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Montreux area

Greetings. We are two mid-60 year olds who will be flying to/from Zurich September 3-19, 4 nights Lucerne, 4 nights Montreux, 7 nights Lauterbrunnen, 1 night Zürich. We are planning to take trains and use the half fare card and BO card (we are new to train travel). Unfortunately, my husband’s knee is now a problem for walking more than 1.5 miles (2-2.5 km) at a time with breaks, so I am trying to plan our itinerary to limit walking, yet be relatively economical but be able to see the full beauty of Switzerland. Could I have your suggestions for the best choices of what to do around Montreux with 3 full days, including poor weather options. We would like to see Chillon for sure. We enjoy picturesque small villages more than cities. From my reading, I am thinking of these excursions:
1. Chateau de Chillon
2. Rochers-de-Naye (not mentioned in Rick Steves Switzerland but is a 3 star excursion in Michelin Switzerland. Do you recommend if we are going to Lauterbrunnen?)
3. Cornich Lavaux vineyards ( train to Grandvaux, walk down to Lutry?)
4. Or boat Lake Geneva to Lutry, walk to LeCharteland. Chexbres-Village to St-Saphorin hike. Train or boat back to Montreux.
5. Excursion to Aigle. Wine museum. Good rain day option?

Thank you in advance for your consideration.

Posted by
5804 posts

I sympathize with your husband, I've had frequent issues with knees. Hopefully he's seen a doctor and perhaps tried PT? That has made a huge difference for me, and I'm back to extensive walking during my travels. I've been to Chillon and highly recommend it as well as some time outside of it. Just so you are aware, there is a lot of uneven pavement and some steps which did lead to some attractive views. I've been to BO. We stayed in the Lauterbrunnen valley. I think you will still have a lovely time. I'm thinking of the inns in Gimmelwald, Wengen and Murren with very attractive vistas where you could enjoy quite a lot of time with a beer, wine or coffee.

Posted by
360 posts

We went up to Gruyeres (yes, where the cheese originated) and it's a cute little town that looks like it's from a fairy tale. The countryside was also beautiful just to drive around. We also went to the Cailler chocolate factory and were pleasantly surprised by the tour -- it includes puppetry and moving scenery with voice over. We stayed in Grandvaux and there are a couple of wineries/vineyards over there (the area has a unique white wine) that could be a nice stop. And if you do, our B&B (Auberge de la Gare) has an amazing restaurant that has great reviews and is usually full, so reserve ahead!

Posted by
262 posts

You will have no problem filling three days just in this area, but if walking is a problem, I would avoid the vineyard walk as it is very steep in parts. There is a tour via an open sided mini train on wheels which departs from Vevey Marche and takes you through a lovely ride through the Lavaux Vineyards. I think it departs twice a day and because it has a canopy, likely operates rain or shine.

If you are here on a Tuesday or Saturday morning, don't miss the market at the Marche in Vevey which is open until around noon. Consider going in the morning to have a baked good from one of the stalls, a coffee or juice at the cafe, then take the boat from Vevey Marche to Chateau Chillon. From Chateau Chillon, you can take the bus back to Montreux, or if you are feeling up for a walk, there is a paved walking path from the Chateau to Montreux Marche.

The boat ride on Lake Geneva is very worthwhile. If you have a free day, take the boat to the medieval village of Yvonne, France.

The Chocolate train tour and Gruyere Castle trip departs directly from Montreux and is very popular.

Rochers-de-Naye won't compare to Lauterbrunnen, but is very worthwhile.

Here is a link for the local tourism for this area so you can see more depending on your interest.

https://www.montreuxriviera.com/en/

Posted by
31 posts

Thank you very much for your suggestions. LacLeman, I am intrigued with your suggestion to take a boat over to Yvonne, France. Do you have a suggestion for how we would take a boat ride over there from Montreux? Would you say it would be preferable to visit Yvonne over visiting Aigle, or St-Saphorin? I have read of the Chocolate train and tours, but I think if we go to Gruyeres, we might prefer to just take a regular train there for the early part of a day. The tour sounds a little too 'touristy' for our taste. Thank you for alerting us about the steepness of the vineyard walk. I made reservations at Hotel Parc et Lac in Montreux before we realized how serious my husband's knee problem would be. I am now wondering if I should change our reservation to one in Vevey. I really appreciate your input; many thanks!

Posted by
262 posts

I am not familiar with the hotel you have reserved other than to walk past. It's on Grand Rue, the main road that runs through town.

Vevey is a charming town and a good base. You would probably find the Astra Hotel there to be convenient and comfortable, especially because they have a lift. They are a five minute walk to the Marche and the boat, and just near the train and the bus.

There is a ticket booth for the boat at the water near the Vevey Marche. You can take it to many locations on Lake Geneva, including the Chateau and Yvoire. They speak English and can answer any questions you may have as far as departure and return times. I would inquire about the schedule earlier in the day if you are interested in France. There is also a tourist office at the top of the Marche.

