Sundays in Europe can be tricky for the tourist. We semi-cleverly eschewed this problem in Paris with a helpful local’s guide, and I turned to similar resources when I decided we would visit Montreux last Sunday with my parents. The general consensus was to walk along the promenade and visit the nearby castle, Château de Chillon, and that ended up being the perfect itinerary.
As I mentioned yesterday the weather last week was stunning. I mean, gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous. And each day we couldn’t help but count our lucky stars and pray for more of the same the following day. Until Saturday our greedy wishes were granted.
Montreux, a handsome riviera-type spot on the lake, was made all the more beautiful simply due to warm spring temperatures, the bright sun and all the locals out enjoying the city al fresco.
We stayed overnight at Eden Palace au Lac directly on the lake. We were spoiled with pre-season prices and lake-view rooms with balconies, ideal for breakfast the next morning. The staff couldn’t have been nicer or more accommodating and the location was perfect. If you’re planning on spending the night in Montreux, treat yourself. (Though one word of advice: forgo the pricey breakfast and visit the grocery store next door for early morning provisions)
We spent a couple of afternoon hours at the Château de Chillon which is open seven days a week year round. Built on a rocky island just off the coast of Lake Geneva, the castle has been steadily occupied since the 12th century and even has archeological remains from the 4th century, B.C. It was an important fortress guarding the border between Eastern and Western Europe but lost its lofty status once the Gotthard pass was opened in southern Switzerland.
There were plenty of children running around and I know it’s a place I would have enjoyed exploring as a youngster. But it was an equal treat for us adults and a stop I would highly recommend.
Adam played tour guide for a while (though you can buy audio guides along with your entrance ticket) and a common theme in the castle literature was that nearly all the rooms were at one point or another a hold for prisoners. Perhaps one of the most famous prisoners was Bonivard, who later became the hero of Lord Byron’s poem, “The Prisoner of Chillon.” Above you can see where Byron inscribed his name on the pillar believed to have restrained Bonivard. Oh, the Romantics.
That night, after dinner, my parents retired to bed to ease off some of the crippling jet lag and Adam and I headed to the nearby casino for post-dinner drinks and people watching. It turned out to be one of the saddest places I’ve ever seen with its painfully outdated decor and collection of locals hoping to win big on a Sunday night.
Besides that one particular caveat, Montreux was a magical place. If you’re in Switzerland, specifically the French-speaking part near Lake Geneva (in French, Lac Léman), I would encourage you to while away a few hours along the promenade.