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Holidays to Switzerland Travel Podcast Episode 10 Transcript

May 10, 2024 Last Updated on May 10, 2024

Visiting Montreux-Vevey

You can see the full show notes and listen to this episode > here.

Gruezi, welcome to another episode. I’m really excited today to be speaking to Celine Guido from Montreux Riviera Tourism. Now, Montreux is a really popular destination for those who are visiting Switzerland, and it’s often talked about in the Switzerland Travel Planning Facebook group. People want to know what to do there. They’ve heard a lot about it, so they want to know how long should they spend there and what are all the main attractions. Another reason that people are attracted to Montreux is it’s the end or the start, depending on which direction you’re travelling, of the Golden Pass line, which is one of Switzerland’s panoramic trains. So I’ll be asking Celine about that today and some new developments that are coming in 2021 with the Golden Pass line, which will make it an even faster journey but no less scenic.

So there’s lots to cover. Today we’re going to talk about accommodation, attractions, food and wine, all the great things to see and do in Montreux and Vevey, as well as some of the day trips that you can enjoy if you use Montreux as your base. Montreux Riviera is in the French-speaking part of Switzerland, so you’ll notice that Celine has a beautiful French accent. And you’ll have to excuse the way that I pronounce some of the town names because as an English speaker, I haven’t quite got that great roll of the tongue that French speakers do. But I’m sure you’ll enjoy everything that Celine has to share with us today. Hello, Celine. Welcome. It’s lovely to have you here and have you to learn more about Montreux.

Thank you so much for having me, and I’m glad to tell you more about the region.

Great. Could you start by telling us a little bit about the region and where the towns exactly are located and why this part of Switzerland is known as the Swiss Riviera.

The Riviera is stretching from Lutry to Villeneuve in the Vaud. It’s called the Swiss Riviera thanks to the micro climate the region enjoys and the beautiful landscape, you can actually find palm trees on Montreux’s lake shores, which is very rare in Switzerland. Between the lake and the mountains, Montreux Riviera offers both the benefit of a peaceful and safe region which is ideal for family holidays and a large choice of activities indoors and outdoors.

Great. So with those activities, what are the main attractions that draw visitors to Montreux?

Chillon Castle is definitely one of them. This fortress is a mediaeval gem from the 19th century and Chillon castle is actually the Switzerland’s most visited historical monument. The most romantic way to arrive to the castle is with a Belle Epoque paddle steamer boat. I personally love to arrive to the castle with the bicycle or walking and there is some secret spots along the way that you can only reach that way and the view is breathtaking. When you arrive at the castle, there is audio guides available and one thing that is nice to do as well is guided tour with mediaeval costume. It makes the visit very special.

And especially in the region, you can also end the visit with a wine tasting. They produce their own wine and you can try it there.

Oh, ok. That’d be something really different.

Definitely.

Also, I mean, walking on the beautiful lakes in Montreal, there is beautiful, colourful flowers everywhere and gardeners do an excellent job there. Everyone coming to Montreux remembers all the beautiful flowers. And of course, a picture with Freddie Mercury is a must do while in Montreux. And music lovers will enjoy a visit to the Queen Studio Experience. Freddie Mercury used to have his recording studio there and he loved Montreux so much. And the statue there is very popular.

I know when I visited, it was very hard to get a photo of just one person with Freddie because so many people were there ready to take their own photos.

Definitely.

Now, what about Vevey? It’s a town just a few kilometres from Montreux and it has its own attractions as well. So what are the best things to see and do in Vevey?

Yes, Vevey. It’s actually very close by and everyone knows Montreux, Vevey is a bit less well known. But I love it. I actually live in Vevey and this is a city full of beautiful small bars. The old town is beautiful. And some of the attractions very famous are, for instance, Chaplin’s World by Grevin. Charlie Chaplin used to live in Vevey. He actually lived in Vevey for 25 years. He fell in love with a beautiful manor, he lived there. And Charlie Chaplin by Grevin is actually the only museum in the world entirely dedicated to the artist. So one part is dedicated to Charlie Chaplin as a man, so you can actually visit the mano and it’s as it used to be when he was living in. And the second part is the studio. You can actually walk into the movie decals. So it’s very fun and it actually immerses visitors in its worlds. And it’s definitely something very interactive and fun for all the family. Actually. Chaplin’s World has been voted best museum in Europe in 2019 by the European Museum Academy.

