A City of Sophistication, Sweets and Beautiful Music
"We all came out to Montreux, on the Lake Geneva shoreline; To make records with a mobile, we didn't have much time." And so goes the Deep Purple song, "Smoke on the Water" which documents a fire at the Montreux Casino caused by a flare thrown on the stage during a Frank Zappa concert. Music, it seems has always been a part of Montreux.
Known worldwide for its jazz festival, Montreux is more than home to music. Lying on sparkling Lake Geneva in the heart of the Swiss Riviera, the city is said to be the most beautiful lake promenade in Switzerland. Dotted with palm trees and surrounded by vineyards, the setting has inspired artists and writers, including Delacroix and Courbet, Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Lord Byron. The writer was inspired to pen "The Prisoner of Chillon," a château just four minutes by train from Montreux.
The most visited historic sight in all of Switzerland, it was originally built to allow residents to collect a toll from people passing between Italy and the rest of Europe on the road north of the St. Bernard Pass. Located on a small island in Lake Geneva with a 1,000-year history, the location is magical and glorious (even though it holds a dungeon.)
Montreux isn't just a stop on the train. From here, you can travel to the apex of Swiss mountain beauty. On the Golden Pass Line, the Belle Époque comes to life on the Goldenpass Classic service (formerly Salon Bleu train) in the legendary style of the Orient Express. Linking Montreux to Lucerne, this panoramic route is among the finest railway experiences to be had anywhere in the world. Pass edelweiss meadows and picturesque villages all while enjoy voluminous upgrades and mouth-watering meals. Take an excursion to Jung frau joch, the highest altitude railway station on the continent.
Only the Swiss could concoct something as sublime as a Chocolate Train. Ride in first-class comfort on a 1915 Belle Epoque Pullman car from Montreux to Gruyères – home to its famed eponymous cheese. Eventually, end in Broc, where you'll find the Cailler-Nestlé chocolate factory. Sounds sweet, no?
Now back to the music. The Jazz Festival is really a misnomer – almost all types of music are represented here. Since 1967, artists have flocked to the shores of Lake Geneva to both strum softly and rock out. One front man rocked the heart of Montreux citizens so hard, they erected a statue to him. Standing nearly 10-feet tall, Freddie Mercury is perched along the promenade, arm raised in rebel form. Since 2003, fans from around the world have gathered here for the Freddie Mercury Montreux Memorial Day on the first weekend of September.
Everyone from Charlie Chaplin to Vladimir Nabokov has taken up residence in Montreux. A little like Lolita, you'll have a love affair with this city, an unexpected grand romance. Where beautiful music is made. Use a Swiss Pass to see Montreux and even more of Switzerland, by train.
Contributed by: Peter, VP of Sales. Peter was born in Britain and has spent a number of years living and visiting different parts of Europe.