Montreux Switzerland And All That Jazz

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Typical Lake Geneva view from Montreux Switzerland
Typical Lake Geneva view from Montreux Switzerland

Ordinarily, Montreux Switzerland is a scenic, sleepy town on Lake Geneva.  But once a year, it burst into buzzy, bebop, bluesy beats when the Jazz Festival comes to town.

Montreux-Jazz-Sign
Entrance to the Montreux Jazz Festival on the shore of Lake Geneva, Switzerland

If you are a fan of Jazz, Blues or R&B, and a lover of exquisite, serene lake towns, Montreux provides the best of both worlds.

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Jazz lovers arrive by boat and even hot air balloon to hear the music at the Montreux Jazz Festival

Montreux and its three-mile-long esplanade provide photo ops at every turn, especially during the Jazz Festival when nights are bathed in every conceivable neon color.

Boats anchored offshore for the Montreux Jazz Festival
Boats anchored offshore for the Montreux Jazz Festival
Heineken Beer Garden, Montreux Jazz Festival
Heineken Beer Garden, Montreux Jazz Festival

Occasionally, you’ll get lucky and catch a rising star.  Here, California-based Stewart Viets collaborates with jazz-singer, Mary C. Hall (daughter of Mercedes, sister to actor Anthony Michael) for a small gathering before the Montreux Jazz Festival Main Events.

Emerging artist, Stew Viets and established jazz-singer, Mary C. Hall in Montreux for the Jazz Festival
Emerging artist, Stew Viets and established jazz-singer, Mary C. Hall in Montreux for the Jazz Festival

And then there’s Quincy Jones who celebrated his 75th birthday at the 2008 Montreux Jazz Festival and is still going strong.

Annual Montreux Jazz Fest Guest, Quincy Jones introducing friends Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter
Annual Montreux Jazz Fest Guest, Quincy Jones introducing friends Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter
Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter at Montreux Jazz Festival
Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter at Montreux Jazz Festival

Things to Do in Montreux Switzerland

But even if you aren’t that into the rifts and rhythms of this kind of music, preferring say, Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, you’ll find much to do and stunning views along the majestic shore of Lake Geneva. Though it hosts one of the premier Jazz Festivals on the planet, Montreax isn’t just about Jazz. The following photographs might entice you to come even after the musicians go home:

1. Walk along the Lake Geneva Shoreline esplanade, which provides incredible lake and mountain views at every turn.

Montreux-Esplanade
Montreux Esplanade along Lake Geneva Shoreline* *cue Deep Purple’s Smoke on the Water
Statute of Freddy Mercury of Queen, Facing Lake Geneva in Montreux Switzerland
Statute of Freddy Mercury of Queen, Facing Lake Geneva in Montreux Switzerland
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Fishing Lake Geneva/Montreux at Sunset
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Montreux at Night

2. Visit Chillon Castle. It’s about a 2 mile stroll along the lakefront from the center of Montreux’s downtown on a flat, paved walkway. Don’t miss the Cellar, which also served as a prison.  In 1816, Lord Byron visited and was moved to write his famous poem The Prisoner of Chillon. You’ll find Byron’s name carved in the basement stone.

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Lord Byron Graffiti, Chillon Castle, Montreux Switzerland
Chillon Castle Montreux
Chillon Castle, Montreux Switzerland
Lake-Geneva-From-Chillon-Castle-Montreux
Lake Geneva From Chillon Castle Montreux

3. Take a paddlewheel ferry around Lake Geneva on a 2 hour spin that leaves from Montreux and brings you back, nine stops later, refreshed and relaxed.

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Paddlewheel Ferry around Lake Geneva
Lake Geneva Navigation Ferry Paddlewheel In Motion
Watch ferry paddle wheel in motion, Lake Geneva Navigation Co, out of Montreux Switzerland
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Watch fishermen at work on Lake Geneva from Montreux ferry
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On nice days, take a 2 hour ride on Lake Geneva Navigation Co. ferry from dock in Montreux

4. Walk uphill to Old Montreux’s stone church for an unparalleled view of Lake Geneva.

Old Montreux Church on Hill
Old Montreux Church with Views

5. Dine at Mai Thai on a deck cantilevered over Lake Geneva. The food is good, the view, supreme.

Mai-Thai-Restauran-Montreux-Switzerland
Mai Thai Restaurant, Montreux Switzerland

6. Stay at the Fairmont Le Montreux Palace. Expensive and worth it, especially if you opt for a corner room overlooking the lake.

Montreux-Palace-Under-Jazz-Fest-Entrance
Fairmont Le Montreux Palace right across from entrance to Jazz Festival
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View of Lake Geneva from corner suite balcony at Fairmont Le Montreux Palace

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