Formulating a concrete travel plan begins with choosing the destination that possesses activities and qualities we find desirable. If someone told you that they were considering summering in Switzerland, you’d likely look at them as if they’d sprouted a third eye and a unicorn’s horn. I invite you to cast off the stereotypes and preconceptions you have built up over the years of Switzerland as only a winter-wonderland getaway, and discover Summer in Switzerland: this magnificent country offers a winning warm-weather personality, beginning with the lakeside city of Montreux. You won’t be disappointed!
Located between two of Switzerland’s major transportation hubs, the Geneva International Airport and the Zurich Airport , Montreux is an entrancing destination on which you can easily focus an entire trip. Here is a teaser of just a few of the city’s summer highlights.
◘ Music, Music, Music
Montreux has close relationship with the music industry from memorials paying homage to legendary rock musicians, a high-profile recording studio, and an extensive array of music events like its famous Jazz Festival throughout the year. As an avid admirer of Queen, and of front man Freddie Mercury in particular, a visit to Montreux, Switzerland is a no brainer. Freddie Mercury Montreux Memorial Day has been bringing together fans from across the world to pay homage to the man and his musical legacy since 2003. Queen’s last album together was recorded in the iconic Mountain Studios in Montreux, and Mercury has been quoted as saying, “If you want peace of soul, come to Montreux.” You’ll have to judge for yourself if he was right!
RANDOM FACT, the band Deep Purple wrote the song “Smoke on the Water” in reference to the fire that burned the original Montreux Casino down.
◘ Scenic Landscapes
The same soaring peaks that provide a winter playground for sportsmen are equally inviting during the summer season. From hiking and climbing to more extreme sports like paragliding, there are ample activities to participate in whether you’re a fledging outdoorsman or a sporting pro.
The waters and shoreline of Lake Geneva offer an alternative to mountainous activities or the ideal setting to cool down after a heart-pumping trek. Go swimming, boating, or catch up on your reading as you bask in the bright sunshine.
FUN FACT, Lake Geneva is a dual citizen! While the majority of its waters lie in Switzerland, it also crosses the border of France (just like the Geneva Airport)!
◘ A Love Affair with Food
Besides the postcard perfect, alpine peaks, Switzerland is also recognized for its contributions to the world in the forms of chocolate and cheese. Approximately a thirty-minute drive from Montreux, visit the Gruyère Region where both Gruyere cheese and one of Switzerland’s top chocolatier’s Cailler produce their infinitely pair-able and shareable goods!
Visit a Gruyere cheese dairy for demonstrations in cheese production according to traditions that have been handed down by generations of fromageres.
At Maison Cailler, get a behind-the-scenes look at all the details that go into creating their signature chocolates from the roasting of cocoa beans, to forming each decadent bite. But don’t get your hopes up, there are any Oompa Loompa’s, chocolate rivers or golden tickets.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT, Swiss citizens eat the highest percentage of chocolate per capita in the world.
◘ Wine Tours in the Swiss Riviera
Wait, wine tours…where? Why the Swiss Riviera of course! The area surrounding Montreux has a slow, burgeoning romance with wine production that is well-worth becoming acquainted with. Just a short drive from the city, and you’ll be able to park your rental car to traverse on foot the interconnecting paths to the various terraced vineyards between Chexbres and Rivas. While you may be more intimately familiar with vintages from Spain, Italy and France, here’s your chance to explore some delicious new options that your friends and family will not have heard of back home!
DON’T try to go on a Monday, or you’ll be sorely disappointed when you find these locations are closed.
DO wear comfortable shoes, bring sunblock, and perhaps a plastic wineglass wouldn’t go amiss.
◘ I Love the Nightlife
If you’re looking for evening entertainment, there is a selection of late night establishments that can accommodate you for drinking, dining, dancing and people watching, but the most comprehensive opportunity for night owls is the Casino de Montreux. As with any business that caters to playing the odds, give yourself a budget and stick to it. I find I’m happiest if I bring a set amount to the table (or slot machines), with the mindset that it’s never going back in my wallet. Then any winnings are a reason for celebration. You can also boogie down at the all-night disco if gambling isn’t your thing.
A PIECE OF HISTORY, The original Casino de Montreux was set on fire during a Frank Zappa concert by a fan with a flare gun. The event was recorded (and released) on the bootleg album Swiss Cheese.
◘ Now You’re Speaking My Language
There are many opportunities to dust off your language skills in Montreux as French, German and Italian are all spoken by many different city inhabitants.
Montreux is just one of the many fascinating destinations awaiting you in Switzerland this summer. Rent a car with Auto Europe for your next Swiss escape and discover more exciting events and activities in and outside of this stunning city.
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