Okay. Definitely a high honour.

Yes.

And there’s something about chocolate too, in Vevey.

Yes. The chocolate actually has been invented in Vevey and you can do your own chocolate. There is a shop called Ladera where you can actually visit the shop, you can do some workshop and prepare your own chocolate. There is different things. Like, I had a couple last time who came, they just got married and they did her chocolate, which they took home and they really enjoyed it. One of the things that you can also find in Lavaux, sorry, in Vevey, is the huge fork in front of the Alimentarium in Vevey. This is also a place where there is always lots of visitors wanting a picture.

Great. And can you tell us a bit more about the Alimentarium and what that’s all about?

The Alimentarium is a museum entirely dedicated to nutrition. You can actually learn all people’s habits in the world around nutrition. It’s also very interactive and they do workshops where you can actually learn how to cook for children as well families. They do a very nice brunch every Sunday and lots of activities and workshops.

Okay, it sounds like lots of fun. Now, another highlight for many people to the region is visit to the Lavaux vineyards. What makes the vineyards and the wine that is produced there so unique?

So Lavaux is, for me, one of the most beautiful place on earth. When you’re there, you’re amazed by the view. It’s actually listed as a World Heritage cultural landscape by UNESCO since 2007 and is one of the world’s most magnificent wine growing regions. There is 830 kilometres of walls and 10,000 terraces.

Wow.

250 winegrower families are living there and growing their wine. And why the wine is so special, it’s called the ‘three suns’. The three suns are what make Lavaux special and most importantly, why it makes the wine so special. The grapes receive direct sunshine from the sun, also the reflected sunlight from the lake, as well as the light and heat reflected off the old walls you can see in Lavaux. And there is different ways to include visits in Lavaux in the programme. For instance, a guided walking tour with e bike. Or there is also two small touristic trains going around Lavaux. Whatever you choose, the tour should always end with a wine cellar visit and a wine tasting with the winemaker itself.

Of course. And are both white and red wines produced there.

So both, but the majority is actually white wine. And it’s called Chasselas, the very famous one. But there is also a little part of red wine. And Lavaux is filled with great places for food lovers. There is a festival called Cully Jazz festival that is popular and Lavaux patio when you come. If we’ve got visitors from all around the world during the year, there is small local events that international visitors also like to take part in.

Wonderful. Now you mentioned before that Montreux is great for families. What are some of the activities that children would enjoy if they’re visiting with their parents?

So first, the lake show counts many, many playgrounds facing the lake. So kids can play while the parents can enjoy the view, the beautiful views and the mountain. And we also have lots of leisure parks located close by. There is a large aqua park and there is a famous Swiss Vapeur park. It’s a fun park where families and steam enthusiasts can enjoy all day attraction going around the park with miniature steam trains. And it’s very memorable and unique.

Great. Now there are some excellent and well known festivals in Montreux, including the jazz festival and one of Switzerland’s most popular Christmas markets. Could you tell us a bit more about those events? And are they open to visitors as well as locals?

So both of them are very popular for the locals, but also famous internationally. So Montreux Jazz festival is one of them. So the next edition will be from the second to the 17 July 2021. Created in 1967, the Montreux Jazz Festival became a major international cultural event, attracting every year 250,000 visitors. While the festival was originally inspired by jazz, other musical genres quickly emerged and we welcome many artists such as Elton John, Lady Gaga, Quincy Jones. Every kind of music for rock lovers, rap lovers, every kind. And there is 60 days of concerts and all Montreux is vibrating days and nights. And we’re already looking forward to welcome Lionel Richie next year.

Okay, so you have some really big name artists at the festival.

Yes. And there is also another side of the festival which I love and all the locals love as well. It’s the off festival. There is free concert, jam session music everywhere on the lake shores and an amazing atmosphere for two weeks. So visitors can enjoy the part where they pay for a ticket of a concert, but if they do not have tickets, they can also enjoy the off part.

