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Montreux is a half-day activity, and great paired with a trip to Rocher de Naye, or a hike up in Les Avants or Les Pléiades.. Take a leisurely stroll along the lakeside promenade, which is lined with flowers, and then stop at the Chateau du Chillon (Switzerland’s most popular monument), perched on a small island on Lac Léman with glorious views of the Alps on all sides. During July, Montreux also hosts the Montreux Jazz Festival, one of the biggest music festivals in the world.  

Sites:

Not that exciting: Montreux’s famous Christmas market. More fun at night!

  • ***Château de Chillon: The 13th century fortress is Switzerland’s most visited historical building and finds its way into several postcards and books about the country’s sights. Originally owned by the House of Savoy, the Castle houses several medieval frescoes and Gothic dungeons, the latter of which were the subject of a poem penned by Lord Byron: ‘The Prisoner of Chillon‘. The poet directly references the château in the line, “There are seven pillars of Gothic mould/In Chillon’s dungeons deep and old…” The castle is also the inspiration for the Little Mermaid’s castle. This is a major destination – expect crowds any time of year. This is a major destination – expect crowds any time of year. This makes for an excellent day, especially if you take the historic paddlewheel ferry and arrive by boat.
  • ***Promenade: The 3.5 kilometer stretch between Clarens and the Château de Chillon flaunts a variety of lovely blossoms. AB Note: this is really lovely at any time of year. Quite impressive. Most people walk east towards Chillon after arriving in Montreux, but consider turning left and walking along the waterfront. It’s much quieter, has really great views, and places along the way to stop, swim, have a meal or a snack (try ***Le ContreTemps near Chillon).
  • Montreux Jazz Festival: The Montreux Jazz festival has a world famous reputation for its diverse and renowned musical performances. Although it was initially a jazz only festival, it has since broadened its musical horizons. It is perhaps most famously immortalized in Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water”. The Casino where the Jazz Festival was housed burnt down during Zappa’s 1971 performance, sending smoke across Lake Geneva and providing the inspiration for the song. Over the years, it has featured the likes of Miles Davis, Nina Simone and Ella Fitzgerald; post-1970s it has also featured non-jazz artists such as Pink Floyd, Deep Purple, BB King, Oscar Peterson, and many more.
  • *Queen: The Studio Experience: A decidedly minor but entertaining experience. Worth a 15-minute stop if you’re walking by. Inside the casino, free. Casino Barrière de Montreux Rue du Théâtre 9, Montreux, Switzerland
  • ***Gorges du Chauderon: This is a hike, and doesn’t exactly line up with other Montreux activities, but it’s great as a separate trip. Walk up the gorge for several miles of waterfalls. It’s damp and doesn’t get much sun, so it’s a perfect summer hot-day hike, with opportunities for swimming, and moody and cool in the winter. Near the top is a cafe, and there are trains on either side of the gorge for one-way adventures.

Food:

  • Way up in the hills above Montreux, ***Auberge de la Cergniaulaz is a very good ‘trapper’ restaurant. Elegant and high end, meat on stones type of place. You can drive there, or make an adventure of it by taking the train to Les Avants, then the funicular, and walk the last 20 minutes.
  • **Chez Gaston at the Eden Palace hotel is a sunny outdoor spot away from the crowds. Food is diverse, prepared well, something for everyone. 
  • **Dotori is perfectly acceptable Korean food. I’ve had better elsewhere, but for Switzerland this is far better than typical.
  • **MP’s Bar & Grill: This is fine. It feels a little obvious in its decor choices and is pricy. Not worth seeking out, same experience you could have in any nice hotel.
  • *Restaurant Maï-Thaï”: Very nicely decorated, but should have been way better. Food quite hit and miss, slow and slightly surly staff, expensive. Almost worth it in the summer for the patio ocean-side seating.
  • In Clarens, but a very easy walk from Montreux is ***L’Ermitage. Lovely, very quiet, nice view of the lake. High end and elegant, popular with the retired locals. Good food.

Above Montreux

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