Montreux Travel Guide, Canton of Vaud, Switzerland

Montreux is a city and a political municipality in the Riviera-Pays-d’Enhaut district in the canton of Vaud in Switzerland. The former German name Muchtern is no longer used today. The city lies on Lake Geneva under the protection of 2000 meter high mountain peaks. The climatic conditions and the subtropical vegetation on the waterfront make Montreux an internationally renowned tourist destination, also known as the venue for the Montreux Jazz Festival. Today the waterfront is one of the city’s main attractions. Here are the hotel palaces, the casino and the congress center; you can enjoy a wonderful view of Lake Geneva with the Grammont massif and the peaks of the Dents du Midi.

Montreux is located east of the north shore of Lake Geneva, south-east of the Vaud Riviera. The municipality of Montreux measures 33.37 km which 19 % of housing and infrastructure areas, 25.3 % of agricultural areas (55.8 % of pasture), 50.6 % of wooded areas and 5 % of unproductive areas. The minimum altitude (lowest point on the ground in the municipality) of the municipal territory of Montreux is 371 m at Lake Geneva, the average altitude of 1,064 m and the highest point is located at 2,025 meters on the ridge of the rocks of Naye (2,042 m), belvedere which gives a view on almost all of Lake Geneva. The highest mountain whose summit is on the territory of the municipality is the Cape au Moine located at 1,941 meters.

Since the first half of the 19th century, Montreux has developed into one of the most important tourist destinations in Switzerland. The development took place in three steps: The first hotels were built between 1836 and 1859, but at that time there was no tourist infrastructure. It was only with the construction of the railway (1861), the improvement of the roads and the establishment of the shipyards in Clarens and Montreux that the city was also much easier to reach for guests from abroad. Thanks to its mild climate and attractive location, Montreux has become a world-famous summer health resort. In a third step, the surrounding heights were built by funicularsdeveloped for tourism.

Sanatoriums were built in the high-altitude villages of Glion, Caux and Les Avants. Other important hotels were also built along the lakeshore, such as the “Hôtel des Alpes” and the “Grand Hôtel” (both 1887) in Territet, as well as the “ Montreux Palace “ (1905). Montreux became a popular place to stay for monarchs (such as the Empress Elisabeth of Austria) and aristocrats, artists and philosophers, politicians and displaced persons, for example. B. Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Leo Tolstoy and Vladimir Nabokov. The latter lived in a luxurious suite in the Montreux Palace from 1961 until his death in 1977.

The earliest traces of settlement in the municipality of Montreux go back to before the turn of the century. The remains of a settlement from the late Bronze Age have been found near Baugy. During the Roman era, the important military route led from the Great St. Bernard to Aventicum (Avenches), or to Lausanne through Montreux. The foundations of a Roman villa were discovered, which was probably inhabited from the 2nd to 4th centuries. A burial ground dates from the Burgundian period. In the first years of the XX century, the first Montreux hotels are built at the lake, on what was then only grassland or cropland (including wine). The tourist vocation of the site then continued to develop.

In the Middle Ages, the area of Montreux initially belonged to the Abbey of Saint-Maurice in Valais, later it came to the Bishop of Sion, who founded the large parish of Montreux. The city’s name originally comes from the Latin word monasterium (monastery). In 1295 the area came to Girard of Oron. In 1317 the division of Montreux was sealed when the Lords of Oron sold the southern parts (Les Planches and Veytaux) to the Count of Savoy. The northern part (later the Le Châtelard estate) initially remained in the hands of the Lords of Oron as a Savoy fiefdom, but later passed to the La Sarraz family as a result of a marriage. With the conquest of Vaud by Bern in 1536, both parts came under the administration of the Bailiwick of Chillon, which was renamed the Bailiwick of Vevey in 1735. After the collapse of the Ancien Régime, Le Châtelard, Les Planches and Veytaux belonged to the canton of Léman from 1798 to 1803 during the Helvetic Republic, which then became part of the canton of Vaud when the mediation constitution came into force. In 1798 the parishes were assigned to the Vevey district.

