Montreux, town, comprising three resort communities (Le Châtelard-Montreux, Les Planches-Montreux, and Veytaux-Montreux; merged 1962) in Vaud canton, western Switzerland, extending 4 miles (6 km) along the eastern shore of Lake Geneva (Lac Léman). Its natural setting below mountains protecting it from northerly and easterly winds has made Montreux the lake’s most fashionable health resort. The nearby 13th-century Château de Chillon, made famous by Lord Byron’s poem “Prisoner of Chillon,” is one of Switzerland’s best-known pieces of architecture. Montreux is on railway lines from Geneva and France to Italy via the Simplon Tunnel and is also a terminus of mountain railways. The tourist trade is important, while the villages of Caux, Chernex, Glion, Chamby, and Les Avants on terraces above Montreux depend mainly on agriculture and viticulture.
The town of Montreux nestles in a sheltered Lake Geneva bay, surrounded by vineyards and against the breathtaking backdrop of snow-covered Alps. The Montreux Jazz Festival, which takes place in June/July and features concerts on a variety of stages and parks is very famous.
Because of the exceptionally mild climate Montreux is called the capital of the Vaud Riviera. Plants associated with the Mediterranean, such as pines, cypresses and palm trees grow here. Charlie Chaplin, Freddie Mercury and several other famous people of world-renown lived and continue to live on the Vaud Riviera.
The long, flower-bordered lake promenade which links Vevey and Montreux going all the way to Chillon Castle is simply asking to be strolled along. Cultural events, such as the Montreux Jazz Festival, as well as countless excursion options to the mountainous hinterland or on the lake make Montreux the most popular excursion and holiday destination. Many of the houses along the lakeside road, including the magnificent Montreux Palace Hotel, date from the hayday of the Belle Epoque. And the town has a modern congress and exhibition centre: the CCE.
The lake is ideal for bathing, water sports or a cruise. And along the lake promenade piano and jazz bars, discos and Switzerland’s oldest casino, mingle with hotels and restaurants.
A rack-railway provides transport from Montreux up the Rochers-de-Naye at an altitude of 2042 metres above sea level where visitors are treated to a stunning view of Lake Geneva and the Savoy, Vaud, Valais and Bernese Alps. The Rochers-de-Naye are starting point for hikes as well as take-off area for para- and hanggliders. The Montreux – Berner Oberland – Bahn MOB (Montreux-Bernese Oberland-Railway) among other things takes its passengers to the vineyards above the town with their walking and cycling trails, the Vaud mountains of the Pays-d’Enhaut and on to the Bernese Oberland, i.e. to Gstaad.
The Rochers-de-Naye and family-friendly ski regions of Les Avants and Les Pléiades cater for winter sports enthusiasts and winter walkers. For example the 2.3 kilometre-long toboggan run in Les Avant offers fast toboggan descents. In December one of the most beautiful Christmas Markets in Switzerland is located in the Grand-Rue, market hall and along the lake.
- Audiorama – located between Montreux and Chillon Castle, the Museum of Audiovision Objects contains exhibits ranging from the first recording mechanisms through to digital televisions.
- Rochers-de-Naye – the Rochers-de-Naye rack-railway, after overcoming a difference in altitude of 1600 metres, reaches one of the most beautiful vantage points in western Switzerland.
- Golden Pass Line – the panorama train operates between Montreux, Gstaad and the Bernese Oberland with connections to Lucerne.
- Lake Geneva Shipping Company – the ships, some of which are still powered by paddles, take visitors to the picturesque lakeside resorts.
- Chillon Castle – located on a rocky island near the shore featuring fortified walls and towers; the prison in which Bonivard was held in chains for four years and which provided Lord Byron with the inspiration for his famous poem “The prisoners of Chillon” in 1816 deserves particular attention. Nowadays the castle is a museum.
Montreux Jazz Festival – since its beginning in 1967 the festival has developed into a big event which frequently features the greatest jazz, blues, rock, world music and soul musicians (June/July).
Comedy Festival – the humour festival every year brings together the most famous comedians from the French-, German- and English-speaking areas (December).
Christmas Market – one of Switzerland’s famous Christmas Markets with numerous attractions and over one hundred decorated wooden houses brimming with gifts (December).
How to get there
- Direct trains every hour from Geneva Airport to Montreux : 1 hour
- Zurich Airport – Montreux: 3 hours
- TGV Paris – Lausanne: 3.5 hours
- TGV «des Neiges» Paris – Lausanne – Montreux : 4 hours
- Cisalpino Milano – Montreux : 2.5 hours
By car: Geneva Airport – Montreux (Autobahn A1/A9): 50 minutes
Zurich Airport – Montreux (Autobahn A1/A12/A9): 2 hours
Other/Air: Int. Airport of Geneva (93 km from Montreux)
Int. Airport of Zurich (208 km from Montreux)