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Montreux

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Montreux and Lake Geneva

Mostly known for its world-famous two week long Jazz Festival [1] (a bit of a misnomer: you're just as likely to catch David Bowie or Beck as, say Steve Coleman), Montreux [2] is well worth a wander through, if only to get to the scenic Château de Chillon or to get to the hiker's paradise of Hauts de Montreux.

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

Geneva Cointrin International Airport (IATA: GVA) is the closest major airport to Montreux, and serves direct flights from most major European hubs, as well as a few cities in Canada and the United States, North Africa, and the Middle East. From Geneva, it's a little more than an hour by car, and less than an hour by train. The Railway Station in Geneva is connected to Geneva International Airport. From the arrivals hall turn left (inside the building) and you will walk through a shopping mall where the railway platforms are one floor below.

By train[edit]

Montreux is served by direct rail services from Geneva, Lausanne, and Brig-Glis, and is easily accessible via rail connection from almost anywhere else in Switzerland. See the SBB site [3] for timetable info.

Get around[edit]

  • Montreux-Oberland-Bernois or MOB This is one of the longest established of the Swiss narrow gauge railways and runs from platforms 5 and 6 of the town's main line station to Zweissimmen via the resort town of Gstaad. Over recent years to company, which operates 1/3 of the Golden Pass route to Lucerne along with the BLS and the Zentralbahn brought under its sales banner the cog-wheel Montreux - Glion - Rochers-de-Naye Railway and its associated funicular from nearby Territet, the Les Avants - Sonloup funicular and the lines of the former CEV from Vevey into the hills.

Note that the trains on the Rochers-de-Naye line stop running to and from the top around 6PM but they'll shut down early if the weather's bad, so don't count on one to carry you out of a sudden early evening rainstorm.

The MOB operates not only local, stopping, trains but a regular service of panoramic trains with coaches having large picture windows and glass sections reaching into the roof, great for the views. Twice a day the line runs a classic service using either original coaches built before World War One or some built later to the same design, a throw back to the days of the Orient Express. First and Second class fares, single and return, are available on all trains with no extra charge for the panorama or clasic trains. Well worth the ride and a cup of tea or coffee in the buffet car. The best deal to date has to be the jazz train, which runs on various days throughout the jazz festival (see above). The train goes from Montreux to Gstaad, and you can buy tickets for three of the carriages, where jazz bands play live during the journey. Once in Gstaad there is an opportunity to sample some local products and pretend to be a millionaire (Gstaad is that kind of place) before a return trip with more live jazz. In 2008 this trip cost 50CHF, which is only 2 francs more than the regular journey. Pretty much anything heading North and/or East of Montreux will lead to some combination of charming Swiss villages, such as Château d'Oex and invigorating Swiss landscapes. Despite the heavy Golden Pass advertising scheme, most of the visitors are small groups of locals, not the hordes of tourists you'll find in near-by, but hard to get to Chamonix or Interlaken. Many of the mountain-top restaurants double as 'buvettes' - something between a refugee hut and a hotel - where you can stay the night, often for much less than you'd pay for a lakeside hostel.

See[edit][add listing]

Château de Chillon
  • Château de Chillon, Avenue de Chillon 21 (Veytaux-Chillon station), +41 21 966 89 10, [4]. 6PM daily. A historic castle and the country's most visited place, on a small island in Lake Geneva only a few meters from the shore. It was built originally to allow the occupants to extract a toll from people and goods passing between Italy and the rest of Europe on the road north from the St. Bernard pass. The roadway here is wedged between the lake and the cliffs, so there was no way to get around Chillon. The Castle is more famous in modern times for having inspired Lord Byron's poem, The Prisoner of Chillon, based on the true story of François Bonivard, a political prisoner from Geneva who was released in 1536. Byron is said to have carved his name in one of the columns in the dungeon where Bonivard was detained during a few years. The castle is 45 minutes walk from Montreux along the lakeside, or 4 minutes by train.  edit
  • Marmots' Paradise, [5]. The mountains around Hauts-de-Montreux are threaded with forest trails, isolated villages, caves, grottos, and wildlife. Rochers-De-Naye itself is home to an odd little compound called "Marmots' Paradise" where marmots from all over the world live in an observable system of underground burrows. Any of the train stops will lead to several hiking options. For a real hiker's hike, tackle the four hour, 1000 metre climb from Caux to Rochers-De-Naye. Saner folks might want to get off at Dent-De-Jaman, just below the peak, where you can enjoy the views and fresh air with out the huffing and puffing. You can walk the trails up there which are not difficult, one being accross to The Alpine garden which is very beautiful with nearly 800 varieties of plants & flowers.  edit
  • Casino Barrière de Montreux.

Do[edit][add listing]

  • Stroll along the Riviera Promenade and challenge yourself to recognise each tree and flower. The city gardeners create each vegetal scuptures on a special theme.

On week days the quai are the perfect place to roller skate. From Clarens to Villeneuve.

  • Go hiking

Go to Vevey & take the train to mont Pelerin or the the other train to Les Pleiades. From Les Pleiades, enjoy the amazing views including the majestuous Mont-Blanc. Go to Chexbres and walk to Cully to discover the "à pic" scenery of Lavaux vineyards.