As early as the middle of the 18th century, Montreux gained a certain degree of fame through the stay of Jean-Jacques Rousseau and later of Lord Byron. The actual economic upswing began after 1850 with the improved transport connections, the construction of numerous hotels, guest houses and sanatoriums (for lung patients). The first major cultural events took place, including the Daffodil Festival, which was held from 1897 to 1957. The peak as a tourist destination was reached around 1910. The hotel industry suffered a slump in the First World War and later in the Second World War. Many hotels had to close during these times and some were converted into apartments. With the launch of new festivals, namely the September Musical (since 1946) and the Festival of the Golden Rose (since 1954), Montreux once again achieved international renown. In 1967, Claude Nobs, an employee of the tourism authority, launched the Montreux Jazz Festival, which attracts 200,000 visitors every year. In 1990 the city received the Wakker Prize in recognition of the preservation of the 19th century tourism infrastructure.

The present municipal area of Montreux and Veytaux has been administered by a central authority since the 19th century. The municipalities of Le Châtelard had four MPs, Les Planches two and Veytaux one MP for this district council. The communities themselves, however, continued to represent politically independent entities. The Montreux peninsula was thus divided into two parts, because the border ran exactly along the Baye de Montreux stream.

From 1 June 1957 ntil 1958, a weekly seaplane connection was established between Southampton and Montreux, making the city an international airport. The regional airfield of Montreux was built in Rennaz in 1960. First comprising a grass runway, then a hard runway, it offered lines to Gstaad, Saint-Moritz, Marseille and Nice as well as flights to the Alps., airplane training flights, excursions, air taxis and glacier landings. The number of passengers amounted to 5,000 per year. The construction of the A9 motorway ended its activity in 1968. The January 21, 1990, the inhabitants of Montreux approved by referendum the extension of the Congress House with 62% favorable opinions.

Montreux’s economy is predominantly geared towards tourism. The city offers around 9,500 jobs. Around 1% of the workforce is employed in the primary sector, 13% in the industrial sector and 86% in the service sector. On the perfectly sunny slopes above Clarens as well as near Chailly and Brent, viticulture is practiced on numerous smaller vineyards. In the higher areas, agriculture, dairy farming, and cattle breeding predominate. In the foothills of the Alps, Montreux also has extensive alpine pastures.

The industrialization took place in the second half of the 19th century. Montreux never actually became an industrial city, industry mainly covered the tourist needs. Wood processing companies and manufacturers of exclusive pieces of furniture, silversmiths, the jewelery industry, the food and luxury goods industry (chocolate) and printing companies set up shop. Suppliers to the hotel industry still play an important role today, alongside printing and publishing as well as the manufacture of laboratory equipment and audiovisual equipment. The employees in the tertiary sector are spread across the hotel and catering industry, administration, banking and insurance, educational institutions and the medical sector. Montreux with its two mountain health resorts Glion and Caux has numerous private clinics and retirement homes. Caux has hosted the Moral Armament Conference Center since 1946.

The parish church of Saint Vincent, mother church of the parish of Montreux, was first mentioned in 1228, but was probably founded as early as the 11th century. The current building with a polygonal choir and ribbed vault dates from the end of the 15th century. Next to it is an ossuary from the 16th century. The Catholic Church is a neo-Gothic building from 1883 to 1885. On a hill above Clarens is Châtelard Castle, which was built in 1441, partially destroyed by the Confederates in 1476 and then rebuilt. It has a massive square donjon (residential tower) with machicolations made of brick, reminiscent of the northern Italian style. The residential tower was extensively restored and redesigned in the 17th century and has a rich interior from this period.

