A Day In Montreux, Switzerland
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We arrived in the afternoon to Montreux Station by Swiss Rail from Geneva. The train is such a great way to get around Switzerland. The journey was truly part of our trip as we watched the lake and small towns pass outside the windows.
The cars are spacious and have plenty of room to store your luggage in luggage racks in the front of the cars, overhead or between the seats.
We traveled with a first class rail pass and therefore took up a complete row – four on one side and two on the other for our family.
We picked up lunch in the Geneva train station and enjoyed it on the train. This was a great use of time for us as we could enjoy the scenery while we were eating. (Plus eating always keeps the kids quiet.)
Once we arrived in Montreux Central Station we geared up to walk from the station to our hotel. We specifically packed so we could easily get around. Luckily our five year old is an excellent walker. We used an Ergo Sport to carry the Little Little. I balanced that with the Standard Suitcase from the Standard Luggage Co. Jeff put the Middle Little on his back in a Tula Toddler Carrier and pulled the Osprey Ozone. The Big Little rode his Zinc Flyte Scooter Suitcase, which held all of his clothing for the trip.
Our hotel was easily walkable from the train station. There are quite a few stairs to come down from the train station to the water, but public elevators are available. Hotel Helvetie is hard to miss, the name is tiled right onto the sidewalk!
Hotel Helvetie was a perfect hotel for our family. The boys settled into a window seat in the lobby while we checked in. The hotel had a ton of magazines and these Donald Duck comic books that my kids are obsessed with. The elevator in the lobby is old school but charming. The hotel had won me over before I even saw the room.
The family room we were in had a ton of space. Our room opened onto a hallway, perfect for dropping our shoes and bags. We had a sitting room, bathroom, two bedrooms and a balcony. It was such a treat to have the kids in their own room for a night and space to just spread out. My mom had a single room and it was large for European standards.
The breakfast at the hotel was standard. It was 15CHF for adults (kids were free). It included the minimum of what we’ve come to expect in Europe. In our mind it was better than having to go out and find something on our own. The yogurt, bread and fruit selection was more than enough to give us a good start for the day. As is standard in Europe the staff was happy to make a cappuccino (or two) to accompany my breakfast.
Once we were settled we loaded everyone back up and walked the few blocks from the hotel to the ferry dock. The ferries around Lake Geneva run frequently and with the Swiss Rail Pass you can hop on any of them for an amazing ride around the lake.
The first class rail pass gives you access to the top deck of all the boats. We boarded and immediately felt like we should have cruised the lake all day. It was lovely to sit up top and enjoy the breathtaking views. The boat has a restaurant and bar. Nearly everyone else on the boat was enjoying a glass of wine.
Fifteen minutes into our boat ride Chillon Castle came into view. This was where we were headed and each view of the castle had us more excited to visit.
It is said to be the castle that inspired Price Eric’s castle in the Little Mermaid. Our Big Little only needed the slightest suggestion of this to believe it was true. He kept his eyes pealed for any mermaids that might be lurking about.
The boat dock at Chillon was busy. It was easy to find our way to the castle – just follow the crowds. It is hard to stop and really appreciate the view as you approach but really try to do so. This castle is just so lovely from all angles.
Admission to Chillon Castle is also covered by the Swiss Rail Pass. We thought we would just pop into the castle but ended up exploring the grounds for an hour and a half. My favorite part was walking the covered sentry walkways that ran on the upper levels of the castle.
If you’re traveling with kids make sure to ask for the kids map when you check in. Our kids loved marking off each location on the kids map. The castle also offers a variety of children’s workshops, if you have flexibility in your visit schedule you should check one out.
I’d be lying if I didn’t mention that I complained on every flight of the tower climb. The stairs are steep and our Middle Little refused to walk. However, the windows in the tower treated us to the most amazing views of the castle. It was from this vantage point that we spied a hidden beach perfect for the boys.
We headed to the beach once we were done exploring the castle, despite not having swimsuits with us. We could’t resist the idea of putting our feet into that blue water!
We let the boys romp around in their underwear like real Europeans. They enjoyed the cool water with amazing views. (Jeff and I literally discussed leaving bathing suits behind to save space knowing the trip would be full of times we wished we had them with us.)
We left the beach when we saw the boat headed to the dock. The boats blow their horn as they approach letting everyone know to head to the dock. Although all boats that stop here eventually make it back to Geneva it’s best to check the schedule before you board. We thought the one headed to us was our boat, but in fact it wouldn’t be back in Geneva for another few hours. It did make a lovely picture though.
Moments later our boat to Geneva arrived and we headed up to the top deck to enjoy the views. (You can also reach the castle by bus or on foot.) The boat ride was shorter on the way back, as we made no stops, but also solidified that if you’re traveling without kids you should take a day to sail from Geneva to Montreux.
We were sad to say goodbye to one of the most picturesque locations we’ve ever visited.
Arriving back in Montreux we walked through the waterfront park, which was also housing parts of the Jazz Festival. We found a small playground in the park which entertained the kids for a half hour. They were then distracted by street performers who were part of the Jazz Festival. As restaurants are not open till 6pm this was a perfect distraction until dinner.
We grabbed dinner at La Rouvenez a restaurant attached to a bar right off the lakeside park. The reviews on Foursquare and Google sung its praises. We had to promise to be out in an hour and a half to get a table on the patio. This would have been fine except the service was so slow. Seriously, like snail’s pace. Not European slow. Ridiculously slow. The waiter came to check on us to see if we were moving towards being done so they could turn the table and we had to inform him that even though we had ordered as soon as we sat down we had yet to receive our food. Once we got the food it was delicious. We scarfed it down and left.
The boys were out cold as soon as we got back to the hotel. Our family room had a library full of children’s book in French. I found them both asleep with books over their bodies, a sign of a good day.
The next morning we had reservations on the Golden Pass Line, but were up and out earlier than necessary. We walked back down to the waterfront park to take advantage of the large playground. At eight, they had the whole place to themselves. They happily played until we headed back to the train station, a perfect way to burn off some energy before our train trip.