For anyone who has never been to Switzerland, this is one European country you must put on your bucket list. Though this country has way too much to offer for one simple write-up, today we are going to share one of our favorite family vacations for a fun summer getaway. (Planning a winter trip? Click here to see our winter recommendations in Switzerland: Klosters & St. Moritz )
Growing up, our parents hoped one day we would be fluent in French – Though this never actually happened (nous sommes désolé maman et papa), we gave it our all one summer when we checked into French camp in Leysin. Since this charming little Swiss town was quite the trek from Alabama, our parents decided to pack up and join us to spend the two weeks in the nearby city of Montreux. Long story short, we lasted about 5 days in this camp as the only English-speaking kids, and after a few beautiful hikes through the Alps and endless French classes, we decided traveling with our parents sounded way more fun… and that was that.
Only a quick train ride from Geneva, Montreux is a beautiful city on the banks of Lake Geneva. Apart from the history of this charming city, Montreux has quite the music scene due to the annual Montreux Jazz Festival which has brought some of the world’s best musicians together for this incredible event – Does Deep Purple’s Smoke on the Water or Zeppelin’s Misty Mountain Hop ring a bell? We happened to be in the city during the festival, and it was one experience we will never forget!
For those who prefer a little more history than the music scene, Chateau de Chillon, is only a quick stroll along the banks from the city. This island castle began as a Roman outpost guarding the road to the alpine passes, but was later influenced by the Savoy period, Bernese period, and the Vaudois period. The castle was also made famous by Lord Byron, who wrote The Prisoner of Chillon there and carved his name on a pillar in the dungeon. This castle is definitely a must-see for anyone, as well as absolutely stunning!
If you are looking for somewhere to stay, the Fairmont Le Montreux Palace is our recommendation. This five star hotel has a traditional and elegant atmosphere with views overlooking Lake Geneva and the Alps. Stunning.
Before we dive into our favorite Swiss destinations close to the city, another fun day trip idea is to take a quick boat ride over to France to tour Evian. Though our pleasant boat ride turned into a disaster due to a rare tropical storm resulting in a terrifying boat ride, flooded streets of Evian, windows blown out of buildings, and golf ball sized hail, we still recommend adding this to your list – Just be sure to check the weather first ;)
During our stay we decided to take the train one day to visit Gruyere. This charming little Swiss town was authentic and quaint, just like you would imagine. Since this town is known for their cheese, a tour of La Maison du Gruyere cheese factory was an absolute must! It was fascinating to see the way all of those cheeses were made and aged, and of course no tour is complete without getting to try Gruyere cheese straight from the factory! YUM.
Apart from the factory, we definitely recommend taking a stroll through the small town to soak in all of the local shops and restaurants, and of course enjoy a delicious fondue lunch along the way! Finally, you must make a stop at Chateau de Gruyeres – a beautiful castle in the heart of the city built in the late 1200s.
Another city that’s just a quick train ride from Montreux (that can be added to your day journey from Gruyere or visited separately) would be Gstaad, Switzerland. This gorgeous walking city boasts a high-end and sophisticated aura that attracts celebs and world-travelers from all over. Gstaad can be considered the more exclusive and local alternative to St. Moritz – with it’s luxurious charm and upscale environment.
The Gstaad Palace is a legendary spot in this German-speaking town. Whether you decide to spend a few nights in Gstaad or simply plan to visit for a day trip, this historic hotel in the heart of the Bernese Alps is an absolute must. This legendary, family-owned hotel is one of the most famous resorts in Switzerland, due to its elegance, glamour, and history since 1913. Trust us when we say, YOU HAVE TO VISIT.
If any of you decide to visit these places, please be sure to let us know and share some of your travel pictures and highlights! Thanks for reading and stay tuned for next week’s Travel Tuesday feature!
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