In Montreux and Clarens there are numerous notable hotel and residential buildings from the second half of the 19th century and the early 20th century. These include the Montreux Palace (1904), the Grand Hôtel in Territet (1887), the Palace Hotel in Caux (1902), the Villa Karma (1904–1906) and the Villa Chartran. Chillon Castle is located three kilometers southeast of Montreux.

Must see

Chillon Castle
Located in Veytaux near Montreux, the Château de Chillon has stood on its rocky islet for almost a millennium. Made famous thanks to “New Heloise” by Jean-Jacques Rousseau or “The Prisoner of Chillon” by Lord Byron, this fortress is a real treasure of the past.

The docks
The Quai des Fleurs between the center and Territet contains rare species for the region, thanks to its microclimate, which varies from 4 to 5 ° compared to the regional average.

The Congress Center
The Montreux Convention & Music Center (2m2c), all transparent glass and built in 1973, directly on the lake, has been regularly enlarged to take its final form in 1993, with the inauguration of the prestigious concert hall of the ‘ Igor Stravinsky Auditorium. The Congress Center is home to the famous Montreux Jazz Festival.

Many hikes are possible from Montreux, in particular in the Rochers de Naye massif served by the Montreux-Glion-Rochers de Naye railway, for example the Caux – Dent de Jaman or Caux- Rochers de Naye routes.

International Schools
A metropolis of tourism, Montreux is also recognized for its excellent hotel schools: the Glion Graduate Institute, HIM (Hotel Institute Montreux) or SHMS (Swiss Hotel Maganement School) in Caux.

Historical heritage
The ancient church of Saint Vincent to boards today Protestant church was rebuilt on the site of two successive sanctuaries VIII and IX centuries and XII and XIII centuries. The polygonal choir, vaulted with ribs and openwork by flamboyant tracery bays, was built between 1495-1501 by the master mason Aymonet Durant, while the nave the nave with three vessels connected by arcades, built between 1513 and 1519, is due Pierre Guigoz. Remarkable steeple-porch with stone spire, from 1460-1470, by the master mason Jean Vaulet-Dunoyer;
The castle of Châtelard;
The Château des Crêtes in Clarens;
The statue of Freddie Mercury on the shores of Lake Geneva;
The statue of Elisabeth de Wittelsbach in Territet, a white marble monument inaugurated in 1902, by Antonio Chiattone, sculptor in Lugano;
The Montreux station;
The island and villa Salagnon in Clarens;
The covered market;
The Karma villa;
School (1868-1871) by architect François Jaquerod;
The Allo Claude sculpture (by Pascal Bettex) in homage to Claude Nobs, founder of the Montreux Jazz Festival.

Historical hotels
Le Montreux Palace: Fairmont Le Montreux Palace is a luxury hotel rich in history, located a few meters from the shores of Lake Geneva;
The whole Hôtel des Alpes-Grand Hôtel in Territet;
The Caux-Palace, in Caux, work of Eugène Jost whose exhibition is accessible;
Hotel Excelsior;
Hôtel Helvétie (1865);
Splendid Hotel;
Hotel Suisse Majestic;
Hotel Eden Palace au Lac.

Contemporary heritage
The Ivory Tower, built in 1969, comprising 29 floors;
The Best Western Eurotel Riviera, built in 1967, comprising 17 floors;
The Congress Center, called since 2006 Montreux Music & Convention Center or 2m2c, built in three phases 1972, 1982 and 1992, offers 18,000 square meters dedicated to cultural events, including the famous Montreux Jazz Festival, the Musical September or other events of ‘companies or professional associations. On level A1, you can discover the 7 m × 3 m mural by the Montreux painter Peter Rage entitled “Life. »And offered to 2M2C by the artist in 2009 on the occasion of the Montreux Art Gallery.

