Montreux: The Millionares’ Playground

“If you want peace of soul, come to Montreux”– Freddie Mercury

Montreux is a scenic Swiss town located alongside the shores of Lake Geneva. The tranquil town is known for its annual jazz festival and a casino, as well as its sprawling, terraced vineyards. Montreux is also known for being inhabited by some of the world’s rich and famous. You can enjoy the heart of this classy city as there are plenty of scenic locales to explore and photograph.

Situated less than an hour from Geneva’s international airport, Montreux Riviera actually extends from Lutry to Villeneuve. Called “the Swiss Riviera” due to the prevalent microclimate and the beauty of its landscapes, it has always attracted visitors from all over the world. Montreux Riviera is not only dazzling on account of the splendour of its landscapes. It is also fascinating because of the richness of its history – a history from which quantities of archaeological remains bear witness to the different civilisations that have come and gone.

Whether you’re gliding on a bicycle through rolling vineyards or strolling past 400-year-old churches and wine cellars – which command the same reverence – you’ll understand why a long line of writers, actors and musicians have come to Montreux to hide out. Charlie Chaplin, who is buried with his wife in the Corsier-sur-Vevey cemetery and whose image decorates the quays of Vevey, lived for 25 years at Manoir de Ban, on the heights of the town. Russian novelist Vladimir Nabokov stayed for many years until his death in 1977 at the Hôtel du Cygne, part of Fairmont Le Montreux Palace.

We took a stroll along Lake Geneva. The 13-kilometre-long Quai Aux Fleurs promenade features flowers sourced from around the world that, against the greyish-blue backdrop of the French Alps, appear almost fluorescent. Start from Vevey harbour and head west to Montreux; you will see statues of Chaplin and Freddie Mercury as well as a giant silver fork that stands surreally in the water in front of the Vevey food museum.

On a hill located on top of Montreux is Caux Palace. One of the first Palace hotels built in Switzerland, the Caux Palace is known as the birthplace of hospitality and is a truly unique place for students to study. Caux Palace is home to the Swiss Hotel Management School, the biggest English speaking hotel school in Switzerland. The building can be seen from Montreux and the surrounding area; it is said to have been the inspiration for the castle in Disney’s animated movie Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

Just a short drive from Montreux, with pristine waters, cute local beaches and an impressive network of walking trails, we arrive at the picturesque wine-growing region of Lavaux. The terraces between Lausanne and Vevey were first carved out for wine production in the 13th century, leading UNESCO to designate the region – called Lavaux – a World Heritage site. Situated between Lausanne and Vevey on the northern shores of Lake Geneva, Lavaux has all the beauty of Italy. Its microclimate gives it an almost Mediterranean feel during the summer months, when locals don swimming costumes, shades and sandals to revel in the best backyard in central Europe.

There is a walking route through the terraced Lavaux vineyards. Enjoy this UNESCO site, which runs alongside the lake between Chateau de Chillon and Lausanne. Catch a scenic view of Montreux and Vevey from the terraces while you enjoy your picnic with a glass of wine (or two).

Text by Melani Semuel | Photos by Ika Damajanti

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