  • Unforgettable cruises

Take a cruise on the unique Belle Epoque paddle steamers and discover Lavaux from the lake. Timetable www.cgn.ch. Compagnie Générale de Navigation.

  • Be a gourmet

Treat yourself to at least one of the gastronomic restaurants.

  • Take a journey at the "alpage"

Up High but not so far away, spend a night at a true "alpage", have a dinner with the "armailli", sleep on straw, and if you are awake early enough, milk the cows, watch the cheese making on woodfire and if you are lucky turn the "batte à beurre". Nothing can beat a spoon of cream (real one!)served with a wooden spoon (a real one!) carved by a local artisan (real one!). Don't miss the L'Etivaz cheese, of course. Informations: Olivier et Huguette Yersin Tel. +41 (0)79 230 30 77

  • Visit Montreux Vieille Ville"

Take a guided walking tour and discover the "old" Montreux. If you turn left as you leave the débarcadère (where you get off the boats) you will see a small outdoor café selling drinks and Mövenpick ice creams. If you buy something there you can sit under the spreading vine that shelters the café from the sun and watch the world go by. As long as it's not too busy you can sit there as long as you like - drinks and ice creams are about 3.50CHF each.

  • Golden Award of Montreux, Grand Rue 92, +41 21 966 55 53. Visit an award festival that takes place annually in April in Montreux and is the first international advertising and multimedia competition in Europe, starting the global season for awarding creative excellence. Montreux has been home to a number of creatives and artists, such as Charlie Chaplin, Ernest Hemingway, Vladmir Nabokov, and Freddie Mercury, and the awards reflect that history.  edit

Learn[edit]

Montreux is in the French speaking part of Switzerland. Therefore you can Learn French in Montreux [6] in some language schools including ESL.

Buy[edit][add listing]

Every Christmas Montreux hosts an excellent Christmas market for several weeks over the holiday period. The main road through the town (Grand' Rue) and the lakeside path are lined with wooden chalets where you can find anything to buy from local wine (free tasting sometimes on offer) to chocolates (of course) and local crafts. The atmosphere is magical, your kids can visit Pere Noel (Father Christmas)and in 2006 they also had a ferris wheel and an ice skating rink to add to the fun. With all the regular shops also open you could do all your Christmas shopping in one trip and get some unique presents into the bargain. For the cheapest souvenirs in Montreux, check out the Kiosque Biblique, which is housed in a small wooden chalet next to the Eurotel. It's not always open because it's run by volunteers, but it always offers a friendly welcome to everyone and has lots of free Christian literature in many languages.

Eat[edit][add listing]

Budget[edit]

  • Coop Grocery store offering a range of sandwiches and salads.

The Coop is a few yards to the right of the exit to the railway station. If you walk into the town centre (about 10 minutes - walk straight ahead out of the railway station and down steps to the lake front, then turn left) you will find The Forum shopping mall. In here there are two supermarkets (Migros and Denner) selling sandwiches .

Mid range[edit]

  • Le Palais Oriental - Quai Ernest Ansermet 6 - Unique architecture and beautiful terrace, +41 (0)21 963 12 71, [7].
  • The Museum - Rue de la Gare 40, +41 21 963 16 62, restaurant@museum-montreux.ch, [8].
  • Restaurant au Parc - Grand-rue 38, +41 (0) 021 963 31 57, [9].
  • Brasserie Bavaria - Avenue Nestle 17, 021 963 25 45 [10].
  • La Rouvenav - Rue du Marche 1, +41 (0) 021 963 27 36 - good food but terrible service.

Splurge[edit]

Le Pont de Brent [11], north of Montreux, in the village of Brent. Until recently before Gérard Rabaey retired, this has 3 Michelin stars. It still has two.

Denis Martin [12], in Vevey. If you're into molecular cuisine à la Heston Blumenthal.

L'Ermitage [13].

La Terrasse du Petit Palai [14].

Le deck Baron Tavernier [15], in Chexbres, follow the motorway towards Lausanne.

Mirador Kempinski [16], in Mont Pélerin, north of Vevey.

L'Auberge de L'Onde [17], in St. Saphorin, near the lake west of Montreux.

Drink[edit][add listing]

  • The terrace at the Hôtel Suisse-Majestic, 45 avenue des Alpes (directly across from the train station). +41 21 966 33 33. The prices are not bad, and the view superb. There's a saxophonist who plays along to some kind of super drum machine during the early evening hours, and he's pretty good. Even if you're not normally into the sort of music he plays (smooth jazz) you'll have to admit that it works in this environment.
  • The White Horse Pub, 28 Grand Rue). +41 21 963 15 92. English-style pub, is usualy the busiest bar in Montreux at night and arguably the most frequented by young locals. There's a nice selection of beer pool table and darts.