Montreux was a haven for Catherine Barkley and Lt. Frederic Henry in Ernest Hemingway’s classic, A Farewell to Arms. Deep Purple travelled to Montreux in December 1971 to record Machine Head. The band’s 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, destroying the casino where they had originally planned to record the album. Thanks to Claude Nobs who eventually arranged alternate locations, the Grand Hotel was where the album was created and recorded, except for Smoke on the Water which was recorded at La Petit Palais on Rue du Lac. Deep Purple again returned in 1973 to record Burn. The Montreux Casino was reopened in 1975 and later a monument commemorating Deep Purple and their song Smoke on the Water can be found next to the casino.

The Dubliners’s song “Montreux Monto” on their album Live at Montreux was recorded live at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1976. Montreux is the home of Mountain Studios, the recording studio used by several artists. “Bonzo’s Montreux” by Led Zeppelin is named after the city where the drums session of John Bonham was recorded in 1976. In 1978, the band Queen bought the studio. It was then sold to Queen producer David Richards. In 2002, the Mountain Studios was converted into a bar as part of a complete renovation of the studio. David Richards has left Montreux to settle down somewhere else. Queen also appeared in 1984 and in 1986 at the Golden Rose Festival and Queen guitarist Brian May appeared in 2001 at the Jazz Festival. Montreux was also the subject of the 1995 Queen single “A Winter’s Tale” on the album Made in Heaven, one of Freddie’s last songs before his death on November 24, 1991. The album cover features the statue of Mercury beside the lake.

In 1990, the Wakker Prize for the development and preservation of its architectural heritage was awarded to Montreux. The Fédération Internationale de Roller Sports was founded in Montreux in 1924. Montreux HC, the oldest roller hockey club in Switzerland (founded in 1911) is based in Montreux.


Queen – The Studio Experience
Inside the Casino Barrière in Montreux, the legendary “Mountain Studios” has seen artists such as David Bowie, The Rolling Stones and Queen parade between its walls. In 2013, this place was rehabilitated into an exhibition space entirely dedicated to Queen, who recorded 6 albums there between 1978 and 1995.

Fort de Chillon museum
Built deep in the rock in 1941, right in front of the Château de Chillon, this former military site classified “defense secret” until 2001 opens to the public in 2020 and promises a total immersion in astonishing history of a former place of national defense.

Montreux Museum
Close to the train station, the Montreux Museum is a well of information on the history of the Lake Geneva city, strongly marked by the beginnings of tourism in the Belle Epoque. Open from April to November, the Montreux Museum offers a cultural visit for the whole family.

Other museums
The historical museum of Montreux and its region;
The Blonay-Chamby railway-museum;
The Swiss National Audiovisual Museum (Audiorama).

Cinemas & Theaters
Because holidays can also be an opportunity to treat yourself to a good slice of entertainment or to be tempted by the local cultural offer.

Montreux hosts several festivals:
The Septembre musical de Montreux, founded in 1946 and held every year since then.
Freddie Celebration Days – Montreux Celebration is organising this major and entirely free event in Montreux around September 5th, the birthday of Freddie Mercury, late singer of the band Queen.
The Montreux Jazz Festival, annually in July since 1967. It is held at the Montreux Convention Centre, built in 1973 and has become a global phenomenon.
The Golden Rose Festival, annually in spring (1961–2003), which awarded the Golden Rose of Montreux, an international award for television.
The Golden Award of Montreux, annually in April, is traditionally, since 1989, the first international advertising and multimedia Competition in Europe – starting the global season for awarding creative excellence.
Montreux has a walking trail along the lake, stretching from Villeneuve to Vevey. The main square of the town, Place du Marché, features a statue of Freddie Mercury facing Lake Geneva. Some of the numerous small villages around Montreux include La Tour-de-Peilz, Clarens, Territet, and Villeneuve. The Château of Chillon has views over Lake of Geneva and can be accessed via bus, train, walk or boat.