Montreux Christmas market is the other event that is very famous in Montreux. It’s actually one of the most beautiful Christmas markets in Switzerland. I would say the most beautiful. And every year 150 chalets showcase local produce. But in addition to the market, there is many activities for children, including an exclusive visit to Santa Claus’s Grotto.

Wow.

It’s actually perched on top of Rocher de Naye and families can visit it. And we also have flying Santa of a Montreux three times a day, which makes it very magical.

That’s something you wouldn’t see at every Christmas market, that’s for sure.

Definitely not. And you probably seen actually some pictures on Instagram went viral this last winter.

Okay, great. And will the Christmas market be held in 2020?

Unfortunately not. With the current situation. We just been informed that Christmas market will be cancelled. There will still be like a festive atmosphere. We will be able to drink Christmas tea and Christmas wine. Santa Claus might be here as well sometimes, but not the usual Christmas market, unfortunately.

Okay, so we can look forward to that in 2021.

Definitely.

Now I’d like to talk about one of Switzerland’s panoramic train journeys, the Golden Pass line. Because it has a strong association with Montreux, doesn’t it?

Yes. So GoldenPass train, now called MOB, is an ultra modern train featuring carriages with panoramic windows. The MOB GoldenPass Panoramic takes 2 hours to travel from Montreaux to Zweisimmen, where connections to Interlaken are available. The entire route is characterised by breathtaking landscapes. The ambitious GoldenPass Express project will be launched, it should be by the end of 2021, enabling passages to travel from Montreux to Interlaken in 3 hours without changing trains. This will be definitely a great thing for us.

And the chocolate train is one of the famous excursions departing from Montreux. This is a journey taking place exclusively in a deluxe Belle Epoque panoramic carriage. And it’s to encounter two national treasures, Gruyere and chocolate. This is what you want to discover when you come to Switzerland. So an excursion from leaving Montreux from 9:00 am, coming back at around 5pm, and you can try and lots of chocolates and usually you also buy lots of cheese.

Great. Now you mentioned Gruyeres there and apologies if I’m pronouncing that incorrectly. It’s just one of the many enjoyable day trips that you can take from Montreux, including Rocher de Naye and Glacier 3000. So what can visitors expect when they take a day trip to any of those places? You’ve mentioned Gruyeres, obviously, but what about the other two?

So Rocher de Naye is actually at an altitude of 2042 metres and it has long been a favourite destination for nature lovers. You can actually go to Rocher de Naye for trekking, there is easy path and more difficult one. We can always advise that there is a special map if you come trekking in the region and the view from the summit of Rochers de Naye is breathtaking, overlooking the lake and the Alps. And from this point you have a large choice of activities to choose from. There is walks for the whole family. You can visit the Alpine garden, there is a via ferrata and also in winter you can ski. So it’s from Montreux, you have your hotel in Montreux, you can actually go with the train directly and ski from Rochers de Naye.

Okay. And how long does the train journey take?

It takes about 50 minutes.

Okay. Yeah.

Great.

Enjoying the view. And of course Glacier 3000 is located about an hour and 50 minutes from Montreux and it is the highest point of the Vaud Alps and you can actually see snow during the all year. There is stunning views and there is activities including the Peak Walk which is a unique suspension bridge linking two mountains. So Glacier 3000 is also definitely one of the activities, one of the excursions you should do when in Montreux and of course Gruyeres. I said it before, but it’s a beautiful way to visit a unique mediaeval village and have a nice cheese fondue in this special atmosphere. And some chocolate1

And some chocolate always. But in Switzerland, wherever you are, you should eat chocolate and cheese.

Exactly.

Now I also believe it from the Glacier 3000 that you can see the Jungfraujoch, the Matterhorn and Mont Blanc.

Yes, you can see all of this.

Amazing. Now for those visitors that plan on staying for a night or more in Montreux, what sort of accommodation options are available?