Sleep[edit][add listing]

Budget[edit]

  • Hôtel-Restaurant de la Rouvenaz, Rue du Marché 1, +41 21 963 27 36 (, fax: +41 21 963 43 94). The Italian restaurant in this family-owned hotel seems to get more attention than the actually building itself, however accommodations are an inexpensive bet near the city center. Groups of up to 24 can rent out the entire place.  edit
  • Auberge de Jeunesse Montreux, Passage de l'Auberge 8 (1820 Montreux-Territet (VD)), +41 21 963 49 34 (), [18]. checkin: 5pm-10pm; checkout: 7.30pm-10am. Nice and cheap Youth Hostel. Great attention and accommodation. Although its 25 minutes away from the Montreux train station, it worth the trip since it's close to the "Château de Chillon", by one of the nicest sightseeing pictures of the "Lac Lemand". Breadfast included but no kitchen nor fridge is available for storing, kindly asking at the frontdesk for it could work but depends on their availability. The closest Supermarket is a 'Coop' at Place du Paix, which closes at 19.45, instead 19 as common in Switzerland. 35.60 chf 4 beds/room, 39.50 3 beds/room.  edit

Mid range[edit]

  • A Room With A View B&B Bed and Breakfast Montreux, Ch. de la Nouvelle-Héloïse 4, 1815 Clarens-Montreux, +41 79 347 44 86 (), [19]. A five stars Bed&Breakfast with panoramic views on Lake Leman and the Alps.  edit
  • Golf-Hôtel René Capt, Rue de Bon-Port 35, +41 21 966 25 25 (, fax: +41 21 963 03 52), [20]. Charming Belle Epoque-style hotel is outside the city center but close to the lakeside promenade.  edit
  • Hotel Masson, Rue Bonivard 5, +41 21 966 00 44 (, fax: +41 21 966 00 36), [21]. Billing itself as the oldest hotel in Montreux dating from 1829, the Masson offers proximity to the lake and the outdoors, but is a bit of a hike from the city center. The location is a bit of a hike from town though near the Château de Chillon.  edit
  • Hôtel Bon-Port, Rue du Théâtre 4bis, +41 21 962 80 70 (, fax: +41 21 962 80 79). Quiet hotel that is only a few minutes walk from the city center. Unlike many of the hotels in Montreux, the Bon-Port doesn't have lake or mountain views.  edit
  • Villa Toscane, Rue du Lac 2-8, +41 21 966 88 88 (, fax: +41 21 966 88 00), [22]. Charming Art Nouveau-style villa situated next to the lake. The hotel sits about 1km from the city center and 2km from the railway station. You can access free amenities such as a business center and spa in the Royal Plaza across the street.  edit
  • Grand Hotel Excelsior, Rue Bon Port 27, +41 21 966 57 57 (, fax: +41 21 966 57 58), [23]. Victorian style four-star that overlooks the Swiss Alps and Lake Geneva. It sits about 2km from the city center, but offers a variety of spa and wellness facilities on site.  edit
  • Vieux-Port, +41 21 964 61 79 (), [24]. Nice apartment (50 m2) modern and tasteful furnishings in a little residential building. 30 m to the lake, near the bus, 5 min. walk from the centre. Living room, two sofabeds, one bedroom, two single beds, kitchen, television, DVD, internet connection, crockery, elevator. 1-4 pers.  edit
  • Eurotel Riviera Montreux, Grand Rue 81, Montreux, +41 21 966 22 22 (), [25]. All rooms lake view, you are only 5 meters from the lake.  edit

Splurge[edit]

  • Le Montreux Palace, Grand Rue 100, +41 21 962 12 12 (, fax: +41 21 962 17 17), [26]. A Belle Epoque-style building constructed in 1906, this recently renovated hotel is part of the Fairmont group (previously owned by Raffles), offers the usual 5-star amenities, and overlooks Lake Geneva.  edit
  • Suisse-Majestic, Avenue des Alpes 45, +41 21 966 33 33 (, fax: + 41 21 966 33 00), [27]. In a town of very fancy hotels the Suisse-Majestic stands out at least for its fine location. Also it's a four-star and as such not nearly as expensive as the five-stars further down the list, so given that it receives rave reviews this makes the Majestic a great value.  edit
  • Mirador Kempski, 1801 Mont-Pèlerin, +41 21 925 11 11 (, fax: +41 21 925 11 12), [28]. A chateux-like hotel sitting in the foothills above Vevey and Montreux.  edit
  • Royal Plaza, Grand-Rue 97, +41 21 962 50 50 (, fax: +41 21 962 51 51), [29]. This recently renovated hotel sits right on the shores of Lake Geneva and can offer you 5-star views of the "Swiss Riviera" - if you manage to get a room on that side of the hotel.  edit

Get out[edit]

  • Vevey - A lovely city in a cove, and the corporate home to the Nestlé chocolate and food empire.
  • Lavaux - Terraced vineyards and one of the prettiest landscapes anywhere stretching between Lausanne and Vevey.
  • Lausanne - A university town and home to the International Olympic Committee.
  • Château d'Oex - A ski town that also offers a wide range of multi-season sporting activities.
  • Yvorne - Yet another wine growing region, this one on the slopes of the Vaudois Alps.

Read[edit]

  • Fire on the Water: A Companion to Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, [30]. What happened in Montreux in 1816 to jolt the monster to life.  edit
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