Montreux

Montreux and Lake Geneva

Mostly known for its world-famous two week long Jazz Festival (a bit of a misnomer: you're just as likely to catch David Bowie or Beck as, say Steve Coleman), Montreux 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

By plane

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

Montreux is served by direct rail services from Geneva, Lausanne, Visp and Brig, and is easily accessible via rail connection from almost anywhere else in Switzerland. See the Swiss Federal Railways (SBB CFF FFS) site for timetable info.

Get around

By train

The railway station

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 classic 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 nearby, 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.

By foot

The waterfront and the old town are best accessed by foot. If you like to take a little longer walk, the castle is situated a few kilometers southeast from the city center along the shore of Lake Geneva. From the old town you can walk uphill to the waterfall Les Gorges du Chauderon.

By bus

There are a couple of bus lines in and around Montreux, operated by the company VMCV. Their website is however only available in French.

See

Château de Chillon
Old Montreux

Do

Freddy Mercury's statue at the lake promenade

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

Go to Vevey & take the train to mont Pelerin or 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.

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

Treat yourself to at least one of the gastronomic restaurants.

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 79 230 30 77

Take a guided walking tour and discover the "old" Montreux. If you turn left as you leave the débarcadère (where you get of 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.

Learn

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

Buy

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

The lake promenade is sided by cafés, restaurants, bars and...palm trees

Budget

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

Splurge

Le Pont de Brent, http://www.lepontdebrent.ch/ 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, http://www.denismartin.ch/Index-Gen.htm In Vevey. If you're into molecular cuisine à la Heston Blumenthal.

L'Ermitage,http://www.montreux.ch/lermitage/

La Terrasse du Petit Palais. http://www.fairmont.com/fr/montreux/GuestServices/Restaurants/TerrasseduPetitPalais.htm

Le deck Baron Tavernier, http://www.barontavernier.ch/ In Chexbres, follow the motorway towards Lausanne.

Mirador Kempinski, http://www.kempinski.com/en/mirador/Pages/Welcome.aspx In Mont Pélerin, north of Vevey.

L'Auberge de L'Onde. http://www.aubergedelonde.ch/ In St Saphorin, near the lake west of Montreux.

Drink

Sleep

Budget

Mid range

Splurge

Go next

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