – American singer-songwriter
- Zelda Fitzgerald – wife of American author F. Scott Fitzgerald
- Freddie Mercury – British musician, front man of Queen
- Vladimir Nabokov – Russian-American novelist
- Claude Nobs – Swiss founder of Montreux Jazz Festival
- Uri Rosenthal – Dutch politician
- Jean-Jacques Rousseau –Swiss philosopher and writer
- Igor Stravinsky – Russian composer
- Pyotr Iliych Tchaikovsky – Russian composer
- Shania Twain – Canadian singer-songwriter
How to get to Montreux?
As in many touristic places, to arrive here is not that complicated. You have many options, it just depends from where are you coming from.
You have 2 options:
- Fly to Geneva, which is the nearest international airport (90 km from Montreux) and from there you can take a train (approximately 1h journey to Montreux)
- Fly Zurich and from there take a train. As this airport is farther than Geneva, the journey to Montreux will take some more time, about 2.5 – 3 hours by train or car.
There are numerous international connections, whether you come from Paris, Milan, Frankfurt or Munich you’ll be able to take a fast train to Montreux. If you’re traveling in Switzerland, then one option will be to take a train to Lausanne (numerous fast trains from all major Swiss cities stop here) and from there take a connecting train to Montreux, the ride will take about 20 minutes. There are direct trains from Geneva Airport to Montreux every hour.
Note: travelers from destinations in Central, Northern or Eastern Switzerland would have a great deal if they purchase a Golden Pass scenic train (from Lucerne to Montreux via Interlaken and the Bernese Oberland), or the Glacier Express (from St. Moritz, Davos or Chur via Andermatt to Brig/Visp in the Rhone Valley).
If you travel by car, then you should take the A9 motorway which traverses the Montreux Riviera region. This motorway connects in Lausanne to the A1 motorway for travelers arriving from Geneva or France, and in Vevey to the A12 motorway for travelers arriving from the northern, eastern and central parts of Switzerland (Bern, Basel, Zurich, Lucerne).
Where to stop and what to eat?
I will suggest you to plan in advance all your expences. You may want to take a boat trip on Geneva lake or decide to take a bus, train to one of the mountains around Montreux, expenditures that weren’t in your list before.
Being a very touristic place and a very beautiful place, you should expect some “biting” prices! But with a clear plan and with some good luck you may find something for your budget.
We stopped in Lausanne and from there drove to Ouchy, Lavaux, Chillon and Montreux. Our hotel was a good one, but not in the city center. Again, I will suggest you to check Ibis and Campanile hotels for their rates 😉
If you’re not a gourmand and you’re ok to eat something simple and not sophisticated, then you should be able to spend a reasonable amount of money on your food. We ate Swiss food, but we also ate some Turkish as well 🙂
More information about places to stay, places to visit, events and foods you can find on the following pages:
Do not get scared or pulled back of the “Swiss expensive experience”, it can be an affordable and very enjoyable experience only if you’re planning your trip taking in account all your habits (shopping, food, accommodation, etc) and all your “must see and do” list 😉
Travel safe and wise!