Montreux for groups
Date Posted: 08/10/2015
Pictured: Chateau de Chillon. Photo credit - Switzerland Tourism, Markus Buehler-Rasom.
Montreux, in Switzerland, provides a huge bienvenue - or welcome - to groups, offering festivals, heritage sites and an unusual connection to rock band Queen.
The Promenade: Montreux’s number one attraction is free and open 24 hours a day. The celebrated lakeside promenade is lined with a rich bounty of flowerbeds, ornate sculptures, a swathe of Mediterranean trees and a lavish array of Belle Epoque buildings. These architectural wonders include the palatial hotels and spas that first tempted tourists to the town.
Chateau de Chillon: One of the most visited castles in Europe and the most visited historic attraction in Switzerland, this charming concoction on the banks of Lake Geneva was commissioned by the Bishops of Savoy and looks like it has stepped straight out of a fairytale. The oldest parts date back to the 11th century with a highlight being the 14th century murals.
Food and drink
Montreux and the surrounding Montreux Riviera region are renowned as a foodie oasis, where fresh produce bursts out everywhere from market stalls through to fine dining restaurants. There are an impressive nine Michelin star restaurants crammed into the region.
Local specialities include the ubiquitous cheese fondue, plus smoked sausage, cabbage sausages, Vaud Canton sausages and Papet Vaudois (leek and potatoes cooked with a sausage). Be sure to try the fishy fruits of Lake Geneva too like perch and char.
Look out for markets and fairs when you are in town or one of the ‘open cellar days’ outside Montreux, where local wine producers open up their vineyards and serve regional specialities to complement their wines.
Pictured: Freddie Murcury statue. Photo credit - Switzerland Tourism, Markus Buehler-Rasom.
Queen’s Freddie Mercury famously became a Montreux resident after recording here, and a statue of the late singer hugs the waterfront, gazing out across the lake. Look out too for statues of B.B. King, Ray Charles, Miles Davis and Ella Fitzgerald. There is also Queen, the Studio Experience, which tells the story of the band.
Best for groups
Make sure to snare a Montreux Riviera Card, available free from many hotels and holiday apartments. It saves groups cash with free travel on the regional public transport network and reductions on lake cruises, museums and amusement park entrance tickets. Plus, it offers a welcome drink at the local tourist office.
The most dramatic way to appreciate the local scenery is on a hot air balloon ride from Chateau-d’Oex (pictured). Your group can sail high into the mountains enjoying a glass of Champagne and a food hamper as you take in Mont Blanc, the Eiger and the Matterhorn, with Lake Geneva far below.
A cruise is the best way to get out on Lake Geneva and really appreciate Montreux’s epic Alpine setting. You can join a public trip, but hiring a vessel for a group opens up more options. Compagnie Generale de Navigation operates 18 boats, including a fleet of eight elegant Belle Epoque vessels.
Live like a local
In the winter months many locals slip off into the mountains to ski around the resort of Gstaad. In summer they go to escape the heat. At any time of year the train ride from Montreux is spectacular and the glitzy boutiques are open with Bogner, Benetton and Cartier all represented. A local romantic favourite is travelling to Gstaad in style in a Goldenpass Belle Epoque Pullman carriage.
Pictured: Lake Geneva. Photo credit: Switzerland Tourism,Stephan Engler.
Where to Stay?
The Fairmont Le Montreux Palace: This palatial luxury abode, overlooking Lake Geneva, evokes Montreux’s golden age as it was built between 1904 and 1906 in ornate Belle Epoche style.
Villa Toscane: Handily located near Lake Geneva and Montreux train station, this Art Nouveau four-star also offers guests free use of the pool at the five-star hotel Royal Plaza Montreux across the street.
Hotel Splendid: A good value family-run three star hotel housed in an elegant 1904 building. It’s the only three-star with views of Lake Geneva and there is free wi-fi too.
Journey Time: 1.5 hours London-Geneva, then 45 minutes by train.
Currency: Swiss Franc.
Best time to go: Early autumn and late spring are the best times to visit without the snows of winter and the crowds of summer.
For more information visit www.myswitzerland.com.