Jazz Festival
The first Montreux Jazz Festival took place in 1967. The initiator and organizer of the festival was the late Montreusien Claude Nobs, who notably benefited from the support of the Ertegun brothers, directors of Atlantic Records. The first edition welcomes, among others, Charles Lloyd and Keith Jarrett. In 1970, Carlos Santana gave a concert there. The festival’s programming will therefore be eclectic, offering jazz, but also blues, gospel, soul, rock and pop. In 1977, it was the longest festival in Europe, from 1 toJuly 25, 1977.

Montreux Jazz welcomed legendary jazz figures (Sonny Rollins, Dizzy Gillespie, Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, Oscar Peterson, Bill Evans, Count Basie, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Stan Getz, Dexter Gordon, Ornette Coleman, Cecil Taylor, The Art Ensemble of Chicago, etc.). The stars of the festival are Miles Davis (who gave eight concerts from 1971 to 1991) and BB King(which has performed there more than 20 times). Quincy Jones is the godfather, and co-produced the festival from 1991 to 1993. Rock artists are not left out (Deep Purple, Van Morrison, Santana, Eric Clapton, Sting, Bob Dylan, etc.). Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, The Doors, Black Sabbath and Canned Heat also performed in Montreux, but as part of the Super Pop de Montreux also organized byClaude Nobs (1969-1974). Today, the festival also hosts hip-hop, electronic music, and world music. The festival has contributed to the city’s worldwide popularity. It always takes place, once a year in July.

We can mention the following anecdotes:
the song Smoke on the Water by Deep Purple was written in Montreux. She evokes the fire at the Casino de Montreux during Frank Zappa’s concert, theDecember 4, 1971, during the Super Pop Montreux;
the piece Bonzo’s Montreux, solo by drummer John Bonham (nicknamed “Bonzo”) of the group Led Zeppelin, was recorded inSeptember 1976 in Montreux (Mountain Studios);
Queen’s last album with Freddie Mercury, Made In Heaven (1995), was produced at the group’s studios, Mountain Studios in Montreux. A statue of Freddie Mercury, located on the quays below the Henri Nestlé Covered Market (Place du Marché), pays tribute to the artist, who was very attached to the city. He is featured in his opening costume for the 1986 Wembley concert, facing the lake with his right fist raised. Sculpted by Irena Sedlecka, commissioned by the remaining members of Queen as well as friends and family of Mercury, it was inaugurated onNovember 25, 1996by Montserrat Caballé. The cover of the Made in Heaven album is a photo of the statue in front of Lake Geneva.

Montreux Jazz Festival, in July;
Montreux Christmas market. It starts at the end of November and ends onDecember 24. It is one of the most popular Christmas markets in Switzerland;
Montreux Choral Festival International, Events OFF and special themed events;
Musical September, annual classical music festival from late August to mid-September;
Laughter Festival, aroundDecember 10 of each year;
Swiss World Expo 2011, the World meeting for figurines and models from 18 to Aug 21, 2011;
Scooter Contest;
Montreux Volley Masters, in June;
Montreux Miniature’s Show takes place every year, the second weekend of March;
Golden Award of Montreux Advertising Festival;
Rink-hockey Nations Cup (Easter weekend, every two years);
Montreux Sundance (Electronic Music Festival). Every year, at the beginning of June;
Polymanga, festival around video games and manga, every year since 2004;
Waterings Contest, biennial event in August;
Ferrari Grand Prix of Montreux, every two years;
Montreux-Les-Rochers-de-Naye race;
Freddie Celebration Days – Montreux Celebration organizes this major and completely free event every year around September 5, the birthday of Freddie Mercury, the late singer of the group Queen.

Montreux Christmas
By the lake, more than 170 merchants, installed in illuminated chalets, present a host of original gifts: local products, crafts, etc. Along with the market, activities are organized for children, including meeting Father Christmas in his cave, perched at Rochers-de-Naye.

Natural space

Unmissable walks
Between the lake and the Prealps, from the Lavaux terraces to the top of Rochers-de-Naye at an altitude of 2,042 meters (highest point of the destination), the particular relief of Montreux Riviera offers a unique setting for sublime walks and hiking.

