A travel agent’s guide to Montreux and Vevey in Switzerland’s Swiss Riviera
Key selling points:
- Chaplin’s World – paying homage to the outspoken star of silent film who lived out his days Vevey
- Freddy Mercury fan sites – from Queen’s Montreux recording studio to Freddy’s commemorative statue
- Montreux Jazz Festival – a magnet for big names in the music business each July
- Medical tourism – upscale, reputable packages, available from La Prairie to Laclinic
- UNESCO Vineyards – the lush green landscape of Lavaux
- Lake Geneva – an aquatic playground, home to art and medieval architecture
- The Grand Tour – one of the world’s most exciting motoring holiday routes
- Historic hotels – regal accommodation for discerning travellers
Overview: The Swiss Riviera spans from Lausanne through Vevey and on to Montreux. Historically, the mega-rich and famous – Charlie Chaplin and Freddy Mercury among them – have come here to escape attention, rather than court it. The English poet Lord Byron was only passing on his way to Italy, but when he laid eyes on the Swiss Riviera, he decided to stay for six months. Six days is enough to get a taste of this delicious region, known for its jazz festival, UNESCO vineyards and palatial hotels. Here’s are some desirable itinerary inclusions for Switzerland-bound travellers…
Charlie Chaplin’s manor house
After being ousted from the US for speaking out against the government, London-born silent movie star Charlie Chaplin settled in Corsier-sur-Vevey. His manor house, Manoir de Ban, is now a museum dedicated to his life, rich in detail, set within his 10-acre estate. After exploring his home, guests can watch a short film about the legend at the on-site theatre, and then the screen is lifted to reveal a hidden world.
Truly spectacular, the museum has superb curation, depth of information, and lots of fun photo opportunities
Paying tribute to Freddy
Freddy Mercury in Montreux
“If you want peace of mind, come to Montreux,” said Freddie Mercury, and that’s exactly what he did. While living in Montreux, Mercury recorded several albums with Queen. Queen’s last album, ‘Made in Heaven’, was recorded at Montreux’s Mountain Studio, which is now a museum dedicated to the rock group called Queen: The Studio Experience. To commemorate Mercury’s time in Montreux, a bronze statue of the rock legend punching the air was placed by Lake Geneva in 1996. Fans still lay flowers around it to this day.
Montreux Jazz Festival
Held annually in July in Montreux on the Lake Geneva shoreline, Montreux Jazz Festival is the second-largest annual jazz festival in the world after Canada’s Montreal International Jazz Festival.
Previous performers have included Nina Simone, Miles Davis, Aretha Franklin, Ella Fitzgerald, Marvin Gaye, Prince, Leonard Cohen, David Bowie, Elton John and Stevie Wonder
Wellness retreats and medical tourism
One of the world’s most renowned spa brands, Clinique La Prairie Switzerland offers a fusion of beauty, science and holistic wellness at their 5-star hotel. Less well known to the GCC traveller, but worthy of consideration due to its Swiss Riviera location and a team of respected experts, is Laclinic Montreux. This aesthetic, anti-ageing clinic offers surgery, dentistry and dermatology with pristine lake-view rooms for recuperation.
Shaped over the centuries by generations of winegrowing families, the terraced vineyards of Lavaux are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. From April to October, you can tour the area on the Lavaux Express, an open-air bus styled like a vintage steam train, but perhaps the best way to admire this iconic landscape is from Le Deck, where you can sample the local produce while enjoying views stretching down to Lake Geneva.
Lake Geneva (or Lac Léman as it’s known locally) is a vision any time of year, with the Swiss Riviera on one bank and the French Alps on the other; the famous water-producing town of Evian forms part of the horizon.
CGN’s vintage Belle Époque steamboats float across the glassy vista, which features striking artwork. The upstanding Fork of Vevey is perhaps the most arresting
An eight-metre-high stainless-steel sculpture partly submerged in the water, it’s an exhibit from the nearby Alimentarium food museum in the former Nestlé headquarters. Another landmark to admire is Chillon Castle. Located between Montreux and Villeneuve, the medieval island castle has been a summer home, a prison and a muse for writers including Victor Hugo, Gustave Flaubert and Lord Byron. Byron arrived at Lake Geneva in 1816, in exile from Britain after a scandalous divorce. His 392-line poem The Prisoner of Chillon chronicles the imprisonment of monk François Bonivard at the castle from 1532 to 1536.
The Fork of Vevey
The Grand Tour
The Grand Tour of Switzerland is the world’s first road trip accommodating electric vehicles, with a network of charging stations across the entire route. It spans almost 1,000 miles and covers 22 lakes, including Lake Geneva, plus several alpine passes, glaciers, mountain roads, historical villages and luxury hotels.
For motoring enthusiasts, this is one of the most scenic driving holidays in the world
Hôtel Des Trois Couronnes is a palatial Belle Epoch boutique hotel with 71 regal rooms and suites featuring fabric-clad walls and keys strung on drapery tassels. Thirty-five rooms overlook Lake Geneva – book one with a balcony and enjoy the view from the shade of a quaint peppermint-striped awning. An hour’s drive from Geneva Airport, and just five minutes’ walk from the historic heart of Vevey, the hotel is well-placed amid the town’s restaurants and attractions and attentive GM Jay Gauer brings the hotel’s history to life for guests, whose number have included Tchaikovsky, Henry Miller and Sir Peter Ustinov.
- Peak season: July to August
- Flight time from GCC: 6-7 hours
- Currency: Swiss Francs CHF (CHF 0.92 = US$1)
For more information, visit www.myswitzerland.com/en-ae
Hôtel Des Trois Couronnes