The villages of St. Saphorin and others in the Lavaux vineyards are charming, but small. I don't know if the ride I mentioned from the Marche still runs in September, but it would be a nice way to see them without all of the steep hills. Aigle is nice enough, but a different feel since it's away from the lake. if you are looking for charm, Yvoire would be my personal choice. I'd look at pictures online to see what holds more appeal for you. I don't usually enjoy tours, but I did enjoy the Chocolate train and Gruyere. September is past tourist season, so you won't likely encounter large crowds.

Posted by
31 posts

LacLeman, thank you very much! Yvoire looks wonderful! Your post has helped me plan my three days. I am considering changing my hotel reservation to Vevey, and the Astra Hotel looks very nice. Do you know of another hotel nearby that is somewhat less expensive, perhaps a smaller hotel, that you think would be nice as well?

Posted by
262 posts

I took a look at lodging in Vevey, but the lower priced options that I could find are at a distance or don't seem to have a lift. The reservation you have in Montreux should be fine if it has a lift as it's right along the bus route and only steps away from the escalator and lift to the train. The boat does stop in Montreux as well, so that's also an option. The bus runs every ten minutes to Vevey and takes about 20-25 min from Montreux. You'll get off the bus in Vevey at the stop for the train station, just next to the Starbucks, BCV bank, train station. Cross the street and walk towards the water to the Marche. If you take the train, it's faster, but doesn't run every ten minutes.

Posted by
31 posts

Thank you; your help is so appreciated. My husband is able to climb steps, its just walking for much time that gives him quite a bit of pain. We also will be packing light. I am looking at Hostellerie de L'Hotel de Ville in Vevey. Do you have an opinion? Thanks again.

Posted by
262 posts

I would look at tripadvisor for individual reviews as I don't have any personal experience with them. If you can manage stairs, Guest House Le Charlot is right at the Marche, comes up as 135chf for September and has good reviews. Hostellerie de Geneve is also located at the Marche and gets good reviews. I haven't used the hotel but have dined in their restaurant many times.

Posted by
1443 posts

In Vevey I stayed at the 7e Art B&B. It's in a quiet residential neighborhood and it is a short level walk to the bus stop. Owner provides guests with a Riviera card which gives you free use of local buses and trains, including trains to Montreux, as well as a discount on museums (including Chillon).

The rooms at the B&B are clean and modern. The whole place has an early Hollywood / Charlie Chaplin vibe (he lived nearby). However, the rooms are all up one set of stairs. I'd stay there again but the stairs may be a deal breaker for you.

Posted by
31 posts

Thanks again for all your help. I think we will keep our original reservation in Montreux since the rate is very good and my husband should be able to walk to it. I checked with the other recommendations but, either they were much more expensive, or some of our dates were not available. Your posts helped me decide use our three days to visit Vevey Marche on Saturday morning, Chateau de Chillon, boat on Lake Geneva to quaint villages, such as Yvoire and St. Saphorin, and spend a day touring Gruyere on the Chocolate train (a good rainy day activity, perhaps). If you have any other suggestions for us, they would be appreciated. Are there any walks in the vineyards that are easy, yet scenic? We haven't been to Europe for nearly 20 years.

Posted by
262 posts

I think your hotel should work well for you. It's centrally located and will allow you to take the bus at your doorstop and the train with access via the lift or the escalator to the train almost next door. I rarely use my car and take the same bus and train you will take to Vevey. Across the street from your hotel is the Marche in Montreux with a stop for the boat. The tourist office is across the street to the right a few minute walk away. If you are feeling up for a walk, take a left at the water and walk along the waterfront path to Chateau Chillon.

If you wanted to walk part of the vineyards, I would take the train from Montreux to Chexbres or Grandvaux at the top of the vineyards so you can walk down rather than up. I have seen signs for an app that you can download on your phone to guide you, but you can also ask for the easy walking map at the tourist office.

If you are up for a short walk from the Marche in Vevey, take a left at the water and walk along the waterfront towards the chateau of La Tour de Peilz, a very charming port village. You can easily walk out on the jetty for a beautiful view back towards La Tour and Vevey. There's a cafe in the courtyard of the chateau for a coffee, drink or a meal. It is run by a friendly family who speak some English.

Switzerland is expensive to visit. To save on dining out, I recommend a local place in Montreux called Cafe-Restaurant du Globe which is a five minute walk from your hotel on Rue de l'Eglise. I had never been before, but a friend on a budget brought me there once. It's very basic and I did not hear any English on my visit, but they had roasted chicken and fondue on their menu which were almost half of the price you would find in other places.

At the ground level entrance of the Migros supermarket at the small shopping center opposite your hotel, there's a cafe to the right of the entrance which offers buffet style prepared foods which are well priced and they offer seating.

Another good option is in Vevey at the Manora Restaurant on the top floor of the Manor department store, located just the opposite corner from the train station. It's set up buffet style, the food is very good, and the prices are reasonable.

If you decide to go to the Marche in Vevey on Tuesday or Saturday morning, visit the vendor near the large pillared building at the top of the Marche which houses the tourist office. They sell individual warm cheese quiche for 3chf each which draw long lines but are worth it. There's a nice cafe the opposite side of Marche with outdoor seating where you can have a coffee or fresh pressed juice.

All of the supermarkets sell prepared foods you can take with you.