Leisure parks

Summer and winter, a world of sensations and thrills. Everyone clings to their buoy and let’s go. From the toboggan to do solo to the Houla Hoop with the family, via the Booster Loop – the 4G toboggan: to each his adrenaline.

Laser Game Villeneuve
Equipped with a laser gun, players enter the labyrinth of Laser Game Evolution in Villeneuve with a mission: shoot the laser beam at as many opponents as possible and avoid the enemy rays. The game takes place in a dark place on several levels with special effects.

Fun Planet
In an area of 10,000 m2 entirely dedicated to the world of entertainment, the Fun Planet in Rennaz offers a constellation of indoor leisure activities. Bowling, tree climbing, themed fluorescent minigolf, billiards, a host of video games and a new Virtual Room activity.

Escape Riviera
In groups (2-6 people), players must look for clues scattered around a room, then combine them with each other to be able to advance in the puzzle and exit the room. Logic, imagination, creativity and above all a strong team spirit are among the necessary assets. 2 rooms are available.

Roseville Escape
A life-size adventure in unusual settings. The escape game consists of escaping from a room in less than 60 minutes. Locked in an immersive environment, the players, in groups of 2 to 5 participants, look for clues scattered around the room. They combine them in order to solve the puzzles that allow you to advance in the puzzle and exit the room.

Cobalt Project
On a plot of 28,000m2, players evolve in an ultra-realistic environment, with multiple infrastructures. Thanks to high-end equipment and the use of the latest technologies, Cobalt Project develops new game scenarios where tactics, exploration and team spirit are the key words.

Swiss Vapeur Parc
This one-of-a-kind amusement park is popular with families and vaporists. The Swiss Vapeur Parc occupies 18,000 m2 of greenery. On board the miniature steam trains, it takes 15 minutes to cover the 1,700 meters of the main route past the miniature Swiss monuments.

GoldenPass Panoramic
Vineyards, lake, the Alps, pastures and wooden chalets make up this trip lasting more than 2h30. With its panoramic windows, the GoldenPass cars allow an immersive experience in this postcard Switzerland. A famous train line where reservation is strongly recommended in high season.

Chocolate Train
In summer (May-Oct), the famous Train du Chocolat takes visitors to La Maison du Gruyère, where the famous Swiss cheese is made. He will then be able to stroll freely in the medieval village of Gruyères. Finally, the visitor will venture to the legendary Maison Cailler de Broc where he will dive into the secrets of chocolate making. Since 2019, the train journey has only been carried out on the sumptuous Montreux-Montbovon section. The other transfers (Montbovon-Gruyères-Broc-Montreux) are operated by bus.

Rack railway Montreux – Rochers-de-Naye
In winter, this massif culminating at just over 2,000 meters above sea level transforms into a charming winter sports resort, while in summer the places are perfect for hiking.

Vine & Wine
Revel in the wonders of nature in fall. A palette of colors, sensations and experiences that take on a new dimension in Montreux Riviera.

UNESCO-List Lavaux terraces
Lavaux is a site steeped in history, a sacred land shaped over the centuries by generations of winegrowing families who today continue to maintain the soul of the place to reveal its timeless charm. The history of Lavaux, one of the most beautiful regions of Switzerland, is ancient, rich and naturally linked to viticulture.

Lavaux AOC
Located between Lausanne and the Château de Chillon, along Lake Geneva, Lavaux is one of the most beautiful landscapes in Switzerland. Shaped by man, its terraced vineyards are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Lavaux is also known for its hikes, its villages and of course its wines.

Winemax – Wine Exclusive Tours
During an exclusive excursion, Winemax unveils the most beautiful views over the breathtaking landscape of Lavaux and takes you to meet passionate winegrowers, in the heart of their domain. The program can be personalized according to affinities, for example by choosing the tasting of organic wines or old vintages, or even by integrating a cruise or a helicopter flight.