Explore the old houses and crooked streets of Old Montreux. Later, stroll along the quay-side promenade by the lake. The only way to discover the charms of far-flung and widely scattered Montreux is by using up a lot of shoe leather.
The most impressive castle in Switzerland, the Château of Chillon (tel. 021/966-89-10; www.chillon.ch) is on the lake 3.2km (2 miles) south of Montreux. To reach it, you can ride trolley bus no. 1 for 3F each way. But for many, the most enthralling way to reach Chillon from Montreux is to walk along the scenery-studded 3km (2-mile) lake path; it's the grandest promenade you can take in Montreux. Most of the castle dates from the 13th century, but its oldest section is thought to be 1,000 years old. The castle was built by Peter II of Savoy and is one of the best preserved, and most frequently photographed, medieval castles of Europe. So-called sorcerers were tried and tortured here. The most famous prisoner, François Bonivard, was described by Byron in The Prisoner of Chillon. Bonivard was the prior of St. Victori in Geneva, and when he supported Geneva's independence in 1532, the Catholic duke of Savoy chained him in the dungeon until 1536, when he was released by the Bernese.
The château is open April to September daily from 9am to 7pm, March and October daily from 9:30am to 6pm, and November to February daily from 10am to 5pm. It's closed Christmas and New Year's. Admission costs 12F for adults, 6F for children 6 to 16.
Rochers-de-Naye at 2,042m (6,698 ft.) is one of the most popular tours along Lake Geneva. From Montreux, a cogwheel train takes visitors up to Rochers-de-Naye in less than an hour. The train ascends the slopes over Lac Léman, passing Glion, a little resort on a rocky crag almost suspended between lake and mountains. You come to Caux at 1,097m (3,598 ft.), lying on a natural balcony overhanging the blue bowl of the lake. Finally, the peak of Rochers-de-Naye raises high in the Vaudois Alps. In the distance, you can see the Savoy Alps, including Mont Blanc and the Jura Alps. At the end is an alpine flower garden, the loftiest in Europe. The train departs from the railway station of Montreux every hour during the day, beginning at 7:30am, with the last departure between 5:30 and 7pm, depending on the season. The travel time to Caux is 20 minutes. The round-trip fare between Montreux and Rochers-de-Naye is 59F. Holders of Swiss Rail passes or Eurailpasses pay half-price. Call tel. 021/989-81-90 or see www.myswitzerland.com for more information.
Villeneuve, the little port town at the end of the lake, is where Lord Byron wrote The Prisoner of Chillon in 1816. Mahatma Gandhi visited Romain Rolland when the French novelist and pacifist lived here. The town and its surrounding countryside have been painted by many artists, including Oskar Kokoschka, who once lived here. Villeneuve is a 25-minute walk from the Château of Chillon, which is visible from virtually every point in the village.
Montreux Jazz Festival
One of the biggest musical bashes in Europe occurs at the internationally known Montreux Jazz Festival (tel. 021/966-44-44; www.montreuxjazz.com). Beginning the first week of July and running for 2 weeks, everyone from Bob Dylan to Buddy Guy is likely to show up for the music and festivities. Ticket prices are high. You pay from 65F to 300F for each individual ticket. The tourist office in Montreux provides advance information and even sells tickets. Tickets for many events, especially the top ones, often sell out early. If you show up and can't get a ticket, you can still enjoy Jazz Off, some 500 hours of admission-free open-air concerts, often staged by new or wannabe talent throughout the city. The tourist office keeps a schedule, but much of the fun is spontaneous.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.