Just before heading back to South Africa after a three week European trip, we stayed in the Montreax Riviera part of the Lake Geneva region of Switzerland. Being September, the mild weather of Autumn provided us with the perfect time to experience life along the lake.
Here’s a few reasons we loved staying in this region as a family with our toddler Caleb and some things we recommend you do whilst there:
1. Lake Views and many ways to get around.
From our accommodation at Hostellerie Bon Rivage right on the lake promenade meant that we opened our windows out onto the magnificent garden, sailing boats docked in the small harbour and a children’s playground a short stroll away. Only a few steps and out through the hotel gate and we were right on the promenade where families walked their talks, strolled with their kids in prams and on bikes and went jogging. From here we could walk for ages in each direction towards the market, parks and enjoy the small harbor of Tour-de-Peilz.
If you’re traveling by Eurorail like we did, Vevey is the best station to stop at. From there it’s a short ride on the bus no 201 in the direction of Villaneuve to Baumes ( right opposite the hotel).
2. The Vevey Farmers Market is a great way to spend a Saturday.
Being avid lovers of local markets, we were super keen to experience a farmer’s market which takes place every Saturday at Place du Marché. We found everything from a South African making artisan expresso from a truck to farmers selling pumpkins, vegetables and flowers to others selling food from every nation ranging from Vietnamese to Northern Indian, Chinese, Italian and more.
Once we had explored all corners of the market and eaten ample samoosas, noodles with flat whites and ice cream we lazed on the lawns. The square was abuzz with locals and foreigners alike all coming to enjoy the sunny morning and savor the tasty treats.
From our Baumes bus stop on bus no.201 we travelled a short ride until Ronjat and walked a few meters to the market at Place du Marché.
3. Children’s Heaven at Place du Marché.
After the market, we discovered that this little hub not only hosts the market but tons of things for kids to do. We watched the graceful swans on the shore of the lake, rode with Caleb on the carousel with its horses, carriages and monkeys and played with him in the wonderful little park set with a small ship, mini-houses and floor of hay. We ate waffles and pancakes with nutella and happily stayed for the best part of the day.
4. A Boat ride aboard a restored 108 year old steamer.
If we had hopped aboard one of these 1908 Belle Époque steamers linking Lake Geneva’s towns and cities with no destination in particular, it would have still been a spectacular experience. After 18 months of renovation and relaunched on Lake Geneva at Ouchy, Lausanne, the ‘Italie’ is an absolute beauty to behold on the outside and inside with its luxury dining hall, outside deck and upstairs restaurant. These Lake Geneva steamers are considered the biggest Belle Époque fleet in the world and heaps of fun with children. The Swiss flag flying on the back, the boat steaming and the horn sounding with mountain lakeside views, we were all in absolute heaven.
5. A step back into medieval times at Chillon Castle.
With a history spanning the Savoy, Bernese and Vaudois periods and a few centuries of constant renovations and buildings this medieval fortress on the shores of Lake Geneva is rightfully one of the most visited monuments in Switzerland. Schools and groups can book guided tours throughout the many rooms and halls within the castle but the audio guides were a great way to experience the castle alone. While Caleb slept in the carrier on my back, we wandered through giant dinning halls, courtyards, underground rooms, great halls overlooking the lake, the Bernese chamber ( bedroom), a chapel with 14th century paintings and a weapons room.
Families with 2 adults and up to 5 children pay CHF29 entrance fee. Phone ahead to find out about holiday workshops, family events and cooking/wood workshops in Chillon castle.
6. Discovering Chaplin’s World.
Absolutely unknown to me was Chaplin’s World, the place called Charlie Chaplin and his family called home for most of his life when he could no longer return home to America. We strolled through the impressive garden he loved so much, the manor he lived in and the studio showcasing his career through its various stages, films and plays. Wander through the history of his life from a poor childhood in a tiny London apartment to a successful film career on hollywood sets before returning to life in Switzerland.
Entrance rates for adults CHF25 and children (6-15 years old) pay CHF18. From Place du Marché take the bus n°212, direction FENIL and stop at “Corsier-sur-Vevey, Chaplin” (stop on request).
7. Museum Visits with a Montreux- Riviera Card.
With your Montreux-Riviera Card, you will get discounts at certain museums entrance. Visit the Nest, – Chaussée de la Guinguette 10. Entrance for adults 9 CHF p.p. or the Alimentarium – Quai Perdonnet 25, Entrance for adults 6.50 CHF.
8. The Cogwheel Train up the mountain to Rochers-de-Naye.
The trip up the mountain to Rochers-de-Naye takes about an hour and is filled with breathtaking views on both sides of the train. Passing forested slopes and the village of Gilion 300 m above Montreaux, you’ll have so much to take in even before you reach the summit of La Perche. Even in Autumn it was quite chilly at the summit 2000 meters high, so do dress warmly.
On the bus n°201 in the direction of Villeneuve. Stop at “Escaliers de la Gare”.At arrival in Montreux, go to the train station (cross the road and take the electric stairs, you will arrive in front of the train station).
Thank you to the Lake Geneva Region Tourist Office for hosting us in this family-friendly part of Swizterland. We truly recommend this region or families with young kids especially with a base at the Hostellerie Bon Rivage
For more on what to do during various seasons, visit their website: Lake Geneva Tourism
For getting to and from the Lake Geneva Region, we loved our Eurail pass which is one of the best ways to travel with kids ( even with too much luggage)