We have a wide range of accommodation going from the small hotel to the big palace. Most of them offer beautiful lake views and they’re all walking distance from the train station and the city centre. Everyone staying overnight in the region receives the Montreux Riviera card, which is an important thing. I like to talk about with this Montreux Riviera card. It includes free travel on public transportation and you also get 50% discount on excursions such as boat trips, Chillon castle entrance, Charlie Chaplin’s museum entrance. So it’s definitely something that is great to have.

Good. Now you did mention there about the boat trip and I’d just like to touch on that a little bit more if we can. Now, I know you can do day cruises from Montreux. Where are some of the destinations that you can also use on the boats to get around the lake?

So to get around the lake there is different courses. So there is different tours that you can do. One of them is, for instance, departing from Montreux and going around the lake and having lunch on board. You can go to Evian, you can go to Yvoire, you can go to Lausanne and go down directly in front of the Olympic Museum. There is a trip going. So I said before, you can arrive to Chillon. So you can either enjoy like 40 minutes cruise or all day round and you can go down whenever you want, whenever you feel like it and take the next boat.

Okay, great. Now we’ve already mentioned that Montreux is conveniently located to make it a good base to visit other destinations in Switzerland like Gruyeres and some of the other day trip places we mentioned. But if the people who are listening, if they’ve only got one day to spend in Montreux, what are the top things that you suggest that they should do?

So what I do if I have only one depending, I would always advise depending of the interest, but let’s say I would start the morning with a visit to Chaplin’s World by Grevin. Then I’ll probably stroll along the Vevey’s promenade, enjoy the exceptional panorama, enjoy coffee and have my picture taken with Charlie Chaplin statue and the giant fork planted in the lake. I would then have lunch in the charming Vevey old town. I would then probably take a CGN cruise destination Chillon on the Belle Epoque boat we mentioned before. I will visit Chillon Castle and have a walk on the lakeshore of Montreux. I will enjoy the flowers. As I said before, I will have also the picture taken with Freddie Mercury’s statue. And yes, I mean that would be a very nice day like this.

It would be a very enjoyable day. And what about dinner? Is there plenty of choice of restaurants and cafes that visitors can visit to have a nice meal?

There is one place that I like to advise is definitely the Montreux Jazz Cafe. If you come during the Montreal Jazz festival, you enjoy the atmosphere. But during the all year we do have the Montreux Jazz Cafe where you can enjoy delicious meals and you also have the atmosphere of the Montreux Jazz Festival. You have lots of pictures and there is music, live band playing there during the weekend. And in Montreux we have everything from local food. If you want to enjoy like a nice cheese fondue, we’ve got the place. If you want to have something more international, gastronomic Michelin star, we have it all. Also restaurants like Asian food. We are very lucky to have a large choice of restaurants in Montreux Riviera region.

Wonderful. Now where can visitors find the tourist information office in Montreux?

There is one located right when you go down from the train station, you go down to the lake and it’s right in front. So really on the lake shore you can see it easily. There is also two located in. There is two located in Lavaux, there is one in Villeneuve. So wherever you go you cannot get lost. There is always someone there to help you. Sorry, I’d just like to mention, of course, when you come to Montreaux Riviera region, if you go to one of the tourist office with the Montreux Riviera card, you also get a free glass of wine while they advise you where to go and what to do. So let’s not forget it.

Well, you must visit the tourist office then. I’ll link to the Montreux Riviera website in the show notes from this episode. So for anyone that wants to get more information, they can visit the website and find out more. But before we go, could you tell us why in your opinion, Montreux is a must visit destination?

So you know what I’ll do because of course, I think Montreux Riviera is the most beautiful place. But someone else said it. Freddie Mercury said something very nice that please allow me to use it to answer your question. He said, if you want peace of mind, come to Montreux. So I think he said it all.

Absolutely. Thank you very much, Celine, for sharing with us all that information about Montreux. I’m sure everyone who’s been listening will be very keen to get there as soon as possible, so let’s hope that we’re all free to travel again in the not too distant future.

Thank you so much and we cannot wait to welcome you again here. And if you have any questions, we are always here to help. Thank you so much for the invite. Thank you.

You can see the full show notes and listen to this episode > here.