One of our early holiday with the little one took us to Montreux. Husband booked the flight tickets back at the January BA sale, never been there, sounds jazzy. (Sorry…) what could possibly go wrong? It’s Switzerland. Frenchy stuff with german efficiency. Well, the reality shows the other way around.
Stayed at the Golf Hotel Rene Capt, a bit like Wes Anderson’s Grand Hotel Budapest came alive. Just not as funny. CHF 35.- per night for a travel cot for Captain Bobcat. (Ouch!) Only twin beds. I accused them silently that they must have been thinking: oh well, new parents anyway… But after complaining, it turned out that apparantley all the 60 something rooms are twin bedded. Have we just checked into a sanatorium? Probably we were the only couple in the hotel who wanted to have a king size bed and a drink in the bar in the evenings. Unlucky with both. However, the hotel is located at the nicer and less busy part of the promenade. And it has marvellous views to the lake. Pay that extra money for that. Seriously. Especially, that the other side of the building gets train track views and noise.
Montreux is pretty and small. Apart from the annual jazz festival you have the beautiful lake, easy access to the great mountains, a couple of really good gallery, forgettable reastaurants with bland and expensive food. The best place for a coffee belongs to the Fairmont Hotel: La Terasse Du Petit Palace. Not joking. We paid CHF 15.- for a capuccino and a glass of wine and received nuts and olives with them. Plus wonderful lake views and very nice waiting staff. The hotel’s Jazz Cafe worth a look-around too, looks like a very posh Hard Rock Cafe with all the festival memorabilias.
Switzerland is expensive. Try not to get a cold or a hangover because even the £0.69.- paracetamol will cost you more than CHF 5.- here. Swiss chocolate is more expensive than in your local convenient store in London. Swiss wine is reasonably priced though, but don’t expect too much of them. Eat lots of cheese. And fondus. That’s the best. And after a couple of days in Switzerland you don’t want to have cheese for a while anyway.
When the jazz festival is not on and it’s not ski-season yet, there’s still things to do: great mountain train ride (I thought it’s rather a tram) up to the top of Rochers de Naye. Captain Bobcat really enjoyed it, not to mention husband. Kids… Superb views, real snow in August and marmot sanctuary await you up there And yurtas, which can be rented. Even the not so good Swiss wine tastes here better. Blame it on the thin air.
We’ve also visited Vevey, taking a steam boat from Montreux. Great fun, pretty old town with a famous food market, where you can take a lot of foodie photos for your Instagram and exhaust your sense of smell with sniffing of cheese, truffle, smoked meat and various food stations.
Vevey also hosts the world’s most boring museum (http://www.alimentarium.ch/en), with plastic food installations and a herb garden, which must make the place even more boring in winter time. The lack of the herb garden, that is. There are a couple of good cafes and again: picturesque walk along the lake side. Funny artistic installations to amuse the tourists, like plastic seats nalied to the lake side rocks and a giant fork poking out of the water.
Montreux has been an inspirational place for famous residents like Freddy Mercury who’s statue beside the lake is now competing with the entire Jazz Festival as Attraction Number One. Deep Purple also owned a studio here before The Queen moved in, and their famous song “Smoke On The Water” tells of the events of December 1971, when a Frank Zappa fan with a flare gun set the Montreux Casino on fire. Those would have been the fun times. Earlier fellow composers such as Stravinsky and Tchaikovsky were also fond of the town and residents. And, uhm, Shania Twain.